Abandoned K2 Headquarters

K2 Sports is probably most famous for making skis and snowboards, but they also produce a number of other sports and outdoor-related stuff. Their original headquarters on Vashon Island has long been abandoned and is slowly receding back to the earth. I established a connection with the gentleman (Frank) who acts as caretaker for the property in order to roam the grounds and photograph.

The Back Lot

The Back Lot

I tried to get to the place for golden hour, but was a little late. Light was draining out of the sky quickly. I parked my car in front and then made the long walk down a side service road. As I was setting up my first shot (the one above), the caretaker pulled up in his truck to see what I was up to. He’s a retired old man with rheumy eyes, and he told me that he was calling it a night and going home. I told him I was just going to take a few pictures and hopefully get out of there myself before dark. Golden hour didn’t seem to be in effect behind this massive building; it was just gloomy. He left, and I set up my next shot.

The Loading Docks

The Loading Docks

While the shots for the previous image were taking their sweet time firing off, I looked back toward where I had come, perhaps unconsciously checking my path of egress. It looked brighter back there than where I was standing so I decided to take a picture . . .

Through the Trash Chute

Through the Trash Chute

Feeling a tad claustrophobic even though I was outside (it started to feel like I was somehow cut off from the rest of the world), I turned toward the last gasps of the sunset. Instead of comfort, I felt further isolation, like the setting sun was for other people, over there, not for those of us standing in front of . . .

A Disused Trash Bin

A Disused Trash Bin

As the shots were firing, I could swear I heard the scrabblings of small, unhappy things inside. When I turned around, it was like the sun had totally given up and gone home with Frank (the caretaker). Shadows were coming out from their daytime resting places in force. I considered going home myself, but then I saw this.

A Forgotten Truck

Forgotten Truck

It was at this point that I considered the possibility of people squatting in and around this complex of buildings with many openings and deep shadows. It was also at this point that I started hearing noises everywhere. If I were playing a creepy video game with surround sound, I guess I’d consider the experience immersive if a bit surreal. However, behind a giant building, between a concrete wall and an open, dark field, it was perhaps a little too immersive.

Still, I had a job to do. I took several series after the truck (including more of the truck from different angles – it’s a Peterbilt) when eventually I noticed I had a problem. The 7 exposures for these series were butting up against the camera’s 30-second maximum shutter speed. On the fourth or fifth shot, the shutter speed was topping out, and I wasn’t capturing the entire dynamic range.  Once I realized I would have to make artistic compromises (larger aperture, smaller depth-of-field), I decided that was excuse enough to get moving. While traversing the longest stretch of the back of the building, I eventually came across the . . .

Back Entrance to the Warehouse

Back Entrance to the Warehouse

This may go without saying, but I did not venture inside.

Turning the corner from the back of the building to the side, I could hear the traffic on the street again. I was in the main parking lot, and, thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of interest to shoot. Figuring I was pretty much done, I added a spring to my step as I made my way around to the front where my car was parked. Looking around in every direction, I noticed one more scene that could be captured. Let’s call this one . . .

The Front Entrance to the Warehouse

Front Entrance to the Warehouse

That’s it for now. There are other images from this session that I may post to the gallery found at the above links. And who knows? I may go back there again. Maybe even tonight . . .

(All of the above HDR images were merged in Photomatix Pro.)

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