Photographer’s Eerie Nighttime Series Features an Abandoned Water Park

Photographer Ken Lee enjoys the mystery and excitement of nighttime photography as he explores abandoned sites when most are asleep. His latest series features an abandoned water park that had plenty of photographic opportunities. Nighttime photography can unleash creative opportunities that daytime shoots don’t always deliver. Lee, an experienced nighttime photographer and explorer of “secret […]

Photographer’s Eerie Nighttime Series Features an Abandoned Water Park

Photographer Ken Lee enjoys the mystery and excitement of nighttime photography as he explores abandoned sites when most are asleep. His latest series features an abandoned water park that had plenty of photographic opportunities.

Nighttime photography can unleash creative opportunities that daytime shoots don’t always deliver. Lee, an experienced nighttime photographer and explorer of “secret places” across the country, finds this type of photography particularly appealing.

“If I do a long exposure of several minutes, I am able to walk around the scene and light it with a handheld light, much like a producer might light a movie, choosing what to illuminate and what to keep in shadow,” he says.

He also finds that having creative control over lighting, texture, and color can be “totally addicting” and unique because no two photos ever come out exactly the same. Not just that, the calm of the night makes the process a therapeutic and calming one, giving him time to slow down, take in the surroundings, and appreciate the stars drifting across the sky.

One of Lee’s latest shoots at an abandoned and post-apocalyptic-looking water park fit the bill — it had plenty of unique features to explore, splashes of color from graffiti sprayed on the buildings, and exuded just enough of darkness and mystery for Lee to really enjoy shooting the area.

The night he chose to photograph featured a full moon and as a result, provided Lee with plenty of light and allowed him to have a longer exposure of several minutes for his shots. He also was able to stop down to f/8 and use a lower ISO to have a broader depth of field, reduce the noise, and provide enough time to light paint exactly how he intended.

Lee points out that photographers often think they need special equipment to do shots like these.

“On the contrary, although a nice camera is of course always helpful, you may use any sort of camera that allows manual control, which is just about any DSLR or mirrorless camera, new or old,” he tells PetaPixel.

“You can create photos like this with modest equipment, especially since you don’t need a lens with wide apertures, which are typically more expensive.”

Currently, Lee uses a Pentax K-1 with Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 lens, both he purchased used. He also has a Nikon D750 on hand, which was also a second-hand purchase, along with a Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 lens.

All of the cameras were mounted on Feisol tripods, while he used a handheld ProtoMachines LED2 light painting device, which produces all colors in the RGB spectrum, allows brightness and saturation control, among other features.

Although photographing in late hours can be a peaceful process, Lee felt a little apprehensive and unsure whether he’d come across any strangers hanging out at the park. That’s why Lee suggests photographers obtain permission whenever possible or go visit sites that require special permission prior to entry and can therefore be considered safer.

Another option is to organize a shoot with other people, which can give a sense of safety due to the number of people around. Similarly, night photography workshops can give a good shot at night photography, although those tend to focus more on astrophotography, Lee says.

When it comes to the finished images, Lee doesn’t let him sit idle on his computer. He already has two books featuring night photography of abandoned sites, which give personal stories alongside the history of the sites where possible. Images from this nighttime visit at the abandoned park are likely to make an appearance in his upcoming book, but there is yet plenty of work to do from writing to assembling the book.

He plans on visiting other abandoned sites for more images because part of the excitement is visiting, exploring, and learning about the history of these sites, as well as photographing them at night.

“Between creating night photos, the rich history, the mystery, and the vivid experience while exploring, there can be quite a lot to share in these books!”

More of Lee’s work can be found on his website and Instagram.


Image credits: All images by Ken Lee and used with permission.

