Archive for February, 2013

The Great Head to Head Photo-Off Death Match!!

Welcome to the first ever Photo Death Match, in which Tabula Rasa and I incidentally took photos of the same object and will now share said photos for you, our small but wonderful group of viewers, to tell us which one of us got it right or wrong.  


Each attempted set-up and shot out in the field is akin to finding a diamond in the rough. Before you roll your eyes at the florid analogy, consider that a diamond cutting is a daunting task. The cutter must fashion the largest, most valuable gem while chipping away as little as possible of the very precious mineral. A clumsy cut, meanwhile, can ruin its value. So with each place we visit, I feel there is a “right” shot: correct exposure, framing, editing, etc. I thought this shot of the hose is not”right”. The hose spilling out is nice, and an opened glass door seems like it would add some drama. The monotony in color and middling light needs to be contended with, and here I don’t do well with either. And the angle of my shot is too dead on, everything looks flat.


I think I did better with this one. Tweaking the lighting, color balance and framing yielded something I’m not ashamed of.


-Tabula Rasa

This little match was my oh so brilliant idea.   I just picked the two things I knew for fact that we had both photographed, not considering the quality of my photos .   I consider this a good thing as neither of us really liked our results very much so we’re not pitting favorites against one another.  (This is my not subtle way of telling anyone commenting they are free to honestly critique the hell out us on these.)

I debated for a minute if I should post my stairway/firehose photo as HDR since neither of Tabula Rasa’s photos are in HDR.  I decided that since I took it with intention of making an HDR photo that I wouldn’t be bending or breaking any of the non-existent rules of this death-match.   When I first saw the firehose I knew I wanted a photo of it, but feared that with all the white and so little detail everything would be flat and uninteresting.  I chose to use the HDR technique in order to enhance all the little details of decay in the frame but still wasn’t terribly thrilled with the results.  Thus I give you this.

2 24 13 hospital 100_1_2_tonemapped

As for my second entry, well, I’m seriously unhappy with the results.  I feel it is fine as a documentary photo, but artistically I took too extreme an angle and I had forgotten about that annoying dust inside my lens that causes orbs to appear in my photos when I shoot on a certain angle to the light.  I had to scramble to “fix” this one and it is not a very good job to say the least.  I rarely ever do much fixing since my personal goal is to do everything in camera and not have to change anything once it is on the computer (excluding HDR of course, I can’t afford the cameras that do that automatically.  Nor do I want one, but that is a whole different topic.)  On to “Please Handrails”!


-The Idiot Photographer

Want to see more Head to Head Photo-off Death Matches?  Want Tabula Rasa to come up with a better name for it?  Please let us know in the comments, and have fun critiquing our modest offerings to you.

St. Mary’s, The Idiot’s View, Part the More


Why do I always find myself taking pictures of hallways?  And stairs?  And . . . phones?

2 24 13 hospital 112

As Tabula Rasa mentioned, the phones in this building are all that wonderfully disgusting color of a headless, armless Barbie left in a gutter.  The walls beneath the cracked and peeling paint aren’t much better, but at least they are a little more natural looking.  To be fair, this phone was in a hall and I was literally scooting my camera along on the tripod as the floor was a sheet of unbroken, glossy ice.  I would have walked right past this if not for that.

While we are on the topic of halls, I offer you this.

2 24 13 hospital 044_5_6_tonemapped

I just had to light up a smoke at that point, because I could.

Anyway, back the paint.  One of the peculiar things about this building is that since it is not heavily trafficked (unlike the majority of abandoned buildings in Gary) the paint has mostly stayed on the walls despite the heavy cracking and peeling.  In some places whole sheets of it has come loose from the drywall and fallen to drape over anything it the way like cloth.  Tabula Rasa and I even got into a disagreement over whether it was wallpaper or paint.  I still say paint and shall leave it up for the viewer to decide which they think it is.

down the stairs

St, Mary’s, The Idiot’s View, Part the First

On pretty much every trip we do Tabula Rasa and I end up taking one or more of the same photos.  There are just some views that beg for a photo and you’d have to be pretty much blind to not see it and shoot it.  Generally we split up, but stay within shouting distance of one another for safety’s sake.  This trip I think we managed to diverge quite a bit (though both of us took a photo of the same thing in at least two instances, perhaps we’ll post them together and ask for everyone’s input to compare and contrast later).


