Abandoned, Decaying, Oxidizing... Alluring

Abandoned, Decaying, Oxidizing... Alluring

Why do we find abandoned buildings, flaking paint, oxidizing stairways so alluring? The answer to this simple question is not easy to come by; even an Internet search did not yield much.

Images of abandoned, decaying places simultaneously evoke two questions in our minds: What went on in this place? and, Will this also happen to places I know in the future? The past and the future come together at the present. Photos from the past do not have the same affect, nor do the images of current or futuristic things...

Most photographers are very familiar with low-key and high-key lighting to define the "mood" of their photographs. High-key lighting suggests an upbeat mood, while low-key lighting usually tends to heighten the sense of alienation. Those who shoot subjects that they can not pose, and who have no control over the light have to "catch the light" and the subject "in the mood". The next best thing is to slightly overexpose, or as I have done in this photo, slightly underexpose to give the image a "mood".

Another element of photography that controls mood is color balance. Photographers exaggerate the mood of their photos by making them "cooler" or "warmer" than they actually are. This can easily be achieved by choosing a warmer or cooler white balance setting in a digital camera. Although the "isolation" of the prison would have been better portrayed by cooler colors, I find that the sense of abandonment generally works better with warmer tones.

These days, many photographers are spending more time "sitting behind their computers" than actually "catching the light, the mood, the moment". Powerful post-processing tools of today have made it relatively easy to manipulate the light and the mood. Although many of the resulting photos have a synthetic look, most people do not seem to mind. Much like the fashion of the 1980's, most over-processed images of today are probably going to fade away, and even be mocked by future generations. There is no real substitute for the real!

If you have not done so, follow the links for some of the timeless images referenced in the About Page.
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