Back From The Grist Mill Expedition!

The Great Grist Mill Trip

The Hagood Grist Mill in Pickins SC. Oly E-PL1 w/830nm

I am back and really TIRED!  Wow, 2500 miles total drive for 11 days of travel.  I visited 8 grist mills in all and family in the middle and towards the end.  I shot in Color and Infrared (but mostly in Infrared of course!).  As time goes by I will do several posts on this trip and the few fun things that I learned during it.

The Old St. Charles Grist Mill, Oly E-PL1, 630nm

My main reason for this trip was to visit my parents in St. Charles, Mo (did you know that there is a mill right there?) I spent 5 days with them of which I only took 1/2 day to visit the Old St. Charles Mill which has been converted to a large bar. The mill could operate, but the creek that feeds it has all but dried up.  The feed pipes to the water wheel look intact. It was very refreshing to find one of these gems buried in the middle of a LARGE metropolitan area! It is fed by a rocky creek that is running down to the Missouri River right through St. Charles.  The creek itself is also very interesting in that it is full of big rocks and boulders.  It would be nice to get down into the creek to shoot it and the mill from a low angle but it was just too dangerous for an old coot like me!

But I am getting ahead of the story as St. Charles was the 6th state in my trip and most of the mills I visited happened in the first 2 days of my trip in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. To find the old mills requires a LOT of research.  I spent hours on the network searching them out.  I found several WEB sites that were very helpful in this but,  for every mill  found, I likely missed a dozen close at hand because they are just not documented!  When I left home, I had a list of about a 500 mills from the Atlantic all the way to Missouri and from the tip of Florida all the way north to the Great Lakes and I still missed and found more on the road! I really could have spent another week or two driving to more of them along the way. Most were interesting and worth documenting, but one was so badly managed by arrogant people that went out of their way to be unfriendly that I am going to dedicate one future post to just them in a new heading for complaining about idiots!  Really, I am not a mean or nasty person most of the time am I?

Hannahs Mill, E-PL1 630nm Faux Post Processing

OK, here is what we are going to add to this post in the next few days:

Old French Mill, Tenn.

How Infrared Photography saved an expensive trip!

I love to travel!  I am consumed by seeing and photographing new and different places.  But… The nature of travel dictates that you have no control of WHEN you will arrive at your next scheduled or unscheduled stop!  This means that you have no control over the lighting at the time you are there!  Unless you are willing to actually stop your trip and wait for at least a half day on location for better light you are at the mercy of the creative muses!  Let me tell you that they can be nice but most of the time they are wickedly nasty, looking to give you challenges to overcome in the pursuit of your art!

Old French Mill, Olympus E-PL1 Full Spectrum IR, 630nm

This trip was no different in this.  I found that I arrived at the mills after the magic hours of morning and evening when the light is OK for normal color photography.  EVERY mill BEGGED to be photographed in both color and Infrared.  But for the color images the sky was always blown out or the light was too harsh on the mills themselves for good images.  Unless you zoomed in and concentrated on the details, most of the color images were useless. The image to the right of the French Creek Mill was taken in the early morning. I made a point of getting a hotel 5 miles away from the mill on I40 so that I could get up in the morning and photograph this mill (one of my favorites that I have visited 3 times now) in the early morning in both color and Infrared.

Hannahs Mill Feed Creek, Georgia 720nm Faux Color

Hannahs Mill Feed Creek, Georgia 720nm Faux Color

It is a different story with Infrared Photography!  The sky can never be too bright, it will always photograph dark in Infrared! You can control the bright spots on the subject by careful composition and filter selection.  The bottom line here is that without my Infrared system on hand, I would not have come back with any useful images at all.  This is why I am so passionate about Infrared Photography!

The images shown here are of Hannah’s Mill in Hannahs Mill, Ga. The mill is VERY run down and the water wheel was gone.  But it was still a good stop because the mill building and the milling equipment was still in place!  There was a great stream with little water falls everywhere as well as the mill dam.  The image of the building below was processed as it came from the camera with no channel swap. You will find that sometimes when you get in the 700nm range of Infrared filters, you get wonderful bronze tones.  I really like some of the images straight out of the camera and this is one of those times when it just works out!

Hannahs Mill, B+W 091 with NO Channel swap!

Best Infrared Filters for vacation photography (you cannot carry everything!)

Wet Feet & Wet Rocks!

Rain?  SO WHAT!!

GPS’s are a gift from GOD!

Tying your GPS into the Internet and downloading waypoints!

Trashed Mills?  So what!  Look at the DETAILS!

More Mills of course!

The Sony NEX-5 as an INFRARED travel camera… Can it replace the E-PL1? (did I actually say that?)

.. more later!


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