Like millions of people around the world, I am a huge fan of the AMC series The Walking Dead. Since the mid-season premiere of Season 6 just kicked off Sunday, I thought I would have some fun and do something different by creating a homage to my favorite television series.
As many of my friends know, I am also a lover of shooting abandoned and derelict places wherever I may find them. That includes anything from decaying asylums to shuttered factories and ghost towns. And since I have a collection of images of abandoned places, it was fun to turn them into an apocalyptic world to celebrate the return of my favorite show.
As viewers of The Walking Dead well know, the characters find themselves in a zombie apocalypse and mostly abandoned decaying world, where humans are more dangerous than walkers. In the brave new world of the dead, abandoned buildings are everywhere.
This is another reason I love the series, as the spooky locations, cinematography and overall green, blurry sickly look are way cool. As if you are viewing these abandoned places through the eyes of the walkers. Perfect for Halloween too, my favorite holiday.
So I hope you will indulge my love for all things abandoned in this quick post. And if you are also a fan, you may find some Easter eggs within a few of the images, which I hope convey the ghastly look and feel only The Walking Dead does so very well. The image titles are named after Walking Dead episodes.
Updated February 27, 2015 with an additional image. Click on the images to open them in a lightbox for better viewing. Please note that if you are viewing this site on a mobile device, you must switch to the full desktop version in order to have the lightboxes open.
A few years ago, I wrote one of my first blog posts on the creepy abandoned Sunny Acres juvenile detention facility located here in San Luis Obispo, California. This ‘asylum’ (as it is known) lurks high upon a hill above the former San Luis Obispo County General Hospital, affording a view of the city that some say is unparalleled. It has a very dark history and has reinvented itself several times from orphanage to juvenile offender detention facility. Some old-timers even claim it was a TB sanatorium for a brief time. For more information, refer to my original post The Abandoned Historic Sunny Acres Detention Facility.
Boarded up for nearly 40 years, this two-story brick building – known for its exquisite Romanesque architecture – looks quite ominous, haunted and gothic. It is owned by the cash-strapped county of San Luis Obispo, although located within city limits. The county, city and local residents have advocated for preserving the building, but it is nearing collapse and is very hazardous due to the heavy presence of asbestos and lead. In addition, vandalism and neglect have taken their toll.
During an outing with a good photographer friend we decided to shoot the ‘asylum’ at night, in hopes of getting a nice Milky Way shot over the building. The weather conditions seemed ripe, as there was a new moon and the skies were dark and clear. (Well, at least they were when we headed out.) And photo apps confirmed that the Milky Way would be visible over the building. After arriving onsite we discovered a large fence had been placed around the entire perimeter of the sprawling building, preventing close access, limiting vantage points, and interfering with a clean fenceless shot. Nonetheless, we waited for complete darkness to fall (although it was kind of spooky and cold out there), then used several flashlights to do some light painting on the building and front steps. It was very dark out there and hard to find our footing. Unfortunately, clouds and rainy weather quickly moved in and we only got a few shots in as the rain began to fall. You can see the bank of clouds begin to roll in on the upper left side of the top image.
The second shot above was taken on the abandoned basketball court behind the Sunny Acres building. We headed back there to do some light painting with a green colored flashlight. You can see the bank of clouds begin to roll in on the upper left to center portions of this image. And, if you look hard enough, you can see part of a single shooting star to the left of the basketball backboard (sans hoop), just above the fronds of the palm tree. Also there appear to be three spooky faces in the basketball backboard. And these were not graffiti. This single RAW capture was taken with my Nikon D800 and Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 Pro FX lens. The image was shot at ISO 400 for 30 seconds at f5.6, at 24mm. It was processed entirely in Lightroom.
The top shot of the front of the building was comprised of a single RAW capture taken with my Nikon D800 and Tokina 16-28mm f2.8 Pro FX lens. It was light painted with several different colored flashlights and shot at ISO 400 for 30 seconds at f5.6, at 16mm, and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. We plan to return in the future when better weather conditions prevail. Extra: There is a rather spooky Easter Egg located within the top photograph of the building. If you can find it, you are very perceptive and perhaps a fan of the paranormal!
If you are interested in urban exploration (urbex) photography, I highly recommend a new book (2015) by well-known San Francisco Bay area photographer and UE Todd Sipes, Urban Exploration Photography: A Guide to Creating and Editing Images of Abandoned Places. This superb book not only offers great tips on how to photograph abandoned locations, but has excellent post-processing tutorials. And, if you are like me and especially love shooting abandoned places at night, the granddaddy of nighttime American UrbEx, Troy Paiva, has an excellent classic book with exquisite images, Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration. In addition, Troy has a great book on light painting, Light Painted Night Photography: The Lost America Technique, which is available as a downloadable eBook or Kindle book. I own all these books and highly recommend them.