Shadows & Light

As a photographer, shadows and light (along with maybe color) are your paint and paintbrush. You are a recorder of light, or the absence of light.

It’s what I love about taking urban exploration photos: finding those areas where light meets dark, and creates mystery. What’s in the corner? What lies waiting in the shadows? What can’t I see?

I found a great abandoned warehouse in mid Michigan where these big, bright windows let in a lot of light. But as usual with window light, it falls off in such a great way. There’s just enough illumination to highlight details on the interior, and just enough shadow to make some mystery.

I’m drawn to these areas when I find something to photograph. Where just enough light leaks in to make something magic.

Hell’s Kitchen

It’s one thing to risk heading into an abandoned house. You could step on a rusty nail, or get attacked by a mongrel dog.

It’s another thing to walk into a kitchen and find the floor missing.

One whole half of the house, in fact, was either caving in or on its way into the basement. With big holes in the roof, there’s nothing to stop Michigan’s chaotic weather from seeping in. It takes time, but eventually nature does its thing.

The only thing keeping the kitchen intact was the underlying structure – load-bearing walls as saviors.

Devastating. And a rich environment for photo making.

Abandoned Ann Arbor

I try to keep a running list of places to photograph in my head. But that doesn’t always work, because my memory is terrible.

What usually works is taking a photo of the place as a reminder, and then returning to the spot when I get a chance. Such was the case with this abandoned garage in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I drove by this place in December and immediately pulled over to do some quick exploring. I caught a glimpse of the inside, and thought, “I must return.”

So I did. A quick climb through the shattered window (and torn pant leg) later, I was inside and “urbexing.”

It’s hard to tell what the place was before the roof caved in. The weird part was the all the stuffed animals strewn about. Bags and bags of them, and they were everywhere: on the furniture, on the floor, on the balcony.

The place had just what I look for in photos: strong, deep shadows with shafts of light showing some intense color. It was a lot of fun.

Besides the torn pant leg, of course.