Archive for July, 2014


Growing up Catholic, nothing was stranger or more horrifying than confession. I’m sure there are people who find this sacrament cleansing. I’ve heard people speak of a feeling of starting with a “blank slate” (no, that’s not where my name comes from) after confessing their sins. But for myself, at the age of seven (!), it was an ordeal. We were also told we had it easy; early Christians apparently had to confess in front of the entire congregation, and were assigned onerous penance to boot. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep me from almost having a panic attack before my first confession. There was nothing I could do; whispering your sins into a priest’s ear was mandatory if you were to unlock the achievement of first communion. And in very Catholic Poland, saying “no, thanks!” to your communion was not an option.
I’m not really sure why I’m spilling all this. These experiences were long enough ago that they don’t resonate much anymore. I didn’t, for example, have traumatic flashbacks while shooting this particular confession booth. I guess as I sat down to post this, it was the only thing I could think to share. Think of it as a bit of StoryTime with your ol’ Uncle Tab. And just like your real uncle, I’ll be sure to have a rocks glass of scotch handy as I pull you up onto my lap, and perhaps touch you inappropriately. Shit. Excuse me, I’ve got to run to confession now.





Graduation Day

graduation day edited

There may be photos of us wearing these…


…being the careless arrangement of information carefully arrayed.




Greetings From Canada

Oh hey!  How’s it goin’, eh?  I’m new here…and am the token Canadian in the group.
O Canada
I met the members of The Sublime League of the Holy Lens in February, when I ventured down to Detroit…I was told I was crazy for meeting two complete strangers in an abandoned factory in one of the most dangerous cities in a foreign country.  Well, I’m still here, so take that, nay-sayers!


all the time


The Assumption of the Piano

…being what can be had with a stage, an open skylight, and an adequately collapsed upright piano.


With A Nod To Fritz Lang

A bit of German Expressionism is good for the soul.


Last Rites

A century left behind with one last agonal breath.
To dust you shall return; bound for death.



st boniface 124_5_6_tonemapped



Intact windows are keeping the ivy at bay.  Soon it won’t matter since not only the windows will be gone, but the ivy along with them.



In other news you may have noticed things look a little different around here.  We’re making some changes since it looks like we’ll have another person joining us fairly soon.  Eventually the plan is to fully change the blog name over to “The Sublime League of the Holy Lens” or some such, because we’re fancy like that.  One would think my screen name would have been the cautionary tale of naming things in a tongue-in-cheek manner but sometimes you just can’t help yourself, or take yourself too seriously.  Either way we’ll see how things develop over the coming months and I’ll update in advance of changes so we don’t lose anyone in the shuffle.


I often take shots of the same subject framed in slightly different ways, like any decent photographer does.  Usually one stands out as the clear winner and that is the one you all get to see.  In this case though, well, you’re getting both because I cannot decide.



st l 1



Or balcony?

st l 2

Saints Above Again!

Young explorers keen on earning their Junior Urbex boy scout merit badges (straight, all-American boys only need apply) will be well served to keep this motto in mind when afield: “always look up.”



Saints Above!

st l 069

Saint Laurence Church, 1911-2014

Today’s trip yielded many photographs that will need editing for days to come. The jury’s out on the results, but it was a great day to get out and shoot. We’ll be bringing you many shots in the coming days of this nearly century-old church and its adjacent parochial school. We may also be bringing you pictures from a guest photographer whose intel brought us to this church today.
Currently, St. Laurence is in the process of demolition, with the back wall completely gone. It makes for an unnerving dollhouse effect when viewed from the rear. Apparently, preservationists have been trying to save this building since it was shuttered in 2005. Those efforts ended the way most preservation efforts do in Chicago, so here we are.






Crown Fountain at Millenium Park, Chicago.



Still Alive


Goodbye, Argentina

It is unfortunate that this last post of my series on Buenos Aires would fall on the day of their loss in the World Cup final. I did watch the whole damn thing, hoping that the clock would wind down and the match would go to penalty kicks, as the Germans seem to dominate more as the game went on, and penalties seemed like the Argentinians best chance at stealing the Cup. Alas, not to be.

