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How (and Why) I Took the Shot #4: Mystery

Dustin Abbott

April 19th, 2015

Unlock the Mystery

As many of you know, I dearly love to get out in the woods and wander.  I do this in most of the places that I travel to, although you might substitute “desert” or “city” or “beach” for “woods” where appropriate.  Great photography subjects can be found in unexpected places, and this article commemorates just such an experience.

It was Good Friday, and the kids had the day off of school.  I had them out for an adventure in the woods.  We went a different direction than ever before and were walking, talking, and laughing along when suddenly I saw it.

Something completely unexpected!

In the middle of nowhere, deep in the woods, was an enclosure about 15 feet by 12.  It was a low fence (about 2 1/2 feet high), but it was the look of it that was surprising.  It was all made of highly ornate wrought iron, with all kinds of scrollery and designs.  It had a somewhat Gothic appearance.  It looked like something designed for a palace except for the obvious patina of age over everything.

It was so completely out of place deep in the woods.  There was no house or any living structure for at least a kilometer in any direction (I confirmed this by using an aerial map view afterward).  It was obviously built a long time ago, as the signs of age were obvious on every inch of it and the fact that a tree at some point had fallen across the rear third, breaking the wrought iron chains out of their posts on each end.  That tree is now deep into the process of decay.

There was still a fairly deep layer of snow everywhere in the woods, but as we began to explore everything we found a granite marker beyond the fallen tree at the back on the enclosure.  I couldn’t make out any writing, but it became clear that this was probably either a memorial for a beloved family member or else a small, private cemetery for a family.

That raised more questions, of course.  Who?  Why?  When?

This place has become forgotten, decaying…does anyone remember what it means?

But it was the final detail that I noticed that inspired this little article and its title.  I looked at the front little gate one last time, and noticed that there was a rusted old lock attached to one of the posts.  It struck me as ironic, considering, that the fence itself was only a few feet high and the fact that the fallen tree had taken down the rear third of the fence.  That lock wouldn’t keep much of anything out.  It didn’t stop the tree from falling over into the little area, snow from filling the enclosure, animals moving in and out, or even my children and I stepping over the little fence and exploring before we began to realize what the place probably was.  That little lock was purely symbolic…but it seemed a perfect poetic visual representation of the whole contradictory nature of the scene.

It seemed appropriate that the lens I had mounted on my camera was a vintage Helios 44-2 from the Soviet era.  An old lens to captured an aged scene.

I shot the main image wide open with the Helios and then processed to add to the slightly faded look of the image/subject.  I used one of my custom overlays to add the flare into the image, and one of my favorite presets in Alien Skin Exposure 7 to add that final bit of magic.

And that’s How and Why I took the shot.  Now if only I had the key to unlock this mystery…

Gear Used:

Canon EOS 6D DSLR Camera (Body Only)
Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 M42 lens via Pro Adapter for M42 Lens to Canon EOS Camera with Focus Confirmation Chip, V.2 with Flange (Chrome)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Software for Mac and Windows (Boxed Version)
Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud 1-Year Subscription
Alien Skin Exposure 7 (Use code “dustinabbott” to get 10% off)

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