urban exploring

Bombay Beach California Photo Tour

Bombay Beach California Photo Tour

Unlike any other beach

A place long past its hey day, Bombay Beach, for the curiosity seeker, can still hold a lot of interest. The beach itself looks like the wasted remnants of a beautiful sandy beach. Even the rock jetties and wooden posts have fallen into an eerie decay. It feels like a place that has suffered a horror, and that feeling is tangible to the visitor. Stride away from the water and come across a ghost ship, a mysterious cube suspended within a cube, and other assorted random forgotten things made into art or just forgotten memory. Bombay Beach is no longer a vacation destination, but definitely a place to seek out, experience, and then get out before one becomes part of the lost landscape.

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Photography Tip - search your archives for photos you make like now

Abandoned train car in Tampa, Florida - Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 200 1/2500thI have been going through my photography archives from the past three years looking for images to update my various portfolios with.  While looking for specific types of photos, I also found random photos that I had never edited, never given any attention to before, that for some reason now catch my eye (see above train photo).  This gave me the idea for . . . 

Photography Tip -- go through your photo archives to find hidden gems & to see how your photography tastes have changed


Not only may you find that what you think is an interesting photograph has changed, but if you have greatly improved your digital photo editing skills like I have over the past few years, you may find that you can save a photo that previously was left for the scrapheap.  

Go through your archives this week and see if you find a forgotten photo that you now really like or even love.  Post a link to it in the comments below! 

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  • Cement Plant Haikyo at Day and Dawn

    The sun only very briefly showed itself during its rise over this haikyo cement plant.

    I woke up at 7am Christmas morning, not to open up presents, but to rush off to photograph a cement plant haikyo!  After having an entire photography exhibition of urban exploring images I made in Japan at a gallery here in Saint Petersburg, I was getting anxious to photograph one for real (I had visited two other haikyo briefly) in sunny Florida.  As my luck would have it, the sun was only out for a brief few minutes before it rose back up into heavy overcast.  Fortunately, I stopped by this haikyo the previous evening also and caught the last vestiges of sunlight in a few quick shots.  This is something else I had been wanting to do for awhile--photograph a location at different times of day.

    I was hoping to have more blue sky urban exploring images like this one, but Florida's weather has been very poor this December.

    While visiting my Mom over Thanksgiving, I happened to notice a decaying driveway with a meager bar gate leading into the woods.  I stored it in my mental archives as a possible haikyo location to check out on my next visit.  At that time I thought it might be a housing subdivision that never got completed, so I was a little surprised to find a cement plant behind the tree line.  

    Some of the plant's product was stacked into neat walls that reminded me of ancient Rome.

    I was not alone on my late afternoon visit.  Kiki came with me.  I could not let her wonder off alone so I had to keep one hand on her leash leaving only one to hold my Nikon D300 for shots like the above one.  I tried to get Kiki to follow me up the conveyer belt seen in the above photo, but the metal mesh type ramp was not something Kiki, though quite brave, was willing to traverse.  However, when I went back by myself at sunrise the next day, I made the steep stroll to its summit and realized it was definitely no place for a dog!

    It was fun to walk up alongside that conveyor belt, not scary like it was climbing the steep ladder to the point from which I made this photo.

    This cement plant in my estimation has not been closed down for that many years, maybe only 3 or so.  There was really only one building with an interior, but that was locked up tight as a drum and I did not feel breaking in was prudent to just photograph the few desks and filing cabinets I could see through the locked door's window.  Thus, there was not a high level of decay to photograph.

    I do not know if I would have climbed the metal rung ladder to the top of this tower if it did not have the pictured cage safely enclosing it.

    What did excite me about this haikyo though, as young as it was, is that it meant I could break one of the main rules of urban exploring, which is, "do not climb anything."  There were a couple towers and two high conveyor belt ramps to climb.  The photo above was taken after I climbed a three tiered vertical metal rung ladder jutting from the exterior of the tower.  Only the bottom two rungs had any rust on them at all.  Plus the protective cage around the rungs made me feel pretty safe, though it was a bit of a tight squeeze with my Lowepro backpack on and another small shoulder bag dangling in front of me.  I doubt anyone larger than me could have fit with a backpack on.  The vertical climb up the rungs was something I am not physically accustomed to doing only a short 20 minutes after first waking up either.  I was in a race though because I knew the bit of sunlight peaking through would soon vanish as the sun rose into the overcast morning sky.  

    Top: roof of the highest tower Bottom: entrance to the highest conveyor belt, never even thought to take the fast way down!

    After climbing the tallest rung ladder, I went right to the ramp to the highest conveyor belt.  It definitely took some physical exertion to get my increasingly large carcass and all my camera gear to the tops of both places.  I always like having a view though.

    These railings showed the greatest level of decay of anything at the cement plant haikyo.

    Once I got off the top tower, the sun was gone and it was a very grey morning.  Back on the ground there was also little left around the plant itself other than the towers and various silos.

    Got to have shades & a BBQ grill if it's Florida!

