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March 2, 2008 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Lost America is a purdy website featuring night photography of ghost towns, urban exploration, decommissioned military facilities, airplane graveyards, and other roadside abandonments of the American west.
posted by dhammond (22 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love these posts. More road-trip fodder. Keep 'em coming!

The lighting of the photography, though, seems to alternate in my mind between 'awesome' and 'unnecessary'. I guess I just like the color of rust.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:09 PM on March 2, 2008




During all the time I have spent travelling around the US over the last year or so, I still find it morbidly fascinating and incredibly sad how wasteful the place is. Everywhere you go, you see buildings, cars, boats, houses, entire malls just left to rot. Once something has stopped being useful, people either leave it there, or dump it in a corner to rot. There's just way too much space to do anything other than build another one alongside it, or just 'push it over there'.

This hardly seems helped by the lack of longevity of building techniques, but even so why does every back yard on the freeway need to have 3 or 4 cars rusting away in them, when half of them look like they just ran out of fuel 20 or 30 years ago? Was it just too much effort to get off the couch and take them to a scrap yard? Why do buildings that look no more than 30 years old to me need to be sat in the centre of an enormous parking lot and be boarded up to be vandalised or just gather dust?

Space is too cheap for the US. Consequently, the country as a whole seems to have very little respect for it. Granted, it gives some brilliant shots like these ones, but the cost (and base concept) of just 'throwing away' entire towns when they stop being useful amazes and saddens me.
posted by Brockles at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2008


Neat...except for all the zombies about to jump out.
posted by humannaire at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2008


Space is too cheap for the US. Consequently, the country as a whole seems to have very little respect for it.

This kind of wastefulness, as you characterize it, is of course by no means limited to the US. The relatively tiny island of Japan, where there is actually very little space by comparison to the US, is also full of recent ruins: ghost towns, abandoned hotels, houses, factories, etc.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:44 PM on March 2, 2008


But great god a'mighty, them's some amped up colors out in them thar ghost towns, I'm a tellin yuh what!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:46 PM on March 2, 2008


A one-minute exposure is all it takes to pull daylight level illumination out of a nighttime scene? Seriously? Back in the day I used to do this with Ektar 1000 but it never looked like the stuff on this website.
posted by tinkertown at 10:30 PM on March 2, 2008


those are really cool and i hadn't seen them before - thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:37 PM on March 2, 2008


Ghost town or childhood playground? Where I come from, they're one and the same (Whoo, dawgies!).
posted by katillathehun at 1:12 AM on March 3, 2008


Back in the day I used to do this with Ektar 1000 but it never looked like the stuff on this website.

Looks like it's a lot more than that; in the captions of each photo the photographer talks about his lighting technique. All the oddly colored ones use gelled flashes or the like. Looks like the guy's also often using 100-200 iso film, which would generally give you smoother color transition than a 1000 speed film; I've got no experience with Ektar 1000, though, and a cursory web search shows that it's known for good colors in low light...
posted by msbrauer at 1:47 AM on March 3, 2008


Ace post. All the gels remind me of Mario Bava films! Cheers!
posted by The Salaryman at 2:32 AM on March 3, 2008


I have the Lost America book and although I admire the photographers dedication to exploring and documenting these ghost towns and find the settings absolutely fascinating - I really hate those strongly coloured gel flashes.

I appreciate that the long exposures required to get these shots requires unusual lighting setups, but the over the top colours just rob the scenes of their eerie melancholy and make them look like late 80's video-clip sets.
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:18 AM on March 3, 2008


Granted, it gives some brilliant shots like these ones, but the cost (and base concept) of just 'throwing away' entire towns when they stop being useful amazes and saddens me.
Brockles

I hear you - but that's an awfully big "granted..." of yours!

You're getting a wonderful slice of urban history with these "throwaway remains", every "wastefully" abandoned town was once a dream that didn't work (cue Shelley's Ozymandias...!) and - as flapjax noted - it's not confined to the US.

Sidenote: in rural Ireland you sometimes see the bizarre combination of a spanking new bungalow with shiny big windows and a satellite dish attached not far from a "picturesque" cottage ruin covered in creepers and ignored on the same square of land.

I guess that's "wasteful" too.

But I remember thinking that my English expectations - that every cute ruin should be preserved and tarted up -were rather precious and artificial.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:41 AM on March 3, 2008


say what you will about the photos, that ain't no "purdy" website!
posted by etowernyc at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2008


as flapjax noted - it's not confined to the US.


I realise that, but in the US it is everywhere. I've driven large tracts of the US and it isn't that it exists that bothers me so much (the UK has its share) it's that it is so damn prolific. You can excuse the occasional 'too much money to restore' but over here it just seems wanton.
posted by Brockles at 6:50 AM on March 3, 2008


Also, having a building beyond repair (from the Fisher Price building techniques that they use here that don't seem to last very long at all) is one thing. If it becomes unsafe/uneconomical, then fine. Knock it down (with a feather) and rebuild. Don't just abandon it and move 30 yards to the east and start again. I don't understand how the car parks and the like are no longer usable.

Seeing the prevalence of this kind of thing, and the sheer number of cars that have patently been sat for 30+ years in people's gardens, is by no means reflected in other parts of the world. It's not the concept, it's the frequency of it.
posted by Brockles at 6:53 AM on March 3, 2008


Brockles, it's an affluence thing. People don't want to take CARE of things; they want NEW stuff.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:55 AM on March 3, 2008


I think all the gelled flash stuff was a little too much for me. I think I prefer Rebekka's long exposure stuff.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:56 AM on March 3, 2008


I'm not crazy about the gels, but these are good photos.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:38 AM on March 3, 2008


I like the gels.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2008


A one-minute exposure is all it takes to pull daylight level illumination out of a nighttime scene?

Troy Paiva shoots under the full moon, but his subjects are generally out in the desert where there's no other ambient light whatsoever. His work makes heavy use of light painting, repeatedly firing gelled handheld flashguns to add metric shitloads of light to the exposures.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:48 AM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Amazing subjects and photography. A must share site for my friends in the photography industry.
posted by ghostdog at 12:44 PM on March 7, 2008


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