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.
Downtown Los Angeles plays Garfunkel to Hollywood’s Simon. Taken from Mullholland Drive.
For those not from my fair city, Chicago has one spot, the spot from which everyone shoots photos of the skyline. There are almost always several people snapping away, with entire bridal parties stopping by on a regular basis to get the spectacular backdrop for their wedding photos. If you’ve seen postcards of Chicago or seen B-roll of our skyline, it was often shot here. So you’ll excuse the shot below as nothing new, just a “me too!” perhaps. But if we each have a guilty photography pleasure, the Idiot Photographer’s might be kittens, and mine is certainly cheesecake shots of this city’s skyline. Hopefully my guilty pleasure rubs off on you.
…and for the curious: it’s on Solidarity Drive, the road which runs out to the Adler planetarium.
The Idiot Photographer has for some time been posting shots from our recent trip to Ohio, so it’s up to me to catch up. We spent most of our time in Cleveland, so it’s fitting we begin here. Below: Carnegie Avenue bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
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.
The rather esoteric title of this post is a reference to the Edward Gorey of the same name. The story (presented in a form similar to a graphic novel, with each paragraph illustrated with Gorey’s idiosyncratic drawings) details the process by which the protagonist, one Mr. Earbrass, writes a novel, the eponymous Unstrung Harp. While humorous, it presents the act of creation as neurotic, exhausting, self-alienating, and somewhat absurd. This particular story came to mind while I’ve been combing and recombing my recent pictures in order to find pictures that could make the cut for presentation here on The Idiot Photographer. Much like the fictional Mr. Earbrass, I’ve gone through exhilaration and zeal, periods of numbness, and have now reached a stage where most of the last month’s worth of photography seem alien to me. The thing in Harp, however, is that Earbrass is a successful author; he gets lost in the process of creation, but what emerges is apparently a good novel. I wish I could say the same for my own act of creation.
This, of course, is a result of not having been on a shoot in a while; I’m in need of fresh material to edit and agonize over. This will likely be my last post for the next ten days or so, as I leave for Buenos Aires Saturday. Hopefully I’ll return with several memory cards of decent material. Until then, here’s a shot of a tree attempting to escape a ruined apartment building.
For those interested in a neat write-up of The Unstrung Harp, I found this on WordPress.
We all feel a sense of limitless wonder when gazing into the eternity of the night sky. But what are the myriad celestial objects to be seen high above our fair city? This handy guide will list them all, as seen in the photograph below from left to right.
1) Lens flare.
3) Dust on camera sensor.
Now, with the encyclopedic knowledge of the heavens at your fingertips, you’ll be able to amaze your friends on clear evenings. Won’t they be jealous! Who knows, you might even “catch the eye” of the lissome neighbor girl you’ve been ogling lately. What are you thinking? She doesn’t like stupid stars! She like Arnold, the rowing team captain. He’s got everything… muscles; a crew neck sweater from his uncle in Portugal; they say he’s even going to get his own car next year. You are so lame, and the neighbor girl knows it. To think you had a shot with her! What folly! Gee, you should just get beat. Nobody cares about your stars.
Chicago’s skyline has many facets. Viewed from varied distances and vantage points, the city center can look imposing, majestic, or at times surreal. On postcards, views from the lakefront dominate. But I have always loved the view from the near South Side, at a point in the city’s topography where the low bungalows of Bridgeport and Chinatown give way to the utter flatness of river and railyards before exploding skywards north of Harrison Street. The building pictured in the foreground is the only thing that breaks the aforementioned flatness around Roosevelt Road; it is the power plant for the nearby train station and (now defunct) post office. In the background, lit green for National Emesis Awareness month, is the Sears Tower.
Trees sprout from the crumbling Packard edifice; the General Motors headquarters looms victorious over its long-vanquished rival.
IP may have a bit more to share, but I will close out my contributions to the Detroit series with a look at some of the more “conventionally” pretty parts of the city. Though the gritty and the abandoned were our primary focus during our visit, there is more to the city than that. Not that Detroit’s reputation for blight is undeserved; entire swaths of the town have a post-apocalyptic look. But there are areas where, if you squint a bit, you can see the Motown of the 1950’s in all its glory. Those areas provide hope for the future: redevelopment and gentrification, though dirty words in some cities, may be the key to bringing the affluent back from the suburbs. Lest this come off too much like a neat little bow with which to tie up a photo series, I’ll add that it’ll take a lot more than nostalgia and hipsters to bring back Detroit. There will certainly be painful fiscal decisions, the recent municipal bankruptcy being perhaps the first. It may never come back, or at least not as the industrial juggernaut of the last century. But I love gritty American cities which are so unlike cities elsewhere, with their steel, glass and brick downtowns on display like a peacock’s fan; the ten-lane highways which seem like canyons; the neighborhoods which become home to a new ethnicity each generation; and the now rusted and neglected industries which propelled this nation to superpower status almost a century ago. Unlike some cities which grew up later and became nothing more than faceless sprawl (hello, Phoenix), these older towns have a character you can feel just by driving their streets. And none of these are more American than Detroit.
