This week on the No Tracers podcast I am chatting with fellow asylum exploration lover Exit Hands! I love this episode, because we get to talking about asylums in this episode and the creepy feelings we get inside these abandoned places. I call this feeling "the darkness," If you're an explorer you've probably felt it, especially in abandoned asylums. Check out this episode and be sure to follow Exit Hands on his journey!
Welcome back to the No Tracers podcast. My name is Kay, just the letter. K. And I'm your host here on this podcast, all about urban exploring. This is a guest based podcast. So every single Friday, I have a new episode come out with a different guest that is in the urban exploration community, the first nine or 10 episodes. I just did solo by myself. And I give you guys tips and tricks for exploring what gear you should bring and how to find these places that we explore, how to connect with people in the community, all that kind of stuff. So if you guys missed out on those episodes, please go back after this episode and listen to those episodes. But this week on the podcast, I am speaking with a fellow urban Explorer named exit hands.
Yes, this guy is absolutely amazing. His photography is super sick, and I wanted to have them on to talk about what he does as an urban Explorer, some of his experiences. And we definitely get to talking about some ghost ghosty things in this episode. So if you guys are into paranormal stuff, this is definitely a really cool episode, but before we get into it, I got to let you know, I have a book out called No Tracers on urban explorers diary. It is full of my photos and stories from exploring places all over the United States, a place in Canada place in Portugal, actually, and various other places. So if you guys want to get a copy of that, you can add to No Tracers dot com and on that website, you will also see blog posts from my exploration.
0 (1m 29s):
So if you want to dive deeper into the stuff that I do, you can definitely do that. And lastly, last little bit of housekeeping. If you like this episode, at any point in time, please leave a rating and some feedback. If you do that, I will send you a signed photo print from an abandoned place that I have explored. All you got to do is take a screenshot of your feedback and send it to me on Instagram at No Tracers. And I will send you a photo print. All right, guys, let's jump into this episode. ExitHands can you please introduce yourself and what it is you due to the No Tracers audience
1 (2m 1s):
ExitHands located in Denver originally from New York, just a kind of all around photographer, but have always kind of had my roots kind of stationed in the urban community.
0 (2m 14s):
So tell me what gets you into exploring it the first place? What made you catch
2 (2m 18s):
1 (2m 21s):
That's almost a loaded question very much. Like when I was younger and stuff, I was just kind of like almost just intrigued. I feel like a lot of other photographers have kind of that same. It kind of draws you in a little bit, but I mean, from just little trips of seeing, you know, being in houses and all that stuff, and then the started to kind of adapting into one of my friends, Mike Gleason, he kind of stopped shooting. He's still doing a little bit of stuff and there, but he got me into this one spot that was an old sanatorium. And like, I just lost my wig. And like, that was the start of everything. And then, you know, eight, 10 years, I'm still, still at it, still going hard with this.
0 (3m 2s):
So tell me about that, that first exploration that you went on. I want to know about that. Like the sanitorium. Tell me a little bit more about that exploration man.
1 (3m 11s):
Well, it was one of those kinds of funny things that going into this place and stuff I had, like, you know, an okay camera. It wasn't anything, you know, high tech, like nowadays with all the Sony's and all this all stuff, and just went in and I just remember like kind of how isolated you felt, but also when started to take pictures and everything, I just wanted to kind of memorialize that, you know what I mean? And like really capture what was left behind and just to does the feeling of that you get when you're in these buildings and stuff like that Life After People of what it would be like as, you know, if we all got wiped out or something like that. And I kept having that go through my head and then finally it was just like, I don't know, it probably in about an hour to two's time that we were even in there completely like lost my head.
1 (3m 58s):
It was awesome. And I fell in love with it there, but then I think doing the research after that became like, almost like a pivotal part in a lot of my explorations to the simple fact of finding out the history behind that place. And then looking at those pictures almost kind of resonated even more with me because this place has like one of the darkest paths. I think that actually I'm in the upstate like kind of New York area, just in general, there's like, so, so much history up there, but that's one of the bad ones. That's not a lot of people know about either it's kind of stuck away. And then just learning that, like I said, like that really kind of forced me through to like, just wanting to do this more and more and more.
