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.
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.
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?