Haunting Images of Italy's Abandoned Psychiatric Hospitals

PHOTO: Windisch said the locations can be frightening.Thomas Windisch
Windisch said the locations can be frightening.

With their decaying rooms and creepy-looking tools, Thomas Windisch has captured what might be some of the most powerful images of forgotten psychiatric hospitals.

"You see all of these windows covered in ivy and things which look like take outs from horror movies," Windisch, of Austria, told ABC News today. "So they are kind of intense and have a great history.

"It's only scary if you think you're alone and I'm never alone on my tours. Sometimes a door slams, or you see a shadow, or animals come out, but I've been to so many places that I'm not scared anymore."

PHOTO: Windisch said he used High Dynamic Range (HDR) style photography in the photo series. Thomas Windisch
Windisch said he used High Dynamic Range (HDR) style photography in the photo series.

Windisch said the series, which he photographed for the past two years in Italy, covered multiple hospitals where adults and people suffering from mental illness and tuberculosis had been treated.

PHOTO: Thomas Windisch shot images of Italys abandoned insane asylums for two years.Thomas Windisch
Thomas Windisch shot images of Italy's abandoned insane asylums for two years.

Because of European laws regarding urban exploration, he added, the specific details and locations of the buildings could not be publicly disclosed.

PHOTO: All photos were shot in top secret locations.Thomas Windisch
All photos were shot in top secret locations.

However, Windisch said that a handful of the hospitals shut down in 1978.

PHOTO: The asylums housed adults and some treated tuberculosis.Thomas Windisch
The asylums housed adults and some treated tuberculosis.

"For the asylum project the response is really great," he said. "There's of course some who don’t agree with publishing those pictures, but in general people like to watch them. It's something you don’t see every day."

Windisch took multiple shots of the same scene at varying exposures, otherwise known as High Dynamic Range-style photography, to capture the series. He then combined each set of images to create the photo.

“The aim of this technique [HDR] is to create an image that should look more like what your eyes see, rather than what your camera sees,” he said. “If there are very bright and very dark areas in the scene, I take an AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing ) of seven images, with different exposures on a tripod and merge them to one HDR image in post-processing."

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