Goodnight, and good luck.
Did I mention I am afraid of heights? Tabula Rasa knows this, yet he didn’t voice any surprise when I said that I wanted to end the day by climbing the 14 story Sheradon hotel for the view. I avoid rooftops like nobody’s business, but I wanted photos of Gary from above so I was going to have suck it up and deal.
I’m also horribly out of shape, where TR isn’t. The climb had me huffing and puffing and I was saying (the whole way up) “I’m not gonna make it!” but I did. Once there I had to quell the panic about being on a rooftop, much less one 14 stories up.
I managed to get a pretty decent shot Gary City Hall though.
Looking south down Broadway, this town has seen better days. This was around 5 in the afternoon on a Saturday, just look at all that traffic! No really, that is a lot of traffic!
One of the little treats of this climb was getting to see from on high something that has always given me a little laugh. You see, when the old post office was falling into disrepair they built a new one, right next door to the old one. In the grand tradition of Gary the old post office was boarded up and forgotten about. But there it is, right next its replacement.
Looking north you have the courthouse with Gary Steel Works and the expressway.
Of course, right next door to the Sheraton we have the Genesis Convention Center.
In the distance you can see the Knights of Columbus building, and even further away is the Ambassador Arms and way off in the haze is St. Mary Mercy hospital (look right behind the KoC building).
This is the city we have spend the last few years poking around in. It is nearly a ghost town at this point and should US Steel ever shutter their operation here it will die completely. It is still a beautiful town in many ways and there are some nice neighborhoods here and there. The people of Gary have always been kind to us and we’ve never had any problems, even the one homeless person we’ve met was a nice guy.
Gary Indiana will always have a special place in my shriveled little curmudgeonly heart. It has given me a lot of great memories, and a host of great images.
I’ve previously visited and photographed Agora at night. They are that collection of headless, armless hollow metal people wandering the south west end of Grant Park in Chicago. It is by far one of my favorite installations of public art, it is huge, it is weird, it is immersive.
A few are wandering way from the center of density.
Given the variable light and semi-dramatic clouds, I just couldn’t resist a HDR shot.
In geological terms, the sandstone arches of Arches National Park are passing fancies. But from my mayfly like view, they are old and will be there to amaze and awe people for a very long time.
Meet Skyline Arch:
We dropped by the pride and joy of Arches, and the state of Utah; Delicate Arch
The hike to Delicate Arch is not terribly long, but has an elevation change of about 600 feet. About 6 times. My father’s hip was not up to the trek so we dropped by for the distance view and then went off for some more off road adventuring.
Step one of any vacation to some place is “getting there”. It took us two and a bit days to drive across the Great Plains into the Rocky Mountains, two days of mind numbing Kansas and Missouri, which in retrospect were not as mind numbing as eastern Colorado, even Nebraska was more interesting than eastern Colorado.
I promised an arch, so here it is, the St. Louis Arch!
We didn’t stop to stare, since we were just passing through and only stopped long enough to refuel and take a potty break. I also bought a Snickers bar while we were refueling. While I didn’t really want one at the time I felt that it is always good to have a little bit of chocolate available at all times, you know, in case Dementors attack us or something.
Next we had to drive through Kansas, all of it. The neat thing about Kansas is that as you go from east to west if you have an altimeter on your GPS (as most Garmin GPS offer these days) then you can watch as you climb from around 1000 feet about sea level to around 5 or 6000 feet. Seriously. That is the most exciting aspect of Kansas.
Well, and all the dead corn. This year’s drought walloped Kansas farmers very hard and it was hard to drive past all those fields of dead corn with out thinking of all those people who are watching their livelihood wither in the harsh Kansas sun. Missouri and Illinois farmers had it tough, but I think Kansas is where we saw the most stands of corn that were black and dead.
In the meantime nature offered us a spectacular sky full of ominous clouds, with out a drop of rain.
We camped our first night in Kansas at what might have possibly been the coolest campground of the whole trip. Of course, I might just be biased in favor of it since I am a crazy cat lady! There was a whole colony of cats living there, the proprietor of the camp ground said they got a lot of abandoned cats, so she rounded them up, fed them, had them neutered and kept them vaccinated while providing shelter but not making them into housecats. TNR at work folks!