0 (4m 37s):
It's crazy. You know, I've explored a couple of sanitariums around the country, like in West Virginia and in Georgia and California where I live and it's so Erie to go in these places, especially after, you know, the history of them, because you're like, wow, like this crazy horrible stuff happened. And it's mostly to like youth, like, you know, younger people that it happened to. And that's a major reason that all these places got shut down. And it's, it's just interesting to see that there they're still, they're still sitting there just decaying away and they've, they've now become like a, I almost equate it to like going into a museum, you know, you're going into the past a little bit. No, totally,
1 (5m 15s):
Totally. Without question. I mean, that's the one thing too, you know, with the, with all the, the, the history that's behind there, you know, it's kind of, how should I say that for the people that are like nonbelievers and ghosts and all of this stuff, the paranormal activity, you put them in those situations and especially with like the history behind it and stuff there's so much, there's like a feeling that you get like within these buildings and stuff, whether, you know, some are almost just quiet and it's nice to rain, but other ones are noisy and loud and especially on the east coast, I feel like, you know, there's, there's so much more history with all that stuff from New York all the way down to Florida. I mean, like that whole section, especially the West Virginia, I mean, w what is the, I can't remember what it's called.
1 (5m 55s):
Is it the Allegheny one of the big, big asylum? I can't remember what it was called, but yeah, like there's just a lot, a lot of stuff out there. And that's actually what I kind of miss about the east coast in general, really the trans Allegheny lunatic asylum to what it is. I can never remember the name for the life of it, but yeah, the Western Western West Virginia. Yep. Yeah, no, and that's the thing to, it's like, you know, growing up in New York and stuff, we have so much stuff there and, you know, it's like, it's like a playground, you know what I mean? Like really, you know, but at the same time, it's, you're treading water in between a lot of different kind of, I don't know how you would really call it, but you're in there sometimes with like squatters and stuff.
1 (6m 40s):
And there's a lot of situations with other kids and graffiti and vandalism and stuff like that. When like, I've just tried to kind of lay my tracks very lightly. You know what I mean? Going to take my pictures and get out, you know what I mean? Yeah, no,
0 (6m 51s):
I'm with you. My motto is leave no trace, you know, like take only photos and take nothing with you. And you were talking about that feeling you get, when you're in some of these places, I liked to call that the darkness, because it's like a, it's like, you turn a corner and you see this darkness, but it's not just dark. It's like the darkest darkness you could ever imagine. You know, it's like going into another world, it's like going into a portal. No,
1 (7m 13s):
Absolutely. And I think that is something that I really enjoy. You know what I mean? Like, I, it takes certain types of personalities, I think personally, because I've brought to, you know, some photographers that are getting into the game in some places and stuff, just the, you know, the, the smallest spots so they can get used to it and stuff either you take to it or not, because he really did have this isolated feeling. And I usually always try to do my exploring with at least a couple other people, at least one other person. But I mean, there are a lot of times where I've gone solo and like, that's where I really feel like the darkness. Like you say, like that's when you really feel it, you know? Yeah.
0 (7m 47s):
Cause, cause you, you don't have anybody to like protect you, you know, you don't have anybody that have your back in that situation if you're by yourself.
1 (7m 53s):
No, that's totally it. You know what I mean? Like when I was living in, because I've lived all around the United States and stuff and have traveled a lot with music and all this other stuff, but I really do have to say that like when you're in some of these places, you know, I've, I've had a good couple of stories that I'm sure on most abandoned photographers have, have that like, oh shit, I hear somebody. And then all of the sudden you have to hide and all this other stuff, it really kind of between that. And then being in that darkness, like you said, it turns into a whole experience, you know, that you'll never forget.
