How I Find Interesting Foregrounds and Abandoned Locations

I was asked how I find interesting foregrounds and abandoned locations a couple of times lately, and thought I would answer in my blog, which I’ve resuscitated to go along with my shiny new Ken Lee Photography website.
My philosophy is that regardless of whether it you are photographing the night sky or not, it’s all about the composition, where the subject matter still counts. And rarely for me is the night sky the subject matter. I’m particularly fascinated by the marriage of sky and earth. Astrophotography and deep sky photography hold less interest for me personally.
Ideally, I hike around the area during the day and return at night, although that doesn’t always happen due to time constraints or life throwing one challenges.
I photograph a lot of abandoned items that I found interesting, but really, anything that’s interesting is something that I love to photograph, including fantastic natural landscapes. When I’m in the area during the day, I usually try to make notes about where the moon might come out, how the foreground subject will be illuminated, or where the Milky Way might be, things like that. I use apps such as PhotoPills to help determine things such as this. I also look to see whether there might be streetlights in the area or there might be some danger in walking (sharp cactus, floorboards that are about to give way, possibility for animals or people, homeless encampments, whatever). And of course, I am always thinking about how I might “light paint”* the foreground so that I can create visually strong and creative images. “Light painting” is illuminating the foreground while the camera shutter is open, acting almost like the director of a movie, determining what to illuminate, and what to keep in shadow.
I am constantly attempting to find interesting areas. When researching new locations and determining how to approach photographing them, I use a combination of Google Maps, the history of a region, looking at old photographs, driving around the area, other photographer friends, blogs, old maps, and Facebook groups about a particular subject matter.
I try not to copy other people’s photographs. Also, I don’t actively seek to photograph some locations there despite it having great subjects if 1.) I feel like I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before, and 2.) they are too crowded, which isn’t the sort of photographic experience I’m after. Locations like this would include Mesa Arch at sunrise, Kanarra Creek Canyon, the sun shining on Horsetail Fall in Yosemite in February, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon. This is not a condemnation of anyone photographing these locations. They are stunning locations for photography. Because of #1 and #2, they simply hold less interest for me.
Finally, I am working on two more night photography books on abandoned sites, both of which have themes. Themes are fantastic because they drive me to seek out these things more, and make it a lot of fun! I also record music this way by having this sort of theme, and it serves as a guidepost for what one seeks out or does. I often find myself thinking about the approach in novel ways, and that can create additional creativity.
What foregrounds interest you? What methods do you use to find fascinating foregrounds and cool abandoned sites? Let us know in the comments section!

Abandoned Southern California book and book signing

NEW BOOK: I’m going to start this blog again after taking a hiatus. And what better way than to announce my first book? I have a new book entitled “Abandoned Southern California: The Slowing of Time”. The book features night photography photos of abandoned locations, some of them well known, others rather secret and obscure. The book is published by Fonthill Media/Arcadia Publishing. I am also working on two more books featuring night photography photos of abandoned locations.

BOOK SIGNING EVENT: I will be having a book signing on February 9 2020 at 5 pm at Valley Relics Museum in Los Angeles, CA at 7900 Balboa Blvd. Lake Balboa CA 91406 Hangar C 3 and 4. The entrance is on Stagg Street. Although it begins at 5 pm, I would encourage people to show up early to check out the fascinating museum. Admission is $10. I will also be giving a half hour slide show presentation on some of the locations in the book.

Facebook Event sign-up and tickets

 

BLOG: I am going to begin writing blog posts. However, it’s going to be different this time. I had problems trying to post so many times before, so I am going to slow it down to approximately one time a month. I will write more about night photography in general, including occasionally answering more commonly asked questions about night photography, including star trails, Milky Way, abandoned locations, gear, and other topics, keeping it loose and informal and fun and interesting.

NEW WEBSITE: I have a fresh new look for my website. Check it out! I am super happy with how beautifully it displays the photos and how it seamlessly integrates purchasing prints and various other items. www.kenleephotography.com

Thank you!

-Ken

Surrealistic Art in the Nevada Night Sky

Saluting The Night Sky (6871)


The Car Forest is an art installation outside Goldfield, Nevada. I drove up from Beatty to photograph here on a gorgeous evening, surrounded by braying and sometimes galloping burros. Many of these cars were repainted since my last visit, some for the better, and some by idiots.
~~
This is a real night photo. I illuminated the exterior and interior with a hand-held ProtoMachines LED2 flashlight while the shutter was open on my tripod-mounted camera. This is not a post-processing creation. No pixels were harmed during the creation of this photo. 😀
~~
Nikon D610/14-24mm f/2.8 lens. The long exposure photo is 21 minutes total “stacking” three photos, each 7 minutes f/8 ISO 200 on 2017-06-11 00:03.
~~
#kenlee #kenleephotography #slowshutter #amazing_longexpo #longexphunter #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #nightscaper #supreme_nightshots #ig_astrophotography #super_photolongexpo #long_exposure #nightscaper #nightphotography #longexposure #startrails #lightpainting #nevada #carforest

Long Exposure Night Photo with Light Painting

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!
You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like), on 500px, or my Ken Lee Google+ Page. We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!

