Monday, June 30, 2008

X Rated Artifacts

Another photo from Budapest. This one was taken at the Aquincum ruins, a former Roman city that covered much of the area now occupied by the Obuda district of Budapest. There's a small museum at the site, and a small sign in the museum mentioned a building filled with artifacts viewable by adults only. Of course we wanted to check it out, and were escorted to a locked building where we found an amusing display of peepholes that when peered into, revealed small bits of carvings and pottery like the one seen in this photo (I tried shooting several of the pieces, but it was difficult to focus the camera through the peepholes). It was an interesting way to display these pieces, but I wondered what was so explicit about objects like this that minors couldn't view them.

It was especially perplexing given the general openness about sexuality and nudity we found in Budapest. We would return to our room in the evening and switch on the tv to see programming that was much more explicit than anything in the Aquncum 'adults only' room (we saw a commercial every night in which a nude woman tied up with rope was licking a butcher knife). We also saw billboards like this everywhere (this one was shot close to the Aquincum ruins):

Maybe it was all a joke, a way to generate interest in smaller pottery fragments and other artifacts that no one would pay attention to otherwise. But why go through all the trouble of locking the building, and posting a small, inconspicuous sign in the museum?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Paprika Vendor

Here's a photo of a paprika vendor in the Great Market Hall in Budapest. The Great Market Hall is filled with stalls selling produce and meats, all really fresh and inexpensive. I've been craving Hungarian food for a couple of days, so I posted this picture taken when I visited Budapest last summer.

Hungarian food is wonderful. It's full of flavor, and in Budapest, great Hungarian restaurants are everywhere (if you ever go, you have to eat at Lugas, across from St. Stephen's Basilica).

By the way, if anyone knows of a Hungarian restaurant in the Chicago area, let me know!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Promontory Point Again

Here's another shot taken at Promontory Point, where I shot the panorama I posted yesterday. This one was taken with the Holgs camera, which anyone who reads this blog regularly knows already. I used expired film (my default film for the Holga), hence the odd color shift.
I tend to go in phases with the Holga, and with the Nishika 4-lens camera I sometimes shoot with. I really like using them at times, but sometimes I have periods where I find them frustrating and gimmicky. I'm liking them at the moment, even if I'm not doing a lot of shooting with them right now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Promontory Point

Here's a hastily thrown together panorama of photos shot at Promontory Point in Chicago a couple of years ago. Promontory Point is one of my favorite park spaces in the city. It's in the Hyde Park neighborhood, one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. The Point offers great views of downtown, as well as outstanding lake views. It's been subject to controversy in recent years, which you can read about if you follow the link above.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


This photo was taken in a shop in the Little Village (La Villita) neighborhood in Chicago a couple of years ago. I was hosting friends from out of town, and as is often the case when friends come to town, we head to one of Chicago's many ethnic neighborhoods to window shop and enjoy the great food and ambiance. Although it's not as well known as Pilsen, a Mexican-American neighborhood just to the northwest, Little Village is home to the largest Mexican-American population in the Midwest. It's a lively, bustling neighborhood, and has one of the highest business revenues in the city. For those who want to visit, the intersection of 26th St. and Kedzie will put you just about in the middle of the main commercial corridor of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rust Spots

I've been going through my archives of old photos burned to discs, looking for things to post on this blog. Not finding that much I'm interested in posting, to be honest. When I get real ambitious I'll go through old print photos and negatives.

This one was taken around the same time as yesterday's photo. I can't remember where I took it, or what the actual object is that I was shooting. I do like the way it looks, however.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peeling Paint

A few years ago, I became a little obsessed with capturing colors and textures with my camera. Every time I went out shooting, I seemed to end up with photos like this, of paint peeling off of walls or other texture filled images. This one was taken in Evanston, IL, just north of Chicago. If I remember correctly (it was a few years ago), it was part of a mural painted on a train overpass.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chalk Drawing Crucifix-Photographer's Rights

I took this photo in front of a church on the southwest side of Chicago last fall. I had gone there to shoot photos of the rides at a parking lot carnival, but a guy walking around with a camera at a place where children congregate was too much for the college-age security team to bear. At one point I spoke with the pastor of the church, and showed him images I had shot with the digital camera so he could see I wasn't interested in photographing children. He gave me permission to shoot at the carnival, but the 'security' still tailed me so closely that I got uncomfortable and left. On my way back to the car, I spotted this chalk drawing a child had done on the sidewalk in front of the church, and snapped a photo of it. It's more interesting than the shots I made at the carnival. I like how it's kind of charming and funny (and maybe a little creepy) at the same time.

