Photography in Abandoned Buildings

Today’s Post by Jay Farrell

One of my favorite things is abandoned building photography, particularly for my fine art figure subjects. I have always loved the character, texture, and taboo of the experience. Plus trying to put together a story about what happened inside those walls when it was occupied. What stories are left behind?

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When photographing abandoned buildings, here are some key points. 

  • You can’t be afraid of vermin and spider webs, strange odors, exposed nails, mold, broken glass etc. This isn’t Better Homes And Gardens!
  • You can’t be superstitious; It can feel eerie and lonely but keep wits about you
  • Leave it as you found it
  • You may encounter squatters or other occupants. Feel the situation out, but always live to shoot another day. 
  • If cops say kick rocks, do it. I find that usually if spotted by anyone, they aren’t as concerned when they see a camera. But usually am undiscovered and left alone. 

web-7This field trip I did with a good friend. He is one of the only people I trust with location sharing or even working with in that capacity. The building we were looking for we were unable to find and I felt we were better in numbers for that, due to potential risk. I knew of this abandoned hardwood plant in an industrial area of town and just for grins I thought we would see if there was a way in. You could drive a Mack truck through the sides of the building but was pretty well fenced off—but not in one area. So we explored. 

I traveled light with a Fuji XT-1 and XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens. This day I shot in Large JPEG, which I am doing more lately. I typically like pronounced shadows. So I went into the menu and bumped up shadows by +2 and took down highlights by -2 for most shots depending on ambient condition.

I decided to catch one of my friend, was so cool how there was just a subtle backlight from a hole in the wall in a relatively dark corner. Exposure was 1/180 sec f/2.8 and ISO 1250. I returned a couple weeks later with a model friend, who you can see in the introductory thumbnail.