Photographing in Abandonded Buildings

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by bsdunek, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    I know there are quite a few of you that like to photograph the interiors of abondoned buildings, and I can understand the draw. In face, I have a couple of friends that do this, and make some very interesting photos. Two things are important to remember. First, you probably are trespassing, and second, these places can be dangerous.

    One of the most interesting in this area is the old Detroit Michigan Central Train Station. Just heard on the news this morning is this: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012204120586


    Just a reminder to be really careful, bring a good flashlight, and if you can, bet permission. Oh, yes, don't go alone. If you are hurt, there will be no one to help you. Be careful out there!!!
     
  2. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Indeed, this is one of the dangers with Urbex.
    I mostly do this alone, so I have to take great care and not take any chances. If something should happen, I would be toast with no on to help out, better safe than sorry. :smile:

    But it's fun: http://helino-photo.blogspot.com/2012/02/nursing-home.html :smile:
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It's probably no more dangerous than hiking in hilly terrain.

    I know your trespass law in the US is different to ours in that trespass in the US is a criminal offence whereas it is a minor civil offence over here.

    If you are caught by the police, will they charge you with trespass or does the land/building owner have to press charges?

    It's a bit easier here as you are not technically trespassing until the owner of the land/building has asked you to leave and you have refused. Even in this scenario, the owner is not allowed to force you to leave and neither can the police.

    So on paper, it's a lot more risk free here. The reality though might be something different!


    Steve.
     
  4. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I am surprised he actually made it in there; that building is closely watched. It does draw many hopefuls, though, because of the way it dominates the landscape, and perhaps because it seems such an apt metaphor for the city of Detroit. Among local photographers, it is something of a Mt. Everest of urban exploration, but my Catholic upbringing makes it difficult to ignore No Trespassing signs. To be honest, though, I have heard that the old train station is more interesting from the outside than the inside.

    Interestingly, there is a growing number of photographers (some of them APUG members) who are growing tired of the photographic exploitation of Detroit's crumbling landscapes. It is still a beautiful city, and, if we care to take our cue from Chrysler's Superbowl ads, it is both a symbol of the country's resilient strength, and its hope for the future.
     
  5. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    It's true, dangers of some sort lurk everywhere. When you're out in what's left of the wilderness, you can get injured; another area where it is best not to go alone. Your risks increase if you are stupid and unprepared. There's risk, and there's unnecessary risk. It is possible to do risky things relatively safely if you think ahead about what you're facing, take the right gear with you, and don't push your luck too much.
     
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It would be a lot more challenging to photograph Detroit from a standpoint of positive outlook for the future, and try to convey what good things are occurring in that city bringing hope to the people living there. For a long time Michigan has been hit with high unemployment, very high divorce rates, and an almost unprecedented urban decay - all while citizens fondly remembers its former glory, hoping for it to somehow reappear.
     
  7. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    In semi-dangerous places better being in two. Also, if one wants to go alone, better to leave with somebody the location and the presumed time of return. If there is a delay of some hours "somebody" will alert the police telling the place.

    When I go trekking (which normally I do alone) I make known to a friend the place where I go, the paths I will be following and I send an SMS from three or four "checkpoint", so that, if I don't come back home, the rescuers know more or less exactly where to look for me. I also importantly send an SMS when I am to the car again :wink:
     
  8. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    I am often careful in both places, cliffs and abandon buildings. Truthfully my CCW is far more important to me when I am doing anything urban. I do take the time to share my flight plan with my wife or others before I set out on my hikes, because I do not desire to be missing and no one know where I am.

    Durring one outing, after some urban exploring a number of us hailing from different states shared a peek at each other's CCW licenses and it struck me that I was not alone as a lawful citizen being safe in our quest for great photographic scenes. It was also good to see others had worst pictures than mine on their licenses.

    L.
     
  9. Steven L

    Steven L Member

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    In the Netherlands, space is precious so every building is either occupied or being torn down to replace. Abandoned places are mostly fenced and protected or occupied by hobo's and druggy's. There are a few "real" abandoned places, but they are rare. Your best bet is to find the building's owners and ask them for a tour. At one point they are going to renovate or demolish so they need some pictures for contractors to work with. You can also contact renovators and demolishers to ask if you can take "before" pictures. These people usually know when it is or isn't safe to go.
    The dangers aren't always visable. There can be chemicals in the building, asbestos, gasses even biohazard material. I've heard that some Urbex-ers wear gloves and masks for protection. Better safe than sorry.
    I have done legal urban exploring before. Just up to the fence, as close as possible. It's more relaxing when you don't have to look over your shoulder for the police. I know, I'm a big chicken. :D
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    What is a CCW licence?


