August 31, 2010

The Green Room


I guess I could have tried to remove, or mitigate the ectoplasmic green cast in post processing. But since my goal is to present images as I saw them, I didn’t consider that option. It is what it is.

So what’s up with the green? The story behind it is really a lesson in how NOT to do an urbex shoot. Yes, I broke every rule.

It was shot at the same abandoned school I shot with Brian Matiash last weekend. I returned on my own, on a whim this past Sunday. I was in the general area dropping my son off at school and decided to swing by on my way home to scope out the site for a future visit. I did have my camera, but didn’t expect to shoot much.

At first glance, the rest of the campus didn’t appear to hold much promise. All of the buildings’ windows looked to be completely boarded up. Basically, that means little or no light is getting in. And that means no HDR photography – no light, no dynamic range. Not to mention the hazards of walking through a pitch black empty building alone.

Then I noticed an open window on one of the buildings. The boards had been removed and there was access to a room or two. I decided to check it out.

I went in and grabbed a couple of quick shots of the rooms that were illuminated by the open window. I had no intention of doing more, but my curiosity got the best of me. Armed with a flashlight, I decided to check out the rest of the building. I went from room to room, wishing the windows weren’t boarded up. Each room presented a new shot. But with no real light, I couldn’t shoot.

I went up to the second floor, again, guided only by the light of my tiny LED flashlight. Again, pitch black. I thought about leaving, but decided to check out the third floor.

As I approached the top of the landing, I noticed an eerie green light. “No turning back now,” I thought.

As eerie as the light was, it was less than otherworldly. The light emanated from a boarded up porch with a green fiberglass translucent roof. The three or four rooms facing the porch were wide open, allowing the subtle green light to leak into the rooms and hallway. Just enough to make HDR photography possible – with some pretty long bracket sets, of course.

This shot is of (if I can believe the sign on the door) the nurse practitioner’s office or lounge. Notice, no light from the windows on the far wall. Plywood will do that.

So … broken rules. I know Brian Matiash touched on it a couple of days ago. You need to be careful on shoots like these. This could have gone very badly.

  1. Tell someone where you are going and what you are doing. I told my wife I was going to shoot, but neglected to tell her where, or for how long. I also gave her no address.
  2. Shoot with a friend. I was shooting alone. Not a good idea in unknown territory, or even known creepy territory.
  3. Get permission. I had no permission. Its obvious that I am not the only one who has ever explored the property, so I was reasonably comfortable in doing so. But that may not be a good enough excuse, should the local authorities question your presence.

That said, I survived. Stay tuned for a couple more Green Room images. I’ll be folding them into the mix over the next couple of weeks.

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  1. This is awesome!!! This is exactly what I needed to get my day started. I must say what a set of balls you have venturing into this property alone. Be it that you and Brian were there together the day before, but your story of creeping up to the third floor is just creepy brave and big balled! Excellent capture!

  2. Great shot Bob! I am captivated by your story and the eerie green light here tops it off. It definitely makes me want to know more about the building. Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Awesome shot, Bob! Love the green cast in this, fantastic. I wish I knew of some places like this around me to shoot. Great work!

  4. The green light is awesome and you’ve captured it quite well. Just enough light on other parts of the room to see some elements without making it too bright.

  5. This is really cool, Bob. Looks like something maybe out of the Half-Life video game series, or some radioactive hospital!

    Really really great stuff. I want to see more!

  6. Author

    Thanks for our comments everyone! It was an amazing find, albeit, a bit scary. I have a couple more to post. Look for them later this week.