The Future Is Here
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Shooting Challenge: Urban Decay 2

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Most everyone knows that Oregon City is the end of the Oregon Trail, however, most folks outside of Oregon don't know about the huge paper mills in the heart of downtown Oregon City. The mills straddle the Willamette River's banks and incorporate Willamette Falls — like Borg implants blooming out of a Starfleet ensign. The attached images are spillway pipes from the west bank mill, and might be part of either the mill or the Willamette Falls Locks.

Anyway, according to Wil Wheaton the mills will be on Leverage next season, and I can't wait to see what they stand in for.


-Vanessa White


As a person who lives halfway between the cities of Trenton and Philadelphia, this contest was made for me. After some interesting wanderings, I settled on Trenton Central High School because I really liked the way the the rusted out sign and fence contrast with the colonial facade of the building. Edited in Adobe Lightroom. Taken with Canon T2i, 18-55 lens @ 48mm, 400 iso, f8, 1/250th.

- Eric Colon

The S.S. Palo Alto also known as the "Cement Ship/Boat," was originally built as a tanker during WWI later served as an amusement vessel for dancing, dining, pool, and fishing. After the company became broke, the ship has deteriorated to such a state that it is no longer open/safe for the public. Now it serves as a popular perching post for seagulls and pelicans as well as an artificial reef for marine life.

Canon T2i, 18-55mm kit lens, f5.6, WB Shady

-Wai-ling Quist


So call this one "Suburban Decay". Taken a few blocks from my house in Minnetonka, MN, this particular area never developed quite as expected, so much of the infrastructure feels old even if the surrounding area isn't quite "housing projects". I like the decrepit look of this light pole contrasted against the freshly mowed grass.

Nikon D3100 with kit lens at 27mm, F16 1/320 iso 200. Unfortunately I just snapped this when out for a walk and didn't probably adjust the camera, so the exposure bias was set to +5.


-Matthew Bertolatus


As soon a I heard about this shooting challenge I thought of San Francisco. What other city illustrates the beautifulness of Urban Decay more than her. The blemishes of time and neglect are the colors that highlight the details of this urban jungle, and without them you wouldn't paint an accurate portrait - or tell the whole story of her life. There is something very unique and special about this city by the bay.

Shot on a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, 18-55mm lens, f/9.0, ISO 200.
Adjusted in Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5.


-R.J. Barrett


This old Napa auto parts building has been deteriorating for years now. I actually use the wall as a backdrop for portraits I shoot in town. Shot a little late in the day so I had to crank the ISO to 1600. Shot RAW with D90, 18-70DX at F3.5. Processed in Lightroom.

-Kyle Frantz


Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
ISO: 160
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 42.0 mm

In the future no one has to gas up any more. All gas stations are abandoned.

-Bernhard Huber


I took this picture with my Nikon D3100, standard kit 18-55mm lens, ISO 800, f/18, 1/400 and post work using Snapseed for iPad. Living in Orlando, there are hardly any signs of "urban decay". I took this shot at an industrial area near my gym in what seemed to be the only rusted section of the fence near the railroad tracks. For an area that seemed to be such well taken care of, the chains looked liked they could crumble to dust at any moment, the rolling section was put on upside down (notice its not on a track), and the bolt in the center made me feel like I needed a tetanus shot just looking at it.

-Jason Cordoba


Finding "urban decay" in my town proved to be reasonably difficult. This building was one of the few decent examples, an old armory that has been in disrepair for years now, I suppose mostly because of the asbestos. I think they are still trying to raise money to restore it, but I doubt it will ever happen. Some time ago they tore the steps up from the front of the building and have recently hid this eyesore with some plastic "patriotic" banners; red, white and blue with stars. This shot is the back of the building where the fire escape is totally overgrown with vines and where the only asbestos warning is. Shot on my Canon Rebel T3i, 18mm, ISO 100, f/3.5, at 1/13 sec.

