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Beauty in Decay: Photography of Urban Exploration


"QUANTUM SHOT" #482


The Abandoned and the Rusted-out Carcasses of Things Long Gone seem to be a fitting theme for this week - much of doom and gloom has occurred in economy, and most people are concerned about the future. So we're just going to play on these apocalyptic sentiments, and serve you a bunch of depressing pictures... Sorry.

Desolate places with a soul

We were quite impressed by explorations of Julie Shiel, and her eye for colorful abandonments - so we asked her a few questions, and here is what she has to say about her art.
(most photography is offered as prints for purchase on her site)


Photo taken in the abandoned town of Centralia, PA, which has an ongoing underground coal fire - an inspiration for the movie "Silent Hill" and the book "Strange Highways" by Dean Koontz, among others.

"I find beauty in decay. I like to see nature conquering what man has left. I believe that old buildings have a soul, and when I photograph these places I try to capture a piece of that soul."


This is a rusted lock on the back door of an abandoned International truck


Simply beautiful. This photo was taken at an old Boy's school that dated back to the 1700s.

"Most people will never see these places, although they often have a long and interesting history. There are numerous abandonments from hospitals whose doors have long been shut to simple country houses, and each of them has a story to tell."



"The Dryad's Retreat" at the remains of a church dating to the 1800s. "They call this the "good church", and there is another close by that is known as the "bad church". The history says that these churches served a small mill town on the river. This church was Catholic, built in the 1800s, but destroyed by fire in the 1920s. The nearby church was I believe, Presbyterian. The mill town was destroyed during a hurricane."

Some of the staircases are pretty evocative, too... Who knows maybe the ghosts of past are still proudly sauntering up and down these stairs:



Nature comes through - the vines grow through the window of an abandoned tuberculosis hospital.



In the same tuberculosis hospital we find a corridor bathed in an ephemeral greenish light. Perfect for first-person-shooter game designer's inspiration:



Do the "ghosts" come down to sings into these microphones? These are the old lamp stands, though -



"Finding places to explore isn't difficult if you are willing to do research, and to me that is part of the fun. It's a treasure hunt, and the reward is getting to see and experience places most people never do."


Exam Room - at an abandoned state school and hospital for children.

"A lot of old institutions still stand simply due to the cost of cleanup. They are riddled with asbestos, mold, rotting floors, and sometimes home to squatters. Instead of spending the money to clean them up, they sit and decay a little more with every passing year."


"End of the Rainbow" - found in an abandoned Boy's School from the 1700s that was later used as a Naval academy.

"The urban exploration community is close mouthed about their locations with good reason. I know of an old tuberclosis hospital that is widely known. It has become a party hangout and has been completely trashed. It has been set on fire numerous times and scrappers have destroyed the structural integrity of the buildings through stealing copper wiring. They even cut down the telephone poles. UE people love and respect these locations. We want only to document them, to enjoy their beauty and to discover them and it is a horrible thing to see one of our locations be destroyed, whether by people who don't respect them or by a corporation putting up a strip mall."


"Frozen in Time" - Who knows how many years ago this clock stopped? - and the silent operator phone...

"These old buildings often have amazing architecture that is not often seen any more and we know that their time is limited, so we photograph them."



Get a load of this... very spooky icecream cone in the middle of bewitched forest: picture taken in the abandoned amusement park (see a lot of them here)



"It's my favorite thing to do, in spite of, or perhaps in part due to the dangers inherent in exploring. I hope that I can capture photos that represent these places and share them with others."

Mystery Cage at an abandoned Asylum. "I don't know what was the cage was originally for, but a tree has grown up through the middle of it, and ivy surrounds it." -



Want even more disturbing photos? Check out the abandoned (forgotten?) crib here and bizarre schizophrenia-induced tree carvings here.

Most Fascinating Photography of Abandoned Places

For those who missed our mention of Moscow's abandoned subway tunnels, here is the creepiest panormaic shot (click the image to go to 360 VR)



(images credit: Vladimir Shalagin)

Interestingly, even the wedding photography of this master reflects a thrilling "noir" aspect:



Danila shows us the abandoned Soviet Army base - looks very inviting for a night of exploration:


(image credit: danila85)

Some tremendous rusty turbines - left deep in the forest:



Great-looking housing (and the church nearby) -





Finally, you know what present to give to your friend - an urban explorer - who has everything? Try this:



Also Read our whole series: Abandoned Places and Urban Exploring

Permanent Link......+StumbleUpon ...+Facebook
Category: Abandoned Places



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YOUR COMMENTS::

15 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

Here are some pix from Switzerland. This is a private park dubbed the "car graveyard" :
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32819147@N00/tags/carcemetery/

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Blogger Mystique Island Photography said...

Julie, what an interesting article. they're all look beautiful.

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Anonymous Lambda said...

I think we really feel the soul of the abandonned place in her photography.

She had a good sense of composition and light too : )

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Blogger adrian said...

Check out www.opacity.us
its the best collection of urban decay photos I've found

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Blogger ara133photography said...

I really love these. Julie, you do AMAZING work, I am really drawn to the staircases and the dryad image particularly! :) All of your artwork is so textural and really brings out the interestingly beautiful features of these abandoned places. Great interview, I enjoyed reading it!!

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Blogger jessica said...

great profile of a great photographer! Wonderful work, Julie!

-- flashframe

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Blogger Judi FitzPatrick said...

Julie's work is amazing, so glad you featured it here - it deserves to be noticed by the world. Way to go, Julie.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out Tarkovskiy's "Stalker". It's full of this.

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Anonymous Bronson said...

That church reminds me of the chapel at which I used to dump all my gold in the original Diablo. Weird!

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Anonymous Ines said...

Wonderful pictures...I fell in love with the orange house =)

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Anonymous the paris apartment said...

These are just incredible. What's even more unbelievable is that you found them and take such exquisite photos and capture their energy and tragic beauty.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out these pics from abandoned Detroit including the Heidelberg Project

http://www.flickr.com/photos/funkytreetown/sets/72157604938972817/

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm looking on the internet there appear to be hundreds of images of abandoned trains, ships, amusement parks, morgues, buildings etc, and I'm wondering where all these places are? I saw ships half sunk on the coastline etc and I'm wondering with all this abandoned stuff doesn't it take up a lot of room? What happens ewhen they want to build something new?. And all these abandoned factories must leave behind a lot of toxic chemichals plus be a safty hazard. Which brings me to a question about your work. Old abandoned buildings are very beutiful but when taking the photographs how do you avoid safety hazards, such as old asbestos and cave ins? Also, have you cosidered how your work could be used for a "horror movie" type setting?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.thetimechamber.co.uk

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do a little UE myself, my favorite part is knowing that the last people in there were from a long time ago and worked the place when it was in tip top condition then looking around, seeing what a lost generation saw, trying to figure out what things are. I cant stand seeing disrespect to these places.

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