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!

Red Blood Cells – Abandoned Penitentiary in West Virginia!

Red Blood Cells (7513)


Photographing the abandoned and apparently haunted penitentiary at night was creepy, interesting, exciting, and sometimes challenging. The penitentiary has imposing Gothic stone architecture adorned with turrets and like a castle, and has an extremely violent history, with almost a thousand deaths within these stone walls. Shown here is Cell Block J & K.
~
Photos were created with only a handheld flashlight in total or near total darkness. Tim Little and Mike Cooper also photographed here the same evening. The former West Virginia State Penitentiary, a National Historic Places Registered facility, operated by the Moundsville Economic Development Council in Moundsville, West Virginia, was built in 1866, just three years after West Virginia seceded from Virginia, and closed in 1995.
~~
Nikon D610/14-24mm f/2.8 lens, 255 second exposure f/8 ISO 200. July 2017. I illuminated the cell block during the exposure.
~~
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 #startrails #westvirginia #urbex #abandoned #moundsvillepenitentiary #abandonedplaces #abandonedwv

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!

 

This Blood Red Room – Abandoned Penitentiary in West Virginia

This Blood Red Room (7517)


Photographing the abandoned and apparently haunted penitentiary at night was creepy, interesting, exciting, and sometimes challenging. The penitentiary has imposing Gothic stone architecture adorned with turrets and like a castle, and has an extremely violent history, with almost a thousand deaths within these stone walls.
~~~
Photos were created with only a handheld flashlight in total or near total darkness. Tim Little and Mike Cooper also photographed here the same evening. The former West Virginia State Penitentiary, a National Historic Places Registered facility, operated by the Moundsville Economic Development Council in Moundsville, West Virginia, was built in 1866, just three years after West Virginia seceded from Virginia, and closed in 1995.
~~~
Nikon D610/14-24mm f/2.8 lens, 194 second exposure f/8 ISO 200. July 2017. I illuminated the rooms during the exposure.
~~~
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 #startrails #westvirginia #urbex #abandoned #moundsvillepenitentiary #abandonedplaces #abandonedwv

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!

 

Big Blue Bus Burrowing Bottomward (International Car Forest of the Last Church)

3163-2014-007-11-0020-146sf8iso400-bluebus-kenlee_carforest-1000px

Please click on the photo to view it larger and more clearly!  Thanks!

How this bus stays up, I’m not sure. I came up here Thursday evening. There were two photographers, Matt and Justin, already here, but they left shortly afterwards for Bodie ghost town in California. I immediately began shooting, a bit dissatisfied with the shots I had taken the previous night, as the moon was blotted out by huge thunder clouds, and everything was very dark, not so conducive for this sort of light painting photography. Tonight was much better!

Outside the historic mining town of Goldfield, NV, in a desert dotted by Joshua Trees, you can see a field of old cars that are wildly painted and jammed into the ground at unlikely angles. This is the International Car Forest of the Last Church, created by Michael “Mark” Rippie and painted by Chad Sorg. In July 2014, I stayed in Goldfield and created night photos with light painting to enhance the bold colors of the painted cars even more. Light painting photos of this nature are often best done near a full moon, and during this evening, the clouds mostly cooperated!

With a nod of gratitude to Troy Paiva and Lance Keimig, who largely pioneered this sort of light painting photography. I don’t do this sort of light painting often, but their two books definitely had an influence on this photo.

Title: Big Blue Bus Burrowing Bottomward (3163)
Photo: Ken Lee Photography
Info: Nikon D610, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens at 14mm, 146 seconds, f/8, ISO 400. 2014-07-11 00:20. Light painted with LED flashlight and SB-600 with gels. All colored light work was done during the exposure, and is not a Photoshop creation.
Location: International Car Forest of the Last Church, Goldfield, NV, USA

Título: Big Blue Bus Burrowing Bottomward
Foto: Ken Lee Photography
Info:. Nikon D610, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED en 14mm, 146 segundos, f / 8, ISO 400 11/07/2014 a 00:20. Luz pintada con la linterna del LED y el SB-600 con geles. Todo el trabajo ligero de color se hizo durante la exposición, y no es una creación de Photoshop.
Ubicación: International Car Forest of the Last Church (Bosques de Coches Internacional de la última Iglesia), Goldfield, NV, EE.UU.

#night #carforest #nikon #kenlee #goldfield #lightpainting #nightskyphotography#desert #nevada #bigbluebus #artinstallation

Equipment:  Nikon D610, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, Feisol tripod.

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!