Equal Opportunity Motorcycling Community

Harley-Davidson motorcycles lined up.
Harley-Davidsons lined up at a bike night in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

“We are individualists, but also a sociable lot. You can be big, small, black, white, gay, straight, Martian, blue-eyed, green-eyed, long-haired, short-haired, abled, disabled, cat loving, dog loving, or what not. If you’re on a motorcycle, you’re welcome anywhere.” – Barbara Ann Mahoney, Letter To The Editor, The New York Times.

A Sparrow In Hawthorne Trees

Have you ever been around a Hawthorne tree? They are not a tree you want in your yard. The thorns are sharp as needles and tough as nails. They will rip holes in mower tires, your clothes, and you.

Somehow sparrows jump from branch to branch and the thorns never bother them. It was interesting to watch.

Sparrow in a Hawthorne tree.
Sparrow in a Hawthorne tree.

I read that many birds actually prefer thorny plants and that hawthorn trees are excellent for attracting them. Nature must have given them special ways of dealing with the thorns.

Long Exposure Welding Glass Photography Experiment

Digital photography’s limits entertain me  to  no end. The ability to capture a slice of light and time is interesting, but stretching that out to a larger slice of light and time is more interesting.

I read that I could use cheap welding glass instead of expensive neutral density filters to get a start in long exposure photography. The only problem is that you have to rig it on with rubber bands and welding glass has a strong green tint that must either be converted to black and white or color corrected in Photoshop.

It’s nearly impossible to find anyone who can print a black and white photo properly, so I didn’t want to work in black and white. I was happy to see that my conversion to color worked. It’s amazing that this green tinted photo could be tweaked to look normal. I have to laugh more now at the, “I don’t like it, it’s been Photoshopped.”, crowd. Photoshop does incredible things. Saving me huge amounts of money on filters and producing a viable result like this is another.

Now, I have a few more tweaks to make this a workable solution.


RAW file after long exposure shot with welding glass.
The RAW file looked like this when shot with welding glass at a 30 second exposure.


A 30 second shot through welding glass after color correction in Photoshop.
A 30 second shot through welding glass after color correction in Photoshop.

After 30 seconds with this setup, strange things started happening due to light leaks. I ordered a lens hood to rig up a better mount. The way I had it mounted even messed up the focus, blurring the photo too.  Also, a remote trigger is on the way so that I can use the bulb feature better for exposures longer than 30 seconds. Once I get that and I get to a spot that’s more interesting than my backyard, I’ll be ready to learn to create cool long exposure photo.

Solving Problems

Country road with a curve on my motorcycle.
After-work ride in the Autumn sunset on country roads clears the mind.

“One of the reasons I have loved motorcycling is that it gives me time to think-time without the distractions of the telephone or other day-to-day interruptions. AMA Board Member Dal Smilie notes that when he rides he is able to think so clearly that he develops solutions for all the world’s major problems. Unfortunately, he notes, those solutions always vanish when he turns off the key and parks his bike.” – John Van Barriger

Exploring The Abandoned HPM Building

I’m old enough and smart enough to know that entering an abandoned factory could be a really bad idea. There is no telling what is in there or if the law will charge you with breaking and entering. There are many things that can happen, so even though it’s trendy on YouTube channels, I wouldn’t do it.

Just looking at the outside from a safe distance though, I’ll do that. It’s interesting what you can find. In this case, it was the old HPM factory near Mount Gilead, Ohio. This place may still be functioning as a warehouse or at some low level, but for the most part, it’s dead.

HPM stood for “Hydraulic Press Manufacturing” and the company started in 1877. I remember going there as a boy in the 70’s when my Dad worked there for a short period.

Watching how nature takes over anything man builds is interesting. That’s what caught my eye when I passed this place while out riding my motorcycle. I noticed the missing windows right off. The roof’s probably leaking too. That will speed up the rot and decay in any structure.

The abandoned HPM factory in Mount Gilead, Ohio.
The abandoned HPM factory in Mount Gilead, Ohio.

This stop sign for incoming trucks at the guard shack is still good enough warning for me. I’m not going further in. I’ll take my photos from outside of the gate.

An old stop sign.
Old stop sign at the guard shack.

My motorcycle was parked out by the road, but it’s nice to know they gave the option back in the day. Least they could do for the low pay this place was reputed to have.

