Building 46, Crane Footing. Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California. February 19, 2011. © Copyright 2011 Steven Tze – all rights reserved.
Industrial decay is the star of the show at Mare Island Naval Shipyard (MINSy) in Vallejo, CA. Fully functional until its closure in 1995, some of it’s centuries old building have been torn down, some left in arrested decay, and some converted for use by private businesses.
I made the trip out to Mare Island after seeing blog postings by G Dan Mitchell on his frequent night photography excursions with The Nocturnes. The intent was for me become familiar with the layout of the buildings in the daylight as the buildings are usually only numbered and frequently don’t have visible physical addresses. I wouldn’t want to find my way around on a moonless night while lugging around camera equipment as my first MINSy experience!
Going through hundreds of Mare Island photos online, I had the expectation that not only were some buildings in fantastic arrested decay, but were mostly open for exploring. A couple of hours after arriving at MINSy, I came to the realization that any buildings that were not occupied by private business were now locked and boarded up. I suppose years of vandalism and destruction (and potential liability) led to the end of the “good old days”.
This specific picture is of Building 46, built in 1855 and used as a pipe shop until 1984. The structure in the foreground is a footing/leg for one of the large overhead ship cranes that is still a prominent feature on the island. I enjoy the contrast of the brick red building and the worn paint metal. In this composition I wanted to make sure the third of four windows was completely obscured by metal as I thought having a partially showing window would take away from the clean lines present.
I’ll have the make another trip out to MINSy for night photography now that I have some of the essential gear that needed: a steady tripod, remote shutter release, and an insomnia lifestyle. All I’m missing is a fast lens/glass, but I can make due without for now.
EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 48mm, ISO 200, 1/30 sec, f/9