I paid a second visit to Pennhurst State School & Hospital last weekend in an outing I organized to include some photographer friends. It was fun sharing the experience but a little more challenging for me. I had already photographed the scenes that called out loudest to me and now I had to dig a little deeper so as not to repeat what I had done a few months before. I found myself still attracted to several scenes with the left-over wooden chairs and institutional seating. Down in the basement, in a place called ‘Candy Land’ a small group of us practiced light-painting. ‘Candy Land Exit’ and ‘Math Studies’ are the results. I chose several frames to process and then picked my favorites to display here. Like before, I did my best to stay true to the color, light and feeling about the place.

For more information about Pennhurst scroll down to my previous posts or use these links. (To return home click ‘Denise Bush’s Photo Blog’ at the top.)
Sneak Peek
Seating Arrangements
Inside Pennhurst

'Candyland Exit'  © Denise Bush (There are 5 children in the mural. Can you see them all?)

‘Candy Land Exit’ © Denise Bush
(There are 5 children in the mural. Can you see them all?)

'Beside The Outside'  © Denise Bush

‘Beside The Outside’ © Denise Bush

'Institution Remnants'  © Denise Bush

‘Institution Remnants’ © Denise Bush

'Outside These Walls'  © Denise Bush

‘Outside These Walls’ © Denise Bush

'The Social Room'  © Denise Bush

‘The Social Room’ © Denise Bush

'Smiley Faces'  © Denise Bush

‘Smiley Faces’ © Denise Bush

'Pennhurst Portal'  © Denise Bush

‘Pennhurst Portal’ © Denise Bush

'Stairwell To Nowhere'  © Denise Bush

‘Stairwell To Nowhere’ © Denise Bush

'Math Studies'  © Denise Bush

‘Math Studies’ © Denise Bush

'Three-legged Chair'  © Denise Bush

‘Three-legged Chair’ © Denise Bush

Like many other photographers I captured this month’s full moon which occurred on Sunday August 10, 2014. I’d like to share a few things I learned with others interested in this subject.

Knowing that the moon would appear full, both the day before and the day after the full moon I took a look at the exact times. I saw that the moon would rise one hour before sunset on Saturday and took a ride out to my location. I am working on a Burlington County project titled, ‘Preserved Farmland Visions’ which pairs artists from the county with area farms. The project began in April 2014 and I have been assigned to a cranberry farm. There will be a group exhibit of the work one year from the start, in April 2015.

Going out on Saturday I figured I would scout for the following night and find my composition. What interests me most at this location, this time of year are a couple of reservoirs with dead cedar trees. The scenes can be very busy so I narrowed down the possibilities to three trees that stood taller than the rest. As the moon rose it was still light out and I was able to photograph it higher in the sky while retaining detail. The advantage was that the low, filtered sunlight cast soft light on my subjects and I was not working with a ‘high dynamic’ light range … as is the case when it is already dark when it rises. I like this image for it’s softer, more peaceful feeling.

On Sunday, the night of the full moon, I went out and assumed I would be getting a very similar composition … wrong! I underestimated how drastic the position of the rising moon would be with just one night’s difference and had to quickly adjust my composition. I should have checked the exact position with Photographer’s Ephemeris on the second night. The sun had already disappeared from the horizon and it was getting dark. In this situation it was important to capture the moon soon after it rose otherwise it would be so bright it would be impossible to capture any detail in the scene without blowing out the moon. I also needed to act fast before it disappeared behind the low clouds. This image is certainly more dramatic than the first and I am pleased there is some cloud interest.

Which image do you prefer? Let me know by clicking the ‘comment’ link right below this post.

'Moon Before Nightfall'  © Denise Bush (Captured the night before the full moon.)

‘Moon Before Nightfall’ © Denise Bush
(Captured the night before the full moon.)

'Full Moon Rising'  © Denise Bush

‘Full Moon Rising’ © Denise Bush

A recent trip to a local fair proved to be a fun photo op. The real treat came when sunset arrived in a brilliant display against the decorative rides and colorful lights. After nightfall the lit up rides provided a great subject for night photography and abstract motion blurs. A tripod was needed for the long exposures ranging from 2 to 15 seconds.

Sunset At The Fair

‘Sunset At The Fair’ © Denise Bush
Prints For Sale at Fine Art America (link top right)

'Sunset Ride'  G Denise Bush

‘Sunset Ride’ © Denise Bush

'Wipeout'  © Denise Bush

‘Wipeout’ © Denise Bush

'The Zipper'  © Denise Bush

‘The Zipper’ © Denise Bush

'A Thousand Lights'  © Denise Bush

‘A Thousand Lights’ © Denise Bush

'Rainbow Ride'  © Denise Bush

‘Rainbow Ride’ © Denise Bush

'Ferris Wheel I'  © Denise Bush

‘Ferris Wheel I’ © Denise Bush

The worn, weathered and abandoned are among my favorite and most blogged about subjects … as many of you know. These subjects have always held a deep fascination for me as I imagine their past. Speaking about a way of life our ancestors knew, they hold a special charm as they gracefully age. And photographing them is a way of recording their existence before they return to mother earth. Below are a selection from random trips made earlier this year.