Abandoned motorcycle parking spots.
Abandoned motorcycle parking.

This arrangement of the no trespassing sign with a zip tied cosmetic mirror and scrub brush still puzzles me. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s just random and means nothing or it’s some sort of homeless code to others.

Mirror, scrub, brush, and a cord next to a no trespassing sign.
Odd collection of stuff zip tied to the fence.

The flower below is called fleabane. It was once rumored to ward of fleas and pests. Today, I’ve heard that it’s a sign of contaminants in the soil and that it helps start the process of cleansing the soil. It’s one tough flower as it grows right through the asphalt.

Fleabane flowers.
Fleabane flower breaking through asphalt at an abandoned parking lot.

When I stepped in front of this security camera, it was about a minute later the police showed up. I wouldn’t guess it to still be in operation, but there’s a possibility.

Front of abandoned HPM Factory in Mount Gilead, Ohio
Front door of the abandoned HPM factory.

The police and a large sedan that I would assume to be a caretaker or owner showed up right when I lowered the camera to take a photo of this old tire tread that I found interesting.

An old tire.
An old tire that saved me from further questioning by the police.

The police officer was nice enough. I explained that I was just an amateur photographer and showed him the photos. I explained that I wasn’t out to touch a thing and that it would be a little tough to steal anything because I was on my motorcycle. I also pointed out that I hadn’t went past any no trespassing signs.

The civilian though – that was funny. He was screaming to the point he didn’t make any sense. I pointed to the rotten old tires and asked if he’d had any trouble with complaints about mosquitoes or anything. I told him he might want to be careful because a complaint like that could open up a can of worms around this mess. He shut up.

The officer told me to have a nice day and good luck with the photos I took. I rode away laughing at my first “abandoned building” shoot and how it went wrong right away. I still might try another one sometime. If I’m calling you for bail, this is most likely what went wrong.

Don’t get me wrong here on building exploration. This is not a primary interest of mine. I hesitated to put this out because I know I’ll get many messages telling me where every abandoned building in Ohio is. This is NOT what I do. If you tell me where abandoned buildings are in hopes of reading my adventure of it, you’re wasting our time. Video cameras are cheap though, don’t let me steal the limelight. Take a video of your adventure in these places instead and send me the link to enjoy!

Social Media Constraints

Cattails in the early winter.
Cattails in the early winter after being ravaged by birds. Birds use the stringy seeds to make nests.

Constraints often improve an artist’s work. I don’t consider myself an “artist”, but I do undertake creative endeavors. Writing and photography are forms of art, I just don’t like to compare anything I do with so many other somewhat unrelated fields like painting. I have found that limits do free your time and keep your works withing boundaries, financial and otherwise.

A constraint I’m adding is far, far less time on Facebook. More time walking, writing and photographing. Less time arguing the finer points of politics and other things that Facebook is a lacking platform for.

It’s already led me to a Sunday afternoon hiking in a field. That’s when this photo was captured.

It’s Like Flying

Rural church near Newark, Ohio
Rural church on 668 near Newark, Ohio.

“Driving a motorcycle is like flying. All your senses are alive. When I ride through Beverly Hills in the early morning, and all the sprinklers have turned off, the scents that wash over me are just heavenly.” – Hugh Laurie

I agree with Mr. Laurie, it is heavenly and it’s like low level flying. You don’t need to be in Beverly Hills to experience the nature of it though. I supposed the money out there wouldn’t hurt the experience any though.

The Woodward Opera House In Mount Vernon, Ohio

I finally had the chance to see The Woodward Opera House in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The theater operated from the 1850’s – 1920’s. What an interesting experience to stand in a theater vacated since the 1920’s! It’s likely that I had ancestors that visited this theater.

Part of the reason that this incredible building is standing is that it was part of a building that had many other uses. While theater might have only been used for storage, the rest of the building remained active.

The Woodward Opera House in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The stage of The Woodward Opera House in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The balcony of The Woodward Opera House.
The balcony of The Woodward Opera House.
The remains of an old poster in The Woodward Opera House.
The remains of an old poster.

Here is a video with a detailed explanation of the history of The Woodward Opera House.

Mark Spearman's Journal Of Photography, Motorcycles, And Other Cool Things