TU Berlin crew member and Nikon shooter, Critical Mass – August 2011

Author Ms sophos9 - Last updated: 09.09.2011

It’s that time again and this month, TU interviews one of the TU Berlin crew – the Berlin meet consisted of 14 people from Europe getting together for some exploring in 3 countries. I am pleased to introduce August 2011′s special guest, Nikon shooting – Critical Mass (nothing wrong with Canons)

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born, raised and still live in the North West of the UK. Sport and music were my passions growing up, the weekend would be spent either kicking a ball or out tearing up the singletrack on my mountain bike.

I am now very happily married with 2 awesome kids and a rubbish job, but it pays the bills.


We Aint Here To Play Games!! by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

2. What came first for you, exploring or photography?

Every explorer would love to say “Yeah I’ve been exploring since I was a kid”, but for me photography came first. Of course as a kid who didn’t climb the scaffolding or hang out in the local empty buildings, which I did but I would never call it exploring.

A picture of my daughter, taken by someone with an SLr, got me started on photography and here I am now.

3. What does your kitbag contain?

My kitbag contains:

    Nikon D700
    50mm f1.4
    16mm fisheye
    manfrotto 055 prob with various heads
    and I would have put a Lenser P7 torch but I lost that on the berlin tour

4. What is next on your wish list?

The next thing on the wish list would be the Nikon 70-200, then I think I will have the complete focal range I would ever need.

5. Pick a favourite image, give your reasons why it’s a favourite and talk us through your work-flow for it?

This is a tough one, I don’t have a set kind of workflow as to my shame I am more of a wing it and see kind of processor. I will run the 5-7 (depending on the scene) exposures through Photomatix with these as my start of settings:

    Strength 100
    Colour Saturation – 35-50
    Luminosity 10.0
    Microcontrast 10.0

I very rarely touch these

Smoothing I use in “Light Mode” and it is either High or Max (never go below them because thats when it starts to look overcooked – in my opinion)

    White point – Usually around the 1.000
    Black Point – Usually around the 1.000
    Gamma – Usually around the 1.000

These sliders I use sparingly depending on the darkness/lightness of the shot, too much gamma and again it blacks it all out.

    Micro-smoothing 0 (never changes)
    Highlights usually 100 depends again on the shot
    Shadows again as above 100
    Clipping always 0

These are my usual settings and I will really only tinker with smoothing/white and black points and the gamma.

Then I save as a Tiff and export into CS5 where I dodge/burn/denoise/sharpen and maybe play with the curves and contrast until I like what I see.

Save as Tiff again and then I load into lightroom just because I prefer the exposure and vignette settings in here.

That is basically it. With the shot below I did add the effect of the truck running with a layer of fog.


Berlin Transport…..Sorted!!!! by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

6. You have recently started a blog, can you tell us about it.

Yeah, I see great websites (yours included) and would love one, but I aint got the slightest bit of programming knowledge to produce something that I would want to show off. So instead of grabbing a free template off the net and creating a below par website I thought I would start off small and see where it takes me. It’s cool to have something to call my own. Don’t think it gets a lot of readers but it’s something I like to do for myself.


Phlegm is Out Of Sight by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

7. How was the TU Berlin tour, who did you tour with and which locations did you manage to hit?

Berlin was awesome, great set of lads to tour with. I’ve explored with all of the English guys before but it was the first time meeting some of our European buddies. All the guys got on great and it was just a constant laugh the whole way through. Although the army of mosquito’s that seemed to follow us to every location tried there best to bring us down.

Crew consisted of – Me, Oldskool, Odin’s Raven, Shando, D-Kay, Medway Boy, James Stokes, Uselessphsycic, Mr Monster, Aimed.be, Bertus ven de Vorstenbosch, Frits Vrielink, Delmor and the Urbex Clown.

Locations included Russian Army barracks, Beelitz, Krampnitz Sanatoriums Hospitals, Theme parks, pilot schools……. still a bit of a haze but I think we hit 10 in total.


Chequered Beginings by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

8. What does a typical day of urbex consist of for you?

A typical day would usually start off with a 4am wake up call, then it would either be me drive down to Rusty’s gaff or vice versa, as he is my main exploring partner. All the prep,checking of equipment and locations would usually have been planned the night before (at least 3) and sat navs programmed then it would be a case of trying to get as many of the planned explores done in the time we have…….. which is usually pretty difficult as Rusty likes to call in McDonalds at least 3 times through the day (the boy has got to have his Latte).


Wacky Urbex Races by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

9. What is your dream location to explore, past or present?

…….hmmm dream location??? I think a dream location would have to be somewhere that is probably never going to happen. Yeah ECVB is massive on my list as is Doel, but they are pretty accessible and I dare say I will get to see them sooner rather than later. If I was to pick anywhere it would be Detroit, the city is on it’s knees…….. imagine a whole city for you to explore.

10. What is the worst experience that you have had in a location and why?

It has got to be when I was down London with Shando and some of the Berlin tour boys.

