Posts tagged “people


Crown Fountain at Millenium Park, Chicago.


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.


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.



A mass of protesters blockade Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires’ central artery.




The tango originated in Buenos Aires, in what was (and still is) the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of La Boca. Unlike the blues in my native Chicago, which has atrophied into an Epcot presentation for tourists, the tango is still very much alive in Argentina. A common site are pass-the-hat performances like the one pictured here, where a young couple and a few musicians perform for passers-by, then literally pass the hat around periodically for tips. Of course, there are dance halls where one may try the dance oneself, but beware: the dance, as well as the attendant etiquette, is taken seriously. My dancing skills being as they are, I opted to enjoy this presentation from behind the safety of my camera.


Friday at Last

 It is Friday and I don’t have to go to work so to celebrate my random 3 day weekend  I’m giving you all the gift of extra drag queens.  Quite possibly the greatest gift ever!

Gary Drag 2 188

Gary Drag 1 255

Gary Drag 2 005

Gary Drag 2 343

Lost in the Woods

I could title this post “How Tabula Rasa Led Us All Astray (sort of)”, but I won’t.

This past weekend was a bit crazy for me.   On Saturday Tabula Rasa and I went out and had a full day of wandering with no buildings explored, not for lack of trying.  We just found ourselves in a place with a few good buildings that were locked up and impossible to explore.  In the end we ended up at Morton Arboretum, but this is not that story.

Sunday we had made plans for a larger than usual group (as in more than 3 of us), Tabula Rasa, BentBottle and I were going to take some friends to a couple of our favorite locations to show them around.  We ended up off in the southwest suburbs looking for a graveyard.  In a forest preserve.

The Bachelor’s Grove graveyard is one of those popular local “haunted” places, mainly by virtue of being really old by American standards and being located in a slightly creepy part of the woods.  Literally.  Tabula Rasa knew where Bachelor’s Grove Woods were, and being the human GPS that he is we trusted him to lead us to the graveyard with few problems.  We struck out on the trail with more than a bit of excitement and enjoying the early spring song of frogs.  In retrospect that was probably our first clue that we were not where we thought we were.

4 14 13 201

we’re on an adventure!

Soon enough we came to end of the trail.  It was not a graveyard though.  Instead we found the home of the frogs that had been serenading us all along our way down our rather short walk.  We were faced a choice, do we go back down the trail and see if we can find another way around to the graveyard that we think is there, or do we strike out off the trail and walk around the pond to see if we can find it?


Hey guys, I have an idea. Why don’t we just walk through the shallow pond?

I freely confess that I agreed we should try walking around it, and I was the tie-breaker vote.  Silly me.  Tabula Rasa broke out his magical technological device known as a “cell phone” and loaded up the GPS, you know, so we wouldn’t get lost.

We quickly found a game trail that, as game trails do, quickly petered out into nothing.  We found ourselves slogging through mud and shallow flooded prairie and I discovered that my previously waterproof shoes had developed a leak sometime over the winter.  As we squished our way around the pond we realized that (as the city folk we are) none of us really had any idea of what direction we were headed in.  We could hear the sound of far off traffic from our right, but that was it.

At this point I decided if I was going to be stomping around the woods in the early spring I had better find something interesting to photograph.  We had kind of spread out and everyone was taking a slightly different path, just keeping Tabula Rasa in sight and following his general direction.  Our merry little band of adventurers was rapidly turning into a sweating and overheating band of mildly concerned doubters.


Bound together, when one falls so does the other.

We found ourselves back on the edge of the pond, and decided to take a bit of breather so our fearless leader could explain to us that he thought he had found the graveyard on the GPS, we just needed to head off in “this” direction.  Jo took the time to show us all up and conquer a tree while we tried to revive ourselves.


During our little break I noticed something odd about the moss of the fallen trees around us.  It seemed, shaggier, than regular moss.


invasion of the seedlings.

At some point I began thinking we were living in a post-apocalyptic world searching for the bastion of humanity.  We bravely headed off in the direction indicated to us by the person with the magical direction-finding device, acquiring new bruises in the process.  (The largest of my bruises is amusingly bird shaped.  And hurts.  A lot.)


