She Hides in the Glow of the Moonlight


Photographed in Valley Forge National Historic Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  I loved this old stone barn.  It reminded me of the “Scarecrow of Romney Marsh” which was a British mini series on Disney when I was a kid.  The vintage image is one from my personal collection.  I added a little fog on the ground for a more haunting effect.

Art is Never Finished, Only Abandoned*



©2017 Karen Johnson

*Leonardo da Vinci

Happy New Year!

I photographed this at an old wool mill in Pennsylvania.  I loved the graphic elements in the room as well as the old sign used as wall covering.  The door in the wall was very narrow but had this beautiful golden hue to it as well as the rest of the room.  A little gem of a room that was tucked away in the corner of the large mill.



Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Holiday


I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Photographed in my town park a few years ago during a snowstorm!  I just love those red berries.

I Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly


“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” is from the poem “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams.  The room was photographed at Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum, Weston, West Virginia.  I loved the corroded metal bars on the window and peeling paint in this room.  The vintage figure is from the Library of Congress Open Content and I decided to use clouds to fill out his head and feet.  I wanted him without any sense of recognition.  Faceless and nameless as many of the people in the old insane asylums were.  The starry night through the window is a texture I purchased.

This particular composite went through three transformations before I finally settled on this one.  Sometimes I have an idea on how I want the image to work and as I get into it I find that my first direction is not really what I wanted.  You really have to not be afraid to fail when you are creating work.  Those failures always lead to a success.

“A Sailor is an Artist Whose Medium is the Wind”*

a-sailor-is-an-artist-whose-medium-is-the-wind*Quote is by Webb Chiles, Sailor.

I photographed this beautiful ocean at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina.  The vintage man is from Open Content Program, J. Paul Getty Museum.

When I saw this man with his invention I immediately thought of a ship and knew I wanted him in the water.  The bubbles were just that little bit of whimsy I like to add sometimes.


Waiting for Their Return


Photographed at an abandoned hotel this past September.  This was the main reception area where guest would check in.  It always amazes me how buildings are just left with the furniture in them, waiting for guests who will never return.

I always get asked why I photograph abandoned places and part of it goes back to my childhood and my love of mysteries.  I still have my entire Nancy Drew collection in my library.  I also wanted to live in the Adams Family house.  I thought it was a really cool house.  Walking into these places, all I see is light and shadow and the sense of a mystery of what happened.  I’m rarely frightened in these places.  The only thing I am afraid of are humans who are up to no good in these places and can harm me. The only time I had a really bad scare was when I was photographing with a fellow photographer and two urbex explorers came out of the dark and startled me.  I have a highly sensitive “flight” mode, when scared, and landed up backing up super fast (breaking the number one rule when exploring an abandoned place- NEVER back up) and fell 3 feet out a door.  Luckily it was only 3 feet and I landed up with only a sprained ankle and minor cuts.  I never explore alone and preferably with a group of three.  One to stay with someone if they get hurt and the other to run and get help.


Piercing the Darkness


Photographed at Scranton Lace Company, Scranton, PA using a Fuji X-T1. The light beam coming from the window opening was so beautiful in this decaying hallway.  When I wander around an abandoned building I am always looking at the way the light filters into a space and reacts with the dark shadows. It is a theatrical quality that I look for.  You don’t see this kind of lighting in buildings that are not abandoned unless the light is intentionally created.

Along the Passages They Come and Go


I photographed the hallway at the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.  I love the pink and blue peeling paint as well as the length of this incredibly long hallway.  The doors off of the hallway lead to rooms where patients at the asylum stayed.

The two little boys are from a beautiful glass plate photograph from Powerhouse Museum collection on Flickr ‘s The Commons site.  They are very generous placing a large number of their vintage photographs on Flickr for people to share and use.  I love the fact that one of the boys is sitting on this great vintage tricycle.  I colorized and retouched the photograph since it was originally in black and white.  The clouds are just a touch of whimsy I sometimes like to add to enhance the “not of this world feeling.”

Title:  From Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All Within is Dark as Night


I photographed this room at the Trans Allegheny Insane Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.  The vintage image is from my collection.  I started out working with this image in color and decided to try working with some black and white filters and effects.  I really felt what I used gave it that true eerie abandoned feel that I felt when I was photographing this insane asylum.

Title is from the poem “The Deserted House” by Alfred Tennyson.


Of Night and Day


Photographed at Carrie Furnace, Swissvale, Pennsylvania with a Fuji X-T1.  Sky was photographed during on an oncoming storm at Byram Lake in Mt. Kisco, New York.

I really loved the Carrie Furnace.  The architecture has a victorian steam punk look to it.


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