Washburn Water Tower - Infrared

Washburn Water Tower – Infrared

This is the little-known ever-terrifying Washburn Water Tower, hard to find, it is located in south Minneapolis in a confusing little area known as Tangletown — so named for the street layout. Perched on a hill surrounded by trees, this beast was built in 1932 with massive eagles atop and scary Templar Knights at the base. The knights are “guardians of health” designed to protect Minneapolitans from typhoid — tainted water had reciently been linked to the disease. The first time I went there was at night, so I’m even more afraid of the place.

I went through a fit of infrared photography at the time and decided that the spooky effects of infrared would suit this location. Infrared is the light above human vision. the human eye can detect light that has a wave length of 380 to 750 nanometers. Infrared is from 700 – 1400nm. I shot this with a 1000nm filter that cuts out all light below that. I was using a Sony F828 camera that has a night mode.

The best thing about infrared — trees. They glow like crazy. Second best is the sky, it goes black and the clouds go white.

Here’s a perk for all of you with point-and-shoot cameras: Big DSLRs have filters that prevent them from taking IR photos. A lot of P&S cameras have a ‘night mode’, if yours does, put it in night mode and then point your TV remote at the lens and push a button. If you see the light on the screen, your camera picks up IR. Do a little research: type in your camera model name and ‘IR’ or ‘infrared’ and see if anyone has talked about your camera. All you need is a filter and a tripod (you are cutting out a lot of light with the filter, so shutter speeds will be slow). I would recommend a 72 or 75 filter, they are a lot cheaper than the 1000nm I bought (I’m a bit of an extremest). I’ve since discovered that I can convert my Sony F828 to be Infrared in regular mode. It costs $350 at maxmax.com. Have you done this? Let me know. I’m interested in doing so.

16 replies
  1. Strangetastes
    Strangetastes says:

    The place looks like a retro missile silo; the tree has already been irradiated. The Knights Templar would scare me off, too. This could also be a scene from The Name of The Rose. Never tried IR, lacking the equipment but I’ve never come across your suggestion with the point-and-shoots. I’ll check my Canon Powershot tonight.

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Strange –
    I was thinking of “The Name of the Rose” but I didn’t mention it because I didn’t think anyone would know it! Cool! I love your description too, thanks!
    – Mitch

  3. Meg in Nelson
    Meg in Nelson says:

    Oh, my goodness, I hadn’t seen this in …. decades. And it still appears pretty much the way I remembered, which is not very usual in Minneapolis… Gooness gracious me… Lordy… Good lord… Sigh.

  4. tfangel
    tfangel says:

    So that’s what that is. I got lost in that area one day and saw that and couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be. Very good infrared photography by the way. 🙂

  5. mary
    mary says:

    I came upon this Tower on Sunday and was fascinated by it. I think it is beautiful. I’d like to know more about the castle-like house nearby.

  6. GailMarie
    GailMarie says:

    Actually, there are three stone water towers in Minneapolis: Kenwood Park Water Tower just west of downtown; Prospect Park Water Tower in southeast Minneapolis (now deactivated); and the Washburn Water Tower. It was designed by Harry Wild Jones, a noted Minneapolis architect. The “castle-like” house near the water tower is probably “Elmwood,” Jones’ own home.

    The water tower was built in 1931-32. The stone figures are the “Guardians of Health”; the eagles are modeled on an eagle with an 8-foot wingspan which attacked Jones when he was clearing brush on the site of his home, which was then under construction.

    It was slightly damaged when the wing of a Northwest Airlines plane (which crashed on the north side of the Minnehaha Parkway in the 1950s) struck it.


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  1. […] I explain how to take infrared photos here. […]

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