Images from the Asylum

Originally known as “Kings’ County Asylum” this huge complex is perhaps more commonly known as “The Psych Center.” The former Kings Park Psychiatric Center was the subject of some documentary projects and countless local ghost stories. Such stories are to be expected in the case of an asylum which grew in the heyday of the pre-frontal lobotomy and electroshock therapy. This now disused psychiatric hospital which was founded in 1885 as a partially self-sufficient “farm colony asylum” and grew to its peak in the 1950s is now part of a 520 acre state park. So with all that history, this project was a long time in coming. As anyone knows, the projects that are just around the corner, most convenient or ostensibly easy are not always the ones that we tackle in a timely manner. In my case this was about an hour and a half of photographing (and 2 or three hours spent in processing) about 5 minutes from my home. As a park, a few of the colony-asylum’s buildings have been renovated for use as offices and maintenance garages, but most remain barred, and boarded decaying and being slowly reclaimed by nature. This inevitable breakdown of our great human endeavors makes for wonderful imagery. With the fuzzy and dark history of this particular place, you can almost see the pain of its one time inhabitants.

It was many times that I had told myself this would be a great location to do some HDR images. Mostly this was because my running habit brought me through the park with great regularity. But like so many ideas, it seems the very convenience of it was what prevented my accomplishing it. Now that plans for dismantling many of the site’s buildings are underway, the deadline was set. So, again, a simple external force is what helps me overcome my resistance. Even so, I’m pretty excited by the images that turned out. I hope you enjoy them too.

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