Urbex Photography Tips I’ve Found Elsewhere

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On June - 30 - 2009

I’ve written my own article of Urbex Photography Tips but I thought it might be handy to post a link to a great set of hints and tips on Photocritic.org, and article by Haje Jan Kamps with tips from Roy Barker. See the full article here: Capturing Urban Decay.


Incidentally I also found this interesting article 35 Beautiful Examples Of ‘Urban Decay Photography from Smashing Magazine – it’s not a ‘tips’ article but the shots themselves may provide inspiration if you’re looking for it.



Urbex Accessories: Cyba-Lite Explorer Head Torch

Posted by sickbritain On May - 12 - 2009

Every Urban Explorer needs a torch to help navigate around the dark, dank places we tend to find ourselves in but as a photographer you need both hands free in order to properly handle your camera gear. The natural solution is to buy a head torch, they’re available in pretty much all outdoor shops and cost as little as a tenner but unfortunately 95% of all the models I’ve seen in shops are rubbish for urbex photography.

The reason most head-torches are unsuitable is that they sit smack bang in the middle of your forehead which might be perfect for a caver but if you’re an SLR user you’ll find that when you bring your camera to your eye you’ll end up banging the body (or attached flash) right into the torch.  The other problem is that you’ll need the torch for exploring and to aid focusing but unless you’re light painting you won’t want the torch light to come out in your shot and trying to switch off a head torch whilst wearing gloves can be a pain.

Given all of my whinging above you’ve no doubt realised that I was getting fed-up with the situation but luckily I came across the Cyba-Lite Explorer, it’s effectively a small pen-torch (like a mini-Maglite) that comes with a clip-mount and an elastic head-strap…

explorer1 explorer2

From a general standpoint this is handy because you could clip it to a tripod, a baseball cap or whatever you like but the most useful part to me is that the clip mount swivels.  This means that I can wear it as a head torch but mounted on the side of my head, meaning that it won’t get in the way of my camera and that rather than fiddling with any switches I can just point it away from the subject of my photo if don’t want to capture the light.  My only criticism so far is that it could be brighter, it does well enough but there’s no way I could use it as my sole torch in the really dark places but hey – I carry my 4-cell Maglite as much for defence as for light!

You might think that I’m gushing with compliments about something pretty simple but having this torch has made exploring and taking photos so much simpler and hassle free that I just can’t help it – especially seeing as you can pick them up for less than a tenner (I paid about £14 though).  If anyone’s interested in picking one up there seems to be an offer on at 7dayshop.com where it’s going for £8.99 delivered.

Urbex Photography Tips

Posted by thirtyfootscrew On March - 11 - 2009

Some people come to Urbex with a background in photography whilst others come just for the exploration and end up taking photos casually and it’s hard to write up some tips that’ll help both sets of explorers so I’ll start by giving some general tips and maybe later on I’ll put up some separate posts for those of us with SLRs (or with Point & Shoot cameras that offer manual controls). 

  1. Control Your Flash.
    Most Point & Shoot cameras tend to have the flash in an ‘Auto’ mode, if you’re going to achieve good results you’ll want to turn this off and make a deliberate decision about when to use the flash.  If you’re outdoors in bright conditions then I wouldn’t bother unless there’s something in the foreground you want to light up.  If you’re in a dark room (and doing Urbex you will be at some point) then you’ll probably want to turn it on.  The upside of controlling the flash manually is that you can try different scenes with and without the flash and see what works best.  Another mini-tip is that if your flash tends to come out too bright, cover 25-50% of it with your finger as you take the photo and it’ll calm down the brightness (at the expense of a slight red tint).
  2. Steady the Camera.
    Keeping the camera steady will reduce the amount of blur in the photo, especially when the camera is struggling with low-light environments.  If you have a tripod you’re welcome to use it but I often find it to be a bit of a burden in an urbex environment, there are a couple of alternatives that will achieve the same effect (stability) but without the hassle.  Check out the Joby Gorillapod, it’s a small plastic tripod that can be free-standing or bent to secure your camera around fence posts, railings, furniture, etc.
    Another similar idea (but for flat surfaces only) is a to use a bean-bag, this will also have the effect of steadying your camera against vibrations.  If you don’t want to go out and spend money one good tip is to use the timer on your camera, when you press the button to take a photo you move the camera slightly but if you set the shot up and put the camera on a 5/10 second time you won’t have to worry about vibrations.  Another tip to reduce camera shake is to butt your elbows into your chest or to leaning against a wall or other structure (be VERY careful doing this in a derelict building).
  3. Take a Torch.
    In low light environments your camera may struggle to focus on the objects in front of it.  A good tip is to take a torch and point it at your subject, set the shot up to get the focus (usually this means keeping the button half-pressed), turn of the torch and take the shot.  If you’re using a flash then the light from that will take over and if you’re using a long exposure then you will avoid having the torch light in the scene.

I hope that helps to get you started, if you do happen to be an SLR user you can check out my more general SLR Tips over on my personal blog at www.thirtyfootscrew.com.

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If youre into Urbex or youre trying to find out what its all about you may find yourself needing some help finding out about the art of Urban Exploration.  Here at Sick Britain Im planning to put up original content like my What is Urbex? and Urbex Safety articles as well as posting links to other community sites such as 28 Days Later or Derelicte.

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