Dixon Mills: A Look at a Factory Turned Condo

On one of my many photography outings in Jersey City, I wanted to tackle the Dixon Mills apartment complex and sure enough I did. Jersey City was a factory powerhouse back in the 19th and 20th centuries as some of its factories/warehouse history is still around today either as converted condos, converted business buildings or just plain abandoned. The Dixon Mills is in the condo category as it was once a pencil maker factory.

Unfortunately, for me, I did not know that the Dixon Mills complex was a private residency despite being on main public streets. As soon as I had my camera around the complex, a woman security guard approached me asking if I had any permission to take photos.

When I answered no, she simply said I couldn’t take photos around the complex unless I had permission from the residency. I was a bit bummed out and upset with the situation, but I didn’t let that get to me down. My inner rebel came out and so did my camera as I took some photos with great haste.

The "Dixon" Mills painted sign on the wall looks beautifully as I hide behind the tree      © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

The “Dixon” Mills painted sign on the wall looks beautifully as I hide behind the tree
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

In this first shot (above) here, I wanted to capture the rows of the flower pots of the bottom right of the frame as they were beautifully placed symmetrically along with the spiral stair cases. I definitely wanted to capture the “Dixon” sign painted on the building as that was the main focus point of this photo along with the trees slightly covering it.

Speaking of trees, I took this shot behind one to be as discreet as possible, hence, why the trunk is in the left part of the frame. The windows are beautifully symmetrically put together as well, even on the next building. Factory and warehouses are some of my favorite buildings to take photos of even if they are condos. The history of Jersey City is still in those structures.

One of the many bridges connecting the Dixon Mills Complex buildings  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

One of the many bridges connecting the Dixon Mills Complex buildings
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

I walked very quickly, making sure I was able to get every inch of the complex. I spotted another “Dixon” painted sign (photo above) only this time I spotted one of its cool bridges that connects to the next building which were probably use to transport items back in its factory days. Once again I hid behind a tree as it dominates the left side of the frame. I was also hiding behind this tree because I wanted to avoid sun glare on the lens. The “Dixon” sign is on the right this time as the main focus is the bridge with wonderful shapes designed on it and the bright sun casting its shadow on the building.

Past meets present with the historic Dixon Mills and parked modern days cars  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Past meets present with the historic Dixon Mills and parked modern days cars
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

This next show here (above) was a quick and simple shot. I honestly just wanted to capture the “Joseph Dixon Crucible Co.” sign to showcase the historical presence of the buildings and show off something different of the old factory complex. The present day cars represent a bridge between past and present.

Switching to black and white for a my vintage shot  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Switching to black and white for a my vintage shot
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Before leaving the complex, I would get one more photo (above) of another bridge, this time in black and white to capture a vintage feel to the complex back to when it was an operating factory. I zoomed in a little on this shot and decreased the exposure composition to darken the image a bit as I still wanted to keep the sky at the right lightness while keeping the trees and building darker. This makes the bridge stand out more in the photo.

Once I was done with my Dixon Mills adventure, I sped walked out of there while putting my camera in my bag. The woman security guard was following me about a half a block away. Thankfully, she never said anything to me as I vanished.

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