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Omnar Officially Launches the CN26-6 Rangefinder Lens for M-Mount

Omnar is a new lens manufacturer based in the United Kingdom that recently teased that it was producing a new lens using a custom design and repurposed Canon AF-10 optical elements. The lens can now be pre-ordered and will begin shipping in December. Omnar Lenses describes itself as a company that makes unique, limited edition […]

Omnar Officially Launches the CN26-6 Rangefinder Lens for M-Mount

Omnar is a new lens manufacturer based in the United Kingdom that recently teased that it was producing a new lens using a custom design and repurposed Canon AF-10 optical elements. The lens can now be pre-ordered and will begin shipping in December.

Omnar Lenses describes itself as a company that makes unique, limited edition lenses that are designed and assembled by lens enthusiasts, for lens enthusiasts.

“We make lenses without any compromise on mechanical build quality with esoteric, unusual, characterful optical formulas,” the company writes. “Omnar lenses feel the part, and work with you to create images in your very personal style.”

Omnar says that in the world of cinema, lenses are often chosen for image qualities and character, not necessarily the objective measures that are often sought after by photographers. So while cinematographers seek out aberrations such as lens flare, heavy vignetting, or softness for use in films, they also do so without compromising expectations of build quality. This mentality is what Omnar says it uses as the backbone of its lens manufacturing process.

The Omnar CN26-6 is a 26mm f/6, fixed-aperture, rangefinder coupled, snapshot lens for Leica M-mount. The company says that it is designed, manufactured, painted, and assembled entirely in the United Kingdom. It is the company’s first lens and it promises that the build quality is “up there with the best” and is combined with repurposed optics from the Canon AF-10 point and shoot camera from the early 2000s.

“The optics were selected for their point-and-shoot camera aesthetic. When researching these types of cameras, we looked for an optic with medium speed that was mostly made of glass. The chosen optic is a four element in three groups, a modified derivative of the classic Tessar formula,” Omnar explaints.

“The front doublet and middle element glass, followed by a fixed aperture disc, then a rear polycarbonate element. The coated elements help keep the contrast relatively high, with the rear polycarbonate — given the right angle of light — creating a rainbow flare the sort that is more commonly associated with cameras such as the Vivitar UWS, but to a lesser degree.”

The lens is coupled from 0.67 meters to infinity with what Omnar says is a short focus throw. It has close focus uncoupled focusing down to 0.3 meters. Omnar says that the focusing feels light or heavy, depending on preference which is customized per lens. The CN26-6 weighs 100 grams and protrudes a scant 10.5mm from the camera.

Omnar says that the image quality varies depending on whether it is used with a film or digital camera due to how oblique ray angles of light are handled on a variety of digital sensors.

“The optics used in the Omnar CN26-6 were designed to be used in film point and shoot cameras such as the Canon AF-10 and BF-10,” Omnar says. “As such, on film, this lens will create images that have a strong entry level point and shoot aesthetic. You can expect good sharpness with gentle fall off to the edges of the frame. You will also find a moderate vignette and some rainbow flaring if you catch the light just right. When close focusing, bokeh is surprisingly pleasant.”

Below are sample images captured with the lens on a film camera, first with color film:

And then with black and white film:

On full-frame Leica M-mount cameras, Omnar says the image quality varies depending on the era of the camera and its sensor cover substrate.

“To a large extent, the same character traits apply. The central resolution and contrast is high, but the falloff to softer corners is quicker,” the company explains. “Edges may also suffer from color shifts that can be combated by selecting lens profiles in-camera, or post-processed out with software such as corner fix.”

Omnar says that shooting on a dedicated black and white camera or converting to black and white of course removes that color shift. Additionally, enhancing contrast will also increase the effect of the vignette. Below are some examples of digitally-captured images, first in color:

And also in black and white:

The CN26-6 is available in several finishes: Matte Black Chrome Cerakote, Silver Chrome Cerakote, High Gloss Black Lacquer, or even a custom paint that customers can specify. Customization doesn’t end there, as the “Omnar Lenses” logo is engraved on the front but can be replaced with a custom engraving of up to 12 characters.

The Omnar Lenses CN26-6 is available to pre-order starting today from the company’s website. All lenses are painted and made to individual customers’ specifications, and the company says it expects deliveries of pre-ordered lenses to begin in December.

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