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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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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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David Nadlinger
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science
This Photo of a Single Atom Won a Science Photography Top Prize
David Nadlinger
David Nadlinger

While you've been busy finding just the right Instagram filter for your cat, a University of Oxford graduate student has been occupied with visualizing a single atom and capturing it in a still frame. And the remarkable feat recently earned an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photography award. Why? It was taken with a conventional camera, and the atom can be seen with the naked eye.

Take a look:

A close-up of a single atom in an ion trap
David Nadlinger

That tiny dot in between the two parallel metal electrodes is a strontium atom suspended by electric fields in an ion trap. It’s visible because the photographer, Ph.D. candidate David Nadlinger, projected blue violet light into a vacuum chamber. The atom absorbed and reflected the light, allowing Nadlinger to snap a photo in the split instant the atom was viewable. The space between the two points is just 0.08 of an inch.

Nadlinger dubbed the image "Single Atom in an Ion Trap" and took the Council’s top award. In a statement, he expressed enthusiasm that other people are now able to see what his work in quantum computing looks like.

[h/t Newsweek]

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