I've heard several accounts recently of people getting harassed for taking legal photos in public places (a student of a colleague of mine was stopped by Homeland Security for shooting a photo of an oil refinery). Here's a short article on the legal rights of photographers. Not surprisingly, you have the right to shoot almost anything you want. There's some useful links at the bottom of the article, be sure to check them out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Hottest Choir

This photo was taken last fall with my Holga camera. It's a storefront church at about 93rd St. and Ashland Ave. on the south side of Chicago. The building and the sign have a lot of character, which the Holga camera seems to magnify. It was shot with expired transparency film (I always use expired film in the Holga), so there are some odd color shifts.

I tried making a VanDyke brown print of this photo, but wasn't really satisfied with how it turned out. I also worked on a gum bichromate print of this image, using metallic paints. I wasn't getting good results with that either, but it was more a technical issue with the paint than a problem with the image itself.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nishika Panorama

Here's an attempt at a panorama made with a Nishika camera. I've posted a Nishika image previously, but as a reminder, it's a four lens camera designed to make lenticular images. I've been trying other things with it, like panoramas.
Unfortunately, I haven't had much success with panoramas made from these images. The ones that do work are like the one you see here: Two shots (more than two gets very busy looking) of architectural fragments. The slight variations in viewpoint and the black borders around the separate images work well with shots of buildings. This building is the Randall Museum in San Francisco, a small natural history museum located in Corona Heights Park, one of my favorite places in San Francisco, and an essential place to visit if you want beautiful, breathtaking views of the city. It's in a quiet, residential neighborhood, but fairly easy for tourists to find, as it's located between the Castro and Haight-Ashbury, two tourist-heavy areas. Not so easy (at least if you're from a flat place like Chicago) is the several blocks of uphill climb to get there. It's worth it, however.
Here's a view from the top of the park.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Giant Shoe

Tacky souvenir shops can be found worldwide wherever tourists congregate. In The Netherlands, a lot of these shops sell wooden shoes and other stereotypical 'Dutch' items (in Amsterdam, a lot of them also sell x-rated postcards and trinkets. I bought a fake Delft penis-shaped salt shaker that says 'love from Amsterdam' on it. How could I resist?).
This shop, with the giant wooden shoe out front just waiting to be photographed, is in Amsterdam near Dam square, the historical center of the city. It's between the red light district and Kalverstraat, the always busy shopping street in central Amsterdam, so there is a constant stream of foot traffic passing by, which makes it an ideal location for a store that sells crap to tourists.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weeds At Sunset

Not too much to say about this one. I took the photo in my Mom's backyard in Michigan a couple of years ago. She lives in the country, and there are often beautiful sunsets, something I miss in Chicago.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today's photo was taken on Maui in August, 2006.
I was there for the wedding of two close friends of mine (and soon to be neighbors-they just bought a house about three blocks from mine). This photo was taken in the very desolate and remote southeast part of the island. There's a small town on the eastern edge of Maui called Hana. The road to Hana is one of the must-do things on Maui. It's an all day event, with hundreds of tight curves, hills, waterfalls, and narrow bridges as the road winds through the lush tropical landscape. Several miles beyond Hana is the beautiful Oheo Gulch, which is as far as most tourists go. In fact, your rental car contract probably forbids you from going further, claiming the road is impassable. Guess what-it isn't, at least it wasn't when we were there.We decided to continue on past Oheo Gulch and return to the more developed parts of the island along the one road running through the upcountry.
It was one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip. It is very desolate-we didn't see another car for dozens of miles. The climate changes from the tropical paradise of Hana to dry, grassy scrubland with few trees and large expanses of rock and lava fields. It was an amazingly beautiful, stark landscape, and although it took us over 2 1/2 hours, was a much shorter trip than returning along the Hana road.
Anyway, this photo was taken somewhere along that lonely upcountry road.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chinatown Phone Booth-Another View

I found another view of the San Francisco phone booth I posted yesterday. That one was of the interior of the booth, taken with the Holga toy camera. This one was taken with my digital camera, of the outside of the booth. It's actually two separate photos pieced together. You can see the Asian-styled roof of the booth I mentioned yesterday. You an also see some of the same graffiti-yesterday's shot was looking out of the window on this side of the booth. It's s very photogenic phone booth, even if it is anachronistic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Chinatown Phone Booth

Today's photo is of the interior of a graffiti covered phone booth in San Francisco's Chinatown. Taken with the Holga camera, it captures the vaguely seedy feeling of the booth.
I'm kind of surprised that it's still standing, actually. In the age of cell phones, most phone booths have disappeared. Maybe they left this one standing because the roof of the booth has an Asian-inspired look to it. I'll see if I have a photo of it to post tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Army Shadow

