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26 Hauntingly Beautiful Photos of Abandoned Homes Across America

“To find beauty in the most grotesque things is a gift,” says photographer Seph Lawless, whose interest in forgotten places and people have led him (and his camera) to abandoned shopping malls, shuttered amusement parks, and post-Katrina New Orleans. For his latest project, a new photo book and e-book titled Hauntingly Beautiful, Lawless trains his lens on a host of abandoned homes, which are as stunning to look at as they are eerie to witness.

“My goal with the project is to challenge and hopefully inspire the viewer to see beauty in even some of the most grotesque things that we see,” Lawless tells mental_floss. “It's been an ongoing theme with most of the projects that shows a different perspective of America that exemplifies some of America's greatest ills.”

See more of Lawless’ work on his Website, or by following him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

This house in Brush Park, Michigan may not look familiar now—but wait until next year. "It's being used as Batman's mansion for the upcoming movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," says Lawless, who was "hired as a location scout for the production after the assistant director saw my image of that house in the news."

An up-close look at Detroit's blight.

In 2013, Cleveland police arrested 35-year-old Michael Madison, a suspect in at least three murders. Believing that he hid the bodies of his victims in nearby abandoned homes, they searched several—including this one, in East Cleveland.

"The legend is that this home is haunted by a father and son that died during a hunting accident," explains Lawless of this house in Nova, Ohio. "The boy shot the father by accident then the boy committed suicide."

Beware of witch! According to Lawless, many believe that this house in Milan, Ohio is haunted, "based on several people believing a witch was buried on the property that may have even predated the home itself. The house was eerily abandoned with an equally abandoned barn, but was partially in use when I noticed a huge bison the size of a truck stump out of the barn into the grazing yard—oddly out of place and almost as if it was guarding something."

A forgotten home in Geneva, Ohio.

Located in a rural town near the border of Mississippi and Louisiana, this "beautiful former plantation home had several rooms that appeared to be rooms where slaves were housed," says Lawless. "Some walls were even marked with sharp objects similar to some abandoned prisons I've shot. That home was pretty emotionally draining to photograph."

Texarkana, Arkansas is the site of one of the country's most infamous unsolved serial killers, known as The Phantom Killer or The Moonlight Murders. "That abandoned house is near the first road which was used as a murder site," says Lawless.

What was once a home in Philadelphia.

The interior and exterior of an abandoned house in Pittsburgh.

The day after shooting in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, this house—which appears on the cover of Hauntingly Beautiful)—collapsed. "These are the last images ever taken and my feet fell through the floors several times photographing it," says Lawless. "It felt as though it would collapse at any moment and I was shocked to see it had collapsed just hours after I was inside it. Truly frightening and still gives me chills thinking about it."

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The Strange Reason Why It's Illegal to Take Nighttime Photos of the Eiffel Tower
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The Eiffel Tower is one of the most-photographed landmarks on Earth, but if photographers aren't careful, snapping a picture of the Parisian tower at the wrong hour and sharing it in the wrong context could get them in legal trouble. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, the famous monument is partially protected under European copyright law.

In Europe, copyrights for structures like the Eiffel Tower expire 70 years after the creator's death. Gustave Eiffel died in 1923, which means the tower itself has been public domain since 1993. Tourists and professional photographers alike are free to publish and sell pictures of the tower taken during the day, but its copyright status gets a little more complicated after sundown.

The Eiffel Tower today is more than just the iron structure that was erected in the late 19th century: In 1985, it was outfitted with a nighttime lighting system consisting of hundreds of projectors, a beacon, and tens of thousands of light bulbs that twinkle every hour on the hour. The dazzling light show was designed by Pierre Bideau, and because the artist is alive, the copyright is still recognized and will remain so for at least several decades.

That being said, taking a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower after dark and sharing it on Instagram won't earn you a visit from Interpol. The law mainly applies to photographers taking pictures for commercial gain. To make sure any pictures you take of the illuminated tower fall within the law, you can contact the site's operating company to request publishing permission and pay for rights. Or you can wait until the sun comes up to snap as many perfectly legal images of the Parisian icon as you please.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Scientists Share the Most Ridiculous Stock Photos of Their Jobs on Twitter
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If you picture a scientist as a guy in a white lab coat who spends all day glaring at vials, you can blame popular media. A quick image search of the word scientist brings up dozens of stock photos that fit this stereotype. And when photos do diverge from the norm, things start to get weird. Now real-life scientists are sharing some of these bizarre depictions on Twitter using the hashtag #badstockphotosofmyjob.

Some stock photos contain errors that would go unnoticed by most members of the public. But show a professional a model posing with a beaker of dyed water, or a backwards double-helix, and they might have something to say.

Despite all the lab gear, safety rules are apparently broken all the time in stock photo world. On rare occasions fake scientists ditch the lab coats altogether for lingerie—or nothing at all.

Even more puzzling scientist stock photo trends include injecting plants with mysterious liquid and holding stethoscopes up to inanimate objects.

Fortunately, scientists from the real world are much better at their jobs than scientists in stock photos make them out to be. To get a clearer picture of how a scientist's job differs from the stereotype, check out some behind-the-scenes accounts of their work in the field.

[h/t IFL Science]

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