After months waiting for the book to arrive (I ordered it in June), Amazon have finally delivered my copy of Henk van Rensbergens new book, Abandoned Places II. Ok, so the title lacks a bit of imagination, but in fairness Abandoned Places is the name of his website, and the photographs definitely don’t lack imagination, and are up to his usual high standard.
First thing I noticed is that the book is in portrait format, rather than the landscape format of the original book. Having done several Blurb book, I know that choosing the right format is a pain,unless you only ever take your photos one way, which of course no-one does. So whatever you choose will be a compromise. To that end, the landscape format photos, in this are all still in landscape format, but rotated through 90 degrees, so you have to rotate the book round every time you get to one. Slightly annoying, but I suppose it does mean that you can get more photos in the book that way than going with my alternative of double page spreads. I criticised Sylvain Margaine’s Forbidden Places for having too many sites and too many photos, and looking through Abandoned Places II reinforces that view as the balance does seem about right, although there are one or two places I’d like to see more of – Forges de Clebecq for instance has only 4 photos, which given the size of the place, is a bit stingy.
Another difference is the change to gloss paper on the pages rather than matt. I think I prefer this, as it certainly feels better, and the photos appear to be a lot crisper, and the overall feeling is of a really good quality book. But enough of all that, what about the actual contents?
As for the locations, there’s a good mix, some places I’d seen before online, some totally new. Unlike myself, Henk explores all kinds of places – power stations, houses, industry, prisons, you name it, he’s been there. And while in the first book, the explores were all in Europe, predominantly France and Belgium, this time there’s a number of explores from America (Henk ‘s day job is a pilot – good way of getting to foreign explores!)
The photographs are accompanied by a brief introduction, and this has really gone up a notch from before, with some excellent descriptions of how he felt in these places, and his experiences, quite often hair raising – his ‘guide’ to one location took a gun, something you wouldn’t do in the UK. Interesting also that some of the places Henk visits he has permission to do so – see, even the best explorers sometimes have to ask!
As per the first book, it’s all top notch stuff. Bear in mind that the original Abandoned Places originally sold for about the same price, and now it’s out of print, you’re looking at £100 on Amazon to buy, so not only do I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of the genre, I’d highly recommend you buy it soon!
Click on the picture below to go to Amazon and buy it!