Here’s Why Astrophotography in Creepy Abandoned Spots Can Be Worth It

That abandoned gas station or crumbling old house way out of town could be one of the best spots for astrophotography if you want to get some cool star trail or Milky Way snaps.

So, you’ve finally decided to do some astrophotography and nail one of those gorgeous star trail and Milky Way photos. If you did your homework, you already know one crucial element in this kind of photography: location, location, location. You’ll need a spot far enough from the city so there’s no light pollution that could cloud your long exposure. Somewhere with an interesting foreground would also be great. For photographer Brendan van Son, it was a creepy ghost town. The results, however, were worth the scare!

“I should have been sleeping. But, instead, I went on a star photography mission near Flagstaff at a location called Two Guns ghost town. And, the shoot didn’t last long as I heard some ghost sounds, freaked myself out and ran away,” Brendan said in the description of his video below. So he drove out, filmed how the shoot went down, and shared his results.

You may want to skip to around 6:58 to the part where Brendan brings up the photos from that creepy night shoot. Here, he shows us his quick edit on Lightroom. His main issue was that the foreground was too bright and was somewhat distracting the viewer from the star of his snap, so to speak. Because he wanted the abandoned gas station to still be visible in this long exposure, he decided to light it up with his car’s headlights.

To bring that bright part down a little, he used the Graduated Filter to lower the exposure down to a full stop and drop the highlights a bit as well. This allowed him to edit the rest of the photo and bring out the stars and the colors of the gas station’s graffiti without that lit foreground being distractedly bright.  The second shot wasn’t so bad either after the edit despite the slightly out of focus and off-center area.

Brendan might have gotten a more perfect shot if he wasn’t spooked and in a hurry to get out of the area. But yes, the moral of the story? Brave that spooky spot you’ve been avoiding and it might just get you some cool snaps!

Screenshot from the video by Brendan van Son