Abandoned Stewart’s and The D & R Trail Canal

With the weather now warmer and bearable in terms of photography outings, I now have the ability to fully explore my new town of Lawrenceville, NJ. During the course of about six months living here, I have discovered new areas that would be great to take photos. I have taken plenty of photos before in Lawrenceville, but thanks to the warmness of the late Spring weather, I have found even more areas to take photos.

Eventually, I had planned a photography outing on my birthday (May 27th), but later in the afternoon it rained and I didn’t get the chance to go out. I really wanted to since it was also the first anniversary of my first photography outing with my DSLR camera. So, I settled for the next day and explored an abandoned Stewart’s on Route 1.

Prior to this photography outing I walked down Route 1 to get to know the town. I love places that are abandoned and this Stewart’s was an absolute draw for me. All the grass growing around as well as the decaying infrastructure was the perfect spot to take photos of. I knew I had to go back with my camera and capture this empty eatery.

Walking down Route 1 hoping not to get run over by the passing traffic, I made my way to the Stewart’s and prepared to get the shots I wanted. The weather temperature wise was great on this day as it was very warm, but it was a very overcast day. The lack of sunlight made it difficult to get some shots.

I took some shots in color and they were okay, but my black and white photos on the other hand were coming out even better. I was planning on taking black and white photos anyways since I had been experimenting with the picture effect on my camera call Rich Black and White which gives a much better detail to my black and white photos. This was the case with this shot of the Stewart’s Drive-In sign.

The decaying sign that stands by the abandoned Stewart's on Route 1 neat Lawrenceville, NJ © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

The decaying sign that stands by the abandoned Stewart’s on Route 1 neat Lawrenceville, NJ
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Shooting in program and Rich black & white, I zoomed in for a mid-frame shot of the decaying Stewart’s sign (photo above). The other side of the sign had Stewart’s clear as day, but the decaying side appealed to me more, although I still took photos on the other side. On the decaying side, the black and white really brought out the detail of the ripples and the pealing of the paint.

I lowered the exposition composition just a little bit since it was already dark thanks to the cloudy overcast day. I planned on just including the “Stewart’s Root Beer” sign in the frame, but the drive-in portion sign really makes this sign.

Just the words “Drive-In” alone gives that retro 50s mood to it. The darkness of the weather also gives this photo a gloom and sadness of a place that was probably at one time was the place to go to on Friday nights.

Tables once used by a Drive-In now sits by a lonely corner with no customers  © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Tables once used by a Drive-In now sits by a lonely corner with no customers
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

I took a few photos in color of the entire Stewart’s such as the parking spots and the exterior of the defunct drive-in and they came out okay. The one shot I enjoyed the most oddly enough was these set of tables stacked on top of each other by a corner (Photo Above).

The weird yellow and brown panels surrounding the table gave this a 70s feel to it and it matched perfectly with the brown tables. Originally, I was just going to capture the table and panels, but the tree with algae all over it just added greatly to the decaying theme of this outing. I knelt in order to get this framed so I could get all the tables and the trunk of tree.

I took a few more photos of the Stewart’s before heading back home. I had planned to go to another spot in Lawrenceville that day, but the overcast day was not what I wanted in this particular area. I waited until the next day for it to be sunny and thankfully it was.

A week before this outing, I took a walk to the borderline between the towns of Lawrenceville and Hamilton to learn more about my town and to see if I could actually be able to walk to the movie theaters and train station. Bad news is that it’s way too dangerous to do that due to the cars flying by and lack of side walk.

The good news, however, is that I spotted a gorgeous flowing river. I didn’t have my DSLR camera on me at that time, so I took a photo of it with my camera for future reference. Almost a week later, on a sunny day I was hoping for, I returned with my DSLR to get some new and outstanding photos.

With the sunny day, I shot in ISO-200 while switching my white balance between shade and daylight. Also, with the bright sunlight I had to use the viewfinder instead of depending on the LCD screen. The sunlight made it difficult to see the LCD screen, but it actually felt really good using the viewfinder and I will probably do so again in the future.

This stunning shot of a flowing river should change the perception of how New Jersey can really look   © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

This stunning shot of a flowing river should change the perception of how New Jersey can really look
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

With cars passing by, I arrived at the river and looked at my phone to look at the previous picture for reference. Since I wanted to capture the entire river flowing through the rocks, the sky and the nearby trees, I decided to go with a vertical shot (photo above). The result was an outstanding shot, showing casing that New Jersey does have wonderful views of nature.

Clouds set by the water tower on a gorgeous, late Spring afternoon  © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Clouds set by the water tower on a gorgeous, late Spring afternoon
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

After taking the river shot, I turned around to take another shot I wanted. Near the Lawrenceville/Hamilton borderline is this old warehouse with a water tower on top. What really drew my attention to this shot were the clouds passing by (photo above).

It created a nice background for the water tower. I zoomed in close and framed the water tower to the right so it could stick out while the clouds and telephone wires took up most of the photo. I decreased the exposure composition a little to cast a shadow of the warehouse in the bottom of the frame so that I the water tower and the clouds stand out.

I was on my way home after this shot, but just like all my photography outings, my day was not yet over. I saw a sign that read “The Delaware and Raritan (D & R) Canal Trail”. Being the very curious photographer I am, I walked this trail a little bit not knowing if I could do this since there was a road blocking fence in the way.

I assumed it was used to keep cars out. I kept walking until I was under a bridge and to my amazement I found actual graffiti! It felt like I was back home in Jersey City again. I wasn’t expecting to ever find any graffiti at all near a small suburban town like Lawrenceville. It felt great to have had discovered this.

Sunlight reflecting on the graffiti makes this shot shine © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Sunlight reflecting on the graffiti makes this shot shine
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

For the very first shot (photo above), I knelt down and switched my white balance to shade since I was under a bridge. I was still using the viewfinder since I was so accustomed to using it for this outing. I concentrated on capturing the sunlight reflecting on the graffiti. I also wanted to capture the shadow of the pillar reflecting onto the river. It’s like capturing an urban and nature photo at the same time.

The shadows under the bridge and the sunlight on the side of this frame compliments the cool and warm colors  in this photo © 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

The shadows under the bridge and the sunlight on the side of this frame compliments the cool and warm colors in this photo
© 2015 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

I took a few more shots of my new favorite secret photography place and decided to take just one more shot (photo above). Staying away from the graffiti, I concentrated more on capturing the bridge pillars and switched the white balance to daylight and lowered the exposure composition for a darker photo to give the essence of being underneath a bridge.

Everything in the middle of this photo is dark yet the sides of the frame consist of sunlight of a warm, sunny day. The pillars in the background are also beautifully symmetrically to the ones in the front.

I walked down a little further down the trail then decided to stop and turned around to head back home. I was already exhausted thanks to the heat of the weather plus I was afraid that either a wild animal or meth head would attack me.

The dead rat along the path didn’t help either. Other than that, though, it was a fun outing with great surprises. I will return to the D & R trail at some point this summer and make it a focus for a story. For now, I am just starting to discover my new town behind the lens.

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One thought on “Abandoned Stewart’s and The D & R Trail Canal

  1. Pingback: Short Photography Tour: The Delaware and Raritan (D & R) Canal Trail | Photography Journal of Angel Ortiz

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