Posts tagged “locations


tp full

20+ years and still sitting there like it was yesterday…. Can’t imagine why.

San Telmo Market

A coffee shop stands at the center of San Telmo market, where one can buy everything from antique telescopes to bibb lettuce.


Grief Brother’s Boiler Room


This room is the single most frustrating room to get a good photo in, in all of the factory’s many buildings it has the most equipment in it and the least amount of space.

While in this shot I captured the objects I wanted, the lighting and limited places to stand just didn’t work out for an interesting composition.  The HDR flattens the light too much and the natural light is not helpful at all for a direct photo.  Of course, I have an idea for next time.

boiler room



I was very lucky that when I walked into this room the light was falling perfectly on the front of this boiler and fallen bricks.  Of course since it is a dark room I went with HDR so you could see more than just the central object, but retain some of the spotlight effect at the same time.  Still, it isn’t a big winner.  This room drives me mad, mad I say!

boiler and bricks


I spent a little more time fussing about attempting to get a photo of the gauges, but wasn’t feeling very inspired by them.  Then I looked up at the ceiling since I was wondering where all the light was coming from.  I saw something when I looked up.  Then I had an idea.

snb boiler room ceiling



Looking up became a bit of a theme for me in that location.  This is that annoying passageway that Tabula Rasa got the great photo of and I couldn’t seem to capture for the life of me.  So I looked up.

boiler room looking up


As TR mentioned in his last somewhat cheeky post we have a healthy competition when it comes to our photography.  I knew walking out of this building that I had him beat for this location, possibly even for the day.  There was no gloating, just a sense of pride in a job well done.  He had me beat good on the last trip (amusingly enough, in the same locations) so it was nice to know I could turn the tables on him this time.


Horace Mann Voltage

I recently bought a new pair of boots for the express purpose of exploring, given that my old shoes were rather thin soled and while I am current on my tetanus shot I’d rather not test that.  I was very happy that had made this investment when I saw the carnage in the science lab, the amount of smashed glass on the floor was rather impressive.

While I would have preferred finding intact beakers and graduated cylinders I had to settle for random mystery vials and bottles.  Vandals have had plenty of time to break in since the school closed about 9 years ago, and they made their presence known.

Horace Mann Supplies

Still, there were little  vignettes all over the place, asking to be photographed.

Horace Mann Science class



I’m still wondering what the red fluid is.

Horace Mann Science Lab


Anyone need some chemical safety goggles?

Horace Mann Science 2


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.

Something is Missing

Part of the fun of returning to places we’ve already explored is finding when things have changed.  Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it takes you a moment to see it.

Case in point we visited the Power Plant again today and found that all the metal grate flooring was gone.  At first I was wondering how the hell I missed the awesome view of the second floor from the ground floor, then I realized there was no such view last time I was there.

missing floor

So who ripped out the flooring I wonder?  Was it the town?  Was it scrappers?  The property owner?   Either way it restricts what you can explore once you climb the scary stairs, which I suspect is why they were taken.

from the stairs

A Return

I know I mentioned previously that my fascination with urban exploring all started with one lonely apartment building Tabula Rasa and I call “The House of Harm”, and I shared a couple of exterior shots taken with my crappy point-n-shoot 5 megapixel camera that couldn’t take a decent photo even in ideal conditions.  Most of my photos of this location are actually film.  We hadn’t been back to The House of Harm in a long time, in part because we realized we’ve just been fucking around and have finally started finding the locations we’ve been dreaming of (like the power station and granary) and because, well, there isn’t much there.

So at the end of last year we decided to revisit the old place and say hello since we heard that it is on the list of buildings Gary is planning on demolishing.

I finally got to reshoot my favorite TV Land photo too, so that was cool.

mahencha tv

Unhaunted Ruins

The remaining building at the boy’s school appears to be the dorm, but there are signs there were once other buildings too.