-Jason Pyles


When I saw Giz picking one of my favorite subjects for a contest this week a billion locations raced through my mind. Ash and I came up with a route around Nashville so we started driving taking nearly 400 different shots around town eventually ending up at Marathon Auto Works. Marathon Auto Works is an abandoned motor factory that started production 1889 until 1914 and has been in various states of decay and revival ever since. Its been home to many things including the birthplace of the Yazoo Brewery and some what of a home to the local artist community.

Tech -
Nikon D90
Focal Length 42mm

Thanks for the challenge!



Nikon D7000, Nikon 50mm 1.8 prime lens
ISO 400

Was looking for some sort of decay juxtaposed against something alive that had color. Found this rusted out fence surrounding a bunch of greenery near the water. Took a few different shots and threw in a little HDR, adjusting the colors so the red of the rust and the green of the plants stood out.


-John McGrail


The challenge for this shooting challenge was selecting the ONE submission out of so many. I live in Omaha, NE and like so many largish cities (hey we have like 800,000 in the metro area, it counts!) that have been around for over 150 years we tend to have a lot of urban decay. I walked around one city block taking pictures and I ran out of space on my memory card. I finally settled on the picture of a dilapidated grain elevator. I ride by this grain elevator two to three times a week, depending on the weather. I've always found it interesting because it is surrounded trees and farmland but it looks like a strong breeze will knock it down. Despite mother nature's best efforts, think monsoon type weather, it remains standing and a defiant symbol of man. I have always wanted to take a picture of it and this shooting challenge finally got me off my butt to do it. It was shot using a Canon 50D using a EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. The actual exposure was 1/125 sec at f/5.0 with the ISO set to 160.

- Bob Walker


I shot this using a 20mm lens and my Nikon D700. It was taken at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. This was my first time here, and it was kind of a last minute trip. It's a great place with amazing shadows, lines, and a long history.

-Pablo Piedra


I was on a photo walk at the old State Hospital here and discovered a window that was broken. I looked in and just saw this gorgeous blue room torn to bits from years gone by. I took a few shots and liked this one the best. I played around in photoshop CS5 a little bit and ended up with this great picture. Enjoy!

Shot with a Nikon D5000

-Tali Phillips


Everyday on the trip to and from work I crawl along in traffic. There is often opportunities for interesting shots and I have begun bringing a camera with me at all times. This week I was once again crawling along at a snails pace when I drew abreast of this scene and remembered this weeks challenge. I grabbed my camera and had time for this one single shot.

The concrete barrier that separates both fast-lanes between opposing traffic on the highway bisecting Ottawa. The barrier has had a large piece of concrete either removed or deteriorated over time. Long enough for water stains to darken the concrete around the cracks and for mother nature to start breaking it and the roadway down while in the background is a shiny new sound blocking fence.


Shot with Canon G12 f2.8 at 1/320 and ISO 80.

-Bruce Clement


Finding pictures for this contest was relatively easy since I live in NYC and I took some great ones that captured the 'grittiness' of the city. As I was walking home with a camera full of great shots, I passed by a small side street that captured 'Urban Decay" in almost every aspect. I also loved this picture because the colors of 'nature' juxtaposed really nicely with the man-made urban decay and was actually quite striking.

Canon T1i, f11

-Josh Yehaskel


The city I live in doesn't have much "decay" as it is a desirable place to live. The residents won't allow much of anything to get ruined. The one place on "The Hill" that does have some form of disrepair is a landslide area. Fifteen years or so ago, part of a hill collapsed and took out a few commercial buildings. Not much remains aside from black plastic to assist in water runoff. The few remnants of the buildings left are mainly concrete and rebar pylons. I found this small staircase off to the side of the slide area that has been completely overgrown with weeds. Its not too urban and not too decay but its the best of what I could find.

Tech info:
Canon EF 75-300 mm f/4-5.6 Lens
300 mm
ISO 160
0 EV


Thanks for the challenge.

