There is something oddly satisfying when exploring abandoned man-made industrial machines and buildings, after human presence neglects the structure and there is no more activity and it is left to rot, rust and decay. Nature slowly reclaims it, breaking it down piece by piece. Artists come, cunningly ignoring the no trespassing signs to find blank canvases hidden from authority, with which to create amazing and complex murals with paint and spray cans. Skaters find a place to build routes and ramps, and paintball enthusiasts have a battleground to conduct war.
In the end it is not really lost, it just gets used in another way by the community until someone buys it to tear down and rebuild something new on the property. But that process sometimes takes years. I enjoy walking through these “wastelands”, not knowing what to expect around every corner. An eerie feeling surrounds you, as if you are scavenging through a post-apocalyptic world trying to find shelter and items to survive a zombie outbreak.
Obviously, depending on where you explore, there should be some safety precautions before engaging in such an activity. There is constant danger of collapsing floors and sharp objects everywhere you step. Homeless people and drug addicts could also be housed in bigger structures, so be aware and listen to what is going on so as not to put yourself in danger. Headlamp, sturdy boots and a particle mask would be recommend for toxins like asbestos and mold spores.
I’ve been fascinated by this hobby after exploring Ventura’s abandoned oil refinery near my home. It was there on the side of the freeway every day on my way to work, until I finally had the idea to take a look inside. I did that on a few occasions at different times of the day, and after heavy rainfall to get some nice photo shots.
I’ve explored five similar structures so far, the most impressive being a giant metal refinery with three large office buildings, all abandoned with office equipment and old items laying around. I had to enter through a gate, and then climb a broken window that was at shoulder height to eventually drop down in to the reception area where there were switchboards and telephones. It’s a unique taste of adventure. There were multiple floors to explore, old electronics and a lot of sketchy situations that needed careful attention on the sturdiness of the structure under my feet.
I enjoy the aesthetics of black and white photos that can be captured in these places and look forward to more exploring!