Few things attract the wandering photographer like the decaying remnants of past human activity. Old industrial buildings are primo subject matter, full of interesting surfaces and textures, often intermingled with graffiti and debris from later visitors, and sometimes lit by beams of sunlight pouring through various and sundry holes that the architect never intended to be there.
When one is wandering through such places, bulky equipment is not welcome. The last thing you want is big, heavy cameras swinging around and running expensively into the remaining still-solid parts of the structure. My handy little Olympus Pen D3, on the other hand, is perfect. It’s tiny enough to fit in a pocket, weighs almost nothing, and is capable of taking great photos – as long as you use the right film (as noted in a previous post on selecting films for half-frame cameras, which you can read here). Getting ~75 shots on a roll means reloading in less than ideal conditions is almost never required.
The juxtaposition of natural light and man-made structure is often among the more interesting parts of what one sees in these sorts of places. The irregular and highly directed light created by small holes in the building highlights thing that would usually go utterly unnoticed in regular artificial light. On really bright days, there’s sometimes a glow around the openings that makes the whole scene seem a little otherworldly.
Seeing how nature starts to take back abandoned places is fascinating; it never seems to happen in the same way, yet there are always constants, one of which is that plants will seek light wherever they can find it. The more light, the more and larger the plants that will grow into it. The floor in this location is still pretty intact, but nonetheless this tree managed to take root in a spot that guarantees it will get sunlight and water until it grow up through the roof. When it does, the perfect strip of sunlight that now falls on the floor will be broken, and the shot you see will no longer be possible. That’s why we photograph things – to see them as they are, as they may never be the same again.