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Shooting Challenge: Urban Decay

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Rust. Grime. Cracks in concrete. If a city has a face, these are its wrinkles and blemishes. And for this week's Shooting Challenge, we're highlighting the fissures in man's progress over nature. We're capturing urban decay.

The Challenge

Capture a photo representing urban decay.

The Technique

Obviously, this is a challenge all about subject. No doubt, urban decay is a topic that's inherently political, tied closely to local civic responsibility while, simultaneously, striking themes like mortality, progress and futility.


A great photo will play with manmade textures, juxtaposing smooth steel, sandpapery concrete, icy glass and rash-like rust. But with the right subject, it can be a lot more than maudlin beauty. Feel free to enrich your descriptions this week, too, in a photojournalistic way. Written context can be quite powerful in this medium.

The Example

Our lead photo is by flickr's mostaque. What I find so fascinating about it is that, despite it falling solidly into the genre of urban decay, the colors and the materials are almost all organic in nature. Wood that seemingly sprouting a moss, backdopped by colors of natural vitality: blues and greens. This broken bench is somehow quite reaffirming.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, September 26th at 8AM Eastern to with "Urban Decay" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameUrban.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameUrbanWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.