Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boats in Amsterdam

A pretty (and pretty typical) scenic shot of Amsterdam, taken when I was there in 2005. I was standing in line to get into the Anne Frank house when I shot this. Amsterdam might be overrun with stoned American and British college students, but it's also a beautiful city full of history and culture. Despite it's reputation (and it's supposedly being one of the most densely populated cities in Europe), walk a few blocks away from the tourist overload of the red light district and the surrounding area, and you'll find quiet streets with cute shops and cafes. This photo looks across a canal to the Jordaan neighborhood, which is full of those quiet streets and cute shops I just mentioned.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maui Petroglyph II

Here's another photo of the pertoglyphs I visited a couple of summers ago in Maui. There's not much to say here that I didn't mention in yesterday's post.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Maui Petroglyph

Today's photo is a petroglyph on a rock in Maui. These petroglyphs are in a fairly remote area in Maui. It's off the only road that runs between the towns of Kihei and Lahina, two of the biggest tourist areas on the island. It's a short drive down a gravel road, then about a half mile walk to the rock outcropping where they are located. We found instructions on how to find them in the book Maui Revealed, which is billed as the guide that tells you where all the cool stuff is on Maui that no one knows about. The problem is that most of the tourists on Maui seem to have a copy of that book, so everyone does know about the cool stuff. That said, we were the only people around these petroglyphs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cranbrook Holga IV

The last of the 1998 Holga pics I'm going to post is a piece of sculpture somewhere on the Cranbrook grounds. I really don't know where on the campus this is located, it could have been about anywhere. Cranbrook is full of sculpture. Practically every building has sculpture near it, and you can even find pieces in remote, inaccessible locations in the woods (the campus is 319 acres, many of them wooded with trails running through it).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cranbrook Holga III

Number three of four Holga camera shots taken around the Cranbrook Educational Community in 1998. I can't really remember where on campus this was, but given it's position on the roll of film, it's probably Cranbrook High (the boy's school), close to where the other shots I've posted recently were taken. The Cranbrook campus is beautiful. I used to love taking a walk through the woods or around the boy's school when I needed to get out of the studio and clear my head.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cranbrook Holga II

I survived the first day of school, but I'm over tired and have a headache. I have about a dozen things to do for school, but I'm going to bed after posting this.
Here's another Holga photo taken at Cranbrook in 1998. This one, like yesterday's photo, was taken at the boy's school, which is located right next to the Art Academy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cranbrook Holga

The new school year starts today. I'm already swamped with work, and it's not going to get any better for the next few days. I might miss a day or two posting here while I catch up.

As long as I'm thinking about school, here's the first of a few photos taken while I was in graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art. It was my first time shooting with a Holga camera. A fellow student from the photo department leant me his camera, and I loaded it up with T-Max B&W film and shot the entire roll while walking around the grounds of the Cranbrook educational community on a sunny but cold March day.

At the time, I didn't think much of the Holga. I shot a couple of rolls with the borrowed camera, but wasn't very impressed with the results. I shoved the negatives into a folder and didn't pay much attention to them until I came across them recently while looking for something else. After ten years (these were shot in March, 1998), I guess I have a different perspective. Some of them actually seem decent to me. My favorites from that first roll shot with a Holga will be posted this week.

This photo, by the way, was taken at Cranbrook High School (we called it the boy's school), one of two boarding schools on the campus. The art academy shared a dining hall with the boy's school, and we all enjoyed the oddly homoerotic 1930's era murals depicting boys engaging in sports and other aspects of boarding school life that adorned the walls there.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Profound Or Pretentious?

I know which one I think it is, but I'll let you decide for yourselves.
I shot this photo earlier in the summer in Evanston, IL, a suburb just north of Chicago. I had a cyanotype photograph in the Evanston Art Center biennial, and took this photo the day I went to deliver my work. The graffiti is on the changing rooms at a public beach right behind the art center. While I'm not certain, I don't think the person who spray painted this intended the word 'women' to be part of the message. I suppose it works (or not) either way.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


It's been a while since I posted a photo taken with the Nishika four-lens camera. This one was taken last year some time, I don't exactly remember when. It's probably not the most exciting photo you'll ever see, but it does show off the slightly differing views that the four lenses provide, something I really like about photos taken with this camera.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Amsterdam Doorway

I shot this poster and graffiti covered doorway when I was in Amsterdam a few years ago. There's not much that needs to be said about it. I just liked the colors and sloppiness of it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Caleb Pink

I have no idea who Caleb Pink was, but he has a lovely gravestone.
I took this photo in London's Highgate Cemetary in 2003. I highly recommend it should you ever visit London. It is a little out of the way and hard to find for someone not familiar with the city, but it's beautiful and well worth finding.

