360 Night Photography: Coaldale Nevada Ghost Town

Coaldale Ghost Town 360 Night Panorama

I’ve just made a new gallery of 360 panoramas of the Coaldale ghost town available. Coaldale, Nevada was abandoned in 1993 or 1994. Located in a remote area West of Tonopah where Highways 6 and 95 meet, the gas station was closed due to leaking underground storage tanks.  I’ve driven through Coaldale numerous times on other trips to Western Nevada, but had never photographed there at night until last October when David Dasinger and I shot the town under a full moon.

I made a dozen 360 panoramas of Coaldale that night. My panoramic tripod head was setup to shoot 4 shots around at 5 degrees up using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens at 12mm on an EOS 6D. Exposures were 90 seconds at f/8, ISO 800. I’m not sure if it was the cold weather, but my focus was slightly soft within 5-6 feet of the camera that night. Everything else was sharp.

After stitching the 360 panos in PTGui, it looked like I had a big retouching job in front of me to get rid of the tripod, tripod shadow, and foreground seam lines from where the focus was a bit soft. I got busy over the holidays, and put the project aside. Yesterday I decided to have another look. I did a rough patch of the foreground using content aware fill in Photoshop. Then I brought the images into Pano2VR to build a virtual tour.

To get a rough idea of what the tour would look like, I used the patch tool in Pano2VR to generate a mirror ball over the tripod area. When I saw the image previews come up in Lightroom, I really liked how dark blue sky of the mirrored image sandwiched the content. The flat projection of the 360 looks like it was photographed from a reflecting pool. For a location with a lot of concrete in the foreground, this really made the images more interesting. Have a look at this gallery of 360 night panoramas of Coaldale, processed using the magic of the mirror ball.

WRLD: Grandmaster, Magic, Big Star, Townes, Creation, Cutie, 1-800-MICE, H Day, Abandoned Futures, Coin Locker Babies, Satellites, Mogwai, Exploding Star Orchestra


The Grandmaster
Last month Martin Scorsese interviewed Wong Kar-Wai about his 2013 film, The Grandmaster. The cinematography is amazing, and overall the film is pretty good [Amazon]. ★★★

Deceptive Practice
The best documentary I’ve seen in ages is Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay [Netflix, Amazon]. Ricky Jay’s dedication and artistry are inspiring, and the film is riveting from start to finish. Highly recommended. ★★★★★

Big Star
This documentary profiles the Memphis rock band Big Star from their early years to post-breakup. Essential viewing if you’re a fan [Netflix, Amazon]. ★★★

Be Here To Love Me
Be Here To Love Me is a portrait of singer songwriter Townes Van Zandt. A haunting look at a tortured artist [Netflix, Amazon]. ★★★★

Upside Down
Upside Down is an uneven documentary about the UK label Creation Records. Selling records and partying with Scottish accents, it’s half entertaining and half annoying [Netflix, Amazon]. ★★

Cutie and the Boxer
Cutie and the Boxer profiles an 80 year old Japanese artist and his wife who are living in New York and barely making ends meet. I had high hopes for this one after the preview, but the film focuses too much on the antagonistic wife [Netflix, Amazon]. ★★


1-800-MICE is bonkers. Blurbed by Daniel Clowes and Matt Groening among others, but none of them get it quite right. Surreal, absurd, extraordinary, and utterly unique. Highly recommended.

H Day
I’ve been a fan of Renee French since 90′s comic books Grit Bath and The Ninth Gland. H Day tells parallel stories on facing pages without words. One side is about migraines, and the other is about an ant invasion. Mysterious, weird, and quite enjoyable.

Abandoned Futures
With a cover photo from the Pearsonville Junkyard, night photography workshop alum Tong Lam presents well crafted photos of some world class ruins. Tong doesn’t like the term ruin porn, and instead makes a case for the history of ruin lust. Abandoned Futures contains some of the best writing on the symbology of ruins in recent years, and is highly recommended.

Coin Locker Babies
I’ve read quite a bit of Haruki Murakami’s work, but hadn’t read Ryu Murakami until my book club selected Coin Locker Babies. This novel is the story of two orphans who are abandoned at birth in a coin-locker, and are raised in the shadows of a ruined factory town. While the violence was a bit graphic for my taste, there were some hypnotizing sections that gave me new insight into why I photograph abandoned places.

Satellites is the result of an amazing 7 year journey exploring the forgotten outposts of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately this book is out of print, but it’s definitely worth seeking out at your local library.


Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Mogwai’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will has been in heavy rotation during January. Maybe because it’s good workout music? The Drowned in Sound review of the album is right on target.

Exploding Star Orchestra
The Exploding Star Orchestra takes a wild journey through large ensemble jazz improv with a wide array of field recordings. A wild but engaging sonic ride. Here’s a nice review on Dusted.


  • A wonderful English artist is producing a marquetry version of one of my photos. I’m excited to see how this turns out, and will share photos when it’s done.
  • I’ve switched from using a Really Right Stuff pano-head to a Nodal Ninja Ultimate M2. More on this decision later.
  • My office is loud. I tried a lot of noise-cancelling headphones. All marketing hype aside, the Bose QC 15 really do work the best. Audiophile magazine Sound & Vision nails it in this Bose review. If you need to shut out the world, this is 300 bucks well spent.
  • I’m shooting video at work. It’s way harder than shooting stills. But fun. I’m learning Premiere, too.
  • A couple of my Holga images are in a recently released color grading book. More info when I get a copy.
  • I’m online less and less these days. I still like looking at pictures on Tumblr. That’s about it. You wanna talk? Send me an email. And don’t be surprised if my online presence becomes a bit more sporadic this year.

Objects in the mirror are as weird as they appear

Night photography, abandoned places, desert ruins, 360 panoramas, and artistic inspiration