MacArthur Woolen Mill

One afternoon last weekend whilst Cuppa was concentrating on her beading, I drove to the site of the old MacArthur Woolen Mill for a bit of a photo shoot. Since my main intent was to scout the location, I didn’t take my tripod, but I ended up shooting pictures anyway. I took three bracketed exposures of all but one of the shots and put them together using Nik HDR Efex.


High dynamic range (HDR) images enable photographers to record a greater range of tonal detail than a camera could capture in a single photo. This opens up a whole new set of lighting possibilities which one might have previously avoided — for purely technical reasons. The new “merge to HDR” feature … accomplishes this by combining a series of bracketed exposures into a single image, which encompasses the tonal detail of the entire series.

There is no free lunch however; trying to broaden the tonal range will inevitably come at the expense of decreased contrast in some tones. Learning to use HDR software can help you make the most of your dynamic range under tricky lighting — while still balancing this trade-off with contrast.

Because we want to merge three exposures into one image, we need the three images (or sometimes more) to be identical in composition: everything in exactly the same place in each photo. The only thing that is supposed to change from one shot to the next is the exposure: one light exposure, one medium and one dark. Therefore, one should use a tripod when clicking off multiple exposures because it is very difficult to keep the camera still, no matter how fast the camera is or how rock steady one’s hands might be. Fortunately for me, the Nik software has a very good anti-ghosting algorithm. 🙂

From the historical plaque on site.

The MacArthur Woolen Mill was built in 1871 by Archibald MacArthur to manufacture fine worsteds and tweeds. The mill and other stone mills which derived its source of power from the Mississippi River, was one of the chief reasons for the municipality’s growth and a tangible reminder of the early industrial development of the town.

The building itself is constructed of Beckwith sandstone and has undergone many alterations, but the exterior still retains its original character.

With all of the palaver out of the way, here are the photos that came out of that session.

MacArthur Woolen Mill

This channel diverted water the slight distance from the Mississippi River to the mill site. The old water wheel mechanism still exists, rusting out at the side of the building. There is now a gap where the dam used to be located, but the pillars remain. The dam would have diverted the maximum volume of water to the wheel.

MacArthur Woolen Mill

A tighter shot of the old gears and dam

MacArthur Woolen Mill

A side view of the dam and mechanism

MacArthur Woolen Mill

I couldn't resist just shooting the wall and all of its windows. Nowadays, factories are laid out in a cost-efficient, one-storey floor plan. But old factories of bygone days usually went vertical. This building is now used by a business.

MacArthur Woolen Mill

The old smokestack at the back of the building

What can I say? I had fun! 🙂

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10 Responses to MacArthur Woolen Mill

  1. I like the effect of the HDR although I’ve never tried it myself. I guess I should put that on my list of things to learn about my camera!

  2. Mara says:

    I love the one of the windows. I could just imagine children’s faces behind every one (like an orphanage or something similar).

  3. Hilary says:

    They turned out great. I do like how HDR looks but I don’t think I could be bothered to put that much time into my images. I’ll either save what I like or delete whatever was over or underexposed… and on to the next one. It takes more patience than I have.

  4. Lorna says:

    I loved that old mill; the town was one of my clients when I worked for the provincial government, and I always felt charmed and soothed by standing near it, listening to the water and wondering if I’d see any bricks fall

  5. Mary says:

    I’d really love to try HDR. It looks especially lovely in the first picture. The Mill is beautiful. Wish I were there shooting with you. Glad to her you had a good time. 🙂

  6. Looks like you DID have fun!
    These look like something out of a magazine!! Gorgeous Ac!!!
    That’s some Beautiful country up your way!
    Happy weekend!

  7. Norma says:

    These are very impressive!

  8. Ginnie says:

    If the people who built that in 1871 (or the ones who worked there) could look into the future they’d never dream what was to come … Nik HDR Efex. indeed ! It’s way too technical for me but I love the results…you are an artiste as well as Cuppa.

  9. sh says:

    What a marvellous building. I love the texture in the brick…. or is that dressed stone, I can’t tell, and the symmetry of the windows. You did a great job of the photos. I know nothing about all the technical photo stuff, I can barely use my little point’n’shoot, but I have fun with it. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

  10. Dimple says:

    I like all of these, but the first is the richest. I love the reflections especially.

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