Well, it was an outbuilding at some point.

boys school rubble


Most of the auditorium seems to have burned down, but the stage remains.

boys school auditorium

Well, what was possibly the rest rooms remain as well.

boys school5

Though of course, there may be a wall missing here and there.

boys school6

Things I have seen

This is a really random post.  I have been piling up photos that were taken from the car or near a location that don’t really fit into the theme of location based posts.  I’ve been staring at them for months now, wondering when i would ever post them.  Well, it seems today is the day.

First, a little house on the saddest street I’ve been on in a long time.

from the car

I had to lean over Tabula Rasa to shoot this picture through his side window.  I want to go back in the spring with (hopefully) better light.


Next we have The Something.  Not one of us is sure what it is, but it has been there in the middle of this corn field for a long time.  doings its thing.

the somethingip


I saw these near the Nameless Buildings, not sure why I felt compelled to take a picture of them but I did.  I like it.

dixmoor power plant d2 18


Then there are the things you see every day, or in our case every photo trip.  We often find ourselves on or below the Skyway and going through the toll booth has become a bit of a marker for us.  This is the gate way to adventure.


Likewise on the way home we often get to see the sun set over Wolf Lake, a view you don’t get unless you are on the expressway.  why we never pulled over and shot photos our the window before I’ll never know, but we did it this day.

sunset over wolf lake


Granary Roundup

The last of the granary photos for a bit.  We are planning to go back, in the snow, because that isn’t dangerous at all.

View north from the fourth floor, minus wall.


One day the support for these storage bins will crumble.  I kinda hope I get to watch it happen.


Forest and building, living in harmony.

outside inside

Inside the machine, flashlight magic.

inside the machine 2

Oh hey, look at the bins!

getting the photo

Try as I might it is near impossible to capture the decaying splendor of the buildings we explore.  Back in the granary I made some attempts at HDR, I’m pretty sure I could do better but I’m still learning at this point so bear with me please.

I give you gradual collapse.



Pipes go here, pipes go there, pipes go everywhere!

feed factory tonemapped small


There was once a staircase in this corner, now there is a gaping hole in the floor, in the ceiling, in the wall.



Meanwhile the grain bins cling to the side of the building, waiting for the day that gravity overcomes rust.

exterior bins


Across the way a fragile catwalk hangs like a tattered cobweb made of rust.bridge


In The Woods

This particular location has an air of disquiet all its own.  After parking in a suburban neighborhood and crossing a playground and empty field you enter the woods until you come out on a dirt road.  Of course, you could walk up the dirt road in the first place but that is a great way to get noticed.

The building complex itself consists of three grain silos, and 3 large red brick buildings connected by questionable walkways and rust.  We started by walking around the building which has easy access on pretty much every side.  The property is unposted but no one in their right minds would spend too much time in it.  Which is why we spent about 4 hours there, twice.


Sometimes you find the damnedest things in the woods.

On our first trip it was exceptionally windy, so all you could hear was the wind howling through the building shaking and banging various pipes, along with the occasional bird call and trains from the nearby railroad tracks.  The second visit provided us with with much less wind so it was even quieter, until the children showed up on the playground.

The old boiler has grown a coat of moss and vines, the better to blend in to surroundings.


During my wanderings around the exterior I find myself feeling like I was in some weird fairy tale straight from the mind of Neil Gaiman.  I think the light quality had a lot to do with it.

Goodbye Gardens


We stopped for a moment to get out of the rain, and even the looking up found a pleasing view to the eyes.  I really can’t wait to go back next year.  However our time here is done and we’ll be leaving the Anderson Japanese Gardens now.

Devil in the Details

Sometimes it is easy to miss the cool little stuff when you’re surrounded by beauty.  Then it hits you in the face, literally.

I walked right into the branch because I was looking the other way, so when I turned back to see what I had I run into I about fell over in delight at seeing what must be the tiniest pinecones ever.  They’re about the size of a pencil eraser.  Thankfully this happened pretty early in my visit to Anderson gardens so it made me more aware of the little things around me.  Like this lonely little berry;

And these two colorful leaves hanging out with the remnants of summer ferns…

Still, I very nearly missed this last little bloom hiding in the depths of a bush.


