Little House of Horrors

As most of my friends know, I am completely smitten with shooting abandoned and derelict structures, a photography genre known as ‘Urban Exploration’ or just plain Urbex. From abandoned factories and decaying mental institutions to decommissioned military bases and old ghost towns, these historic structures are very atmospheric and possess a highly palpable emotional energy. In my opinion, the best way to visualize what our civilization will look like hundreds of years from now is to explore our ruins today. Urban exploration has become all the rage these days, and while some explore these ruins simply to soak up the cool atmosphere, photographers revel in documenting what occurs when nature takes over.

As a person who utilizes the digital technique of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, I am able to combine multiple exposures of the same scene – some overexposed, some normal as metered, and some underexposed – that are then combined into one large digital file and processed using special software. This results in great detail throughout the entire image, from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights, with an unmatched tonal range and color gamut, something never before possible when shooting with film (analog). The classic dilemma of whether to expose for the highlights or shadows is no longer an issue.

Abandoned Trailer With Deformed Doll Adjacent to Old Sugar Mill Factory, California

A Touch of Trash

For some strange reason, certain graffiti artists and urban explorers who visit these decaying structures often leave behind very creepy objects and dolls, which are placed in locations to maximize their shock and horror. In recent months I have been exploring an abandoned sugar mill and its surrounding grounds, containing structures from odd evaporation towers to truck weighing stations. On one occasion as I was approaching the old factory from a different vantage point, a psychedelic, day-glow blue trailer came into view. It still stands proudly – adjacent to a huge pile of rotting, commercial, Paul Bunyan-sized tires and a Porta-Potty.

Abandoned Trailer Near Old Sugar Mill Factory, California

Trailer Trash

As I got closer, I began to set up my camera and tripod with much glee. My eager anticipation soon morphed into dread, as a very creepy figure could be seen standing watch in the rear window of the rotting trailer. At first I thought it was a diminutive and disfigured person, but soon realized some troll had placed a very creepy doll inside the trailer. I named this image “A Touch of Trash,” which is appropriate given the degree of detritus in and around the trailer. I am still deciding what to name the creepy old doll. Suggestions anyone?

10 comments


  • Wendy

    Your photography is amazing! You capture so much emotion or I feel so much emotion. I have never heard the term Urban Exploration, but that is exactly my taste. I was calling it desolate photography but I am glad to have a style to call it now.

    August 25, 2012
    • Thanks so much, Wendy, for stopping by. I appreciate your kind words. Yes, I am addicted to shooting abandoned structures. Photographers have always loved old, historic places such as ghost towns, etc. But Urban Exploration is all the rage these days.

      This does not necessarily mean you need to photograph something in an urban area though. Googling the term will pull up thousands of sites dedicated to urbex photography.

      There is a very palpable emotional ambience when entering abandoned structures. Using the digital technique of HDRI (high dynamic range imaging) allows me to capture every detail from the darkest shadow areas to the brightest highlights. Thanks again.

      August 26, 2012
  • These are magnificent images!

    March 16, 2012
    • Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by. Much appreciated.

      March 17, 2012
  • Awesome captures! These look really nice. Great work Ren!

    March 16, 2012
    • Thank you, Adam, for taking time to read my blog post and your kind words about the images. Not everyone is fond of urbex photography, but shooting abandoned and decaying structures makes for great photographic fodder.

      March 17, 2012
  • [...] Little House of Horrors – HDR photography is often used in the capture and processing of UrBex based themes.  The wide dynamic range can be used to produce pieces of fine art that are without peer, as illustrated by these great images from the studio of Renée M. Besta. [...]

    March 15, 2012
    • Gregory: I very much appreciate the many links to my website blog posts from yours, as well as your kind words. Thank you so very much, my friend!

      March 17, 2012
  • Breathtaking set here, Renee, I have to admit my blood kind of ran ice cold as I joined you on your adventure here!! Great post, my good friend, absolutely wonderful!

    March 12, 2012
    • Dearest Toad: You are the best! Thanks for continuing to take time to visit my web blog. There are so many to visit. As always, I deeply appreciate your kind words. The Hollow rocks!

      March 17, 2012

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