What if we gave a party and nobody came?


If you’d been a regular IdiotPhotographer reader, or just happen to have stumbled on this post, we’re here to say: we’ve moved! You can find us at the Sublime League of the Holy Lens, where you can see our newest work. We’ve been to Canada, Detroit and the East Coast and have some damn fine (if I do say so myself) photography to show off. Click on the link below to see our new home:


Meanwhile, here’s a shoy from the recent trip to Detroit.


We’ve Moved!


We’ve been working on a new site to showcase our work for a little while. It finally is up, updated and live today. Besides displaying photos better, it has a bio section for each of us (we are a quartet) with a best-of portfolio and even a section to inquire about purchasing a print! Our cheeky new name is Slothl, an acronym for the Sublime League Of the Holy Lens, because we are fancy like that. Here is a handy link to the new site:


The Trappings of Power

    I’ve got my beige rotary phone, radiant heat, and a Tandy computer. Bring it on, ’94!



    Of Smog & Sky

    Three shots from around downtown Los Angeles.



    The guy walking in the above shot yelled at me about taking his picture, so I had to put him in.






    L.A. Looming

    Downtown Los Angeles plays Garfunkel to Hollywood’s Simon. Taken from Mullholland Drive.



    Malibu Pier

    I’ve returned from a week in LA with a few shots to share. It wasn’t explicitly a photo trip, but I got some pictures which I think don’t suck. On the first day, we rode up the Pacific Coast Highway, which I think may have to be a destination in itself one day. Shot this from the beach while fog (or, as it’s referred to here, the marine layer) was rolling in.



    Sand Cranes II

    A few more shots of these migratory birds, photographed last Sunday at their annual jamboree on the fields of Jasper County, Indiana.
    InFlightSolo.wp PuffButt.wp

    These birds have a particular “dance” they do. It incorporates all the necessary elements necessary to impress a potential romantic partner: strutting, wing-spreading, hopping about, as well as the occasional tossing of straw or dirt clods into the air. We witnessed the last maneuver, but my shots of it were too blurry to be of use. Suffice it to say that witnessing this spectacle of crane dancing is worth getting up at six AM for.

    Dance2.wp Dance1.wp

    Here kitty kitty

    No cat does regal quite like the snow leopard.

    sleopard smll

    The Mysterious Okapi

    Hi everyone, miss me?  Sorry to have been gone so long, but I’m back, and I finally managed to drag Tabula Rasa to the zoo for a day of animal photography!  I know it isn’t the dust, mold and decay you all usually come here for but I needed something to lift my spirits, and a visit to a well kept zoo fit the bill perfectly. Normally I go to our local free zoo, but this time I decided that we should check out the pay zoo and see what different animals we might find there, and today I saw my first okapi.

    Okapi are weird animals, they are known as the “forest giraffe”, and are the only other member of the giraffe family.  No where near as tall and goofy looking as your typical reticulated giraffe, they are built more horse-like and have striped legs.  They are dedicated browsers (meaning they eat leaves and bark) and are on the endangered species list, which squashes my dreams of having one as a pet.  Well, that and the fact that I live in a studio apartment.

    Either way, meet the mysterious okapi.

    okapi1 smll


    okapi2 smll


    okapi3 smll


    When I was asked to join this blog almost two years ago by my friend the Idiot Photographer, I had grand ideas about presenting my pictures as a curator might thoughtfully arrange pieces in a museum.
    “Here,” I could say, “is the Gary collection of the mid-2000’s. Note the artist’s increasing usage of ‘drowned light’ as an aesthetic choice.”
    “In this piece, the artist coyly asks us whether the concept of keeping photographs in focus is a valid idea, or whether our concepts of sharpness are really just social constructs.”
    “The choice of a monochrome color palette alerts us that this must be an august work of art.”
    It would all sound very learned and fancy, and, at the very least, give the impression that I knew a damn thing about what I was doing.
    As it is, I’m getting more comfortable (lazy?) about just putting a photograph up with little fanfare. Hopefully, it speaks for itself. So, here’s a couple shots from various locations which I happened to be working on tonight.






    What I Do

    drafting room


    I tramp through mud, brick piles, moss and mildew, asbestos and goldenrod to take photos of the discarded and forgotten.  Yet for some reason the most common search term to find this blog has been “blue people oprah” this past week.

    Dear Internet,

    Never stop being so random.

    Regards, the idiot photographer.

    Recapturing Ruin

    I’m coming to see the Methodist church in Gary, Indiana in a way not unlike a child might view its grandparent. Likely, your grandfather or -mother were already old when you first became aware of them. By the time you were in your teens or twenties, they were getting really old. And then you may have realized that they wouldn’t be around much longer. So it is with this church. We’ve been watching the decay progress for about six years now, but change is hard to see when it’s incremental. When a section of the roof fell in a few weeks ago, the change was stark.

    The collapse does serve a purpose, vis-a-vis urbex: it is a memento mori of sorts, and a spur to to explore as much as one can, because it’s all coming down one way or another. And ours is not to question or get attached to ruins, but to document and create from them.


    Nave and Sky II


    For some scenes from this church in recent years prior to the roof cave in, click here.

    Be Vewy Quiet…We’re Hunting Wabbits

    Percival Summerberry-35
    See here how the alpha truck hides in the bushes and stalks his prey…

    Sky Engine

    A long-stilled ferris wheel still stands in an old amusement park somewhere in the wilds of Ohio.