Onward, through the radioactive wasteland. over hill, over dale, and down the yellow brick road. if we can find it.

Then we found the parking lot and drove the mile to the part of the forest preserve where the graveyard was actually located.   Tabula Rasa, being the person that he is, was immensely proud of himself for leading us ALL THE WAY AROUND THE POND and back to the parking lot.   I, being the person I am, mentioned that he had bothered to consult his magical technological device BEFORE we headed out we would not have to walk around the pond.

I did neglect to mention that perhaps I had really enjoyed our little adventure in the woods, and would like to do it again someday, but I did imply it.

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

Falconry 2012 part the first

It is that time of year again!  Welcome back to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, one of my favorite places on earth.  I made a point of catching the falconry session twice in hopes of catching one or two good photos, I’m fairly happy with year’s turn out.


First let me introduce you via linky to Flight of the Raptor, please check them out.  They provide the educational sessions for Bristol’s faire pretty much every year and no matter how many times I visit the show I am always impressed, enthralled, entertained and educated at the end.

I’ll start with the Harris hawks, always fantastic birds.


One of the more interesting things about Harris hawks is they will often work cooperatively.   Here two of the capture the lure and battle it in an impressive display of strength.


One of the things I love about Flight of the Raptor is Ray, the lead falconer.  His love of the birds and passion for falconry is magnificent.  Here he calms his more nervous hawk before hooding her.

As Ray says, falconry is based on respect and trust, if you respect the birds, you will earn their trust.

Chicago’s Finest

Some people may have noticed a little hoopla over our way last weekend.  Since I am the master of poor timing I missed out on the hordes of angry people, but I did get to see horses wear riot gear.


While the Chicago PD is not without issues, I will commend them for handling the protests with dignity and not escalating the unrest by over reacting.  I also applaud these two mounted officers for having an excellent sense of humor when it comes to being photographed.

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.

Roller Derby

So I went and caught my first ever Roller Derby bout, it was between the Windy City Rollers and Naptown, all I can say is, “I’m addicted”.  I so have to go back, a lot.

These women are amazing, and as a sport is quirky, fast paced and fun to watch.

It took me a little bit to figure it out, but thanks to the assistance of Mimi Furst explaining everything to me I quickly learned where to point my camera.

Now I just need to learn how to use my editing software to remove the annoying photographer from the background of almost every good shot I have…


Street Chess

I am on vacation this week (whee!) and have finally found a chance to sit down a update my poor neglected blog.  Sorry for the delay, it was really a case of having nothing new to post and preparing for a house guest.

This week is full of running around acting like a tourist and taking pictures everywhere, so I figured I’d try some candid street photography since as we all know I don’t think I have any great skill in photographing people.  Here I offer you street chess, anyone can walk up and play a round of chess or checkers against anyone else who may want to play a game.


As some may have noticed, the Oscars were last Sunday.  I have finally started sorting through my photos from the Oscar party I went to.  Normally Oscar parties aren’t my thing, but Robyn and Misty throw the best Oscar Drag party you could imagine.

This year Robyn went as Jessica Rabbit.

I also played around a little bit with deliberate camera motion when the big lights weren’t on, this is the best of the lot but overall it isn’t a technique I like very much.


Friends are people who take you sneaking portraits of them with good humor.

Bristol Court


Visiting the court is something a lot of people skip, but it can be pretty entertaining.  We stopped by in time for dinner and entertainment.


Is it just me or does she look like she is hatching evil schemes?


Something you never thought you’d see, the Queen kneeling in the dirt.

Misty Meaner

Further adventures in Gary, Indiana, with drag queens!

Despite wardrobe malfunctions and the missing change of shoes issues, Misty stayed upbeat, positive and a delight to work with through the whole trip.  I feel I missed on getting a lot of good shots with her as she was mostly taking taking direction from Jerry, but when I did get something good it was pretty much candid.

>Gary Indiana, in Drag

>Yesterday was more fun than you could shake a stick at. We only managed 3 locations, but put in about 4 hours of shooting and our models were sore and tuckered out at the end. That and it is prime tick season so we were tired of picking the little monsters off of each other (the less glamorous side of this event).