0 (8m 22s):
So for photography, you, you had it at the beginning of your explorations. I've talked to a couple of photographers on here that, you know, started exploring first and then they got into photography so quickly to just go on a side, tangent, how did you get into photography? When did that come into play in your life?
1 (8m 39s):
To be totally honest, like, I mean, it did happen a little bit younger. I was always like fascinated with taking pictures and stuff. You know, even if it was with a flip phone back end, like the nineties and early to mid two thousands, you know, a really into it. It was just one of those kinds of things that I really liked to preserving memories. I think that was like the, really the one thing that really intrigued me to it. And then, like I said, my one friend brought me on that trip and I got a camera like right before that. And the, you know, and it was kind of turning into this thing of me not knowing what I really wanted to do with my photography at all. I think a lot of photographers going into that as well, its this whole like, well, do I want to shoot nature astrophotography? Or like, you know, abandonments or portraits and all this other stuff.
1 (9m 20s):
And really like that was, you know, just always trying to kind of figure out what I wanted to do with it, but I knew I wanted to do something with it from like a younger age, you know? Yeah.
0 (9m 28s):
I'm in the same boat, you know, I've always had a camera in my hand, whether it be a phone or even the ones with like the cassette, the cassette tapes, the whatever HDV, whatever tapes in them. I've always had a camera in my hands. So as far as gear goes, do you have gear recommendations? And this could be like a pair of shoes that you like wearing a backpack that you use, you know, a flashlight, like what kind of gear are you using when you go into these places?
1 (9m 55s):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I definitely liked to kind of pat up a little bit, you know, doing a lot of the exploration stuff. I have to swear by this Vanguard backpack. I don't know which model it is, but it's a pretty, pretty beefed up model. A lot of padding, that's one thing, you know, getting through windows and all this other stuff, how you're gaining entrance and stuff, you know, you need something reliable. And I swear by this backpack, but I mean, I shoot personally. I know like a lot of people are under the cannons and you know, the Sonys right now and stuff and I've actually always shot on an icon. I've never strayed away from it personally. It's I actually shoot with the crop sensor camera, the Nikon D 500 and I loved the body and everything like that.
1 (10m 38s):
But my go-to at least for a lot of the urban exploring is definitely the 10 by 20 Sigma Wide Angle. I w I love that lens for having a crop sensor. It does wonders for sure, but I mean that some really high lumen flashlights, that's always, that's always a good one, especially when you're going into the dark places and stuff, but yeah, pretty much like I pack, I try to tend to pack a little bit light when it comes to kind of that stuff. So yeah, I'm
0 (11m 6s):
In the same boat. I a M small on a small person, I'm five foot, three weigh, 102 pounds. Like I'm not trying to carry a bunch of gear with me, especially when we're like climbing fences, jumping through windows, you know, going through the basement, that kind of shit. So I'm always, always, always asking other explorers, like, what bag do you use? Like, what shoes are you wearing? You know, like, I love, I love hearing about the gear and I, and the audience that listened to the show, the love that they love the gear stuff, you know? So thank you for sharing this. Oh, for sure.
1 (11m 33s):
Yeah. No, nothing, nothing too exciting over here, but I got
0 (11m 36s):
You. And then, so we are in a very interesting time right now, there is currently a global pandemic. Whenever this podcast comes out. Have you been exploring during quarantine and have you gone out and gotten into these isolating places where you're away from everybody else? Or are you kind of laying low right now? I have
1 (11m 54s):
Been on the moon. Yeah. To me to be totally honest. I'd been taking full advantage at this time. It's really, really like, kind of confusing, I think for a lot of people right now. And I, I always say to my friends and everything and other like explorers and stuff and just people in general, but like, I feel like we're so far away from the truth of what we should be experiencing as human beings right now, just in general. And I really needed to kind of clear my head and that is like, literally my go-to. So yeah, I've been, I've been traveling a lot. I just got back from a really, really long road trip actually. And just like, kind of trying to take advantage of the fact of people being inside, you know, not having to deal with all the stuff that can happen when you're trying to, you know, check out on the spot to try to get in like, you know, right now where I'm currently living in Colorado.