 

Reflection of a Convict – Lake Reflections At Night

Reflection Of A Convict (8011)


During the day, we ran into talented night photographer and all-around great guy Ron Pinkerton and Deanna while about to rent a kayak. It was quite a surprise to run into friends hours away from home. We paddled around Lake Convict, CA and later, met for a delicious dinner at the Restaurant At Convict Lake. I returned in the evening and met up with Ron. The scene we wanted to photograph was blotted out by the moon, but I found this beautiful reflection of one of the mountains in the water, and decided to do a simple star trails photograph instead. I also photographed a version of this with the stars as pinpoints.
~~
Nikon D610/Nikon 28-300mm lens. 1 hour total from “stacked” images, each one 3 minutes f/8 ISO 800. 2017-08-01 22:35.
~~
IG – @kenleephotography
fb – kenleephotography
500px – kenleephotography
~~
#kenlee #kenleephotography #slowshutter #amazing_longexpo #longexphunter #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #nightscaper #supreme_nightshots #ig_astrophotography #super_photolongexpo #long_exposure #nightscaper #nightphotography #longexposure #convictlake #sierras

Long Exposure Night Photo with Light Painting

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!
You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like), on 500px, or my Ken Lee Google+ Page. We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!

 

Carrara Goggles – Ghost Towns of Nevada At Night!

Carrara Goggles (1604)
When I first saw this from the inside, they reminded me of goggles. How long this will remain standing, I’m not sure. Carrara is a failed cement plant down the mountain from where marble was discovered near Beatty, Nevada. This was photographed on a windy night, and surprisingly cold for June.

This is a real night photo. I illuminated the interior with a red light from several angles as well as the building in the back with a hand-held ProtoMachines LED2 flashlight while the shutter was open on my tripod-mounted camera. This is not a post-processing creation. No pixels were harmed during the creation of this photo. 😀 Initially unbeknownst to me, night photographer Kevin Balluff photographed this beautifully from a similar vantage point earlier than I did, and also with red light, so this is another variation for your enjoyment. 🙂
~~
IG: @kenleephotography
FB: facebook.com/kenleephotography
500px: 500px.com/kenleephotography
~~
Nikon D7000/Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. The long exposure photo is 333 seconds at f/8 ISO 200 on 2017-06-12 01:13.

#kenlee #kenleephotography #slowshutter #amazing_longexpo #longexphunter #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #nightscaper #supreme_nightshots #ig_astrophotography #super_photolongexpo #long_exposure #nightscaper #nightphotography #longexposure #startrails #lightpainting #nevada #carrara #beatty

Long Exposure Night Photo with Light Painting

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!
You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like), on 500px, or my Ken Lee Google+ Page. We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!

 

Bedrock City Star Trails – Roadside Attraction Kitsch Like You’ve Never Seen It!

Bedrock City Star Trails (1455)


I came across Bedrock City as a kid on the way to the Grand Canyon, and first photographed it at night in 2015. It felt great to return here. I also got to meet the owner briefly. Bedrock City, Arizona is a roadside attraction, a recreation of The Flintstones’ town. I photographed this on a cool, quiet evening, with the sound of coyotes howling in the distance.
~~
This is a real night photo. I illuminated the exterior and interior with a hand-held ProtoMachines LED2 flashlight while the shutter was open on my tripod-mounted camera. This is not a post-processing creation. No pixels were harmed during the creation of this photo. 😀
~~
Nikon D7000/Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. The long exposure photo is 50 minutes total, with one hundred images “stacked” as a composite, each 30 seconds f/8 ISO 1000 on 2017-06-07 23:55.
~~
IG: @kenleephotography
FB: facebook.com/kenleephotography
500px: 500px.com/kenleephotography
~~
#kenlee #kenleephotography #slowshutter #amazing_longexpo #longexphunter #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #nightscaper #supreme_nightshots #ig_astrophotography #super_photolongexpo #long_exposure #nightscaper #nightphotography #longexposure #startrails #lightpainting #bedrockcity #arizona

Long Exposure Night Photo with Light Painting

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!
You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like), on 500px, or my Ken Lee Google+ Page. We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!

 

The Glow of the Grand Canyon – Beautiful Arizona Sunset!

The Glow of the Grand Canyon (6670)


Deserts can have some of the most spectacular sunsets. The Grand Canyon, Arizona, during sunset. But you knew that, didn’t you? I had gotten back from a hike, got back to the car, and ran to the nearest lookout that seemed halfway decent. Several other people wielding tripods also were running. I bracketed five photos, shooting them at different exposures, and blended them together manually so that it looks more like what you see in person. I call this “Intelligent HDR”. 😀
~~
Nikon D610/14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 1/2-1/15th second f/8 ISO 400 on 2017-06-08 19:47.
~~
IG: @kenleephotography
FB: facebook.com/kenleephotography
500px: 500px.com/kenleephotography
~~
#kenlee #kenleephotography #slowshutter #amazing_longexpo #longexphunter #longexpoelite #longexposure_shots #nightscaper #supreme_nightshots #ig_astrophotography #super_photolongexpo #long_exposure #nightscaper #nightphotography #longexposure #startrails #arizona #grandcanyon

 Long Exposure Night Photo with Light Painting

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!
You can see more of these photos here  on my Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like), on 500px, or my Ken Lee Google+ Page. We discuss long exposure, night sky, star trails, and coastal long exposure photography, as well as lots of other things, so I hope you can join us!

And you can go to the Ken Lee Photography website, which has more photos from Ken Lee.  Thank you very much for visiting!