- Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
- Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography
- Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- The Digital SLR Expert Landscapes
- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide
- The Landscape Photography Workshop
- The Landscape Photography Field Guide
This two-part PhotographyTalk.com article ventures into the shadowy underbelly of the metropolitan landscape, where urban explorers seek adventure and photographers find strange and unusual subject matter.
It’s not a world for everyone, but after you read Part 1 and the remainder of the tips below, you’ll be able to decide if you’re ready for the challenge.
Urban exploration is a travel-light activity, and the safety equipment listed in Part 1 has priority. In most cases, you won’t want to carry a full-size camera bag. A good alternative is some kind of waist bag. It’s better to use a high-quality point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR with a single lens (a smaller zoom). Invest in a complete camera body and lens shooting case, so you can completely protect them as you roam, climb, crawl, etc. Include your camera cleaning kit, if possible. Pack a plastic ground cloth with the safety equipment, so you can shoot from a low angle.
Find Your Yoda
Even with the tips in this PhotographyTalk.com article and Internet research, you’ll be safer and enjoy the digital photography opportunities of urban exploration if you have a mentor. Look for a local group of explorers on one of those online forums. Contact a few of its members and ask to spend some time talking with them about this activity. Be involved in their planning sessions, even if you don’t join them at first. Generally, it’s a good idea to follow their lead and instructions until you gain some experience.
The Legalities of Urban Exploration Photography
PhotographyTalk.com does not advocate that you should break the law; however, it can be illegal to be in some of these urban locations. Explorers and photographers are almost never arrested, but they may receive a ticket for a minor offense, such as trespassing or mischief, and be subject to a fine. Typically, police or private security escorts them from the property with just a warning.
This is an important part of any research about a specific urbex location. You should know the local laws for trespassing or however it is defined for your municipality. Your “Yoda” can guide you about the legal ramifications. It may be even a good idea for the group to have the name and number of an attorney they call if they are arrested.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Your blood may already be racing, as you contemplate the excitement of being an urban explorer and taking great digital photos. Calm yourself for a number of reasons. First, you just don’t walk onto one of these sites at a time of your choosing. You may have to wait hours before gaining access. Once inside, you must move cautiously because of any dangers, plus you don’t want to announce your presence. Urban exploration and your photographic record may make for memorable adventures, but its hard, dangerous work in dirty, poorly lit places.
Ultimately, urban exploration and photography is an adventure that very few have the opportunity to experience. Although it requires planning, preparation and a safety-first attitude, there is still room to have fun. Plus, you’ll score some unique digital photos that will be of great interest to your family and friends; and you could make money with them. You’ll also meet a rare group of people that are seeking to understand the history of their city and accomplished photographers that are eager to share their ideas.