1 (12m 44s):
A lot of it is isolated anyways, due to the fact of the ghost towns and all this stuff that's sitting up in the mountains in the Rockies. So I've been literally just constantly shooting. It's really been the only thing that's really kind of keeping me sane currently at this, this, this whole crazy time in the, in the history of the world, you know? Yeah.
0 (13m 2s):
And then what, what has been your favorite exploration? If you could pick one out of all of the one's you've been on a, tell me one or two of your favorite explorations. God, that's such a tough
1 (13m 13s):
Question, but a good one, but a good one though. I would have to say, honestly, some of the stuff that I have been kind of filtered through throughout all of the states that have been to on everything, a couple standout in Kentucky, actually for like paranormal wide stuff of like shooting with a couple other fellow photographers and just like hearing a bunch of stuff, a bunch of photos came back really with weird things in them. I mean, that was definitely having like a handful of that stuff, but I would honestly give it back. I would throw it back to the old school days honestly is like those days that like kingspark psychiatric center and like all these other places that have become.
1 (13m 58s):
So like, I mean, overrun for sure without question. I mean the, the, the Internet's here, there is going to be an over saturation of everything, but still have the same time. Like those were some of my big first ones that really kind of stuck out to me just to the fact when you're walking up to these buildings and, you know, they're 18, 19, the stories are so much history, all of this stuff behind it. I'd probably have to go with probably one of the oldest school spots that I, that I've had along to along the ways. Yeah. Yeah. We've
0 (14m 20s):
Got a on California. We have a 17 story abandoned hospital and it's probably my favorite exploration I've ever been on. I mean, like, come on seven, you give me 17 floor's to explore.
1 (14m 29s):
Come on. Yeah, no, exactly. It's like, yo, my legs are young me run on all the way the, you know what I mean? And especially like, you know, another one being like charity and stuff, like out in new Orleans and stuff. I mean, there's a lot of ones that could definitely stick out from me for sure. So that's, that's a, that's a toughie. Yeah.
0 (14m 46s):
And then what about your scariest exploration, scariest experience? You've had, I got, hear this.
1 (14m 52s):
All right. Scary. Scary is all right. So I'll probably going to have to go with, ah, this place. I won't, I'm going to give out the shout out for it, but it's, there's a place in Georgia that definitely gave me a run for my money. I was in there alone. I was on the road trip at the point in time, just, you know, scoping spots and everything. Like I usually do just like hitting it hard, trying to find any thing that has, you know, just kind of sitting around, wasting away. And I have like a love for, you know, the M Luna to take asylums and all that other stuff, just because of history. It just intrigues me so much. And I went to this specific one and I will never forget to, there was no graffiti in it. There was no nothing.
1 (15m 33s):
I mean, literally you would take a footstep and the whole hallway down, those corridors would just ring out in the footsteps. And there was like, and yeah, there was like security rolling around the campus. And it was a, it was a crazy, crazy point in time and I'll never forget it. I was in there alone and I was going to the crematorium and I'm like, all right, cool. I'm going to get my shots. I'm going to get all of this stuff set up. Or, you know, I had a couple of ideas of what I really wanted to do in there. And I heard like scratching on the wall and I ended up like kinda going into the corner just to kind of block off my back because if something is going to come in there, whether it be a squatter or just anybody, you know what I mean? I'd rather have my back getting covered. So I came, I went in to the corner of this room and then I just kept hearing this scratching.
