If you’ve been following my blog for long, or perhaps my Facebook page, you’re likely aware that I love, love, love to get outdoors and make images in natures. Trees, wildlife, birds, beaches, flowing water. It’s all so wonderful to view and photograph. But in the winter much of nature is not all that attractive. At least not to me. During these months of short days and gray skies I find it hard to find inspiration. I have to force myself out of the door to search subject matter to image. But there is a genre of subject matter I find works nicely when the winter blahs strike! Urban decay. Abandoned houses, barns and machinery left to deteriorate and be reclaimed by nature.
When the temperatures drop and the cold wind blows it can be hard to spend any substantial time outside. To brave the winter weather you either have to layer on thick, restrictive cold weather gear, or accept an uncomfortable chill. Here’s where the pursuit of rural decay can shine. You see the search for subject matter takes place from the confines of your warm, cozy vehicle. When you find a worth scene, you hop out for a few minutes, make some images and then slip back into the warm confines of you car or truck.
These types of photos often present better as black and white. The lack of lush greens and blue skies are not missed. Where the photographer is frequently searching out thick, beautiful foliage, bare limbs can actually add to the mood of images of deteriorating structures. After all, this is a particularly joyful subject. It is one where a bit of mystery, drama or bleakness adds to the story.
For these kinds of photographs I tend to prefer a wide angle lens. That choice tends to provide greater depth of field when open apertures are need due to dim lighting caused by overcast skies. Wide lenses also create the impression of more space between the subject and background objects. Don’t hesitate to experiment with your long lens. Sometimes the compression such equipment creates can make a better presentation. While I typically recommend using a tripod, if shooting along a busy road you may be better off shooting hand held so you can get a quick shot and get on your way. Don’t hesitate to try low and high points of view, along with the more typical eye-level approach. Experiment a bit and have some fun.
When cabin fever strikes along with a case of the winter blahs, give some thought to pursuing some rural decay photography. It might just spark some inspiration and rejuvenate your creative juices. AS my old Friend Zach Arias was known to say, “get off your ass and shoot,” GOYA.
The following images are the result of a short outing one winter’s day in late January. They may not be the most awe inspiring work. But it sure beats sitting on the sofa, staring at the TV and day dreaming of warmer days.
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Great article, Bob. I think the black and white treatment works best on some of those older buildings – gives a great feeling of age. Glad to see you are getting back to writing posts. I have set a challenge to write one every day for February!