autopsy-table

Morgue and autopsy theatre at St. Elizabeths Hospital, designed by Walter Freeman.  Before he became famous for inventing the transorbital lobotomy, Freeman was the medical director at this, the only federal insane asylum.  He was obsessed with the organic roots of mental illness, and commissioned Blackburn Laboratory in order to further study it.  This autopsy theatre is now abandoned in the basement.  The jars in the rear to the left used to contain the largest collection of human brains in America; when the morgue was abandoned they were donated to another institution.  After leaving St. Elizabeths, Freeman would tour the country in his “lobotomobile”, performing thousands of lobotomies at other asylums in order to demonstrate the supposed effectiveness of his technique.  He was ordered to stop after killing a patient.  Freeman was never, in fact, a licensed medical doctor.

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This is the small, two-tray morgue of US Marine Hospital, Memphis.  Sadly, morgues are often the first destination of taggers and vandals when visiting abandoned hospitals.  Although the size of this morgue may not be particularly impressive, its condition is - the copper neck brace on the autopsy table is still intact, and there is not a sign of vandalism anywhere.  Like many morgues, this one lacked windows - so artificial lighting and light painting had to be used to give an impression of what it would have looked like.

Print available here.

SOMEONES REALLY GONNA FIND MY DEAD BALD FULLY BURNT CORPSE FUSED TO MY FLOOR ON FRIDAY AND THE ONLY CAUSE OF DEATH THEYLL FIND IS MENTAL PHYSICAL SPIRITUAL SEXUAL OVERLOAD THEYLL HAVE ME ON THE AUTOPSY TABLE AND THEYLL CUT ME OPEN JUST TO FIND MY HEART BEATING TO THE RHYTHM OF PILLOW TALK AND ONE DAY SOME STUPID FUCKERS ARE GONNA BE PLAYING WITH A OUIJA BOARD AND YOU CAN BET MY DEMENTED SOUL IS GONNA COME OUT OF THAT BOARD AND POSSESS THE NEAREST MUSIC PLAYING DEVICE AND IM GONNA BLAST PILLOW TALK AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE AND THEN IM GONNA POSSESS THE FIRST ITUNES ACCOUNT THAT I CAN FIND AND IM GONNA BUY PILLOW TALK UNTIL THE DUMBASS THAT CALLED ME UP FROM THE DARKEST PIT OF THE INFERNAL TORMENT IVE BEEN ENDURING RUNS OUT OF MONEY AND THEN IM GONNA GO BACK TO HELL AND YELL THE NASTY LYRICS OF PILLOW TALK AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS TO THE DAMN DEVIL HIMSELF UNTIL I GET KICKED THE FUCK OUT 

Behind the scenes.  In 2010, I finally decided to take on the challenge of getting a well-lit shot of the morgue at Rockland State Hospital, the half-abandoned asylum that is mentioned in Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem “Howl”.  It is pitch-black throughout the entire mortuary suite; both rooms pictured here are completely boarded off to the point of being lightproof.  So I schlepped in a 200 watt/second portable strobe capable of a mere 25 pops at full power on a giant lead-acid battery, triggered by a peanut.  I attached a softbox to this, but didn’t turn it on yet - I had to figure out how to light the foreground first.  I set up my camera via light from a couple of LED lanterns, and focused on the autopsy table.

With all the reflective surfaces in here, lighting turned out to be a real herculean effort in terms of moving two speedlights triggered by a short-range RF trigger attached to my camera’s hot shoe, and then light painting with a 200 lumen tactical torch to fill in the gaps.  When I got that nailed down, I attached the peanut and powered up the strobe - I’d have 25 (at most) chances to get this right.  The first dozen or so all came out rubbish - I kept having to reposition the strobe to avoid glare.  My battery was halfway to dead.  I finally got it positioned right - and then one of my speedlights didn’t fire for the next several shots.  I was almost out of juice on the light essential to lighting the back storage room.  Finally, I got this capture, and a few variants which I liked less - then the strobe died, and it was time to pack up.  Thankfully, my goodly young photo assistant invited me to join her at her place in nearby Nyack, NY, for rest and relaxation, so I didn’t have a long drive after 5-hour shoot - to get one photo.

It’s not perfect.  There are a few harsh shadows that I dislike.  But even being a perfectionist when it comes to my work, I am willing to admit that it’s pretty good.  Given what I was working with, I think it came out rather smashingly - and indeed gives an honest impression of what the mortuary suite at the asylum looked like at that point in time.

Print available here.

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Thoughts on Were-Monster
  1. Fox, please don’t spoil us any more. I guess I can’t speak for all, but I want some amount of surprise when these episodes air. 
  2. I love these stoners
  3. Wow, those office walls sure got cleaned off since the last episode *side eye*
  4. Scully is so pleased some of these cases turned out to be bogus 
  5. SERIOUSLY CHRIS, A FUCKING CONTINUITY BINDER WONT KILL YOU
  6. This sketch looks the same as that guy from Revelations 
  7. Head canon: Mulder is just learning about ‘draw something’ and tries to get Scully to play every night
  8. Season 10. The season of “not my blood on me”
  9. Season 11. The season of disease testing 
  10. Blood… in … your … mouth… get… to … employee… health… now 
  11. Horny Toad sex joke… just fuck her on the autopsy table NOW
  12. Is this dude drinking rubbing alcohol???
  13. My aesthetic: taxidermy hotel rooms
  14. YO! I call dibs on writing a fic where Mulder looks through fox eyes and sees Scully masturbating moaning his name (DIBS)
  15. DID I JUST SEE MULDER IN A RED SPEEDO
  16. THIS IS PURE MAGIC
  17. Scully’s sitting on that bed looking like she hopes Mulder gives her a pelvic exam 
  18. perfect opportunity to check out of this motel into one that only has one bed… (yeah, ok, I have a one track mind)
  19. I went to school with a Guy Man 
  20. Somewhere in time Scully is still talking to Mulder, into a cell phone. He has long since hung up. 
  21. Grave robbery, Mulder? #ThoseFlowersArentYours
  22. Mulder knows what hickeys look like 
  23. Oh, this is a really clever twist 
  24. This is funny….
  25. This dude looks like a combo of yoda and me after night shift. 
  26. “To be happy as a human, is to spend all your time with non-humans” - basically 
  27. DAGOOOO?
  28. oh, here comes the backlash
  29. FUCK YOU FOR A SCULLY SEX SCENE SANS MULDER
  30. FUCK
  31. YOU
  32. Chris carter makes $5 for every tear we shed 
  33. OMG MULDER AND HIS LIQUOR IN HIS POCKET
  34. HE IS ME (Jame-O baby)
  35. BAHAHA Mulder’s ring tone is all of ours 
  36. New aesthetic: Mulder sitting, drunk, in front of Kim Manners grave
  37. OMG MULDER AND SCULLY ADOPT THIS DOG AND LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! (DIBS ON THIS FIC TOO)
  38. THIS EPISODE WAS MAGIC
  39. But I want more Mulder and Scully together too