    I Trip The Moss Fantastic

    I felt a bit inspired by the Idiot Photographer’s previous post (see it here) to come up with a suitable response. Detail and macro photography has always been a weak spot for me, but I throw my hat into the ring with this shot.



    Back to Sears

    After being in want of material for a while, a photographic drought if you will, I am now beating back a flood. I am leaving the Idiot Photographer to lead the way into Cleveland, for as much as I have to share from this trip just ended, I have unfinished business in Chicago to wrap up. And so, we return to the former headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on the city’s west side.

    The campus was not a typical abandonment, in that it wasn’t a case of a business going under. Sears was a thriving business, and moving to a gleaming new facility. Perhaps because it was an organized move there is little left in the buildings in the way of interesting furniture or equipment; instead, it is floors and floors of open halls and office space. There are interesting focal points, but they have to be found. But I’ll start with halls and open spaces. I was B&W heavy in this batch, the original colors being a bit garish for my taste.



    Linoleum Tide



    Exit Anxieties



    Zig Zag Hall

    Pneumatic Station

    It seems this series on Sears will be slow and fitful. There is so much to do lately, and precious little time left for editing and posting photos. In addition, Idiot Photographer and I are leaving for a week long jaunt around the midwestern Rust Belt in a couple of days, which will squeeze time even further. Hopefully, though, it will yield some good pictures to share.

    In the meantime, here is the directory in a pneumatic message tube station. Because there was a time you couldn’t just dash off a thought via email, you had to take it to a guy who would put your paper-and-ink message into a can, which in turn was propelled by vacuums to various terminals around the office. Next time you get wistful for the imagined romance of olden times, please refer to this post, hipster.



    Highway 29

    The road was filled with broken glass and gasoline/She wasn’t sayin’ nothin’, it was just a dream
    The wind come silent through the windshield/All I could see was snow and sky and pines
    I closed my eyes and I was runnin’/I was runnin’ then I was flyin’
    Highway 29 – Bruce Springsteen, 1995


    Abandoned things in Canada seem to be different than a lot of places where my trusty co-horts visit.  We don’t have a lot of old factories and things like that where I am.  In Canada, specifically on the prairies, it’s abandoned farms.
    Farming is in my family…my great-grandparents settled in Saskatchewan and that farm is still in the family today, 112 years later.  The families around their farm are long gone, but the reminders are still there..sometimes with personal items inside.
    These homes are a sad reminder that life is always moving forward and sometimes things just get left behind.  They are gentle giants dotting the prairie landscape.

    The Assumption of the Piano

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



    Looking Up Again

    above me

    First Show

    Tomorrow Tabula Rasa, BentBottle and I head over to the local public library to hang our photos in their gallery for our first public showing of our work.  I’m a little excited and am finding this to be a new sort of terrifying fun.

    church nave

    All these years of photographing Gary Indiana and other locations, all the hours of driving, all the asbestos exposure, the mold inhaled, and scary moments are being distilled down into 10 images from each photographer with a book of our runner-up photos on the side.  I’m not sure what I am expecting from this showing, but it’ll be interesting.

    Basilica de la Merced

    As some readers may have gleaned over time, neither of the authors of this blog are particularly religious, to put things gently. However, we both enjoy churches, both abandoned and not. The architecture speaks to a time when people would spend extravagantly and immodestly (unchristianly?) on places of worship that would make it clear to all comers just how pious they were. The pattern is very prevalent to this day here in Chicago, were successive immigrant groups pool their money as a community and build a church of their own. (This makes for some curious juxtapositions over time as demographics change: Czech churches now with wholly Mexican parishes, and staid German Lutheran churches on the South Side redone as vibrant Southern Baptist or COGIC denominations.) Buenos Aires is no stranger to this dynamic, as the beautiful Basilica de la Merced shows. In the heart of the Centro, or downtown, this church is now surrounded by office and bank buildings. Though Argentina remains a staunchly Catholic country, I’m not sure how many people live close enough to this basilica to sustain a large parish. When I visited on a weekday, the doors were open, but visitors few. I was lucky enough to get the lone Porteño engrossed in prayer.






    When Byzantine emperors would build their churches in Constantinople, it was common to have a mosaic depicting the self same church being presented to Jesus or Mary by that emperor within that church. Though I can’t say for sure, it seems something similar is going on here with the two Spanish noblemen gesturing towards Mary within the altar.


    Doth Protest Too Much

    My general impression of Argentinians is that they love a good demonstration. It could be that Buenos Aires, like any capital city, gets more than its share of them. I might have been there at just the height of protest season. Whatever the case, it struck me how little impact these affairs seem to make; the locals treat the protests with utter detachment. I witnessed men in fine suits going about their business or talking on cell phones while chants and fireworks roared from a square less than a block away. Surely some of the causes behind these gatherings are worthy; it’s just that the people whose minds they may seek to change are suffering from acute protest fatigue.

    These people would unfurl their banner at red lights, then politely roll it up and return to the sidewalk before the light turned green again.



    At the Plaza de Mayo, demonstrations were a daily occurrence. I staked out a spot on the edge of the largest one I saw one afternoon.





    One thing I noticed with some dismay is the ethnic divide between protesters and the average Porteño (a Buenos Aires resident), the protesters being overwhelmingly indian or native, while the Porteños were largely of European descent. It goes to show that racial tensions are, unfortunately, global.