Sanatorium “H”

Where have all the children gone?

Today’s shot is for my youngest, who’s a huge fan of turtles.  I thought of her immediately when I spotted this and had to capture it for her.  I also tried to find a cheetah, my eldest daugther’s fav animal, but no luck this time around.  I’ll keep trying, sweetie!

UPDATE: For a little mood music, listen to Nox Arcana’s ‘Lullaby” here!

I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!!

I love running into great old machines like this one.  This particular beast is an old power generator that used to run the elevator just on the other side of the wall.  Seeing her reminded me of some of the great old Star Trek (original) episodes, where Scotty is in the engine room trying to do the impossible (which he always did), to get the Enterprise out of a sticky situation.  I imagine Scotty is probably the only one who could breath life into this old girl again!

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!

Shadows jumpin’ all over the walls…

Here’s another shot from the really cool Sanatorium “H”.  So much to shoot there, I know I’ll have to hit it again soon.  Take this great hall for example.  I’m shooting this from about the middle of the hall, so you can imagine how long it is.  It’s realllllly looooooooong!  One of the guys I was shooting with guessed it was a good 500 meters long, and I wouldn’t doubt it.  By the way, the tune for the day is Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), by the brilliant group Arcade Fire.  If you’ve never listened to their work, do check it out.  The name of this song comes from one of the lines from that song, I should note.

One good chair deserves another…

So last night, my good friend and Boston-based URBEX-photographer, Bob Lussier, told me he had a surprise in store for me.  And, knowing me well, he did not disappoint, busting out an awesome set of brackets of a comfy chair he shot in the supervisor’s office at Stone Mill with another of our URBEX buddies, Jacob Lucas (here’s Jacob’s awesome version).  Both of them know how much I love photographing forgotten chairs, and both were kind enough to think of me while they were out there having fun.  Meanwhile, poor ol’ me was stuck shooting old abandoned sanatoriums and former cold-war era Russian Nuclear missile bases all day in former East Germany.  While there was nary a chair to be found at Sanatorium “H”, I did finally find this little guy looking for his daddy.  Little did he know that his daddy was being photographed far across the ocean by Bob and Jacob.  I think it’s time we got them back together!!

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