Urban Industrial Imaging

February 07, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Urban Industrial Imaging

Blue Hour Bayonne BridgeBlue Hour Bayonne Bridge


I grew up in the North East; specifically, Bayonne, New Jersey.  At least, I consider Bayonne to be my home.  My father was in the Air Force, so we moved around quite a lot, but we always came back to Bayonne.

As a child, I was completely enamored with the city...skyscrapers, industrial landscapes and huge structures absolutely fascinated me. The North East has a metropolitan flair that is totally unique - there is no other place exactly like it: a megalopolis with a frantic mechanized pace. Even storms here are known as Nor'Easters. 


My goal is to capture digitally the quintessential North East - sweeping twilight urban vistas, large brooding structures, huge powerful intricate machinery and abandoned warehouses - essentially, urban industrial images, the very core of Urban Industrial Imaging

What follows are some of my favorite images from this uniquely uncommon built environment.

GWB @ TwilightGWB @ Twilight Newark Ave Bridge & TrestleNewark Ave Bridge & Trestle
Newark Penn Station TrestleNewark Penn Station Trestle Pulaski Skyway @ NightPulaski Skyway @ Night

        I love to shoot bridges and trestles, and this area boasts many world-class structures

Above are: the acclaimed George Washington Bridge (built by the renowned architect Othmar Ammann, who incidentally also designed and built the famed Bayonne Bridge pictured at the beginning of this article); the Newark Ave Bridge & Trestle; the Penn Station Train Trestle; and the world famous Pulaski Skyway.  Since I do a lot of shooting at night, I like to employ one of two techniques in capturing these images - long exposure (as in the case of the GWB, which was a 20 second exposure) or exposure fusion (where I'll take 5 or 7 various exposures and blend them in post).  The B&W images are just B&W conversions of the same.  Most of my post-processing is done in LR5, but I use a number of plug-ins: for perspective correction I use DxO's excellent ViewPoint; for color images - Topaz Clarity and/or Adjust; for B&W either Silver Efex Pro, Topaz BW or onOne's Perfect BW.  I use Topaz Denoise for ALL post-process noise reduction. 

One of my more recent series, "On The Passaic", features bridges and scenes from the Passaic River in NJ - except for the GWB, all of the above are from that series.

NB From The VueNB From The Vue Rockefeller PlazaRockefeller Plaza
Newark On The PassaicNewark On The Passaic JC From LBSJC From LBS
Center City Philadelphia @ NightCenter City Philadelphia @ Night Golden MetropolisGolden Metropolis

Scenes from "The Great American City"

But, Urban Industrial Imaging isn't just bridges. There are a great many cities in the North East, and one of my goals is to visit each "Great American City" and preserve its unique character thru digital imaging.  Since I live in NJ, I started with the cities nearest me - New Brunswick, Jersey City, Newark, New York and Philadelphia. 

The image top left is downtown New Brunswick, taken from the rooftop of the tallest building in the city, The Vue (courtesy of DEVCO).  That image started it all for me - featured in my first exhibit and sold at auction at George Street Playhouse, landing my first client (DEVCO), and emerging as the signature banner on the City of New Brunswick's website

The others are (in order): Rockefeller Plaza, taken handheld at night (and is the only POV in this series); Newark On The Passaic; Jersey City waterfront as seen from Liberty State Park; Center City Philadelphia from the rooftop of the Rittenhouse Hotel; and "Golden Metropolis", which is actually Jersey City and Lower Manhattan, taken just after dawn. Yes, one needs to get up early or stay out late to capture images during the Magic or Blue Hour (the hour before sunset/after sunrise or the hour after sunset).  Part of the fun is finding the best vantage points to get the shots...this is where I rely heavily on Google Maps.  Sometimes, my partner will be driving and I'll tell her "Stop!" if I see something, and I'll jump out and get the shot - which is what I did with "Golden Metropolis" above.

Night Train ExpressNight Train Express Austrailian SpiritAustrailian Spirit
VW DreamsVW Dreams Monster Bridge ElizabethMonster Bridge Elizabeth
RectanglesRectangles TunnelTunnel

Machines, Urban Landscapes and Decay

Urban Industrial Imaging can also include images of machinery, industrial landscapes, or even urban decay.

Above are: "Night Train Express", Western Maryland relic sitting in the B&O museum in Baltimore, MD; "Australian Spirit", docked at Elizabeth Seaport; "VW Dreams", my tribute to that wonderful automobile (I really miss them); "Monster Bridge", a derelict bridge on Amboy Ave in Elizabeth, NJ; "Rectangles", the NYC jungle from high above; and "Tunnel", the tunnel access from the New Brunswick Train Station to the street.

You can see a great deal more on my website: cityscapes, urban landscape/decay, bridges, trains, cars, ships (and even an aircraft or two).  I just want to thank the Lord for all His opportunities; if not for His providence, I would not be doing what I love.

I will leave you with a few images that have received accolades.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Rutgers Clock New BrunswickRutgers Clock New Brunswick Tempe Town Lake CentennialTempe Town Lake Centennial

NB On The RaritanNB On The Raritan Victory Bridge Perth AmboyVictory Bridge Perth Amboy









Clockwise, top left to bottom right:

Rutgers Clock, New Brunswick, NJ (Published in City Market Calendar)

Tempe Town Lake Centennial Trestle, Tempe, AZ (hosted on DieHardDevil.com)

New Brunswick on the Raritan, taken from Highland Park, NJ (NJBiz Ad from DEVCO)

Victory Bridge, Perth Amboy, NJ (nothing, people just like it)


Thank you for reading and viewing my work (don't worry, there is more).  Until next time...



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© Frank Villafañe and Urban Industrial Imaging™.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of written material and images without express and written permission is strictly prohibited.









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