If you missed Part 1, you can view it here. Today I am sharing more photographs from this past weekend, when I explored an abandoned fever hospital. I thought it might also be interesting to share how I approached photographing these buildings. If you have no photographic knowledge, this probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you. However, if you are interested in learning more about photography so that you can learn to capture images like these, please leave a comment and let me know. I think it’s worth saying, though, that photography is subjective and how I choose to shoot is simply my way of doing things.
This was the first time in months that I had chosen to shoot with my DLSR camera. I’ve really struggled to go out with this camera due to my health and how heavy it is. However, I was determined to use it on this occasion because I knew I would potentially need a fast lens. A fast lens is one that can stop down to a wide aperture and therefore let in more light. I knew the inside of the buildings would potentially be really dark and gloomy and therefore having a fast lens would be a big advantage for getting the shots I wanted to capture. Stylistically, I also love the shallow depth of field that comes with shooting at wide apertures. I shot all of the images with a canon 35mm f/2 lens, which is my absolute favourite lens.
I shot in manual mode and my settings varied depending on the light and what I was shooting. My approach to shooting is that I typically set my aperture first. My ISO and shutter speed are then decided upon dependent on the light. I typically try to keep my ISO as low as possible, but ensure that I have at least a minimum shutter speed of 1/125. My hands aren’t the steadiest and this helps to prevent any blurring from camera shake.
I consciously made the decision to slightly underexpose my images. I wanted to create eerie, gloomy images and knew exactly how I was going to post-process them. I knew that deliberately underexposing would help me to achieve that look.
The aperture I chose– which determines depth of field– depended on what I was shooting. For the outside shots of the buildings, where I wanted to capture more detail, I chose an aperture of between f/5.6 to f/6.3. Depth of field is also influenced by the distance you are from the subject and, as I was stood quite far from the building, these apertures enabled me to capture the detail of the buildings whilst leaving some of the foliage in the foreground out of focus.
The light inside the buildings varied from room to room but it was typically a low light situation (it was quite dull and dark). This meant that I had to use a wider aperture (f/2.2 to f/3.2) and a higher ISO (640-2000) to enable me to keep a fast enough shutter speed to prevent any camera shake as I did not take a tripod. I could have pushed the ISO higher and dropped the shutter speed slightly to allow for a narrower aperture (larger f/number that gives more depth of field) but– as I said above– stylistically, I love wide apertures and shallow depth of field. I think isolating a subject and having areas of the image out of focus makes some shots more interesting.
I also think that perspective is another factor that can have a big impact on the look of your images. If you stay standing and take all your images at that height, I’m not saying you won’t take good images– but a shift in perspective can take a good image and make it great. This is something that I do a lot. I like to get down low when taking photographs. Sometimes I will pretty much have my camera on the ground (and boy would a tilt screen help with that), other times I will crouch lower– yes I do pay for that a lot the next day! I obviously don’t do this all of the time but if you take the time to look at things from different angles and perspectives, you can end up with some brilliant shots.
How creepy is that last image?! I always shoot RAW and I do think that post-processing is really what makes an image. Of course, you should aim to get it as right as possible on capture and I don’t do anything drastic when editing my images. As I mentioned at the start, I slightly underexposed so that my shots had a gloomy, moody look to them straight out of camera and I was really happy with how they turned out. I shot in auto white balance (temperature) but in post-processing I ensured that the white balance was consistent throughout (I set one temperature for outside shots and one for inside shots). I kept the temperature of the images on the cooler side as I felt this worked well with the look I wanted to achieve. Additionally, I upped the contrast, brought the highlights down, de-saturated the images slightly and added a vignette to some of the images. I chose to put some in black in white as I felt this suited them better. If anyone would be interested in seeing some before and after shots (straight out of camera versus post-processed), let me know and I’d be happy to share in a future post.
It’s worth noting that if you prefer to shoot JPEG, or if your camera doesn’t have the ability to shoot in RAW format, that typically you can make changes to things like white balance, contrast and saturation in camera before taking your shots. You would need to read your camera manual to figure out how but it is definitely worth playing around with.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and found it interesting. If you have any questions or if there are any photography-related topics that you want to learn more about, please let me know in the comments down below.