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Urban Exploration Photography: A guide to creating and editing images of abandoned places

Book Description

Getting a compelling shot in an abandoned structure is what urban exploration—or UrbEx—photography is all about. But that’s much easier said than done. UrbEx photography is one of the most challenging genres to shoot due to the dark environments, unpredictable circumstances, and various threats to one’s safety. Preparation is key and time can be limited for pulling off great shots. In Urban Exploration Photography, photographer Todd Sipes walks you through everything you need to know about composing, shooting, and processing photos of abandoned places.


You’ll start with preparing for a shoot, including what to bring, what to wear, and when to go. Then you’ll dive into shooting with an in-depth look at composition, subject matter, and various techniques that can be used for different circumstances. After gaining a thorough understanding of how to shoot, you’ll get a detailed look at Todd’s post-processing workflow from start to finish using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Google Nik Collection, OnOne Perfect Photo Suite, and more. You’ll finish off with complete walkthroughs of select images that you can step through using the author’s raw camera files.

You’ll also learn:

  • General guidelines for camera settings and gear

  • How to shoot in the dark

  • How to select the best subject matter

  • What qualities of light to look for

  • 32-bit HDR and luminosity masking

  • How to bracket your shots

  • How to avoid common mistakes

  • Numerous other tips and tricks that will save you time in the field

  • Table of Contents

    1. Title Page
    2. Copyright Page
    3. Dedication Page
    4. Contents
    5. About the Author
    6. Introduction
      1. About This Book
      2. Downloadable Content
    7. Part 1: Shooting
      1. One. Before You Shoot
        1. Be Prepared
          1. What to Bring: The Bare Essentials
          2. Why Are You Shooting?
          3. Make the Best Use of Your Time
      2. Two. How to Shoot
        1. Composition
          1. Rule of Thirds
          2. The Golden Compositions
          3. Centered
          4. Dutch Angle
          5. Other Facets of Composition
          6. The Three Major Shots
        2. Raw, Aperture, ISO, Lenses, and More
          1. Raw or JPEG
          2. Mode
          3. ISO
          4. Lens
          5. Aperture
        3. Bracketing Your Shots
          1. What Is Bracketing?
          2. How to Bracket
        4. Shooting in the Dark
          1. Focusing
          2. Three Choices: Light Painting, Small F-stop/High ISO, Intervalometer
        5. Shooting with Stars
          1. Star Trails or No Star Trails?
        6. Shooting Panoramas
      3. Three. What to Shoot
        1. Shooting Organic Elements
          1. Light Beams
          2. Overgrowth
        2. Capturing Synthetic Elements
          1. Artifacts
          2. Chairs
          3. Graffiti
          4. Windows
          5. Peeling Paint
          6. Machinery
      4. Four. When to Shoot
        1. Twilights
        2. Blue Hour
        3. Golden Hour
        4. Daytime
        5. Nighttime
    8. Part 2: Editing
      1. Five. Building Your Software Toolbox
        1. Making Corrections with Photoshop
          1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
          2. Adobe Photoshop
        2. Using HDR Tools
          1. LR/Enfuse
          2. HDR Pro
        3. Understanding Filters and Effects
          1. Nik Collection
          2. OnOne Perfect Photo Suite
          3. VSCO
        4. Creating Panoramas
          1. Photomerge
          2. Kolor Autopana Giga
        5. But What About Applications X, Y, and Z?
          1. HDRsoft Photomatix Pro
          2. GIMP
          3. Topaz Labs
      2. Six. Demystifying HDR
        1. What Is HDR?
        2. Why Is HDR So Prevalent in UrbEx Photography?
        3. When to Use HDR
        4. When Not to Use HDR
        5. Correcting HDR Misconceptions
          1. All HDR Photos Are Bad Photos
          2. HDR Is a New Gimmick
          3. HDR Looks Fake
          4. HDR = Tone Mapping
          5. HDR Is the “Auto-Tune” of Photography
      3. Seven. Finding Your Style
        1. Places to Find Inspiration
          1. Flickr.com
          2. 500px.com
          3. Google+
          4. Reddit.com
        2. UrbEx Styles
          1. Straight-out-of-Camera (SOOC)
          2. Natural
          3. Detail-Enhanced
          4. Grungy
          5. Overcooked
          6. My Style
      4. Eight. Importing and Editing Your Shots
        1. Creating a Folder Structure
        2. Setting Import Options
          1. Copy, Move, or Add?
          2. Creating Previews
          3. Renaming Files
          4. Using the Apply During Import Panel
          5. Adding Metadata and Keywords
          6. Destination
        3. Stacking Shots
          1. Auto-Stacking by Capture Time
        4. Picking the Winners
          1. Performing a First Pass
          2. Using the Star System
          3. Choosing the Best
          4. Don’t Delete the Rest
        5. Creating HDR Images
          1. Using LR/Enfuse
          2. Using Batch Mode
          3. Creating a 32-Bit HDR
          4. Understanding Luminosity Masking
      5. Nine. Making Adjustments with Lightroom
        1. Having a Vision
        2. First Pass of Lightroom Edits
          1. The Basic Panel
          2. The Presence Sliders
          3. The Tone Curve Panel
          4. The Detail Panel
          5. The Lens Corrections Panel
      6. Ten. Making Major Adjustments in Photoshop
        1. Creating Distraction-Free Shots
          1. Comparing Lightroom and Photoshop Tools
      7. Eleven. Filters and Effects
        1. Manipulation Types
          1. Glows
          2. Detail enhancement
          3. Color alterations
        2. Effect vs. Filter
        3. OnOne Perfect Effects
          1. Nik Color Efex
        4. Analog Efex
        5. Viveza
      8. Twelve. Photo Finishing in Lightroom
        1. The Final Adjustments
          1. Adjustment Brush
          2. Cropping
          3. Vignette
          4. Sharpening
      9. Thirteen. Processing Walkthroughs
        1. Walkthrough #1: Chair in a Psychiatric Hospital
        2. Walkthrough #2: The Hospital Classroom
        3. Walkthrough #3: Psych Ward Hallway
      10. Fourteen. 10 Things to Avoid
        1. 1. Fake Lens Flare
        2. 2. HDR Fever
        3. 3. Oversaturation
        4. 4. Too Sharp
        5. 5. Gray Highlights
        6. 6. Chromatic Aberrations
        7. 7. Halos
        8. 8. Artificial Light Beams
        9. 9. Selective Color
        10. 10. Textures
    9. Conclusion
    10. Index