However there was no way I was going to miss out on these awesome red and orange leaves!

Return to Pilsen

Since the weather has been so nice I figured I’d take another wander through Pilsen, a neighborhood famous for its murals and general colorful atmosphere.  Once again I was not disappointed.

Of course, it is a strongly religious neighborhood, so most of what you’re going to see is Jesus and Mary.  They are literally everywhere.  There are also occasional dedications to Patron Saints, including the Patron Saint of Criminals and Artists (WTF?).

However they do get to compete with other gods found here and there:

I just wish I knew which one this was.  More tomorrow.

Baha’i Temple in the dark

Took another night trip out and about, but my photo buddy (who has the car) was wore out and tired so we only made one stop, the Baha’i temple on the north shore.  I think the slight fogginess worked in my favor for this one but I invite you to be the judge of that.

Maybe I should fix that horizon line?

Garfield Park

Garfield Park is one of those fantastic public spaces that is all but forgotten by anyone but the local residents.  It covers several acres, has a couple fishing ponds, a really cool field house and even a band shell.  The grass is over grown and over run by the dandelions and there is even a statue of the young Abe Lincoln with no beard.


It even has torii, with no obvious purpose other than to look interesting (so far as I can tell).


The best part is since even on a nice day the park is fairly empty, you can get a shot like this with out people hanging around.


The band shell is probably the most interesting place, if only because they’ve tried to hide it behind trees.


I love the little fountains all around it.


Alas, another slice of Chicago let to crumble, lost and forgotten.

Uncooperative Birds- Part the Last

After wandering the Montrose Bird Sanctuary for 2 hours and only being teased by the lovely song of the American Goldfinch (you can  listen here) I was starting to wonder if I would ever see one.  It is like a camera is a magical bird-you-want-to-see repelling device.

Then Lo!  Behold!  A flicker of yellow out the corner of my eye.  I see something dart by across the meadow into the copse of trees next to me.  Could it be?  Indeed I hear a Goldfinch break into song very close to me so I freeze (thankfully I was already holding my camera close to my face since silly me left the tripod at home.)  A moment later a bright yellow dart zipped out of the trees to perch about 20 feet away on a brush branch right on the edge of the meadow.  I was so struck by his beauty for a moment all I could was stand there with a silly grin on my face and enjoy his bright, cheerful song.

Then I realized, he was facing away from me.


But I will not be denied!  I crept a little closer, making sure that I didn’t face him directly but only watching him out of the corner of my eye.

He let loose another barrage of song, and I clicked away with abandon.

Then he noticed me….

“Hey lady, whatcha doin’?”

He kindly gave me another couple of rounds of song…..

And yet another saucy (even if slightly-out-of-focus) look.

And then he was gone with a quick flitter of wings.

I was so very, stupidly happy.  Not that they are rare or uncommon birds, but they can be hard to spot given their tiny stature and quick movements.  As a child they were among the first birds I learned to identify and I have always adored their song.

I spent another hour just wandering the area to see what other sights it has to offer and was not disappointed, but I felt I was more or less done for the day.   More and more birders and photographers were pouring into what is already a small area causing my people-phobia to kick in and I had not only spotted but photographed my target for the day.  Happy and somewhat tired I trudged back to the bus stop for my hour long ride home, all the while planning my next trip.

Uncooperative Birds- Part the First

It was an overcast and chilly morning, but undeterred I grabbed the camera and headed out for Montrose Bird Sanctuary  located right on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I’ve been lazy about my photography for a year now, and am endeavoring to do better so I figured, “Crappy light?  Oh well!  I’ll learn how to use it!” (Yay unrealistically positive me!)  As I was heading for a Bird Sanctuary, I’m sure you already figured out this meant I was planning on taking photos of birds.

