One of the more colourful sections of the factory

When I did the Alternate City Tour we walked past an alleyway and the tour guide stopped us to show some graffiti on the tall chimneys and factory at the end of the street. She said the factory was abandoned and that inside was really really cool. If you were so inclined you could break in as there may or may not be holes in the fence. This got my attention pretty quickly. Abandoned buildings are one of the coolest things to photograph. However they are usually always fenced off extremely well or are hard to find.

I went back the next day and scoped the area out. The building was inside a construction and demolition site. Because of this the entire places outer temporary fence, and concrete wall in parts, had razor wire on the top of it. Down closer to the river there was a spot that the concrete wall stopped and a fence started, there was about a foot gap between them, with razor wire sitting next to it as if it had just been moved by someone. Come across another fence, this is a lot easier as where two parts join theres a massive open gap with nothing. And then a third fence. Walk over to where it meets perpendicular to the concrete wall, see that its not even sitting in its concrete footing, so I swing it open. Quickly walk across the open grass and go inside.

Typical abandoned building, big huge open rooms, broken windows, graffiti everywhere. Quality graffiti too. The main room down the bottom is the most interesting, but its also the most open for people to see you in there. As I was taking photos someone walks past a doorway and it freaks the shit out of me. It was just another photographer. I watch him walking across the room, without a care in the world, and then in comes the security guard because he saw the guy, and then subsequently saw me. What an idiot. He was saying that he’s just taking photos and isn’t that allowed. Yea dude totally, the three fences and razor wire are just to keep vandals out, not photographers, you guys are sweet to break in.

I couldn’t help myself, I had to go back. I didn’t have nearly as many photos as I wanted, and barely saw any of the building. I went back at night, well about 5pm, but its dark by then. This time the first gap has the razor wire covering it. So i very carefully move it out of the way, making sure doesn’t spring back at me and slice my face off. Creep in as quietly as possible and go through the next gap. Then the third fence. It had been put back in its concrete footing. I try lift it up and it wont budge. Shit. I use both hands to yank on it. BANG. It comes out and makes a noise that I swear is so loud it woke up all of Berlin. Im just freaking out though, it was probably rather quiet. I swing the fence open, it creaks the entire way. I quickly run in to the building and go up a level that you cant see in to from outside. I quietly get my camera out and unpack my tripod, using my little Kathmandu torch sparingly. It was very dark inside. To get any kind of light in the photos I had to use settings of 30seconds f/4 ISO1600, and then they still needed to be brightened in Photoshop later. Every time I pressed the shutter it was like a gun going off in complete silence. The red billboard lighting across the river was giving a cool red tinge to a lot of the photos.

I made my way up some stairs, and to my surprise they led to the open roof. Nothing like walking around on the roof of an abandoned building thats due for demolition. Nice and safe. Did I mention it was also raining? So I had some fun up there. Did some light painting. Not wanting to push my luck too much I headed back down. Decided to take a chance and took photos of the main room down the bottom. The advantage of going back at night is that from outside the rooms inside are completely pitch black. So you could be outside and not even notice someone in there unless they were silhouetted against something. Snapped a few shots off then packed my stuff up.

Walked out to the first fence, which is in the complete open. It had been put back in its concrete footing since id come in. When the hell did that happen? When I was on the roof? Its raining and dark and the security guard is still walking around, thats dedication. Freaking the fuck out I yank on the fence. It doesn’t move. Shitttt. Try again and it finally budges, and not quietly either. Run to the next fence and go through. Come to the last gap and the razor wire had been put back over it as well. I move it very carefully, inch by inch, just enough that I can slither through. My jeans get caught a bit and rip a few threads but nothing bad. I quickly run down the path along the river and im outttttt. Good fun.

Photo technicalities side note: Im still unsure on the processing of these. Using colour brings out the graffiti, but going with black and white would get rid of the funky colour cast problems I have in the night time photos. However proving how awesome the 5D2 sensor is some of the night time photos have been pushed from ISO1600 to about ISO6400 and they’re clean as.