I Seek Decay
April 2, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to photograph the interior of a run-down old building. I live in NYC.

My wife found this site, and I immediately fell in love with the photos of dilapidated asylums. I wish I could buy prints and hang them all over my apartment, but I'm way too poor for to afford his $300 - $500 asking price.

It occurred to me that I have a good camera, and I'm a competent photographer. I'm not fooling myself that I could take photos like the ones on that site, but I'd love to try.

But where?

I don't want to go somewhere where I have to sneak in, take a bunch of really quick shots, and then sneak out before I get caught. I need to take my time. I need to take hundreds of shots so that I can pick the best for printing.
posted by grumblebee to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If anyone knows of locations in/around/near Washington DC, I would love to know as well.

(DC is in a post-9/11-tan-people-are-evil mentality, some places that wont get me shipped to Gitmo would be preferred)
posted by photodegas at 12:22 PM on April 2, 2008

Don't know about the building, but you'll want a tripod most likely. You'll probably have to shoot at a pretty small aperture to get everything in focus, something like f22 or thereabouts. A cable release would be good too.
posted by sully75 at 12:23 PM on April 2, 2008

The abandoned officers' quarters buildings on the west end of the Brooklyn Navy Yards is seriously spooky; completely overgrown with plant life, broken out windows, etc. I have no idea who you'd need to contact in order to get inside, but I'd say it's definitely worth a try. There's a mediocre shot of the exterior of one building in the complex here.
posted by saladin at 12:27 PM on April 2, 2008

You just go in. Sure, you can go through the trouble of trying to get in legitimately, but if you could even find who to ask the answer, due to liability concerns, would be - "No."

The worst anyone might do is have you arrested for trespassing, but even the likelihood of that is pretty slim: it's a huge hassle for everyone and if you are polite and discreet and don't go into buildings that are obviously guarded or recently fenced, it should not be a problem. And watch your step!

Alternatively: Bannerman's Castle let's people in (or did), and the further up the Hudson you go, especially on the west side, the cooler stuff you're likely to find. Similarly, out into Pennsylvania (which is not so far away if you drive due west) there are lots of good spots. I had a friend who went into the 'Panopticon' outside Philly. Lastly, bring a big, threatening-looking friend and go out to east Williamsburg and/or points South. Plenty of big, empty, buildings that won't mind a visit.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:09 PM on April 2, 2008

There are a few places like that on Staten Island. If you can get a car, you can drive to places like the old Seaview asylum which I believe is still easily accessible.

Some people have have posted youtube videos of their trips to the abandoned asylum, just do a search there.
posted by cazoo at 1:11 PM on April 2, 2008

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but there is an entire subculture of people who do this. Its called urban exploration. Your question reminded me of a post i had read on it years ago (maybe even on metafilter) which i can't find now.

At any rate, theres info about urban exploration in new york if you just google. It might give you some ideas of where to go, and how to get there and maybe some people go to with!
posted by modernsquid at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Was it this one modernsquid?

A cable release would be good too.

Yes, but in a pinch, you can just use the camera's timer. If it's anything like mine, you can change the 10 second timer to a 2 second which is perfect for shots where you don't want to risk the camera moving even a little.
posted by quin at 2:44 PM on April 2, 2008

In trying to find the location of the Maryland Chestnut Lodge I came across the Ghosttown Forums. They seem to be a great crowd to ask.
posted by phearlez at 3:04 PM on April 2, 2008

You may like to sign up for the mailing list of a local group called Ars Subterranea... they arrange occasional events (picnics, tours, visits) inside abandoned places in the NYC area.
posted by xo at 9:14 AM on April 3, 2008

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