Geared Nature

Uploaded 15 Sep 2010 — 4 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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More of Joshua Ball’s Photos

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Photo Info
UploadedSeptember 16, 2010
TakenApril 10, 2010
MakeCanon
ModelCanon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi
Exposure1/80 sec at f/4.5
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length60 mm
ISO100
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

This photo was taken at the Sante Fe Grain Elevator complex in Chicago, IL. While it was built in 1906, it experienced a crippling explosion in the 1930′s and was eventually rebuilt. A grain elevator in Toledo, OH caught fire recently and it reminded me of this abandoned location. That said, I thought it was fitting to use an image from the abandoned Chicago complex for this photo blog. It took a little planning, and a lot creeping to successfully get into this location.

On the backside of the elevators, several rusted pieces of hauling equipment still remained. I assume these ruins were once part of an integrated elevation system that was used to transport the elevators’ contents, especially because they were just a few yards away from a waterway that surrounded the complex, making it a peninsula of sorts. Long past their expiration date, they now acted as an anchor for a growing network of plant life and a home for a community of birds.

I soon realized that I was mostly focusing on wide angle shots of the complex and I quickly changed lenses in order to take a few shots of the rusty gears in this photo. While the angle is a little awkward, something about this image still draws me in. I love the texture of the gear and the discoloration that time and weather has wrought upon it. Focusing only on the subject in the foreground, I made a few quick adjustments and settled with this image. Nature was slowly taking back this complex, a sight all-too familiar throughout these kinds of abandoned midwest locations.

I have always had an appreciation for literature and I sometimes wish I would have pursued a career as a writer. When I do write, I always recall one of the most important concepts in literature: conflict. While there are five widely recognized conflicts, I have always been partial to the one involving a “character struggling against forces of nature.” In an environment like the one where this photo was taken, it’s hard not to remember that struggle. Each time I visit a location indicative of “urban decay,” I am always reminded of the “Man vs. Nature” concept. No matter what we build, no matter how hard we try to prevent it, nature always has a way of taking the land back. While it is not obvious in this photo, the Sante Fe Elevator complex is not exempt from this reality. It is comforting to know that nature will eventually erase the scars we’ve inflicted on our planet, but it is also frightening. Nothing built by man was made to last forever……..nothing. As soon as man loses respect for nature, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. While our intelligence as a species allows us to adapt and sometimes even alter the flow of the the land itself, we must respect the earth’s awesome and terrible powers.

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