Underground photographer captures the glorious ruin of Grossinger's

Scott Haefner, a San Francisco-based photographer who specializes in 360-degree panoramic images of abandoned places, recently turned his lens on the Grossinger's hotel near Liberty, NY. While he was there, he got took a panoramic portrait  of the now-empty Grossinger's swimming pool, which you can view in its full interactive glory on his website here. The above photograph is just one small detail of it.

Haefner is an urban explorer, which means that he shoots abandoned structures, sometimes without permission. He describes his thoughts about urban exploration on his website:

I frequently shoot in places that most people choose not to venture. Photographing abandoned buildings and other forgotten places, often under the cover of darkness, is what captivates me the most. Documenting our history and creating art in locations that might soon be destroyed in favor of new strip malls inspires a level of urgency not typically found in other forms of photography.

Like being outdoors enjoying nature and the elements (which I also enjoy photographing), exploring abandonments is often a visceral and perhaps even spiritual experience. “Urban exploration” cuts to the core of an innate curiosity that exists within all of us; it also satisfies my sense of adventure and sometimes gives intense adrenaline rushes.

The Watershed Post asked Scott a few questions via email about his visit to Grossinger's:

Why did you decide to shoot Grossinger's?

SH: As a photographer and urban explorer, I am very interested in abandoned structures and decay, and especially in creating art in forgotten spaces. I enjoy learning about the history of the places I visit, and Grossinger's has such a rich history, so that is another reason I was interested in it. More specifically, my friend is working on a book about Grossinger's, so we visited what's left of the hotel last February when he was working on the book.

How did you set up your equipment to get the shot?

SH: I currently use a Nikon D700 with a 16mm fisheye lens to shoot the "bubble panoramas," which consist of 7 separate photos: 6 shots at 60 degrees apart (360 degrees total) and another shot looking straight up. I use a Nodal Ninja 3 tripod head to aid in getting the multiple shots required for the immersive panoramas. The tripod head allows me to precisely place my camera on the tripod and it rotates the camera at 60-degree intervals. This particular panorama was a bit more complicated due to the extreme range of light in the pool room, from dark shadows to bright highlights. So I actually took 5 bracketed shots of each view to capture detail in both shadows and highlights (35 total images).