They don’t swim here anymore…

Today, a little something different.  That is, I’ve decided to infuse a little more creative license into my work (beyond merely HDR), and I’ve decided to address some questions from folks who posed HDR, URBEX and general photography related questions.  So, first, today’s “pretty” picture, and below that, responses to a few questions from you all!!


Reader Questions

Question:  How often do I return to a location and re-shoot it? Or am I always looking for something new?

Answer: Love this question.  Fact is that, while I’ve always got my feelers out for new locations, I really love to return to places I have shot before.  Why?  Because there is just so much to shoot, that I could visit a location for years and never exhaust all the creative possibilities.  I even love return to the same rooms to look at the whole scene in a different way.  For example, I may decide to focus all my attention on a small detail in a room (with a macro lens or a 50mm 1.4), rather than showing you the whole space (usually with my 14-24mm, a 16mm fisheye or my trysty 24mm tilt-shift lens).


Question:  How about a tripod recommendation!

Answer: First, don’t go cheap.  Trust me on this.  I have friends who want to save money on gear, so they cheap out on the tripod.  Don’t do this!  What you want are a very stable set of legs and smooth operating ball head that will support the maximum weight you anticipate using in your photography.  You also don’t want the tripod too big or too heavy to carry; the tripod does you no good if you leave it at home.  Personally, I shoot a Gitzo Traveler Tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-45 ball head (with a lever release clamp).  Because it is carbon fiber and, therefore, very light, I carry it and use it everywhere, and isn’t that the point.


Question:  What time of day do I usually shoot your urban exploration images?

Answer: If I can have a whole day out shooting, I’ll shoot indoor URBEX from just after sun-up to just around sunset.  That way, I’ve got some ambient light to play with while shooting.  If I’m shooting outdoor URBEX (of the buildings and objects in the open), I will shoot even earlier, and even later.  Of course my preferred time to shoot URBEX (indoors or out), is when the sun is lower in the sky (that is, between sunset and 10am, and between 4 or 5pm and sunset); basically, I’m all about shooting when objects cast longer shadows!


Question:  In regular -2/0/+2 brackets in an URBEX environment, the windows are usually blown out.  What methods to avoid this pre- and post?

Answer: Bottom line is that when shooting indoor URBEX, and faced with a large dynamic range of light (that is, bright outdoors and dark interior), you’re going to have to shoot more brackets.  That usually means shooting a range from -4 to +4 EV, though I can usually get away with -3 to +3 EV range of brackets.  The other thing you can do is to shoot (on a tripod) your -2/0/+2 brackets, and then meter for the light outside the window (if really bright, that could mean you’ll have to underexpose by -5 EV).  Then you can take the four brackets you have (-5, -2, 0, 2) and either send them through Photomatix, or just send the -2/0/+2 brackets through Photomatix, and then mask the window (the -5 EV exposure) into the final image in Photoshop.  Hope that explanation makes sense.


Thanks all for the questions today, and if you need more clarification, let me know!

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show hide 10 comments

February 28, 2011 - 22:54

Mark Blundell Superb image – great use of the fishy and selective focus to lead the eye.

Good questions too. I often return to the same place many times – there are very well known UK asylums that i have been to about 10 times each. Often two visits is enough, one to go exploring, the second to capture what I didn’t get quite right the first time. Obv depends on the size of the location too.
I totally agree with you last answer – I;m always metering for the windows now them bracketing until the inside of a room is covered.

February 28, 2011 - 23:01

murphyz Great image; loving the fisheye!
Thanks for answering the question also – metering is something I’ve never touched upon (hence why my windows are blown) so will certainly be checking this out before my next trip. Thanks!

February 28, 2011 - 23:13

Jesse Pafundi What a cheerful image! Really love the soft colors. Excellent post as well Jacques.

February 28, 2011 - 23:28

John Sotiriou Intriguing image. So many tones and colors! Wonderful processing (as usual). Very informative. Thanks.

February 28, 2011 - 23:50

Jim Denham Great image and great job on the Q and A! Always good to get advice from a master!

March 1, 2011 - 01:58

Chris Jones Great image – love the fisheye and I really enjoyed your shooting guides / recommendations

March 1, 2011 - 14:55

Rob Hanson I’m lovin’ this, Jacques. Great job with the Q&A, too. The secrets of the master are revealed.

Cheers! Hope you’re doing well.

March 1, 2011 - 16:29

Bob Lussier Love the shot, and I love the Q&A. I especially love the “how often do you return” question. Your answer is spot on. Return often if you can. You never know when a location will be renovated, or razed, or just rendered inaccessible by tightened security. It’s not just Urbex Photography, its also Preservation Photography.

March 2, 2011 - 15:48

Justin Brilliant work! This is a recent fav from you. The compositional elements and lines keep my eye dancing. Nicely done!

March 2, 2011 - 22:34

Scott Wood Wonder image and a great little Q and A.

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