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

'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

Sneak Peek


Here is a sneak peak at a series of images I am working on. They were shot at Pennhurst State School and Hospital located less than an hour west of Philadelphia. I had been wanting to photograph at Pennhurst for some time and finally got my chance. The campus consists of several buildings and we were allowed to photograph in two that were three-stories each. After learning of the sad history and chilling abuse that took place there, the experience was like none other … evocative and haunting. As I looked and photographed, I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like for the many unfortunate souls that were put there, and forgotten. And I continue to think about them. Pennhurst made an unforgettable impression. (Look for more images from this shoot in an upcoming post.)

I am leading a Private Group Photo Tour to Pennhurst on Sunday, August 24th. If you would like all the details let me know by leaving a note in the comments area below this post.

Adult-Sized Crib

‘Adult-Sized Crib’ © Denise Bush

Wheelchair I

‘Wheelchair I’ © Denise Bush

Room With Chair

‘Room With Chair’ © Denise Bush

Shades Of Green


You just have to love the brilliant greens of spring … too bad they are so short-lived. Going north to the Catskills in the spring helps to extend the bright colors for me. There, spring is usually 2 weeks behind the warming and progression at home. Everything seemed especially green this year … maybe it was all the rain or maybe we hit it just right. And yes, it really was that green!

Spring Greens

‘Spring Greens’ © Denise Bush

Artist's View

‘Artist’s View’ © Denise Bush

Dandelion Portrait

‘Dandelion Portrait’ © Denise Bush

Orchard Below

‘Orchard Below’ © Denise Bush

Clouds Over The Clove

‘Clouds Over The Clove’ © Denise Bush

Trees In A Field

‘Trees In A Field’ © Denise Bush

Spring waterfalls are surely one of Mother Nature’s beautiful gifts. Leading photo weekends in the Catskills of New York State, I’ve spent a lot of time shooting them. The first waterfall in this series however, was shot in the Delaware Water Gap area of Pennsylvania, in early spring. I had been there before but bright sun made getting a good image impossible. This time the sky was overcast so I headed straight to this spot when we arrived and the lighting worked out much better. The remaining images, from the Catskills display this year’s abundant spring rain. I had never seen these falls carry such a huge amount of water before and can still hear the roar when I look at the photos. Waterfalls are ever-changing wonders and it’s fun to see how different they can look with each visit!

Deer Leap Falls

‘Deer Leap Falls’ © Denise Bush

Roaring Kill in Spring

‘Roaring Kill in Spring’ © Denise Bush

Top Of The Falls

‘Top Of The Falls’ © Denise Bush

Spring At Bastion Falls

‘Spring At Bastion Falls’ © Denise Bush


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