1 (16m 13s):
And I don't know if it was something that on a window, I don't know if it was something weird, crazy paranormal, but I remembered that kind of just freaking the shit out of me. And like, literally just like in this dark room in a crematorium where all these bodies were burned up, the place has terrible history behind it. And I heard scratching around the door and I'll never forget that either. I lets put it this way. I lightly jogged out of that spot to regain my composure, to try to figure it out and then went back in and then didn't have any thing kinda going on from there. But yeah, that was definitely the one time I think that I would have to kind of call out that really really gave my blood pressure a good spike
0 (16m 49s):
Dang. And especially like we were saying in these sanitariums like, these are crazy places with crazy history. And so being in that place by herself, like, whew, I can't imagine
1 (17m 2s):
It's one of those kinds of things that like I've gotten used to doing it because like, I mean, some places where I've lived in the United States, it's kind of these pockets of urban exploration kind of photographers are almost slim to none. I mean, how here? I feel like it's like trying to pull teeth almost to find people that are actually in the community and have whether, if they're a newcomer or like, you know, an old school cat or anything like that, I'm always welcome to shoot with anybody. And out here it's like, I've been rolling solo, but yeah, that was probably like, I've never had anything come closer to that one for sure. Dang.
0 (17m 34s):
And then as a history buff, as the guy that likes to look into the history of these places, do you have a place with your favorite history? Ah, shit,
1 (17m 43s):
Man. You're you're coming up with the good ones. I would, I would definitely have to say like there's so many places in Northeast, I think specifically that really, really hold a lot of weight just because of that history behind like the psych wards and all that kind of stuff. I mean, Kings park again, that that place has such a rough history. There's actually a one place, which I was actually really disappointed in, but just being within the walls, I guess was pretty cool. Was Waverly Hills in, in Louisville, Kentucky, it was, it was really creepy to be in there. And it was really just because of the simple fact of all the claims of like 50,000 people dying from tuberculosis and like the, yeah, just the whole kind of thing.
1 (18m 24s):
I mean, walking down a thing called the death shoot because they used to have to like kind of shove I've been to add on an average for a couple of years, it was about like seven to, or like five to seven bodies were actually like dying within that place per hour for like years on, on it, at this, at the peak of a tuberculosis outbreak and everything. I mean that one definitely I think out of there, I mean, you always see it two, especially on like the side by channels and all that stuff. They always have the ghost hunters in there and everything on Halloween and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I mean on out of those ones. Yeah, for sure. That kind of stuff. I know that there was actually a really good one in Boise to this actually opened to the public. That's a really cool to see. I can go to the explore if, if some executive listening to this and you know, doesn't want to hop through a window or anything like that.
1 (19m 9s):
That's got some like really, really cool history behind it too as well. Yeah.
0 (19m 12s):
And another place like that, that you can actually go visit. I mean, there's several around the country, but if you guys are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or sorry, not Pittsburgh Philly in Philly, there is the abandoned Eastern state penitentiary, which is in the middle of downtown and you can go explore that. You just buy a ticket, go right in and they'll give you a guided tour and they've kept it in pretty pristine abandoned condition. And it's very, very cool. I love that place. It's one of my favorites that I've gotten to explore. I mean, getting to walk around an old prison, like that is very cool. And you could say the same about like Alcatraz, even though that's more of a tourist spot, but yeah. The, the, the places that, you know, let you go in, like, I think that's super cool as well. And it, it kind of gives us a, it gives those that, like you said, don't want to jump through a window, the opportunity to kind of step into our world a little bit.
1 (20m 1s):
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I couldn't, I couldn't say bet on myself. I mean, it's good and Eastern state penitentiary to is so beautiful, you know, the bleakest manner, you know what I mean? It's, it's absolutely amazing there to, and, and it really does like, it, it gives people, you know, the, the feeling of exploring these places, like, yeah, it's the guided and stuff, but at least they're learning about the history. And, you know, I know that there's a lot of backlash within the community too with like some of those spots and stuff, because, you know, they're, they're oversaturated, but I still think that even for the people that are, you know, having some big DSLR in their bag or something like that, and they just want to like go and have a great time, like places like that are awesome. They really are. Absolutely.
