Archive for March, 2013

Our City At Random

For both myself and the Idiot Photographer, the desire to get out and see the city predates photography. At some point, documenting our field trips became just as important as experiencing them; early on, however, it was just a mad rush to snap what pictures we could and hope some of them turned out ‘artsy’.  I’ve recently dug up all my old film prints, converted them to digital, and have been sifting through to find whatever worthwhile I can. Though most are bad (did I even know what focus was?) I found a few that don’t make me wince.

Baha’i Temple in Wilmette in fog.



St. John Cantius church, a pillar of the Polish community in Chicago in years gone by. The inscription under the bas-relief reads, “Lord, Deliver Poland”







One of the most painful lessons learned over the past few years is that one can never assume just because you can visit something later what you want to photograph will still be there.    When we first explored the church/dance hall buildings all the seats were still intact on the balcony level and the back two or three rows were still on the main floor.  I never took photos of them for some stupid reason.  Mind you I’ve had something like 5 years to do so.

On one of our last trips I thought about shooting a series of the upper balcony, but we were pressed for time and I figured I could do so on the next visit, it wasn’t like someone was going to come through and totally remove all the seats with out a trace, right?

upper deck windows

I deeply regret not shooting that photo when I had the chance, it would not have taken me more than a few minutes, but now the opportunity to do so is gone forever.  When I walked up to the balcony on this trip I just froze, dumb struck.   This is all that is left

last standing


Lesson learned, no matter how short time may be getting for our trip I will not take any chances, I’ll take the shot I see.

Things I’ve Seen

The tyranny of cheap soft drinks brought low, Crush Superior Beverages!




A corkscrew willow tangled with grasses.

tree and grasses



A house with a hole in the side.

gary enter here



A rare optic occurrence.






Since the previous post by IP was entitled Risk, what better way to follow that than with one titled Reward? Neither of us wants to meet the fate of the great Chicago photographer Richard Nickel, but most times it’s better to think about the ends rather than the means. People take risks all the time for the sake of sport or gain, why not do it for this?


A shot like this, of a building likely no longer standing, is its own reward.


This was taken a couple of weeks ago at the church which I and Tabula Rasa have featured a few times recently.  As I was processing  it I  got to thinking about some the risks we take every time we go into one of these buildings.  This building in particular  is very popular and a lot of people in the Greater Chicagoland Area get their start in urban exploring here.  It has seen major motion pictures filmed in it and countless indie films have been shot here.  We have seen lingerie models doing photo shoots, and goth models, heck we even did a drag queen shoot here ourselves.

In a subtle way this lulls one into thinking “This building is safe.”, when that is far from the truth of the matter.  I’ve mentioned that I’ve come close to being murdered by pigeons knocking bricks loose from the ceiling and that is just one of the dangers one encounters in a building like this.

Walls are crumbling, the roof is collapsing, the floors are getting questionable in a few places and the stairs are littered with debris.  In some places they are nearly unpassable and some are so damaged they are totally unusable.  In a few buildings you can actually see where people have fallen through the stairs and I wonder how much longer this particular location has before someone is injured and the city makes an effort to keep people out.  Not that it will stop them.

trusty stairs