This is where I really started to learn my craft. The first big lesson was figuring out how to really get the most out of my camera. I have a Nikon D50 which is a pretty basic, beginner level DSLR. Until this point, my D50 was pretty much an over inflated point and shoot camera. I never used any light settings besides the pre-sets and automatic, I only rarely used manual focus. This first real urban exploration was a proving grounds for me.
I went in the late afternoon and as you know the sun sets in the West. This meant that I had sunlight pouring into my first location like nobody's fucking business. This forced me to learn how to use the manual light controls. I took this same picture seven times using different manual settings to keep the interior from looking pitch black.
The same deal with the above picture. I had almost given up on trying to nab that shot. I'm glad I toughed it out.
After exploring the two smaller buildings, I entered the warehouse where I had to learn how to deal with low light. It wasn't too much of a hassle to figure out. Bigger aperture, more time. There wasn't much else to it. One thing that I did learn, however, is the importance of bringing a tripod into low light areas. I cannot stress this enough. If you know ahead of time that you're going to have to deal with low light, bring a tripod. There were some things in the warehouse that I wanted so badly to capture but there was so little light that I needed to have long exposures and it's virtually impossible to stand perfectly still. Even for a quarter second, the slightest movement will show as an off-putting blur. I had to toss more than a few pictures that I thought I nabbed alright.
I'm planning to go back again, next time with a tripod.
Now, I did have one of those beady looking flexible tripods with me. I wish I had tested it before brining it. Maybe it's just the model I had, but it could not hold my camera, it kept collapsing under the weight which was more than a little aggravating. It's perfect for my point-n-shoot which is nice.
One thing that was unexpected was how useful my flashlight was. Now I didn't take it out once during this particular trip, but the amount of comfort that's afforded by knowing that if I ever need light, I have it, is immeasurable. That and I guess I could use it as a club if a zombie attacks me.
Another thing I learned is that you will always find the weirdest shit where no one is supposed to go. In the warehouse I saw this abandoned stroller, a stationwagon, and a sofa. I have some pics in the full album but I'm going to be retaking those on my next trip.
One thing that I noticed and has rung true for pretty much every trip I've taken: if there's graffiti, there's an entry point. This was the first time I went somewhere I wasn't necessarily supposed to be. The fences weren't at all difficult to get around. There was definitely a bit of a rush that first time and I still get it whenever I enter but it's become less of a thrill and more of a chore now.
Another thing I've picked up on is that people generally don't give a fuck if you're going into an abandoned area. On this particular trip I was in an area that was pretty desolate and sort of isolated. There was only one thing there for people who don't cross chain-link fences to look at. The risk of getting spotted was pretty low. A few people saw me in some of the interiors, but again, people generally don't give a fuck. My guess is that they see the camera and think, 'Oh, he's just doing some artsy bullshit.' Which is, admittedly, what I'm doing.
There were more than a few people outside the warehouse, fishing, and there were a couple other people wandering around the inside taking pictures so that took a lot of the edge off my first time inside an abandoned building.
All in all, I had a pretty good experience. There was a lot of incredible graffiti inside the three buildings at this particular location. A lot of it is truly beautiful.
I'm not sure when I'll be going back but I'll make another post when I do as it will be the first time I will have done a revisit so I think it merits its own post.
As always there are a lot more pictures (including some shite ones I'm going to have to retake) at my photobuckit.