The Methodist Church was our second stop, and as usual we had to share the location with others, the frustrating part was it was a low budget movie crew that had placed props in the main cathedral hall and taken over the stage in the dance hall. There was also a big boobed angel in underwear and her photo crew wandering about and I’m not sure who was more bemused by the other. We saw one lone urban explorer who was more than a little perplexed by the crowd at the church, but ever since the last Freddy movie re-make, it has been an even more popular location.

Still, we managed to survive and I now have scads of photos to go through and edit, so you know what you’ll be seeing here for a bit!

>Stop the Car!

>One of the few worthy, or semi worthy, pictures from the doomed Memorial Day trip.

We were driving through a west side neighborhood looking for train tracks when I spotted this out of the corner my eye. I think I just said “Stop stop stop” like an idiot, rather than “Stop the car”.

Patron bottles, lots of Patron bottles. Like this is maybe 1/6 of the total number of bottles. All circled around the base of a tree. The largest bottles were closest to the base, along with a few large Moet bottles, but the bulk was these smaller bottles. From sidewalk to curb. Some locals noticed us getting out of the car, cameras in hand, and came over to tell us a little about it (I think they were pretty amused by the whole thing). Seems it is a memorial for a young man who was shot and killed (likely gang violence) and the only thing he drank was Patron. So people who knew him memorialized him by bringing all their empties and circling them around the base of this tree.
The lady we spoke to said there was another such memorial in the neighborhood (West Side can be an exciting place to live…) but it was smaller. As we were getting back into the car a man in an SUV stopped to chat with us about it as well.

One thing I’ve found in these neighborhoods, and in Gary Indiana, is that people don’t really seem to mind odd people with cameras. Most Gary history I know comes from talking to the locals. Sometimes we are greeted with suspicion, but once we explain what we’re up to the warm right up to us. I think they like having the story of their mostly ignored portion of the world told, even if it is by a pair of unknown and unregarded hobby photographers.

>Almost Good

As promised, May Pole Dancers. I love this picture, it is so far from being a great shot but I can look at it and see where I captured the exact moment I wanted yet failed to expose the shot properly. Where to start? My aperture is way off, I was likely shooting f/8 here. I should have circled half way round the dance area so I would have a lawn and empty pavilion in my background, rather than a bunch of yokels in front of a shop. Also, had I moved I would not have ended up with that brilliant glare on everything in the upper left corner, the light would have been more even (everything would have been in shade with slight dappling) . Despite all of that (and a few other small issues) I love this shot.

I love the expression on her face, I love the movement of her skirt and legs, I love the colors of the dancer’s clothes. I love that I can try again this year with the knowledge that while I may not get THIS shot with better composition and exposure, I have a much better understanding of what to do to try and improve it.

>Things I’m Not Good At

>“Things I am not good at” could be a very long list indeed, but portraits tops my list of photography things I want to improve. This was an accidentally good shot, and I’m sure I had no idea what I was doing. I had just upgraded from my hand-me-down camera to the Powershot and had no clue how to use it properly. Indeed I think I’d had that camera for all of a month when I went on this trip. I suppose it just goes to show that if you take enough pictures you will incidentally get a good one here and there. I’m trying to improve my aim a little though.

I’m looking forward to the Bristol Faire this year in no small part because of the new camera and I get to practice my people picture taking skills on the massive hordes. As well as the falcons.

This is the acrobat group Barely Balanced, and quite possibly one of my favorite acts at the Faire.
One of the difficulties in getting a good shot of them is getting good seats where you don’t have to shoot over 10 rows of heads but aren’t too close to the action, since they do move about on the stage a fair bit. I’d also like to get a good shot of Casey breathing fire, but she only performs that trick once a day so it is a matter of luck for the most part.

I am hoping this year we’ll get to go more than once, since there is no possible way to catch all the shows much less the street theater in even 3 visits. I’d also like to catch some action down at the court, hopefully get there in time for some dancing (they may even perform a “scandalous” dance in which you can see the dancer’s stockinged ankles) as well as get some pictures of the convincingly creepy Archbishop.

I’d also like to retry my hand at photographing the May Pole dancers, to be discussed in tomorrow’s entry.