We got into the grounds at Silverlands easy …hop a fence. Cameras everywhere on this building but we carried on regardless. So we’re scouting round looking for an entrance when we must have tripped some sensor, the tannoy pops up….. “You are being monitored please leave the site”….. yeah yeah recorded message lol. So we eventually get in through some open window at the back in a court yard, have a quick scout around then head upstairs where we found a control room with all cctv monitors working!! LOL, so we’re watching these when it pans to front gate and bang….. secuirty dude with a police man. Right let’s just sit tight up here and he’ll soon shoot off…..no such luck more and more cops kept turning up, about 8 in all, then next thing we hear is dogs barking and the police woman shouting orders to the dogs….!!!! So silent we just sat then next thing we hear is this chopper….. can’t be for us surely it will just pass, however it was just hovering above us for ages. The general thought now is, time to give it up so we were just gonna make our way out when inside they come up the stairs leds by the dogs. Didn’t give us the chance to explain, cuffed, read our rights on suspicion of burglary!!! Bundled into various police cars then taken back to the station….. only to be told by the desk sergeant, that he was refusing detention i.e letting us go…..arresting copper was gutted!! lmao, so they took all details and had a chat wth us then took us back to car….not even a caution!! scariest day of my life!!!!

11. Have you got any top tips for new explorers?


    1. Preparation is key – google is your friend so always check out the net or google maps and get familiar with the location you intend on hitting.
    2. This is not your property – treat it that way, leave it as you found it.
    3. Safety first – these places have been left to rot and decay for years so don’t just assume everything is going to be ok. The floorboards make look fine but in reality the years have made them anything but and one wrong footstep could be your last.
    4. Enjoy it – if it’s not fun then why do it….. but always remember the safety factor.
    5. Don’t get caught – but if you do be respectful and comply with whatever the owner/security guy is asking and 99.9% of the time all will be good and you will just be asked to leave


Into oblivion by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr


The Staircase by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr


Guided By The Light by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr


The Upper Room –
by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr


A Fragment Of Brittle Substance EXPLORED@279 by Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr


The Walk Of A Faded History by
Critical Mass. ( Let The Processing Begin ), on Flickr

12. Who would you like to see interviewed as Guest of the Month?

I would love to see Geo as the next guest.

Huge thanks to Gaz for taking the time to be interviewed. Please check out his Flickr Photostream and Blog to see more of his work.


#1Critical MassSeptember 9, 2011, 5:35 am

Thanks for this guys, flattered would be a massive understatement!

#2MONSTAHSeptember 9, 2011, 10:54 am

yeah great interview guys..good work..and hell yeah its gaz the master!
great story..and btw it was 11 locations in germany! 😀

#3oldskoolSeptember 9, 2011, 8:47 pm

nice one dude …………….the drew shot in the toy cars is classsssss

    #4oldskoolSeptember 9, 2011, 8:48 pm

    sorry crew shot

#5TimsterSeptember 20, 2011, 11:40 pm

Nice interview mate and some fantastic photos from Berlin – I’d love to come on the next trip!!

#6RustyNovember 16, 2011, 3:40 pm

Wicked mate really cool read and some great looking photos . Shocked tho that the Silverland’s incident was worse than out time hiding in the store room . Looks like i will have to get you so more moments then eh as i want that title back 😀

Add your comment


Other articlesgo to homepage

Meet the Mod Team, Muddy Funkster – March 2013

Meet the Mod Team, Muddy Funkster – March 2013(1)

I reckon Pye-Obsessed may sum up the next Moderator you’re going to read more about below, this month Matt aka Muddy Funkster takes the hot seat…..

Unseen Copenhagen, CphCph – February 2013

Unseen Copenhagen, CphCph – February 2013(2)

These guys need very little introduction, so all I will say is, sit back and enjoy February’s Guest of the Month with CphCph…..

Meet the Mod Team, Happyshopper – December 2012

Meet the Mod Team, Happyshopper – December 2012(2)

For some time I’ve wanted to interview the members of the Mod team, mostly because I’m nosey but also because it’d be cool to find out a little more about the guys who keep Talk Urbex such a cool place to be (which also doubles up as nosiness….) This…

Podcasts & Photography, motionblur – November 2012

Podcasts & Photography, motionblur – November 2012(0)

This month we feature a Canadian explorer and photographer. Some of you may know him for his podcast network or his photo-documentation of Hashima Island, now let’s find out more about Chris Luckhardt, also known as motionblur…..1. Can you tell us a …

Transgression & Exploration, Subversive – October 2012

Transgression & Exploration, Subversive – October 2012(5)

This month we interview a photographer from the UK. They have just returned from a tour in the USA, released a new book and now we have the pleasure of interviewing him as October’s Guest of the Month. Let’s see what’s next for Daniel Barter also known…

read more



The Stencil House The Stencil House(0)
Radiator factory Radiator factory(0)
The Mann Cave The Mann Cave(0)
Heilstätte S. Heilstätte S.(0)
Hearn Ascendant Hearn Ascendant(0)
read more

Contacts and information

Talk Urbex is a community of photographers and urban explorers. We are documenting abandoned, historically important locations across the world. Talk Urbex is not responsible for any legal issues arising from either locations or digital/film imaging.

Social networks

Most popular categories

© 2012 Talkurbex.com - All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Google+