The world around us is full of stories that you can use for your photo experiments, you just need to look around correctly. Someone will turn eyes to garden flowers, someone to landscapes, someone to sea and ocean, someone else to extraordinary items. But if you look more broadly, for example, at abandoned architecture, it can become an extremely interesting idea. The first and main principle that should be followed when trying photography of abandoned places is safety. No matter which cool shots can be captured, no one will see them if you kill yourself there. Therefore, be as vigilant as possible and carefully look under your feet and around. Before climbing somewhere, be sure to make sure locations are safe.
When shooting keep in mind that viewers will be interested to see not only general plans but also details that often speak even more about the object than panoramas. Do not forget about close-ups and fragments. Sometimes ordinary door or window openings become a wonderful story.
The most interesting and delicious moment of abandoned photography is texture and patterns. Peeling paint, cracked or crumbling plaster in places, brick walls, scattered dusty objects — this is what primarily attracts both photographers and the viewer. Therefore, do not miss the details. Try to find the most interesting elements. No need to try to idealize the picture. If garbage gets into the frame, this is great! The more trash in such pictures, the better. Small details are very important, that is why skillfully placing accents, keep eyes on the image as long as possible.
To enhance the dramatic effect, if there is such an opportunity, it is better to shoot such buildings in cloudy weather. At such a time, light is softer and predominates in cold tones. Such a combination will help to create a viscous gloomy atmosphere in the frame, which favorably emphasizes houses. Sunlight can add variety to a picture. You can catch interesting natural light spots on the floor, walls and ceiling.
As a rule, such buildings have no artificial lighting. The interior is illuminated exclusively by natural light, which managed to penetrate through openings. This situation seriously complicates the shooting, because the difference in light and shadow is much wider than the dynamic range of modern digital cameras. A good way out would be shooting with bracketing and subsequent gluing of received frames in special software for processing HDR photos. Usually, three frames shot with a bracket of +/- 2 stops are sufficient. But during bright sunlight and poor interior lighting, this plug may not be enough. Here you already need to experiment on the spot.
In addition, even despite a bright day, the interior is often very dark and a tripod is desirable. Prepare for the fact that in conditions of such poor illumination you will have to increase camera's photosensitivity, increasing ISO value. However, it can also become part of a plot, and in combination with a shabby texture of walls will help to further dramatize the atmosphere.
In addition to abandoned industrial factory buildings, there is a huge number of abandoned objects of cultural heritage, such as temples or castles, which are unique architectural monuments. These places are interesting not only for texture but also for rich historical past, which should be remembered. Photographers provide pictures that become an imprint of the past because tomorrow the world will change and captured images will become history. Therefore, it is extremely important to leave everything in its original form. It is important to remember this when entering buildings where time has stopped.
There are many cases where the camera absolutely “feels” the light and auto mode will be better than the manual. Still, we live in the 21st century and technology strives for excellence.
And all this is because the lighting conditions of these areas are really “extreme”, and we have to manually configure and control all aspects of shooting for each frame.
A wide-angle lens can add some atmosphere to the composition of a photograph, convey emptiness and abandonment of these buildings.
Why do you need to drag yourself to some old buildings? The places that you have to work with are really not very glamorous, but very interesting. Nevertheless, much can be explained by the fact that photographers are interested in documenting the world around them. It is great to show how it changes depending on time. Pictures show the viewer how and why the building has become what it is now. Leave perfect city architecture and find a historic object to tell its story.
Finding a suitable building for this kind of shooting can be difficult. It's pretty hard to explain what you should look for behind old walls. This place can be an old church, factory or warehouse, or some building that you look at every day, going to work.
It would be nice to have an opportunity to talk with local historians who could talk about houses and places that have an interesting and rich history but are empty now. Take some time to research the question before you start looking. Then you will have a better chance of finding something truly worthwhile.
Before shooting, it is imperative that you do not infringe on private property just for the sake of taking a photograph. If you do not know details about the property whether you have access and the right to be there, please check it. Abandoned buildings can be quite insidious and it is very important not to get into dangerous situations and not to risk. If there is such an opportunity, then study objects in the daytime to exclude problems. Even in the afternoon, you should take a flashlight with you, because it is not possible to predict where and when the darkness will catch you. A pair of good shoes will help a lot.
It is not so important which camera to use, just take the one that is most common to you and at the same time, preferably, has a manual setting. It’s not very convenient to carry a bunch of equipment with you, but take a flash and a tripod.
A flash is useful if old buildings are too dark or dirty in the absence of sunlight or even electric light. A tripod will be useful when shooting panoramas, and also allows you to keep the shutter open exactly as much as you need.
Before you take a trip to reach the place, find out what kind of object it is. It has own story, which can be either interesting or boring. One should at least keep in mind what was the building used for and why was it abandoned. This will help you in the creative process and allow to build a story about the place in the desired direction, using photographs.
As with any architectural and landscape type of photography, several panoramic shots should be taken. They will help to draw a more complete picture for viewers and allow you to go deeper and feel the atmosphere. Make sure that you draw attention to all features of a place where you are shooting, for example, to the large water wheel of the mill. Use various filters and effects to enhance the image. Black and white mode is the most common trick to apply to abandoned location shots.
After you take panoramic pictures, it is important to pay attention to details. Stains of old dried paint, chips on wooden window frames, cracks in glass, moss on the walls — all this will help to demonstrate the plot. Pay attention to technical settings of shooting like aperture and exposure to improve the quality of an image.
It is important not to rush the process. People are often too worried and in a hurry while shooting. Do not be afraid to experiment with various shooting techniques, take photos from different angles and points, use slow shutter speed and HDR, make decisions based on context. Countryside or city landscapes require different approaches to photography. Use the internet to see ideas of popular photographers, like works in Detroit city which homes were abandoned due to mortgage issues and unpaid taxes.