Some places are fun to explore but much harder to shoot for lack of light. Enter artificial lighting, a fun, yet frustrating, part of urbex. Short of lugging around professional lighting rigs (Not exactly the choice for mobility and discretion) we need to get creative. We’ve used flares and glowsticks, but most often the choice is the humble flashlight. I’ve found that this type of lighting is its own urbex subspecialty: getting a decent exposure without glare, hotspots or light streaks is a unique challenge most photographers don’t usually have to contend with. A case in point is the swimming pool at a shuttered high school we recently visited.
A massive room which held both an olympic-sized pool and diving board was cavernous enough to almost swallow up the lights of even our tactical strength flashlights. For these shots I needed my own light as well as the help of the Idiot Photographer, who lit things further away with her own torch, as well as stacking images together to combine the best-lit parts of several exposures. The results may not be the most awesome pictures ever, but I still like them for the effort that they took to realize.
Without getting into much detail, this was found in a pitch-black basement room in a very old medical facility. Whether or not it’s genuine is up for debate; it was found in a context which suggested that it may have been used in a staged shoot at some point in the past. Suffice it to say, if it is fake, it is quite realistic (I peered up its nose and inside its body cavity) and convincing. regardless, it was a bit unnerving to come across our friend here in the dark.
We were almost done going through this defunct hospital in Detroit when we found the operating rooms. In total darkness, overhead lamps leered from the ceiling, while rusting cabinets lined the walls. An already successful exploration had gotten that much better.
Shooting by flashlight isn’t ideal, and of all the angles and takes I tried this is really the only one that looks halfway decent. Hopefully, it conveys a bit of the sense of place.