Once a building no longer serves its purpose, and all of its previous functionality ceases to exist, it becomes truly fascinating. Each room is transforming into something new at its own rate, yielding to water, ice, wind and gravity as they reclaim this man-made space.
The corrosion and decay paint vibrant colors across otherwise dull surfaces, lit only by natural sunlight spilling into rooms at unaccustomed angles. Each object left behind becomes more significant than it has ever been, hinting at the life prior to its disuse. Moldy folders full of psychiatric evaluations hold clinical analyses regarding a patient's drawings in a dripping wet basement with no light. An opaque pair of square-rimmed glasses sit upon a dark grid at the power station control room. A dusty pile of papers hastily stapled together documents a tuberculosis patients life at the hospital, from admission, to death, to autopsy, to burial.
Floors collapse and walls cave in without care; if you get hurt, no one is here to help you. This is a lonesome alien world whose dark corners and peeling walls have gotten a hold of me and many others; this affinity for derelict structures and often dangerous excitement is the core essence of exploring that drives me to photograph these spaces.
This site, started in 2002, is basically an account of the various abandonments I have explored and the photographs I have taken. I have become quite interested in the history of many of these places, and include a short summary of each location from whatever sources I could find. This site was originally going to focus mainly on photography, but many people seem to express an interest in the act of exploring, so descriptions of the images and personal accounts of the trips made their way into the site, although I'm by no means a great writer. The web site has been designed and hand coded by myself (it's my day job) using PHP and MySQL.
Yes, many of the places on here are not named to protect their integrity, and to prevent this web site from becoming a "shopping list" of places to explore, vandalize, or scrap.
This site would not be possible without my closest partners in crime and good friends Nick and Hillary, and also the helpfulness and insight provided by Lynne as well as the other moderators of the forum who are generous enough to donate their time and effort. The cost of server maintenance is balanced out by the contributions made by benevolent visitors and regulars, as well as the small advertisements at the bottom of the pages.
All the photographs featured on the site have been taken by myself (unless otherwise noted), and all are from digital cameras; I retouch the brightness and contrast and sometimes the color in post processing (as most are RAW files). I do not use automated processes such as HDR while editing, as I feel the photograph loses a personal touch. I usually spend 2-3 minutes with each individual photograph.
I have used the following equipment (* signifies retired equipment):
I am always behind in posting photos of these explorations; they are usually a few years behind as I have over 150 galleries I haven't looked at yet.
If you would like to purchase a print, please contact me for availability and pricing.
If you would like to use a photograph on your website / blog / school project, for non-profit use, I only ask that credit is given and a link be given back to the site. The text below would be great:
Photo © www.opacity.us
Any other requests for reproduction can be handled by e-mailing me
My name is Tom Kirsch, a lasting nickname has been Motts, or Mr. Motts as you may have seen in the comments...
I am a 33 year old graphic designer and programmer... my other passions other than this stuff are rock climbing, drawing, and playing drums in a Brooklyn based industrial / metal band.
I work under my own company building websites (PHP / MySQL), interactive media (Flash / Flex) and design work (Photoshop / Illustrator).
Note: I do not have a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or other such page / profile for myself or this website. If you see one, it's something created by someone else.