    However, I did find signs that this was definitely a true Florida based cement plant.  Safety equipment included the usual orange vest and hardhat, but also another definite necessity for Florida, a good pair of dark sunglasses.  It also would not be any kind of Florida outdoor space without a BBQ grill either!  

    I did not climb these towers as they were showing more signs of decay than the others.

    This cement plant was more of an architectural haikyo rather than an exploring haikyo as the majority I have been too were.  Thus, it did not feel as personal as there were no dark corridors to walk down with surprises around corners.  Nothing to open up and look inside of.  

    I guess cement blocks slid down these conveyor belts, but I did not carry one to the top to find out.

    Still, it was good to walk around a place that no one has for years and to at least make the effort of rising at dawn to try and find some unique light, though unfortunately this time there was none.  If anyone knows of any other haikyo or abandoned buildings, factories, farms, etc, in Florida please let me know in the comments below. 

    Setting up for my haikyo exhibition

    The gallery space in RAW Vibes as we bring the very first haikyo photographs in.This late night RAW Vibes owner Jeff and I worked tirelessly for as long as our eyes could stay open to get up all the 16x20 prints for Friday night's haikyo exhibition.  It was fun, but tiring, but we made good progress.  I am writing this with an exhausted mind....so just enjoy the sneak preview photos of the exhibition for now.  I'm going to sleep.....

    With all the haikyo photographs catergorized and put next to their respective wallspace, we were ready to start hanging.


    Jeff has good hanging skills and we got the haikyo prints all within a single millimeter of each other.


    All the 16x20 haikyo prints up! I left after this, but Jeff may have labored on as all the 16x9 and 24x36 and 8x10 images still needed to be hung.

    Haikyo exhibition photographs printing out!

    Some of the 61 images printing out for my haikyo photography exhibition on Friday November 13, 2009 - taken with my iPhone

    Things are starting to come together for my big haikyo exhibition this Friday, the 13th of November!  The photo above shows the huge printer being used by the great staff at NGI Printing to print out my 61 haikyo photographs on a huge sheet.  

    A sheet of 8x10 images are coming out of the printer in the photo.  They will later be cut from the sheet, then mounted on black gatorboard, before the final step of applying a laminate cover.  I was really pleased with the print quality.  I can't wait to see the 24x36 images!

    I hope you come out and attend the opening night of my exhibition:

    HAIKYO - an exhibition on urban decay from Japan

    • 8pm on Friday November 13, 2009
    • RAW Vibes Art & Performance Space
    • 2109 Central Ave. North St. Petersburg, FL 33713

    Haikyo - Urban Decay from Japan Exhibition

    The flyer for my first exhibition in Florida. Exhibition opens November 13, 2009 at http://www.rawvibesart.com

    On Friday November 13th at 8pm at RAW Vibes Art and Performance Space I will have my first exhibition in Florida!  The photographs I will be showing for this exhibition will be my haikyo photos from Japan.  I must admit I never expected this collection of photographs to be the first images I publicly showed in the U.S., but I became very fast friends with the owner of RAW Vibes, Jeff Henriquez, about a month ago and he was a very big fan of the haikyo images.

    Over 60 photographs will be on display in prints ranging from the standard 8x10 up to the gallery standard of 16x20 all the way up to a few selected pieces at 40x60!  Prices will vary accordingly with many prints available at very reasonable prices for all budgets.  For those with no budgetary concerns, the 40x60 prints will make a striking statement in your business, home or office.  Orders can be placed on site for any piece already sold that you wish to also purchase (25% deposit required).  

    I will be present the full 3-hours of the opening night to answer any questions about the haikyo images.  I will also give a brief presentation on the collection of haikyo images in general, including what exactly haikyo is, how they were found, and what it is like to spend the night in an abandoned hotel!

    Admission on opening night is $7.  If you leave a comment below, I will choose at random one person to receive two free passes to the opening (you and a guest).  Refreshments will be served at no charge.  

    Please RSVP for the opening on Facebook or by leaving a comment below.

    Thank you for your support and I hope to see everyone on the 13th!


    Haikyo - Urban Decay from Japan exhibition

    • RAW Vibes, 2109 Central Ave, Saint Petersburg, FL, 33713 -- 727-557-8266
    • Friday November 13, 2009 
    • 8pm-11pm

    Brooksville Rock Processing Haikyo

    the view from the back

    While in the west-central Florida countryside town of Brooksville looking for trails to hike on in the Withlacoochee State Forest, I had an eye open for any possible haikyo in the area.  On the way into the state forest proper we (me, Aya & Kiki) had driven right past the above haikyo because my eyes were searching more for trail heads rather than teetering silos.  Even on the way back this one was hard to see from the road as the front was largely blocked by trees.  Once past that obstacle, however, there was a curving, and thus hidden, driveway to park on and an open door right inside!

    I will definitely go back to this haikyo for a follow-up as I only had my 50mm and 105mm lenses with me and Aya and Kiki waiting patiently outside.

    maybe a hurricane knocked this structure down?

    the ladder on the silo may be in good enough condition to climb still

    not much was left inside

    I swear I head someone playing an arcade game from up on this structure

    I didn't even take any time to play with these controls