Finding Beauty In a House of Entropy

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Entropy…  The beauty of falling apart.

Sometimes photographers take risks in pursuit of their passion. I sometimes take risks that are beyond the threshold of most other photographers and people I know. On a tip to visit Centralia, Pennsylvania, I came across this nearby house located in Ashland. According to a handful of local people I talked to (who wish to remain anonymous), Centralia is known to be a somewhat hazardous place ridden with sinkholes and toxic gases. While I will likely refrain from visiting the place, lots of other people continue to post photos.

Like Centralia, 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, but you can find more photos of Ashland here.

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Although the front side of this house looked like any other abandoned house, the back tells a different story. The entire second story was unaccessable, as was the second half of the rear of the house.

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Over the years, the one thing I have never found in an abandoned house is a suitcase. This place had a few of them. Since I posted this photo, I have gotten the same age-old question… What’s in it? To this I reply that I’m a photographer, not a relic seeker. Like any other situation, one should leave only footprints, and take only photographs and memories. The various textures and patterns shown here are indicative of the grunge style.

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Most beginner photographers use a flash in low-light conditions. Given the choice, I try my best to make use of natural light. Take this bedroom scene for example; in this case I decided that the high-contrast would be better than filling the scene with light.

Here are a few tips for shooting scenes like these…

Shoot all of your photos in color. If you have the ability, use RAW format in addition to JPEG. After adjusting the levels, convert the image to black and white before you choose which version looks best. Sometimes black and white gives more texture to the image, while at other times, color reveals details that might otherwise be lost with black and white.

While taking risks is a part of any business, especially any business in the arts, safety must be the highest priority. During this shoot I had a foot go right through the floor as soon as I stepped inside a door. By no means am I encouraging you to explore places like this, but if you chose to, you should expect the truly unexpected.

Finally, do your research before you go. Local people who have lived in the area for a long period of time will generally have the best insider information. And while I’m at it, I should probably mention this in-depth article discussing Centralia, Pennsylvania; I might just get up enough courage to check the place out for myself.

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