The Cape Ann Tool Company overlooks Pigeon Cove Harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts. Long abandoned and decaying since 1987, this highly controversial structure is seen as an eyesore by some, and as an object of fascination by others. As both a Rockport resident and a photographer, I can appreciate each side of the argument. On this day, my photographer’s eye simply saw this site as an abandoned treasure waiting to be captured by my lens.
A Bit of History
The Cape Ann Tool Company came to life in the late 1800s. Originally it produced tools for the many local rock quarries, all thanks to its 100-ton drop forge. In later years the company evolved into making tools and parts for a variety of different industries, including automobile and aerospace. The company was eventually liquidated in 1987. I can’t help but wonder how many workers walked across this very same courtyard over the years.
Light, Shadow & Texture
The reason I wanted to shoot the Cape Ann Tool Company remains in the morning hours was because of the angle of the sun. I knew the right mixture of light and shadow would filter through the cracked windows and open roofs. Once I arrived and saw the lay of the land, I thought these elements could possibly make for some good HDR (High Dynamic Range) shots. That’s what I created for the first four shots in this article. Note: All shots were handheld. No tripod used. Not recommended for HDR, but doable if you have a very steady hand.
The rusted metals and peeling paint throughout the building were a continuous source of great texture and color, particularly when highlighted by the sun. Occasionally, I found diverse shapes and textures all together in one small area, such as around the mighty furnace chamber.
In the sections of the roof that still remain, I found the shapes, colors and patterns interesting subjects in themselves. The way the morning light reflected off of things naturally drew my attention. It was the contrast of colors, lines and circles when looking towards the sky that caught my eye here.
The Inner Sanctum
The interior of any abandoned building has a sense of mystery about it. After all, if you’ve never been there before, you don’t know what’s around the next corner. Then again, if you have been there before, you don’t know if anything has changed — particularly when a building is in decay for nearly a quarter century.
What I found interesting about this location were the subtle reminders of past inhabitants. Like the handwritten date of 2/7/78 on the wall to the left, and the red Emergency Switch right outside the Boiler Room door. Even the beer can on the floor communicated someone had been here before me, and maybe not all that long ago.
Note: No HDR for this shot. I did, however, use a flash and then applied a slight tonal contrast adjustment using Nik Color Efex Pro to bring out the detail in this very dark and spooky corner. It wasn’t a place where I wanted to linger.
Every Picture Tells A Story…
If every picture tells a story, then what tale do you suppose the artist was trying to tell when he/she painted this mural?
When I first stumbled upon it, I was struck by the sudden splash of vibrant color. I then studied the image for quite a while, trying to grasp its message. Several thoughts came to mind, but I won’t tip my hand here. Leave a comment and tell me what you think this painted image was meant to communicate.
So there you have it. An inside peek at the Cape Ann Tool Company. Love it or hate, it will continue to be an interesting and controversial place for as long as it stands.
~ Liz Mackney