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Ghosts of the Marines – Photographs Of The Abandoned El Toro Marine Base

The DcCA SE Region building photographed in 2010 © Gina Genis

I shot these photographs at the former El Toro Marine Base in Irvine, California. The base was abandoned in 1999. There was a long fight about what should happen to the land. Talk of an international airport was abundant, but the people living around the base voted it down. Noise, traffic, and pollution were concerns. Now, the Great Park is taking form here instead. Once finished, the Great Park will be much larger than Central Park in New York City. The Great Park already has artist studios, an art gallery, outdoor meeting court for concerts and events, hot air balloon rides, a farmer’s market and gardens, and much more.

Deteriorating chairs at the former El Toro Marine Base © 2012 Gina Genis

Mark Chamberlain and Poe the dog on a lunch break at the former El Toro Marine Base © 2012 Gina Genis

The above photo was captured in June of 2010. Mark Chamberlain is part of the Legacy Project, a group of men who turned an airplane hangar into the largest camera obscura in the world.  The resulting photograph, titled The Great Picture is 3 stories high by 11 stories long. See my blog about washing The Great Picture. The Legacy Project continues to document the transformation of  El Toro Marine Base into the Great Park.

Outside an abandoned building at the former El Toro Marine Base © 2012 Gina Genis

Remnants of a medical office at the former El Toro Marine Base © 2012 Gina Genis

A view of a section of the former El Toro Marine Base from up in the hot air balloon © 2012 Gina Genis

The picture above was taken from a height of 400 feet in the hot air balloon. You can see the entire panorama of the city of Irvine from the top of the balloon. View more of this series on my website. Do you have any photos of abandoned buildings? Please share them.

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About Gina Genis

Hi Friends, I'm a photographer and artist who lives in Washington DC. I have two blogs. The Gina Genis Blog is about art and photography. My new blog, DC Discoveries is dedicated to showing you everything from fashion to art, food to entertainment in all sections of the District. I hope you will take the journey with me. I exhibit my work in museums and galleries across the U.S. I'm included in the permanent collections of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections Division of the University of Miami, Hard Rock Casino, Orange County Transit District, IBM, and the Sarah and Adam Markman Collection among others. My series "Window Peeping" was included in OsCene 2010 at the Laguna Art Museum, Truman State University, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Biola University, and solo shows at Gallery 825 and Cypress College. The "June Gloom" series was exhibited in a solo show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The "Kala" series has been exhibited at MPLS Photo Center, Cypress College, and Gallery 825. "Economy Portraits" was created as an Artist In Residence project at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and was awarded "Best Art Show of 2011" by the OC Weekly. I curated Wide Angle View, an exhibit of 16 international, award-winning photo and multi-media journalists at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to much critical acclaim. Recent reviews of my work have appeared in the Huffington Post, Art Scene, OC Weekly, Orange County Register, New University, Riviera Magazine, Coast Magazine, Huntington Beach Independent, and appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC, and more. I lead the Gina Genis Photo Workshops where I show beginning and intermediate photographers how to jump to the next level with their work. I also teach online photography courses through The Compelling Image.

6 responses »

  1. Beautiful, rustic. Love the old man and the dog just sitting next to the garage-like door.

    Reply
  2. Hello Gina, Beautiful pictures, I’m amazed by the light and the incredible black and white you manage to do with the place. Was it hard taking pictures there? did you needed some sort of permit or something?I’m shooting a Post-apocalyptic short film and this place will work great!

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Mike, Thanks for the compliment. It was difficult shooting at this location. In fact, I borrowed an old Calumet Field 4×5 camera, then when I had to go back to shooting digital, I spent $2,000 on a tilt shift lens. They do not allow photography at this place, but I am friends with the people who have access, so was allowed to go in. I hope to go back. Good luck with your film. It sounds interesting. If you would like to use any of my images, let me know. Perhaps we could work something out.

      Reply
  3. I love these pictures! May I ask how you got access to the facility? I would like to shoot a music video there.

    Reply

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