Scientist Photographs Historically-Rich Abandoned and Forgotten Spaces

A scientist by day and photographer by night, Janine Pendleton has explored numerous abandoned sites around the world and has shared her photographs, experiences, and tips of her adventures to places not normally seen by the public.

Pendleton is an avid traveler who enjoys urbex photography — under her brand Obsidian Urbex Photography — where she documents abandoned, lost, decaying, and often forgotten places.

Based in the United Kingdom, Pendleton has traveled all across her home country and abroad and photographed well-known spots like Chernobyl as well as a host of locations few have ever heard of.

Although she works as a scientist and enjoys her career, her day job leaves her with little room for creative deviation.

“My job is very exact, with little room for expression or breaking away from the parameters that dictate how I have to work,” Pendleton tells PetaPixel.

Urban exploration photography, on the other hand, gives her the exact opposite experience and allows her to express her creativity and vision.

“I can use my photos to tell my a story, which reflects the abandoned places but also some of myself in the way I compose my shots and edit,” she says.

Even the simple change of physically being outdoors, away from her computer and desk, brings a breath of fresh air into Pendleton’s life. Many of the sites that Pendleton has visited have a history behind them she thinks is worth telling, whether it is a simple tale of an abandoned vehicle or a long-forgotten house, or something darker and more sinister.

When Pendleton visits these abandoned sites — which are often demolished, burned out, or vandalized — she has mixed feelings.

“When I see newer photos showing destruction, I always feel sad when I look back at my own photos,” she says. “I wonder which wonderful place is next to be lost.”

On the other side of the spectrum, some sites have been renovated and are now in use. Seeing forgotten sites go through a transformation and receive a new fresh start brings joy to Pendleton because she had the opportunity to capture what they looked like before.

The experience of visiting the site with her friends and sharing laughs and a good time also brings back good memories, which may counteract any somberness that might have been felt when looking back at the history of the location.

The pandemic put a halt to Pendleton’s expansive portfolio and travel plans, however, and even though it was a tough time for her creatively, she was able to explore more of her local area and found local treasures — which Pendleton would previously overlook in favor of more exciting trips abroad — that had been sitting right on her doorstep.

“One thing for sure, lockdown made me realize how much a part of my life these little adventures are. I felt lost without the excitement of the next trip ticking down on my calendar.”

Pendleton has returned to expanding to travels around the country, although international trips are still an uncertain territory. Her future plans include visiting Estonia, Russia, and Georgia, and she is also eager to return to Japan in the next couple of years.

More of Pendleton’s photography and blog posts with past travel experiences and tips for urbex photographers can be found on her website.

Image credits: All images by Janine Pendleton and used with permission.