Here are some shots from around the city, with no particular theme other than they were shots I deemed blogworthy, but found no place for in other posts.


San Telmo Graystone

One of the many decrepit buildings in Buenos Aires:


For Sale



Basketball Court Mural


Goodbye, Argentina




Working On It

Sometimes as you’re on your way out of a location you see something, that special something that demands you stop and do something about it.  Most of the time nothing gets to come of the image since it was taken in a hurry and I didn’t get to take much time to compose it.  In the case of Gary Indiana it generally isn’t a problem to go back and reshoot is simple, but in the case of this particular image a reshoot will never be possible.  By the time we made it back out to the area a key element was gone so I have to make do with what I have.  This is the nature of photography, if you miss your moment it will never there again and this particular image has taught me the important lesson of never assuming I might get to visit a place again.   I keep working on it, thinking that it might one day be presentable, here is to hoping.

tree dreams

Buenos Aires At Night

Shots of the Casa Rosada, or pink house, which is the presidential palace of Argentina. One theory on the origin of the distinct color of the palace is that bull’s blood was used in the first coat of paint, supposedly to counteract the effects of humidity on the structure. Whatever the case, it makes for a visually striking building, especially at night.



And here is the Obelisk, meant to celebrate some military victory or other. I don’t remember. It’s enough that it’s tall and phallic, that’s enough for some compelling photography.


Puente de la Mujer, Again

Two shots of this bridge from opposing sides.


Late Afternoon Canoe




Amber Night


Looking Up Again

above me

La Boca

The Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca is famous for two reasons: first, it lays claim to being the birthplace of the tango; second, it is home to Boca Juniors, the soccer club on which Maradona played. It also has the most color, both literally and figuratively. My experience there was mixed. The bus dropped me off a block from el Caminito, which is the exact area where tango was said to be born. It’s pretty, sure, but it’s also tourist hell, with buskers everywhere and maitre ‘d’s falling over themselves to pull you into their restaurants.



I chafe in these places when I feel that just having a camera on me makes me a mark. So I kept walking. And soon, I found a friend. Or rather, she found me.



This dog followed me for almost an hour, to the point where I was worried about what I was going to do when I got back to my hotel. I stopped, she stopped; I went into a store, she would wait outside. I think it was the initial petting that made me such a fast friend. Having a companion made for a lively walk. As I said, La Boca is colorful.




I had read in the guidebook about the neighborhood being a bit dodgy, but I kept walking along and shooting until an older woman began speaking to me. At first I protested with my standard No tiendo (“I don’t understand”), but she persisted, using body language and a few words of English to make herself understood: put the camera away or else you’ll get robbed, or worse. I took her advice, happy I was able to get at least some decent shots of the neighborhood.



Virtual Show, Part Bent Bottle

Nowhere is the residue of time more apparent than when one enters a ruin of a building frozen in mid explosion or suspended crumble. Covered in layers of dust and moss, vines of unstoppable nature, these decrepit spaces are capsules of time, from both the past and foretelling the future. It is with a sense of excitement tempered with futility that I explore these eerie spaces and odd occupants under decades of dust, knowing I cannot capture every fascinating detail.  So I focus on curious objects and odd juxtapositions of remains of the abandoned man made.
Where else can one encounter such portals of time travel, layered beauty of decades of decay?
These unexpected glimpses of the past and future I attempt to freeze in time. This is why I trespass





Tree Atop

Gary Indiana

tree atop.




In Situ

Gary Indiana

in situ18x24.




Timbers Not Sky

Riverdale, Illinois

timbers not sky.




Magic Corner

Gary Indiana

magic corner.





Riverdale Illinois





Dimly Lit Decay

Gary Indiana

dimly lit decay.




Loaded Roller

Gary Indiana

loaded roller.





Gary Indiana