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  • Nikon Presents: David de Rueda's 'Abandoned Places' (a Project Spotlight initiative)

  • Nikon Presents: Project Spotlight

    Project Spotlight is designed to shine a light on photographers who are pushing the boundaries of photography in unique ways. We focus on individuals that bring a singular perspective to their work and aim to capture images that haven’t been taken before.  We work with them to turn their dream photography project into a reality.

    Our first photographer is David de Rueda.

    David de Rueda’s ‘Abandoned Places’

    On the surface of this planet there are still many places where man has not yet dared to tread.

    There are other places, however, where man has come and built and lived and thrived…and then eventually abandoned.  These are places where man no longer dares to tread, and these are the exact places that appeal most to David de Rueda.

    David was chosen for Project Spotlight for his unique ability to capture the aesthetic beauty of derelict buildings and forgotten, empty spaces. What humanity has abandoned, David finds and makes beautiful again through his lens.

    David’s dream project was to explore abandoned relics of Europe’s history and photograph them in a way that had never been done before.  This meant a journey of 6 weeks across 9 countries in extreme weather conditions and many difficult situations (and many more unexpected ones).

    The route: Paris – Milan – Kiev – Pripyat (Chernobyl) – Moscow – St. Petersburg – Tallinn – Budapest – Sofia – Reykjavik – Kyzylorda (Kazakhstan) – Larnaca (Cyprus) – Paris

    mapDavid’s plan: a trip of a lifetime covering 22,000 miles to these far-flung locations

    We believed in his vision, and supported the project because we wanted to see the end result as much as he did.  To say that this was a good idea is an understatement.  He came back with amazing images that have to be seen to be believed.

    But don’t take our word for it.  Check them out for yourself and read David’s thoughts on the experience…

    Kazakhstan desert, abandoned, space, Soviet space
    Lost in Space by David de Rueda

    “This image is the result of 180 kilometres of off-road driving in the Kazakhstan desert, followed by 45 kilometres of walking in a highly restricted area. We arrived and there they were; two relics of the Soviet space race in a huge abandoned warehouse. It may be the single most epic scene I’ve discovered since picking up a camera.”

    radar, space station, satellite, night photography, space, night sky
    Frozen Stars by David de Rueda

    “This is an abandoned radar station in the mountains of Italy.  After almost three hours of walking through snow 50cm deep, we reached these huge frozen antennas. A full moon, clear sky and snow everywhere: the atmosphere was unreal. I wanted to create something post-apocalyptic, lost in the middle of nowhere.”

    urban photography, factory, machine, urbex
    The One by David de Rueda

    “This is inside the abandoned power plant near Budapest, Hungary. It’s an impressive place, with a huge sense of scale, abandoned machinery everywhere and a strong, haunting atmosphere. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie and wanted to create my own world with this photograph.”

    Travelling with David was one assistant, and his model Tania da Silva.  Together they weathered the harsh conditions, including carrying gear, setting up the shots, and camping overnight in these remote places.

    Prypiat, Ferris wheel, abandoned, urbex, outdoor
    Child Dream by David de Rueda

    “Our last day in Pripyat, Ukraine. For three past days previous, I asked myself how I could capture the famous ferris wheel from a new and original point of view. Luckily, my wish to have some snow was fulfilled, providing a dreamy ambiance that totally changed Pripyat. Positioning myself on a rooftop next to the wheel, I finally captured the picture I was looking for.”

    For those curious, Pripyat was abandoned two days after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986, and does fall within the borders of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

    “Of course, I asked myself whether it’d be safe to stay there for a few days.” David remarked about the particular risks involved in this leg of his trip.  “Actually, radioactivity is relatively low, so it was no problem to spend some time in Pripyat. Areas with higher radiation levels are more restricted.”

    disused experimental power facility, Moscow, urbex, abandoned places,
    High Frequency by David de Rueda

    “This picture was taken in a disused experimental power facility near Moscow, which was closely guarded by half a dozen dogs. After a little persuasive discussion, the caretaker let us in. As the sun was setting, I had a few minutes to find the perfect point of view. A chance bird flying overhead added further poetry to the scene.”

    This is just a small selection.  Allow yourself to be transported to distant abandoned places and discover the full project on our Flickr, or watch this short film about the experience.

    David’s commitment to make this project a reality impressed us.  His passion and sense of adventure shine through his images, and we are proud to have helped him achieve this goal.

    Do you have a dream project that you hope to one day photograph?  If so, let us know in the comments, and keep checking back for future Project Spotlight photographers.


    Curious about what was in David’s kit during his exploration?

    The camera: Nikon D810

    The lenses:
    •AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
    •AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
    •AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II