My company specializes in writing, photography, and website design. My father gave me my first camera when I was a small child, and it quickly became my most prized possession. I was also fascinated with exploring places others rarely ever ventured, such as abandoned places, buildings, and railroad cars.
As time went on, I formed a business centered around my passion; living larger-than-life adventures, and sharing the photographic journey on my website.
Photo/Video Credits: © 2010 Thomas Slatin
Be sure to check out all of Tom’s great articles below.
High Contrast Grunge Photography takes the look of traditional Kodalith darkroom prints to the digital era (or for those of you still shooting with film, and developing in a darkroom, keeps Kodalith alive).
During a recent drive through the Adirondacks, I came across this abandoned lodge along route 28N in Minerva, New York. A sad reality exists, especially in the United States that many historical buildings and places are being left to decay, alone in their own abandon. Ideally places like this would be preserved somehow as part of our own American history.
Since the era of digital photography becoming mainstream, the use of traditional film and instant cameras has become less common. With few exceptions, it seems that most photographers are turning to digital cameras, computers, and electronic printers; everything that was commonly found in a darkroom has now been replaced with digital equipment. Although digital equipment has many advantages such as lower cost, higher productivity (batch processing, automation, etc.), and ease of use, old-school film and instant formats still remain popular among some photographers.
Old Lodge is a 10,000 square-foot building built circa 1890, built in Tomkins Cove, New York. Over the years it was used as a hotel, a private school, a girl scout camp, and private residence. Years of neglect and decay have left it as a ‘shell’ of a building, and as such it has been formally condemned and entry to the building is strongly discouraged and extremely dangerous.
On March 19, 2011, I was finally able to visit Centralia, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, due to the current state of Centralia, it exists on few maps, and it is a sensitive topic amoung current residents who still live in the area. After doing extensive research on the Internet for quite some time, I had expected to find at least a few standing buildings that would indicate that a town stood here at one time. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I found nothing but crumbling pavement and empty streets. Cracked sidewalks among forgotten plots of land filled in the spaces where buildings once stood.
I was inspired recently to return to my photographic roots. Lacking immediate access to an old oatmeal container, photo paper, and a traditional darkroom, I decided to create my very own pinhole camera mockup.
I was fortunate enough to come across this still standing vintage power station, which was in relatively good condition, considering the age of the facility and its years of abandonment and disuse.
Pinhole photography is perhaps the oldest known photographic technique, using nothing more than a light-proof enclosure, a light-sensitive media, and a tiny hole instead of a lens.
A pinhole camera is a very simple affair; basically a light-proof box or container which contains a photo-sensitive medium, and in my opinion a pinhole camera looks more like a birdhouse than a modern camera. My father used to save containers of Quaker Instant Oatmeal as their cardboard construction and tightly-fitting cardboard lids made amazing pinhole camera bodies. The aperture was a small 1-inch square which was cut-out and replaced with a piece of metal foil with a tiny pin hole.
In previous posts I have talked about things like getting permission, and safety concerns, but in this post I will focus on research methods and more specific equipment-related concerns you will need to consider prior to heading out on your journey.
Of all the strange, creepy, and off-the-wall places I’ve wandered into for the purposes of taking photographs, one thing remains the same; for whatever reason, I almost always come across some unusual, unexpected, and sometimes even bizarre discoveries.
I took these pictures as a labor of love to document one of the few remaining industrial buildings in the area that were in use during the time that the railroad was still in use. The disappearance of adequate transportation nearby, mainly that of rail, has led to the decline of nearby industry.
Every small town will always have at least one ghost road, at least one abandoned building, and generally a handful of friendly people who will be more than happy to suggest places that a photographer might be interested in.
Over the years, I have photographed abandoned places of all kinds. Shown here are just a sampling of what is available on my Flickr Photostream.
A lomographic camera is perhaps the pinnacle of grunge photography. Similar to the Holga, the Lomo camera produces unique results that are unique and specific to each individual camera. Specifically, the Lomo will typically produce images that are of selective focus, over or under exposure, indense off-center vignetting, and over saturation.
After photographing numerous abandoned locations, I have developed my own certain style. Every photographer photographs things differently, using technique and experience to derive the results you want. When photographing abandoned places, I look for vintage objects from an earlier time that help to tie the abandonment to a more specific time period.
Lo-fi photography is a style of photography generally using poor equipment, such as toy cameras or pinhole cameras, for stylistic effect. It is often considered a reaction to the perceived ease of creating technically perfect photos in the digital age. Generally the emphasis is on using film, rather than digital technology.
