HDR… High Dynamic Range. A bit of a controversial subject in the community these days. I really think that, when done well, HDR is awesome! Philadelphia-based photographer, Scott Frederick, is one example of someone who does it well in his ‘urban decay’ photography. I’ve recently discovered another aspect of Scott’s work in his stunning long exposure B&W photography and minimalist imagery. Scott answered a few questions for the dPS readers and I am thrilled to share this interview with you as well as some of his images.
Scott, when we met through social media a couple of years ago, it was your distinctive style of urban decay HDR photography that stood out. How long have you been shooting this type of images?
I started shooting urban decay about 2 years ago.
What interests you most, the hunt for the right location or the resulting image?
I believe the resulting image is what excites me most. Searching for locations used to excite me until I realized I’ve been to most of the decayed locations around Philadelphia.
How do you get access to all those abandoned places? Do you always ask permission?
Permission is always the first step. I’ve been fortunate to obtain permission for a few amazing locations. Other locations have been accessed at my own risk.
Have you had any close-calls?
We decided to visit an abandoned factory in North Philadelphia that also used to be a school. It turns out that the building was used by many in the neighborhood for illegal activity. We were approached by a gang of 5 people while inside and since we crawled through a small opening to get in, we weren’t able to leave quickly. Instead, we were detained inside the building by these individuals. Once they realized we weren’t in the building to tread on their territory and only to take photographs they were kind enough to let us go! After that day I had a long talk with myself about my location decisions!
What is your workflow when shooting High Dynamic Range images?
Generally while shooting for HDR I bracket up to 9 exposures at 1EV steps. This gives me plenty of dynamic range to take home to the digital darkroom. I use Photomatix Pro 4 by HDRSoft to tone-map my images before going into Photoshop CS5 where I utilize plugin-ins by onOne and Nik Software to selectively brush in detail and contrast.
What gear do you use?
Currently I using Nikon Gear. D7000, 10-24mm, 17-55 f/2.8, 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, 40mm Micro f/1.8. This is supported on an Induro carbon fiber tripod and ballhead.
What tips would you give someone who wants to explore abandoned buildings to start shooting urban decay imagery?
Research, research, research. Also, you’ll want find a small group to shoot with because you’ll never want to explore alone. When you find images of a location by another photographer try not to message them about how they accessed the location. Urban Explorers usually don’t like to share that kind of information with people they don’t know. Other than that be extremely careful and understand the dangers of urban exploring. Weak flooring, Asbestos, Mold, etc.. I always bring a respirator that will protect me from harmful airborne particles.
What other genres of photography do you shoot?
I love fine art black and white long exposures. I’m into studio portraiture, minimalism and abstract imagery as well.
Which photographer(s) inspired you to become one yourself?
I’m not entirely sure who or what inspired me to become a photographer. I never really gave photography much attention before 2 1/2 years ago. It was a family trip to Disney World that prompted me to purchase my first DSLR but after I took it out of the box the obsession began! I played around with iPhone photography before the purchase of my DSLR but at that point the bug hadn’t bit me yet. Today I’m inspired by so many photographers that it’s impossible to pick one. When it comes to HDR, Brian Matiash is incredible. Fine Art B&W Photographer Joel Tjintjelaar is a huge inspiration to me. Both of these photographers are generous to share their knowledge and have helped me develop into the photographer I am today.
Find out more about Scott Frederick and connect with him on social media by visiting his website.
Table of contents
- ADVANCED GUIDES
- CREATIVE TECHNIQUES
- Focus on Scott Frederick – Urban Explorer