0 (20m 39s):
And then for you, do you have any goal, places that you haven't been that you want to go to?
1 (20m 45s):
Man? I would have to honestly say a lot of stuff overseas. I've done a lot of traveling with like the music and stuff and like that's allowed me to honestly put me on the front doorstep of like really, really good places to like shoot and stuff. So I've been like very, very like kind of humbled by that experience as well, because I know a lot of people plan on these trips and like, it turns into this like whole thing, but like touring has really like helped me out a lot with that stuff, but it's kinda hard almost to it's this kind of, it's, it's a little bit of a pros and cons. Cause you can see all of this stuff, but you only have a limited time before check-in and load in and all this kind of stuff. But yeah, I would say like a lot of stuff, like really overseas man, that overseas is just a whole nother beast because again about the history, it goes way further back than the states.
1 (21m 29s):
You know what I mean? So yeah, definitely anywhere over there. Right. Cool.
0 (21m 33s):
And then if you could live in one place you've explored for one week, which place would it be? Yeah.
1 (21m 40s):
You know what, I'm going to go with the OER backer mansion. The reason why I'm going to give that as, because this place used to be in Louisville, Kentucky, there's probably a couple of photographers and stuff. If they're listening in on this and stuff that will know what I'm talking about. I know that it went viral on Facebook because it was the mansion that was bought for a dollar. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That place I got to explore actually before they renovated it out now I think, I believe it's actually an apartment complex is now. So they like repurpose the building, but that was absolutely like such a beautiful mansion, like home just right in the heart of little book, Kentucky. And I wish I had that dollar bid because I'd be living in it right now.
0 (22m 20s):
The thing that would be crazy
1 (22m 23s):
For sure. And then
0 (22m 25s):
My last question for you is what is something, you know, now that you wish you knew when you started?
1 (22m 32s):
Honestly, I think what a lot would have to be with a little bit more like knowledge just about going into a lot of these spots. I know that I got myself into some situations. One stands out, especially in Albany, New York, I got myself in a pretty, pretty hairy situation. But I think like just more knowledge of, you know, how these things can go if they do turn bad and especially like camera gear and all that stuff with like settings and everything like that. I can't tell you how many, like places I've been to that I had shittier gear, like something like that, where like, I wish I could go back and just like really do it justice for what I was trying to shoot. But really, I would just say, look at the overall wisdom of being in those places.
1 (23m 13s):
I really wish I had more of when I was younger. For sure. Yeah. And
0 (23m 17s):
Then if anybody wants to follow, you, find your work or a to get ahold of you, how can they do that?
1 (23m 24s):
Mainly just all through Instagram right now. I had a, what's called a M O like a website and stuff like that, but I just took that down actually like as of like last year, I believe so pretty much all on Instagram and exit underscore hands can contact me through there. Even Facebook, you know, any, any kind of medium like that email and stuff like that. But otherwise my go-to is definitely an Instagram still. All right,
0 (23m 48s):
Guys, that was my podcast with the exit hands. If you want to check out his work, I have put all his links down on the description for your convenience. If you did like this podcast, please leave a rating and some feedback. And if you do that, I will send you a signed photo print. All you gotta do is take a screenshot of your feedback and send it to me at No Tracers on Instagram. I'll get it to you with there. And if you're not following me on Tik TOK at No Tracers, you're missing out on some really cool content. So come on over to Tik TOK and hit me up and let's go, let's go explore guys. Let's go explore it. Then this next year and, and hit a bunch of spots. I'm super excited about this. I'm excited to be connecting with so many explorers. If you want to be on the podcast, hit me up at contact at No Tracers dot com.
0 (24m 31s):
If you want a copy of my book, you can edit No Tracers dot com slash shop, or you can read the blog over at No Tracers dot com. All right, guys, I will talk to you next week on the No Tracers podcast with another guest. I'm super excited about it. And I can't wait to share this next guest with you. All right, guys, stay strong, keep enduring and remember leave no trace.