My original post in this series was Easy and Creative Grunge Effects. This post is for the more advanced photographer who is looking for some more interesting and stunning effects and editing.
Opened in 1829, the prison housed some of America’s most notorious and dangerous criminals, such as Al Capone and many others, up until its closing and subsequent abandonment in 1971. Today, it is a crumbling structure of guard towers and cell blocks which are kept in a perminant, yet stable state of disrepair and abandonment. The prison is a fantastic sight to behold and a perfect location for grunge photography.
These 50 stunning examples of abandonenment are from my Flickr photostream. I feel like they represent some of the best examples of my grunge photography and urban exploration photographs.
Just off Interstate 88 in New York, near Colliersville, is the small town of Cooperstown Junction. Cooperstown Junction used to be a major route as part of the D&H line, which later became the Cooperstown And Charlotte Valley Railroad. Unfortunately, the construction of I-88 revolutionized the transportation through the area, and freight service ceased in the 1980′s. The line was officially abandoned in 1998 after years of disuse.
Ashland is a town, whose economy is supported primarilly upon coal mining. The trouble with having an economy based upon a non-renewable resource is that once the resource is exhaused, the economy falls apart and the towns people are forced to leave with what few posessions they can afford to take with them. The photographs presented here are taken of a house that met the fate of an unstable economy.
There are certain things that attract people to grunge photography; they are mainly abandoned places, forgotten objects, and of course, dead cars. In this post, I’ll show you how to properly photograph a dead car, or at the very least, the methods I use to photograph one.
Along US Route 209 in Hurley, New York, sits a series of railroad coaches and freight cars. These were the same cars that used to travel the Ulster and Delaware Railroad throughout the Catskills during the early tourism days.
Stamford, New York, located in Upstate New York, was a major tourist and vacation destination at the turn of the century. In the early part of the 20th century, Stamford reached its peak in the tourism industry. The advent of the automobile and modern advances in long-distance transportation such as commercial jetliners contributed to the decline of tourism and vacationing in the Stamford area.
Those lucky enough to live near a big city or urban area know that these places are perfect for locations for grunge photography. The last time I took a trip to New York City, I took a lot of photographs of grunge and street art, and whatever else caught my eye on the street.
Located at the intersection of NY 3 and County Route 60, Benson Mines in Star Lake New York, produced so much iron ore that in 1958, it became the largest open pit iron ore mine in the world. The plant was so productive that it the local railroad built rail lines directly to the plant. Benson mines closed in 1978, costing an estimated 1200 jobs, and has been abandoned ever since.
Taking photos of abandoned places can teach you an enormous number of specialized skills that are generally not taught in a traditional classroom setting. This article will highlight the most important skills you can achieve simply by photographing abandoned places and buildings, which can help enhance the quality of other types of photography.
For those of us who have already crossed into the digital divide, there are still ways of making your digital photos appear as if they were taken with a real Holga camera. While there are countless actions available for Photoshop that will give our photos that ‘holga look’ automatically, the real test of ones ability is to be able to perform these post-production edits ourselves.
This tutorial will show you how to render Holga-like effects that are unique to each individual image using free software.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Holga camera, it is marketed as a toy, but for those who have ever taken photographs with one, it is anything but a toy. The Holga camera uses 120 mm film, which is many times larger than the common 35 mm film that is most popular in the United States, and instead of having around 30 exposures per roll with 35 mm film, the Holga’s 120 mm film yields between 12 and 14 exposures per roll.
According to some, grunge photography is just a fad. As far as I’m concerned, grunge photography is here to stay, and may have been around for quite some time, though it was overshadowed by more sought-after images depicting perfection. Grunge photography, in a sense is the opposite of traditional photography where everything is as perfect and flawless as possible.
In September of 2009, I decided to explore Letchworth Village, an abandoned facility that housed the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and those with conditions that at the time were felt to be a detriment to society.
Grunge photography has become the latest trend in photography. This tutorial is going to walk you through 6 very easy steps to taking your photo to the grunge level.
Sometimes as photographers, we can find amazing photo opportunities in the strangest of places. Aside from my regular work, on occasion I might stumble upon a place that could use a closer look. My curiosity has brought me to places that the ordinary sensible person might never go. These places include abandoned industrial sites, hospitals, railroad stations and cars, and on very rare occasion, abandoned residential complexes.