Abandoned cars: Why it’s great to photograph in bad weather!

Photographing in bad weather can be good! My friend and I photographed some of the 4,000 abandoned cars in an eerie and rainy forest at night. Here’s how our wet weather adventure went!

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld RGB Critter 2.0 during a long exposure night photo.

Tim Little and I pulled up to Old Car City USA in rural Georgia in the late afternoon. Hopping over puddles to get to the main office, we met Dean, the owner, and Mike, one of the employees. Then we headed out into the forest to see some of the many rusty, vintage vehicles, many covered in moss, pine needles, leaves, and beaded water.

Thankfully, after a while, we noticed that the rain was letting up, just as Clear Outside and other weather apps had predicted. However, the rain continued dripping off the branches and leaves even after the rain had largely dissipated. Thankfully, we didn’t get too wet, although Tim discovered that his waterproof boots weren’t so waterproof.

We wandered around the area. We saw sections devoted to 1930s-40s vehicles, trucks, 1950s cars, and far more. The 4000 automobiles in 32 acres and seven miles of trails snaking through the forest were overwhelming.

“I’m walking in circles!”

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld RGB Critter 2.0 during a long exposure night photo.

By the time we began photographing at night, the rain had gone away, although still dripping from the leaves and branches. Fog began rolling in.

I began by attempting to find the 1930s-40s vehicles, located in the far corner of the forest property. I had used the nearby road for orientation. However, I couldn’t do this any longer because there were few cars and I couldn’t hear them. I also couldn’t usually see where the moon was. I would take a trail, only to find that I had circled back to the ice cream truck near one of the few open areas on the property. Finally, Tim helped me out since I was nearby, communicating via Motorola CP-110 radios that we typically bring for night photography.

“Yikes, that water’s cold!”

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld RGB Critter 2.0 during a long exposure night photo.

I also was testing an RGB Critter 2.0 flashlight for Photofocus. Although designed for flow arts, I was testing it for light painting because of its high-quality light (you can read the RGB Critter review here). I began side-lighting and backlighting a few of the rusty vintage vehicles. This went well, although more than a few times, I would brush against a couple of branches, causing cold water to splash down on me from the leaves above. The life of a night photographer is not always glamorous. Thankfully, both my $40 32 Degrees Sherpa Lined Urban Parka winter jacket I had just purchased and the RGB Critter shed the water beautifully.


Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld ProtoMachines LED2 during a long exposure night photo.

Tim startled me, emerging from the trees while I was photographing a “detail shot” of a hood ornament. “Sorry, I thought you had seen my light!”

I had stopped to photograph while heading back to the car. I was again a bit disoriented although heading in the correct general direction. Along the way, Tim discovered a GM bus that he had been looking for, a bus I had just photographed. This worked out quite well.

“The fog is fantastic!”

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld ProtoMachines LED2 during a long exposure night photo. The fog in the forest looked fantastic. “Bad” weather can help create good photos!

Tim and I discovered that we had both been lighting the fog in the back of some of the vehicles added an extra element of eeriness. This was especially exciting to me. Most of my night photography has been in the Southwest, where there is less opportunity for foggy forest photography.

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld ProtoMachines LED2 during a long exposure night photo.

“Can I move here for a year?”

We met up with Dean at the entrance. Dean asked, “How did it go?” I asked, “Can I move here for a year?” He laughed. This place was so fantastic, I could just imagine photographing continuously. There were so many opportunities for cool, strange, unusual, eerie and beautiful compositions. With a lot of locations, we often say, “We’ve only scratched the surface of this location!” But here, even that phrase didn’t describe the enormous amount of fantastic night photography opportunities. This was a very memorable night, a little wet and a lot of fun!

Old Car City, Georgia. Lit with a handheld RGB Critter 2.0 during a long exposure night photo.

Photographing in bad weather can be good!

Many night photographers ordinarily might not feel that a foggy rainy December night with a full moon is a great night for photography. But just like with day photography, there are many compelling reasons to photograph during “bad” weather. The fog in the trees, water droplets on the cars, and dripping forest canopy made for compelling possibilities.

What are some of the reasons you like to photograph in “bad” weather? Let us know in the comments!

NOTE: We will be having our Old Car City USA Night Photography Workshop here in October 2023. Don’t miss out on this place, which has 4000 automobiles in a forest, a rare opportunity to photograph something special while learning and having fun!


Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!


Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)

Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020


How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022


Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols



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