Inside Out

Dog Track Black Canyon City Chairs

After wandering around the dog track for an hour or so, I ended up coming back to the rows of seats with a new perspective and a new lens on my camera. As I’m prone to do, I started with the 17-35mm because I wanted to capture the vastness and enormity of the place. But later I realized I was missing out on the subtle nuances everywhere you looked.

One of them was the weirdness of standing inside a building but still feeling like you were outside. All the giant windows were broken, bushes were growing inside and occasionally a breeze would float through. The panes of glass would wobble from the wind…a few ropes hanging from the ceiling would swing…you get the idea.

My goal here was to use the 50mm 1.4 to focus on a small area of the row of chairs, but still capture the way the windows beyond led right to the desert outside. Probably my favorite element of this shot is the low angle of the sun and the way it highlights the top portion of the chairs. Now I know I haven’t explored tons of these urbex locations, but I can’t stress enough the importance of natural light in places like this.

I think this is one of my favorite images from the trip. And while I don’t tend to talk about the processing as much these days, I just want to point out how great HDR is for situations like this. You get to see the clouds in the distance despite maintaining the light and shadows on the chairs. It wouldn’t be as easy to get all of this in a single shot without possibly a few filters and even then you may do exposure blending in Photoshop.

And despite some of my urbex shots where I take liberty with the processing and stylizing…this one has to be as close to how I remember it in person as any HDR shot I’ve done.



  • Dude…this is amazing. I absolutely love the light, and the fact that you chose to focus on one of the chairs further through the frame is amazing. Really well done, man!

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  • Great shot Mike, always a fan of using blur from the nifty fifty. Keep ’em comin

  • Rick Young

    Love it!

  • Damn, this is some stunning light Mike. You captured the best part of the day (in my mind) wonderfully. OMG this is HDR and it looks natural omgomg!?!?

  • This one is awesome. Plain and simple.

  • Great shot, Mike. I love it. I’m glad you went back to get a different perspective.

  • Chris DeAngelis

    The processing is nice and subtle here… Love the bokeh! Really nice work.

  • jina

    This is great! I love it.

  • Absolutely wonderful shot Mike! Love the use of the fast 50 here and how the shallow dof works! great stuff!

  • nice work. My initital thoughts were that the chairs in the front were ‘in the way’ but they’re blurry enough not to distract from the image – nifty fifty at its best!