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How to Photograph Industrial Deserts

how-to-photograph-industrial-deserts.jpgIn this post Csilla Csoke from Tips4Photography.com shares some tips on photographing Industrial Deserts.

Do you know the places where the industry has ruined the nature? The whole area is filled with factories, such as oil refinery, metal production, recycling and power plants? These places are the industrial deserts of our time.

The most industrial landscapes are not designed to be charming but entirely functional. Try to notice the detail in the bold and rigid structures and to see its hidden beauty: shiny steel, bold architectural lines, and very graphic, aggressive visual elements.

Where to go

First of all, you need to know where you can find industrial areas. Use for example Google Earth to find out the best place to go and if you can come close enough by using a public way. You can start practicing in your own city, of course. The next places are always interesting:

  • Factories
  • Cranes
  • Industrial (old and empty) buildings
  • Machinery
  • Construction
  • Pylons
  • Harbors





If you will photograph industrial areas, you need to have more than a basic camera. A telephoto lens is the most important. More is better. A wide-angle lens is also useful, but you can also make a panorama if you do not have a wide-angle lens. You should also need a good tripod if you would like to photograph in dark conditions.


‘You’re not allowed to photograph this building’.


Anyone may take photographs of buildings from public places. If you want to publish these images, you should inform the law of that country.

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Stay on public roads and do not climb on the railing or barrier. Sometimes you can better ask for permission. Using the term ‘photo artist’ instead of ‘photograph’ can usually open doors!

Shooting Technique

Overcast days tend to be better for industrial photography. Rough weather fits perfectly with these subjects, but you can also take really special photos by night. High contrast settings on cameras or in post processing tends to look better than normal contrast. Cooler tones are almost always better than warmer tones for metal products.



While low depth of field lens aperture options are attractive for most images, industrial locations with plenty of steel look best with apertures of f8 or f11. Industrial photography is very similar to architectural photography in that sense.

Look for unconventional compositions. Try to capture the ‘power’ of the scene. Carefully chosen details results mostly in strong images. Analyze your subject and look for the best way to photograph it. Take the time!




Have you had experience in photographing industrial sites? We’d love to hear your tips and see links to some of your work in comments below.

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