    Steve.
     
  11. Tori Nelson

    Tori Nelson Member

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    CCW stands for CARRY CONCEALED WEAPON. In San Diego County they are issued through the Sheriff's office and they have some pretty strict requirements. Even retired law enforcement officers, in California, are required to reapply every 5 years to retain their ability to carry (if they want it to apply to all 50 states they must also pass a qualify shoot).
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Oh. That's the last thing I want!

    Shouldn't that be a requirement for anyone anywhere who wants a gun?


    Steve.
     
  13. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I thought it meant 'counter-clockwise'. Widdershins for the analog life.

    s-a
     
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  15. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    Even if it's an abandoned building surrounded by a six-foot fence topped with razor wire? If you get caught in the wire, are they also obliged to leave you there so they don't interfere with you?
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's an ethical question rather than a legal one. It is however the owner's responsibility if someone is hurt either on razor wire or elsewhere on the property as property owners have a duty of care to anyone on their property - even those un-invited guests!

    However, if it's surrounded by a six foot fence (or locked doors) and you have to break something to get in, the law of 'Breaking and Entering' comes into play which is separate from trespass.


    Steve.
     
  17. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Steve,
    You are right. I have been Talked Too by the locals about what Breaking and Entering is when I wander into a building. Something I do not do very often.

    Earlier in the thread there was mention about trying to show areas like Detroit in a more favorable light. That really does sound like a bigger challenge.
     
  18. xdielanx

    xdielanx Member

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    Wow. I wish I lived in England. haha. I love exploring and shooting abandoned places. It would be awesome to be able to do so without having to worry about being caught by the police but then again that is part of the excitement. I haven't gone outside of PA but I would like to. I hear MA is filled with creepy abandoned places.
     
  19. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    I thought it meant 'counter-clockwise'. Widdershins for the analog life.

    s-a
     
  20. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Yes, I guess I am just too darn ethical in regard to trespass signs and too protective of my physical well-being to indulge in serious exploration. I am fascinated by old decaying industrial buildings and infrastructure, but I have seen stamped steel industrial stair treads that were completely rusted through. So when you walk into a building that has seen no use, and maybe no maintenance, for decades, you quite literally take your life in your hands. It surprising in fact how fast some stuff deteriorates, especially when there is no longer HVAC operating.

    There was an incident a year or so back near here where a roofing contractor VP was up on the roof of an old boiler house at a private school, instructing two workers on what they were to do on a repair project. As they surveyed the scene, a section of the roof collapsed into a former coal bin. The VP, wearing no safety gear ("the boss"), died from his injuries. The workers had life lines and protective gear on and one of them, though he fell, at least survived, albeit with some injuries.
     
  21. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Lee, I think I may have been on one of those shoots with you.

    I recall someone mentioning that the best disguise for getting past the locals on an outing such as this is an orange vest, white hard hat, and a clipboard.
     
  22. Moopheus

    Moopheus Member

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    That's just what we tell tourists. Then we charge 'em $20 for the bus ride out to see them.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Perhaps a reversible jacket. Camouflage on one side, fluorescent orange on the other.


    It is often suggested that if you want to photograph un-noticed in a busy town, wear a high visibility jacket and put your camera on a bright yellow surveyor's tripod. Camouflage doesn't always mean blending in with the background.


    Steve.
     
  24. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Sometimes we're blind to the risk when following where our deathboxes lead us. I suppose any war photographer would tell us that.

    The lure of death and the camera's inherent attraction to it.
     
  25. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Grand Central in Detroit? Wouldn't go in there unless you are with a group of people, well equipped with firearms.
     
  26. xdielanx

    xdielanx Member

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    I see you are from SE PA. There are some interesting places that aren't too dangerous. I live outside of Reading and I went with a group of friends the the Linfield Idustrial Park which is located maybe a mile away from the Limerick Power Plant. No dangerous paths or fences. It is just something else to walk among all of the old abandoned warehouse buildings.