'Old Time Garage'  © Denise Bush

‘Old Time Garage’ © Denise Bush
Prints For Sale at Fine Art America (link top right)


'Coop & Crib'  © Denise Bush

‘Coop & Crib’ © Denise Bush

'Ice Box & Washer'  © Denise Bush

‘Ice Box & Washer’ © Denise Bush

'Abandoned Still-life'  © Denise Bush

‘Abandoned Still-life’ © Denise Bush

'Attic Residents'  © Denise Bush

‘Attic Residents’ © Denise Bush

'Cold Springs Classic'  © Denise Bush

‘Cold Springs Classic’ © Denise Bush

'Barn Along The Way'  © Denise Bush

‘Barn Along The Way’ © Denise Bush

'Grand Remains'  © Denise Bush

‘Grand Remains’ © Denise Bush

'Hillbilly Shack'  © Denise Bush

‘Hillbilly Shack’ © Denise Bush

'Workbench'  © Denise Bush

‘Workbench’ © Denise Bush

Here are some random images, all shot within an hour or so of my home in Southern New Jersey. We are situated between Philadelphia and Atlantic City in a region know as the Pinelands, a dense oak and pine forest known for its diverse flora and fauna. Living here has its own advantages … photographically speaking and I enjoy capturing the local scenery. The forest has many sand roads that lead to ponds, streams and bogs worth photographing. Rural scenes and Americana interest me so I also enjoy the surrounding farmland, known for it’s Jersey corn, tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries. Another plus is that we have the Jersey Shore nearby where areas on the bay and the surf coming in along the ocean offer even more possibilities. Representing the Pinelands, rural scenes and even the coast, here are some photos from places close to my home.

Long Barn

‘Long Barn’ © Denise Bush

'Rural Relics'  © Denise Bush

‘Rural Relics’ © Denise Bush

Distant Reflection

‘Distant Reflection’ © Denise Bush

Old Indian Mills House

‘Old Indian Mills House’ © Denise Bush

Thru The Trees

‘Thru The Trees’ © Denise Bush

Swamp Maples in Spring

‘Swamp Maples in Spring’ © Denise Bush

Three Trees With Birds

‘Three Trees With Birds’ © Denise Bush

'Sea Captain's House'  © Denise Bush

‘Sea Captain’s House’ © Denise Bush

Research Station Sunset

‘Research Station Sunset’ © Denise Bush


Here are my last images from Pennhurst … for a little while anyway. I wanted the images to tell a story of Pennhurst as an institution. Images I chose not to show are those I shot in areas that had a lot of graffiti. Those images seemed to be more about vandalism and less about the past of the place. Here I converted a few to black and white. The rich textures work well but in some I still prefer to show the unusual color palette. As stated in the previous post I worked to replicate the dark lighting. Having learned from my first shoot here I am looking forward to going back and trying some different angles and approaches.

Scroll down to see and read two more posts from Pennhurst State School & Hospital. To return home at any time click on Denise Bush’s Photo Blog at the top. And feel free to leave a comment in the areas below each post!

Adjacent Room

‘Adjacent Room’ © Denise Bush

Visiting Emily

‘Visiting Emily’ © Denise Bush

Forgotten Friend

‘Forgotten Friend’ © Denise Bush

Crib By A Window

‘Crib By A Window’ © Denise Bush

Chair & Radiator

‘Chair & Radiator’ © Denise Bush


‘Empty’ © Denise Bush

Upon processing my images from Pennhurst State School & Hospital I realized that many of them feature the random chairs that were left behind. For me they represent evidence of human existence. I was drawn to the windows, draped with dingy curtains … at one time allowing just a glimpse of the world outside these walls. As I walked among the remains I thought about all the secrets from the past that are buried here and the spirits that surely linger. While processing the images I relied on my visual memory to stay true to the dark lighting and haunting feeling about the place.

Pennhurst was known as Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic when it opened in 1908. When admitted, patients were grouped into mental categories of imbecile or insane, and into physical categories of epileptic or healthy. Within three years of opening, Pennhurst was over-crowded, and at one time housed more than 2,700 patients as well as wards of the state … the majority children. Relatives were discouraged from visiting explaining that it would be ‘better for the patient’. In 1968, conditions at Pennhurst were exposed in a five-part television news report anchored by CBS reporter, Bill Baldini and titled, Suffer the Little Children. In 1983, nine employees were indicted on charges of abuse followed by the Halderman Case which detailed further, widespread abuse resulting in closing the institution in 1986.

Sitting Room

‘Sitting Room’ © Denise Bush

Room With A Desk

‘Room With A Desk’ © Denise Bush

Wheelchair II

‘Wheelchair II’ © Denise Bush

Reflection From The Outside

‘Reflection From The Outside’ © Denise Bush

Chair & Ball

‘Chair & Ball’ © Denise Bush


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