Here's another photo taken at the same time as the one I posted yesterday.
When I was shooting these I was pretty focused on what I was doing for a few minutes, then looked up to see one of my neighbors eyeing me suspiciously from his back porch. That's nothing new, I've received odd looks from other neighbors while lying in the front yard shooting bugs and other things. Actually, I should think they'd be used to it by now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Army Shadow

This photo is of a shadow cast by a toy army guy. The army guy was sitting on an old rusted grill that the former owner of my house left behind when he moved out. It's a pretty neat photo in that it looks almost real, like the shadow of a real person.
This is one of those photos that I always planned to do something with, but never did.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Bean Field

This photo was taken a couple of years ago in the field behind my mother's house. It was a sunny, cool fall day, and I was out snapping photos for fun. This is what remained of a bean plant after the field was harvested. It was taken with a macro lens, which accounts for the very short depth of field.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rainy Day

We're been having thunderstorms every day for several days in a row now, accompanied by very hot, humid weather. While the occasional rainy day is nice, it's starting to get really old.
Here's a photo of a rainy day, taken in The Netherlands a couple of years ago. The house I was staying in had amazing gardens, this is a view out of a rain splashed window looking at just a bit of one of them. I'll likely post more photos of these gardens from time to time, I took a lot of photos of them while I was staying there.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Holga Fence

To clear the palate from last week's batch of near colorless photos, here's one full of bright color. It's just a picture of a chain link fence with plastic strips woven through it as a privacy barrier. It was taken with the Holga camera, while I was riding my bike (I've posted several photos here taken while on bike rides). This fence, if I remember correctly, is on 75th St., near the corner of Western Ave. in Chicago.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Super 8

Here's one more achromatic photo. I could probably find more, but it seems like it's time to move on to something different.
This is one of those photos shot just for the heck of it. I had bought someone's old 8mm home movie at a garage sale (it turned out to be footage of an air show). I cut a bunch of strips of the film, and was scanning them in with the idea I would do something with them someday. While I was scanning the film, I noticed this piece on my desk. I liked the shadow it was casting, so I shot a couple of quick photos of it.
I never ended up doing anything with the scans of the film. As for the film itself, I got tired of it laying around my studio, so I threw it in a bag and gave it to one of my students. I don't think he's done anything with it either. At least, I haven't seen anything he's made from it.

By the way, for those of you who read Lightbender, my other blog, I've finally started working in the studio again, and should have something to post in a few days.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


It's an unbelievably humid day today in Chicago, one of those days where just sitting still makes you sweat. Seems like a perfect day to post a photo of frost. Back in january 2007, we had a couple of bitter cold weeks here. Many of the windows in my house frosted over, so I took advantage of that and make a lot of photos of the frost, shot through a macro lens. I'll post more of these throughout the summer, on especially hot days. I chose this one because it's almost devoid of color, fitting with the theme I'm going with this week.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MSI Caryatid

Continuing the spontaneous theme of achromatic color photographs, here's a shot of one of the caryatids at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The MSI is a wonderful museum (great for kids) in a beautiful building (the only building from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition that's still standing). It's located in Hyde Park, possibly my favorite neighborhood in Chicago.

This caryatid is located on the south side of the building, where a veranda abuts a pond and provides views across the water into Jackson park. It's a beautiful spot.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Chinatown Sign

I've just realized that quite unintentionally, the last two photos I've posted are color images that are nearly achromatic. They could almost be black & white photos. I'll try to keep that that theme going for at least a couple more days.

Today's photo was taken just this past Sunday in Chicago's Chinatown. I was meeting someone there, and had a little time to kill, so I wandered around shooting random things, which is a dependable way of making time pass quickly. I found myself shooting old notices (mostly objects for sale) pasted to light poles. This one was shot through a macro lens, which allowed me to move in close.

Monday, June 2, 2008


This photo was shot on Christmas Day, 2006 in the fields behind my Mother's house in Michigan. The holiday is pretty low key for my family, we don't even exchange gifts anymore. I was a little bored, so grabbed my camera and wandered back in the fields for a couple of hours. For this shot, I just aimed my camera straight up and shot the sky and branches from a nearby tree.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


This photo was taken last summer at Brookfield Zoo, located outside of Chicago. It's a reflection in water, but I can't remember exactly what was being reflected. I also can't remember if I was indoors or outdoors when I took the photo (I suspect I was indoors). Oh well, I still like it. I like abstract photographs, but at the same time I'm glad that you don't see them too often.