-Matthew Johnson


I was walking to downtown Philadelphia from my apartment in University City, and while crossing the Walnut street bridge, I stopped to look at this mural that was painted on the side of a building. I had seen this mural (which is advertisement for a parking garage and storage company) many times, but never stopped to really get a good look at it. It wasn't until then that I actually realized what it said. Over the years this mural had deteriorated and become overgrown in vines to the point that it really doesn't serve its original purpose anymore, which is to drive business to this company. It is a heavily trafficked road, and for something like that to just be let go (Philadelphia is known for its murals) is really odd. I guess the fact that I just realized what this was feeds right into why it wasn't maintained: no really cares to stop and look. Canon 40D, 28-135mm lens (shot at 30mm), f/4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO 200

-Rich Siegel


It helps living in a city for this one. I knew the perfect place for Urban Decay. Right behind my apartment building in Boston.... This is a wall that has peeling paint, it was one of the many decaying items that are behind my apartment. I used my Canon Rebel XSi with a 50mm 1.4 lens 1/125 at f/1.4.

-Seth Porter


I happen to love shooting "Urban Decay"-type subjects so when I read this week's challenge I knew I had to contribute. I drove myself to the Millyard district of my hometown (Nashua, NH), parked the car and started walking around. I took lots of shots but nothing stood out. But two blocks from Main street I spotted this Stop sign and instantly loved it: Rust, faded color and red paint graffiti, on a background of old bricks overrun by vines? As urban decay goes it doesn't get much better than this...

Panasonic Lumix G1
14-45mm zoom lens at 14mm (28mm equiv)
f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 100


Developed from RAW in ACR 5.7, then cropped and level-adjusted in CS4.

-Frank Poulin


This is the Yate's Hardware store in Ellicott City, MD. I have often photographed their eclectic outdoor displays and love the old sign. This is the first time I've seen it looking so broken ... it's possible it lost a piece during Hurricane Irene.

Canon 60D with Tamron Lens - ISO 400, f/6.3, 270 mm

-Cheryl MacLean


This bike was abandoned (and later dug and put on display) in the front porch of a residence in Brookline, MA. Due to years of exposure to the elements (most importantly, water and oxygen :-)), all of the metal parts have corroded heavily. As time has gone by, the vegetation has grown and swallowed the rusty structure, which now supports branches, leaves, little insects and the occasional bird and squirrel.

Canon T2i, 100mm, F2.8

-Diego Jimenez


"Nature Taking it Back"

This pictures shows an interesting house in the neighborhood of Nunoa,
in Santiago, Chile. The neighborhood is very well cared both by the
municipality and by the people living here, and this house just stand
out with its wild nature. I'm not sure if ther eis people still living
there, but if there is, they're loosing the battle against Nature!


Camera: Canon 60D
ISO: 100
Aperture: F/6.3
Lens: Tamron 10-24mm wide angle
Exposure: HDR image with 11 pictures, 0.5EV steps, anchor at 1/125
Processing: Photomatix 4.1 and Photoshop CS 4
Date taken: 2011/09/25

- Guilherme Venere


I have been trying to get out to complete some of these challenges for the past couple months. Time is hard to come by when you have a six week old baby girl at home. I was able to bring my wife and baby out for a fun little photo shoot. Basically they stayed in the Jeep while we drove around Rochester looking for urban decay. Luckily, it's Rochester and there is urban decay all around. The shot I ended up getting is of one of the old buildings in our high falls district. I have always liked the faded graphics on the brick wall. I took some shots from the ground, but they really weren't that great. This shot is from the top of a parking garage across the street about an hour before sunset. The rise in the shadow in the middle of the graphic is me taking the picture. I didn't notice until I was home sorting through them. I used iPhoto to cool down the image. It was very heavy in reds from the bricks.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Tamron AF 18-270 Lens

- Brendan Dence