First, your obligatory hallway photo with an improvement.

  2 24 13 hospital 055

Oh hey, I found radiology!

2 24 13 hospital 006

I walked past this at least 3 times before I noticed it.

2 24 13 hospital 126

St. Mary’s Hospital, 1927 – ca1995, part II

There were, however, just enough hidden gems to make the place interesting. Kind of like an Easter egg hunt, but with rust and ruin in place of eggs. This, as the Idiot Photographer was kind enough to inform me (please read the preceding in sarcastic tones) is not, as I called it, a “sterilization oven thing”, but an autoclave. I immediately understood that the object was not what I had thought at all, but rather like an oven that’s used for sterilizing things (this post is crying out for this).   Anyway, here’s the thing in question:


The finest elevator money could buy in 1983, complete with faux wood paneling and fleshtone phone.


The elevator machine room on the roof would’ve been a neat find in any circumstances, but a fully charged fire extinguisher hiding in the corner provided what hopefully is a moody fog to accent the shot.



St. Mary’s Hospital, 1927 – ca1995

We were reluctant to take on this site, seeing as how it sits adjacent to the Gary police headquarters. In fact, some parts are still used by the department. That reluctance, it seems, is shared by the locals; the hospital’s interior is relatively free of graffiti and vandalism.  Though mostly stripped of appliances that  would be readily recognized as medical,  there was still a lot to see. Here is what appears to be a nurses’ station:


Accounting office.


I make an accidental cameo in this shot as I try to light it from the staircase.




The Desk




curtain and wall

Icy Conditions

Our most recent trip was one that I will remember mostly as “COLD COLD COLD COLD”.  While I was wearing a decent amount of layers, the fact is I do not own a good winter coat for exploring, and I was freezing most of the time.

The neat thing is there was a lot of ice, in many forms.  Coating a machine in a glossy, rippled sheet; sprawled across the floors, smoothing them to nearly even; bubbling heaps slowly creating an ice monster….

ice monster

Outside, grasses and bubbles became trapped in an icy tomb.


Inside the stalactites wore their own winter coats, of ice.

ice stalactite

Dixmoor Power Plant

One nice thing about photographing buildings: you can always go back for another shot. And that’s what you do, because it’s about being there as much as it is about the shots themselves. So it was with the defunct power plant. I wanted to have another crack at HDR from the outside.



There are just so many details hiding in plain view that it’s impossible to capture them all well the first time out.



Paths previously trodden reveal tableaus previously overlooked.



Improved lighting makes a shot possible, as in the case of these despairing lockers in an otherwise pitch black room.



Or, finally, a relaxation of my fear of heights got me across a steel catwalk and into this room.



Allegory in Brick and Mortar

The Idiot Photographer, Bentbottle and I teamed up Sunday to visit some of our favorite haunts, and decided to spend some time in the Gary Methodist Church. Now, this is really the place to see if you’re going to see one thing in Gary. Consequently, any time we’ve been in there in the last couple years we’ve had company in the form of other photographers doing their thing. I guess I wasn’t complaining the time when there was a lingerie fashion shoot going on, but sometimes it feels like this place is “over”.

And then you walk in.
The church is huge, with an attached parochial school complete with gym and auditorium. The classrooms are now a feast for the eyes: taggers have covered walls, goth kids have left their “satanic” schtick laying about, and plenty of old furniture and hobo detritus. I got into this room just in time for the sunset to come streaming in.


The doors into the gymnasium, HDRed into what I call the “Ivan Albright Affect”


What can I say. I’m a sucker for moodily lit hallways.


But that’s not why you come here. This is why you come here.


Whatever your beliefs may be (I skew rather heathen), it’s hard to not be affected by the sight of something that was once so grand and so important to so many brought so low.