Archive for March, 2013

March 31, 2013

Thick moss, Deep South

I saw somebody write on Google+ recently that earning followers in various social media is a hollow venture. I guess I can appreciate the concern. I’ve kind of wondered what’s good or bad or even the point on the matter, but as I’ve crept up over 200 here and 300 there it’s kind of got me wondering about all of that again. I’m very grateful that people want to follow my blog, but I’ll endlessly wonder to what end? I hope everyone that does takes something from it even if it isn’t much. As I whittle away toward 300 blog posts without a day off I still have no way of knowing whether progress is being made on my end, though I do enjoy posting photos on a daily basis. Over on the right (in the sidebar column) are different ways to follow the blog via Twitter and Facebook if you don’t want emails clogging up your inbox.

Spanish moss can be kind of dingy and even scary looking in certain settings – especially at night! I like it very much. It creates atmosphere, and here, over this graveyard I was walking around, it really made for an interesting overhead. In parts of Florida and Louisiana swamp country it gets so thick that it can help block out the sun over bayous and in forests to make for a mysterious aura. You have to like that when there are 200-year-old tombs scattered about. I left the headstones out of this shot. The patterns of the moss between the branches was enough for me.
Thick moss, Deep South
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March 30, 2013

Marks on a wall

If you look closely at this wall you begin to see etchings of names and dates – some going back as far as 1880. This wall inside of an old fort in northern Florida is part of a jail cell that probably housed multiple prisoners simultaneously. I didn’t have a wide-enough lens to get further back on this wall, and I didn’t want to, either. It needs to be tight or claustrophobic. Though the room isn’t the smallest cell you’ve ever seen, sharing the quarters with a bunch of men must have made it feel uncomfortably cramped.

I don’t think I would have left my mark on the wall. Who would want to be remembered for being stuck in a cell? Then I began to wonder if these people actually existed at all; what’s stopping a person from carving the wall up just for tourists to gawk over? I mean, someone might take a photograph and post it on a blog.
Marks on a wall
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March 29, 2013


When I saw this in Daley Plaza, my heart sank. It had nothing to do with Picasso. It was that I shoot Daley Plaza quite a bit, maybe too much, and here was something (the letters are temporary) else to shoot exactly there, and that was disappointing. I think I stood there for a few minutes wondering if I should even do it. I did. I guess you already knew that.

I understand it’s been 30 years since the Art Institute put on a Picasso exhibit. They were first to bring his art to the USA 100 years ago, which is kind of cool to know. I’ve always been a fan. When I was little Picasso’s crude paintings were all over the pediatrician’s office I visited in the form of wallpaper. My parents had a book of his art in their home along with a bunch of other painters. I walk past this sculpture of his quite frequently. I guess I feel like he’s been following me around for quite some time now.
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March 28, 2013

Under the beauty lights

While I understand that a lot of people don’t get excited to see these kinds of photos, lately I’ve felt compelled to shoot homeless people. In the past this would not have been the case, but when you’re shooting more and more of the city around you it changes your perspective for both the better and the worse – or at least for the worse off. They are part of the surroundings, and when you’re doing everything in your power to capture beautiful things, well, you tend to feel like you’d be remiss not to document the trouble as well.

You worry, because you think people could be offended. It’s not just that you consider the subject’s privacy or personal space – you also are leery of those walking by. You feel kind of protective of the situation if you really care about what you’re doing. I’m discrete, and I don’t show faces unless they know I’m shooting them. I’ve decided anyone who lets me take their photo with alacrity, I’ll give them a bit of money. I’ve never understood people that don’t give a beggar some change. I really don’t get it.

As for this photo, I’ve seen that blanket before, and it’s always over his face. Something about the make-up mirror beauty lights overhead caught my attention here, not just the liquidation sign. I left it wide and low to keep the attention on the street. This is his dwelling. The ground floor of a 30-story building is not a very comfortable place to sleep.
Under the beauty lights

March 27, 2013

Reflective black box

These black box buildings spread throughout Chicago, but they’re especially common in the downtown area. Every few blocks you can spot one up the street. I guess they were controversial when the first few started going in several decades ago, but they’ve kind of proved their worth. When the lighting is right and the nearby skyscrapers reflect in them – that’s when they shine brightest to me.
Reflective black box
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March 26, 2013

Little boy taking my photo at Union Station

I like to be as inconspicuous as possible when photographing anything. There’s this sense of wanting to blend in to the surroundings and let it happen. What it is – that’s hard to explain, but you get this expectation of some kind of event that’s about to happen. Something produces an image for you, and it must be kind of innocent or happenstance and simultaneously atypical or important. It’s the difference between time and place being unnecessary or even unnoticeable and then, for a moment, relevant.

People have a way of doing that. This little boy wasn’t actually photographing me. I think he was fooling around with his parent’s phone attempting to make a panorama of Union Station’s great hall. If you got him just right, however, he draws you into the room. I’m not sure he even noticed me, but the end result is his posture almost welcoming the eye into the frame in a way that it can now bounce around the room and digest all that is going on. Otherwise, it’s all just clutter. Then that group of police officers came rolling in (right corner of the room) and was time to say goodbye. Not that they’d notice me either, but why wait to allow them?
Little boy taking my photo at Union Station
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March 25, 2013

Near-empty side street

I don’t know why I shot this, and I’m trying to figure out what I like about it. Somebody took the time to do a crafty paint job on those garages, but since then it looks like they’ve been left for dead. The whole block is similar in nature – nice buildings, no life. I was happy a pedestrian walked by in order to avoid it coming across completely desolate and decided to leave it opened up to the city on the right. There are a lot of little side streets in Chicago that come off like completely different places from the big city around them. This is one of them. Some people will tell you that Milwaukee Avenue is not a side street, but this disconnected one-block section can only be described as such.
Near-empty side street
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March 24, 2013

Just before exiting the beach

This is the second time this exact scene has made it on the blog, but it’s straight this time. Here’s the original photograph I posted in late August, one I took moments after today’s post. I had climbed up onto the boardwalk where the light was coming off the top of the rails and processed the photo with that reflected light very much in mind. It was funny, however, stumbling on this new version of that photo. This one carries such a different look, and I think it’s because I’m further away where the darkened sand mutes the light and color. It’s interesting how differently I processed them; I didn’t look at the previous photo until after finishing this one.
Just before exiting the beach
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March 23, 2013

One-block Milwaukee Ave

This is a one-block stretch of the famed Milwaukee Avenue that’s closest to the loop. On the northwest end it runs into a city block and disappears until it picks up again on the backside of the same neighborhood. On this end it sandwiches between some former businesses and utility buildings before ending at Lake.

I really like these angled streets. They present amazing views of the city, and there aren’t enough of them near the loop. Thanks to very few cars coming down the street, I decided I had long enough to wait for a train to pass by on the elevated tracks. This was the third that actually rolled through. On the first I was readjusting my tripod and missed it. The second went too slow to get a decent motion blur.
One-block Milwaukee Ave
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March 22, 2013

Light clouds, dark ocean

This is a Florida sunset on the eastern side of the state. When the sun goes down on the opposite coast it leaves a lot of color in the sky over the ocean. Because the water is getting less light it comes off so much darker than whatever is up in the air above it. These storm clouds had just enough lighter pieces to catch the pink light and reflect it back.
Light clouds, dark ocean
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