I’ve never been adverse to bird photos before, but most of the ones I’ve taken have been easy targets, a goose on the lawn (feckin’ geese are EVERYWHERE!) or birds in the zoo.  Today was different, I wasn’t just going to capture a shot of a grackle or a gull around the city, I was going to their territory, their natural habitat, and damn if I wasn’t going to find a bird more interesting than a grackle.  (I must apologize to the grackles for that, I love them, but they are as common as muck though a damn sight prettier.)  My goal was to find an American Goldfinch, tiny, swift and brightly colored, they are hard targets for people like me with a second-hand 75-300mm telephoto lens (read that as I still have to damn close to get a decent shot).   Aim for the heavens!

Then I remembered why I don’t often try to photographs birds.  They don’t cooperate.  At all.

Remember what I said about grackles?  They’re everywhere!  And this one saw fit to give me his back.  When he did finally turn around he made sure that there would be a branch between us as well.  Brat.

Did I mention he made sure he was in the shade on a partly overcast day?  It is like he was out to thwart me!  BIRDS!

So I went on.  Surely I’ll find more interesting birds right?  Half an hour later I’ve spotted a titmouse, a yellow bellied sap sucker, honest to goodness American house sparrows (but oddly no English ones), innumerable gulls, crows, red wing black birds and robins yet all I have to show for it is some photos of branches and sky.  I need to change my plan.

So I pick a likely spot and just wait.  10 minutes go by, as do a pair of thrushes (I think) and some kind of huge woodpecker.  No joy.  I wait longer.  And then HE shows up to pose on a branch just perfectly for me.

A grackle.

They are such handsome birds….  Oh dear lord, I am a grackle photographer!

(The Birding Adventure continues tomorrow.)


I’ve been taking the time to sort through some of my old photographs with the express purpose of dumping the really bad ones.  For the longest time I’ve avoided the photos from 2008, the year I acquired a really crappy digital point-n-shoot and started going all camera nutty.

A large part of me avoiding these photos was I realized most of all them were crap but I was I attached to them as they signaled a new period in my life.  Tonight I sorted the Gary pictures and found 2 that still spoke something to me.  So I salvaged them the only way I know how to, I made them black and white.

First I give you a moment in time that I wish I could go back and recapture, but alas the remaining frame was ripped out by our next visit so I must consider myself lucky enough to have caught it in even a mediocre capture.

Now I know how I *should* shoot this, but the opportunity will never be there again.


Second I give you the view of the old post office from the back room.  That little sapling you can hardly see is now a fairly decently sized sapling.  I am saddened that one day the floor will no longer be able to hold it and it will end up in the basement.  I’ve tried a few times to re-capture this view, but haven’t had the same light.  Now that I have the ability to shoot for HDR I’m thinking I will be able to improve it, provided it isn’t a really windy day.


While Gary, Indiana is getting to be old hat for me, I still want to visit once a year and document the progress of time on these buildings.  They have been standing empty for nigh on 40 years, and many of them are reaching that critical point where they are falling in on themselves.


On the Bridge

So while on a wander through Millennium Park the other day another awesome fog bank came rolling through.  I just happened to be on the foot bridge when it enveloped us.

Of course, I would have preferred  some sunlight on the bridge when I was shooting but you just take what you get.  There is usually tomorrow.

Like some giant serpent swimming through the park, over the street.

Of course, when you have something like this, it kind of screams “Play on me!”  most people follow the unspoken rules and don’t but every now and again you find someone who just goes for it.

Or two someones.

They just wanted to see if they could run up the side of the bridge, first attempt failed but they were undeterred!  Like all good adventurers they went again, and failed.  Another attempt finally got them to the top.  But once you have conquered the mountain what is left?

Take a ride down the side!

It was so much fun their friends had to join.

As one passerby put it, “It looks like a lot of fun, until the cop writes a ticket for a 75 dollar fine.”

However all is well that ends well, and no officers of the law were present, the bridge was undamaged and everyone had a good laugh.  As it should be.


Welcome to the Thompson Center, one of those interesting buildings where it seems like a really good idea until you build it.



You do not want to see the heating bill.  However, very cool building to stand inside so I always make it a point to use the DMV there when I need to renew my driver’s license.

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Forgotten Places