The dark side of Photography

To my avid readership, it will seem like I am beating a dead horse. However, not talking about light extensively on an Urbex blog would be like ignoring salt on a cooking website. Who needs to actually see what they’re photographing, anyway… Who needs proper lighting or clarity when you can just snap a blurry, grainy picture that looks like it was taken on a potato?

Don’t get me wrong. Obscurity may be our friend in Urbex settings, as it provides camouflage and anonymity. On the other hand, it adds a level of difficulty to your movements and progression. To add insult to injury, when it comes to taking photos in low light (or complete darkness), we’re faced with quiet a few challenges.

In low light, there are simply no available photons to create a well-exposed image. This results in the camera sensor struggling to capture enough information, leading to a less sharp and detailed image.

Another issue is da fuckin’ noise. When there isn’t light, the camera sensor amplifies the signal (any signal, really) to create a brighter image. This introduces noise in the form of digital, uneven, crappy speckles.

Slow shutter speeds is also an issue. The Urbexer needs to use a slower shutter speed to capture enough light. Result ? Usually, camera shake, blurred and shaky images. Forget about tack sharp. But, who knows ? You might get lucky !!

Finally, Urbexers can always us a larger aperture to let in more light. This though, will result in limited depth of field, making it difficult to keep the entire subject in focus. If if there is a moving subject in the image, you’re pretty much fucked.

Lastly, using shitty gear -low-quality camera or lenses- will sure as hell negatively impact your photo-taking experience.

However, since this is a solution oriented blog (hahaha), there are tools that can be used to overcome these issues.

  1. A damn flash. Flash units (strobes), are typically mounted on cameras or used off-camera with triggers. They are built-in or external, and come in various sizes and power levels. When using it, consider flash output, flash-to-subject distance, and angle to achieve desired results. Remember though, direct flash usually results in unflattering shadows and even blown-out highlights. It’s like modern art, but with less talent and more frustration
  2. A tripod can provide stability and help with consistency, flexibility, composition, and control.
  3. Increasing the ISO setting on the camera can make it more sensitive to light. As always, be mindful of noise in an images: as you know by now, I think digital noise is the spawn of Satan.
  4. Using a wider aperture can allow more light to enter the camera, brightening the images and creating a shallow depth of field.
  5. Slowing down the shutter speed can allow for more light to be captured, although it requires a steady hand or tripod to avoid camera shake.
  6. Shoot in RAW format. It can provide more control over exposure and brightness during post-processing. Unlike JPEG, RAW files contain all of the image data captured by the camera’s sensor, without any loss. Additionally, they also offer a wider dynamic range, which allows Urbexers to recover more detail from shadows and highlights. While RAW files require more storage space and processing power, the increased control and flexibility they offer, make it a worth while trade-off IMHO.
  7. Image stabilization technology can compensate for camera shake and reduce blur in low light situations. Image stabilization is accomplished through a variety of techniques, including optical, digital, and sensor-shift stabilization. Optical image stabilization (OIS) uses special lenses or groups of lenses to compensate for camera shake, while digital stabilization involves cropping the image or altering its orientation to minimize the effects of motion. Sensor-shift stabilization involves moving the image sensor to compensate for camera shake.
Shooting in JPG Vs. RAW format.

Yet again, it’s important to note that there are some insurmontalbes issues, such as poor quality lenses or camera sensors, that can only be fixed by upgrading your gear, to improve the overall quality of your photos. Your budget will cringe but if you don’t, it will be like playing a game of Urbex roulette, where you never know what kind of garbled mess you’re going to end up with.

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