Abandoned places by Erina Bogoeva
I have always been obsessed with tracking life through a visual medium, so when received my first DSLR, everything made sense. Since then my obsession with immortalizing passing moments has been under control. Many years afterwards, I have been a part of many group exhibitions, received a few awards and worked on a couple of international projects from a photographic point of view. However, I am still learning the tools of the trade and I’m enjoying every bit of it. At the moment I am doing my MA in Film, TV and Screen Industries at the University of Nottingham- a place which is ridiculously visually inspiring.
It was the 15 year anniversary from the Chernobyl disaster when I first found out about Pripyat, the city which was completely evacuated after the power plant meltdown. The most famous European ghost town of all time. I remember having an instant fascination with the place and its abandoned aesthetics. Ever since, I realized that I was quite intrigued by abandoned buildings and places. Places made by man and then forgotten. A few years later, I picked up a camera with a dedication to make something of it, and one of the things I tried to make of it is documenting these abandoned places whenever I stumble upon them. Sometimes I go searching for such places specifically. Looking at an abandoned place is looking at a piece of history. I don’t mean any history which could be read about in books, but a personal history. A house, a home, a place to work, a hospital, a hotel. Places where people spent their days and had experiences they might have considered mundane, or perhaps had the greatest time of their lives. Those places now stand almost empty before you, willing to tell a story if you are willing to listen. While for some the sights may be unpretty, I tend to romanticize the whole concept of the abandoned places. Imagine the walls which held old pictures, the halls in which children ran and stand behind the trigger as they run past you. The possibilities are endless, so by taking pictures of the abandoned places I tell the story I saw before me.
Some tips I would give for abandoned-places-photo-enthusiast would probably be the following:
1. First and foremost: be safe! I have had my leg stuck in one or two tricky situations, but I’ve been lucky. Never go alone in a decaying house. Always look at the floor you’re about to step on. Wooden stairs are not your friend, but concrete or metal stairs may be. Strange people which make no sound and hover around abandoned buildings should be avoided. Do not trespass, unless you’re certain that no one will see you.
2. It’s better to have an underexposed photo than an overexposed one (if you can’t get it perfect of course). The editing may give noise to the photo, but that may be a plus if you’re shooting in a grungy looking place anyway.
3. I am not a big fan of using a flash, but sometimes (if a high ISO can’t help you) it is necessary. My tip on this is to obviously make the photograph look as naturally lit as possible. You might want to use the lowest setting on your flash as possible, especially if you’re shooting in RAW format (and you should be shooting in RAW, let’s be honest). Afterwards you can enhance the light/shadows in post processing.
4. Go for the details. A shot or two of the outside of the object would be great, but the devil is in the details. Chances are that the abandoned place will be there as a whole for some time, but details change rapidly. This doesn’t mean that you should take any shot for granted. Just try to put your own spin on the place you’re immortalizing.
5. If you’re shooting a model in an abandoned place, avoid the clichés. Unless you’re going for a full-on horror shot, then don’t pretend to have wandering, lost, yet sexy female ghosts. It angers the spirits living in the place. Trust me.