The darling little SweetPea decided she liked the looks of us and spent the whole evening at our site, once we had eaten dinner (and yes, I shared with her) she alternated sitting on my lap and my fathers.
Given that just a couple of days before I lost my dear Xerxes to carcinoma I was a more than a little grateful for a kitty to cuddle with. Oh yeah, big part of the reason my blog has been so quiet as of late. I wasn’t coping well with that. I’m still not, though vacation helped quite a bit my home isn’t the same without his quiet, calm presence watching over it. I plan on doing a memorial post for him once I can get up the gumption to go through all the photos of him and select a few to share with you all.
The next day we made it to Colorado and passed into the Rocky Mountains. If I could live anywhere in the USA, it would be there. We were greeted by more stormy skies, but it didn’t do more than drizzle on us for a few seconds. Upon reaching a peak I looked out the window, and saw this arch.
I couldn’t take Chicago any longer, so I ran away for a bit. To Utah. It was lovely.
Crossing the mountains in Colorado we were greeted by this sight:
Once out of the mountains most of what we saw was scrubland, and hills. There is something serene and beautiful about the open empty places that helps heal the wounds city living has inflicted upon me.
Our first stop was in Moab for Arches and Canyonlands national parks. While the arches in Arches are magnificent, the general landscape was breathtaking and mesmerizing.
OK, I’ll be honest, I didn’t take many photos of the arches themselves, I’ll post the few I did take in the next post. I was more fascinated by the contrast of the green soil and red rocks to be honest.
More snow pictures! I suspect the only reason I put off going through the Milwaukee trip pictures for so long was that I needed to mentally distance myself from the snow and cold. I still haven’t done much with my blizzard pictures, maybe I’ll post those in August when it is 98 with a heat index of 115.Random moment on our way home from Milwaukee, we just happened to glance over at the same time and spot through the trees a nice little park on what passes for a hill here in the flatlands, overlooking the city proper. Of course, being the dead of January and late afternoon, the snow had already begun so the skyline was pretty obscured, leaving composition difficult and frustrating. I think the following was my best shot.
Still not that great, but I do like the lines of the roads and the river. That big ugly modernist house in the lower left is rather unappealing though and I had already wandered far enough away from the car without enough layers on that I was done, done, done. Either way this park is on the list of places we will visit now that it isn’t negative-silly-degrees out.
This is my favorite from the trip, overall. I had near perfect light (for once) and feel I used it fairly well (for a change). Just a little detail from the abandoned Pabst Brewery, which is locked up tight and has more security on it that I would have expected. Not to mention a randomly patrolling cop just happened to round a corner as I was trying a door and saw me. After that there were suddenly 4 squads in the area, going in circles like vultures around myself and my friend.
I’ve moved my blog to WordPress and am hoping the flexibility in formatting will showcase my photos better than Blogger. I was using Blogger out of laziness, I had the account since 2008 and didn’t even bother looking at other blog hosting sites. Of course, I still have to compete with the demands of life in the real world and kittens who know how to do more on my keyboard than I do.
Tomorrow I’ll be back to posting more of the Drag Queens in Gary, in the meantime I’m going to poke around here and see what kind of shenanigans I can get into.
My friend and I loaded up and went out in search of the best view of the Chicago skyline we could find, and in one night only managed to hit 3 spots before calling it a day. This was partly due to all the lake shore parks being closed and partly because we had been snacked on by so many mosquitoes the itching was interfering with doing anything productive. Of course, it was well after midnight when we called it in, so we got about 3 hours of shooting done on this trip.
I gave up trusting my camera’s programing to give me a good exposure about 15 minutes into the trip and switched over using the bulb exposure mode, which only confirmed that I need to get one of those little handheld plug-in triggers since on the best days I can’t hold very still for more than a 2 count. It didn’t help that I closed my aperture down all the way for a large field of depth, something that in retrospect I’m not sure I needed to since the skyline is pretty much on one level, and you’d never be able to tell that the lake was out of focus.
Since we had a very overcast night and we were pretty far from the city’s core I went for the emphasis on the sheer amount of light pollution Chicago produces, and contrasted it with the blackness of the lake. It was slightly noticeable to the naked eye but at longer exposures it really popped out how above downtown there is a massive bright spot in the sky. I just wish the clouds had a little more texture, but that just means I need to go out and shoot again, something both my friend and I are all for.
In other news, tomorrow is the day of the Gary, Indiana photoshoot with drag queens. I’m so excited! Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight.