Authorized Urban Exploration in KW

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On Sunday, I had an amazing opportunity to shoot photos at a large, now-closed, industrial site on Glasgow Street.  My very good friend, Cathy Farwell, invited me to join 16 other photographers for a 3-hour tour.  A 3-hour tour (see what I did there?)

Before you delve into some portion of the remaining 83(!) photos, I want to say a massive thank you to the property owner, Bernie Nimer, head of Ridgewood Holdings Inc.  Bernie generously made this shoot possible.  Thanks to Cathy for thinking this up and arranging it all.  This was such a great let’s-try-this experiment, and it is contributions to the creative ecology like Cathy’s that make me so glad to be in KW (and friends with Cathy).

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Frosty morning at the former RMS plant as we assembled in the parking lot.  Some familiar faces and some new introductions.

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All checked in with security…

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we headed…

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Leading up to the event, I thought a bit about what I might do differently than the other photographers…

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and decided I would focus on…

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the photographers themselves.

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which is harder than you think because photographers on this outing were very polite and making every effort to “stay out of my shot”.  I tried to explain a few times, but then we were all spread out, so I just shot what I could.  What I didn’t count on, was…

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being charmed by this site.  In the last few months, I’ve been intrigued by writing on walls, beams, and doors.  Artifacts of human presence.  Echoes of cave paintings in Lascaux.  Except instead of buffalo, we have here machining G-code (M168) and passwords.

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Makes me think about the permanence of these marks.

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Susan was shooting with Canon gear.  I meant to ask her where she got the cool sling that attaches to the tripod mount of her camera.  Carbon black is being stored in those huge sacks.

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Cathy and Bernie Nimer, the property owner.

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Lots of cool remnants of the industrial history of the facility.

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This is a control pendant for the gargantuan overhead cranes.

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This wood block floor…

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was very popular with everyone.

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Great chains…

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I love these controls.  Heavy duty stuff.

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These wooden blocks are laid on end in the floor much like cobblestone.  Andy, who joined us on the tour, noted the wood block floor was easy to repair and easier on the feet than concrete.

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Susan and Liz on the second floor.

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Office furniture will outlast us all.

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The tool crib was…

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my favourite.

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Denise and Nicholas shooting the crib too.  We found great patterns here with the hooks and drawers and shelves.

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There was a fire-proof records room.

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Sean shooting the corner office.

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Unidentified stalactites.

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This key, the only one in the whole place, really made me wonder: it hung alone on a post.

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Some great textures.

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Carbon black clean up on the dock.

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I’m especially interested in personalized wall writing.  I’m curious who pre-dated Gord.

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Some writing is much neater…

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than other writing, and the impact on me is different.

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Tripod was a good call.  Low-light led to lots of high-ISO shots for me, but it was a good trade-off to be more nimble.

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Yup, it’s me again.  Cathy kept track of who was in the building at all times for safety.  Thanks Cathy!

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We had great light in the morning to shoot the large space.

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Roger stopped by to see how we were doing.

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There was a combination of the wood block “cobblestone”, wood plank, and concrete floor.

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Denise and Nicholas among the carbon black.  The clerestory windows reminded me of stained glass in a church.

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The bones…

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and hooks.

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and Ramy.  You get sense of the scale on this one.  I would love to fly low-power R/C airplanes in this space.  Or record some audio: the acoustics were really cool.

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Hey!  Mark’s here, too.

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I try not to get this close to Ramy so I can still feel good about my camera.  And lenses.

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Nicholas also did some drawings.

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Mark and Denise.

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Right, I’ll take that tripod now.

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There was a second shift of photographers at 12:30, so I missed some of the names.

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Love the corrections here!  Very human.

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Most interesting switch in the plant.  Evidence of a million index fingers.

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Spray-paint tests add a new dimension to the wall writing.

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Liz and Susan are serious photographers, as are many of the crew.  I could learn a lot from these folks.

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Looking out to the first floor offices and reception area.

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That magic floor.

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I would hang this in my house.  From something very sturdy.  Great conversation-starter.

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Denise showed me some of her pictures on-camera.  They are awesome, just like her paintings.

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If we all get together to share our photos, it will be fascinating to see everyone’s interpretation of…

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the floor.

Happy making,


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13 Responses to Authorized Urban Exploration in KW

  1. Dan says:

    A number of these shots are outstanding. Nice work!

  2. Bawa says:

    Awesome pics!

  3. cathy farwell says:

    You have an amazing eye Darin! I love your fun shots of the day but also those captivating art images; a documentation of the social ‘context’ of the place past and present. And always enjoy the great story-telling aspect of your blogs–like I was there!

  4. Von says:


    These are wicked! Totally wish I’d been there to do some video shooting. If the pictures are any indication, it would be some glorious industrial footage!

    Hope to catch up with you soon… perhaps tomorrow?


  5. Fabulous as always Darin! See ya tomorrow.

  6. Ben says:

    Darin, those are awesome shots! They’re encouraging me to get a real camera and go back to some other local ‘authorized’ UE sites.. 😉

  7. Denise Strong says:

    Enjoyed your photographs…….can’t get the one of “the office” out of my mind…it is a great shot …like a photo of an installation piece conjuring up many scenarios. Thank you for sharing. Denise.

  8. dw says:

    You all are very kind. Thanks for the support.


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  10. Urban Ghosts says:

    Congrats for getting permission to enter this place and thanks for posting these awesome photos! Abandoned industrial places are some of the most fascinating, and this one looks to be in relatively good condition compared to some of the decaying brown field sites out there!

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