There are a several notable people buried in Highgate Cemetery. Karl Marx is buried there, as is Douglas Adams (although he was still living when I was there back in 2003). There's been a bit of a controversy-Douglas Adams' family would like his tombstone to be shaped like the number 42 (people who know his work will understand why), but Highgate has strict rules about the tombstones there, and doesn't allow shaped ones. I'd like to see them make one exception.

I Googled Caleb Pink after posting this. Turns out he was a pioneer American Socialist. So there's at least two old lefties buried in Highgate. We've got Emma Goldman here, buried in Forest Home Cemetery in suburban Chicago. There's apparently a small group of anarchists and labor organizers buried there, in remembrance of the Haymarket riot.

Also, Douglas Adams died in 2001, so his grave should have been in Highgate. I don't recall seeing it, however.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Today's photo is an oldie. It's a VanDyke brown print I made in 1994 of a photo taken with infrared film. It was printed from a positive transparency, not a negative, which resulted in a negative print.

Back in 1994, making enlarged transparencies for alternative photographic printing was done using Kodalith film, a high-contrast sheet film which Kodak no longer manufactures. Usually, you would enlarge a 35mm negative onto Kodalith to make a positive transparency, then contact print that positive to obtain the enlarged negative used to make the print. In this case, however, I started with a 35mm negative shot on infrared film, but stopped with the enlarged positive.

Making negatives for alternative process printing is much easier today, provided you have a good inkjet printer and use high quality transparency film.

Infrared film is interesting and fun. It is a B&W film that has increased sensitivity in the infrared, which results in odd tonal shifts and a ghostly appearance. Using infrared film is a little tricky, the camera has to be loaded and unloaded in complete darkness, a dark red filter is attached to the camera lens, and focusing is adjusted to account for the incresaed infrared sensitivity.

The photo was shot in a small cemetery outside of Ann Arbor, MI, on a crisp fall day. That particular cemetery was quite picturesque, with old, leaning gravestones and overgrown trees.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I honestly can't remember where I was when I took this photo. I suspect it may be where I work, there is a nature study area at the edge of campus that often looks beautiful like this in the fall.
I took the photo because I think the scene looks like it could have been painted by Monet. If you look at it just right, it kind of looks like an Impressionist painting. The colors have an impressionistic feel, and the weeds almost look like brush strokes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Foremost Liquors

I'm a sucker for old store signs. They seem to want to be shot with a Holga camera.
This photo was shot in early July on Argyle St., which is the business strip of Chicago's small Vietnamese neighborhood. Argyle St. is located right in the middle of the Uptown neighborhood, which for decades was known as a textbook example of a big-city skid row. Uptown has been gentrifying for years, and now is home to trendy restaurants and shops, but still has somewhat of a scruffy feel to it. Luckily, Argyle St. seems pretty much unchanged.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Night At The Fair

About a week and a half ago, I posted a few photos from a photo essay I uploaded to JPG magazine. I've just uploaded a second photo essay there. This one’s titled Night at the Fair. Go take a look at it, and let me know what you think.

These photos were shot in 1996 (or thereabouts), when I was still living in Ann Arbor, MI. I had bought a roll of Agfa Ultra film, a slow film (ASA 50) with over saturated color. Knowing that I could easily achieve long shutter speeds, I looked for something to shoot with that film that would allow for some motion blur. I also wanted the subject I shot to be full of color, in order to take advantage of the high color saturation of the film. A small carnival, set up in the parking lot of a local high school, was the perfect location.

The shoot was pretty fun, as I recall. I had my camera, and a tripod, and walked throughout the fair shooting as I pleased. A very different experience from when I went to shoot at a similar carnival last fall.

I love the intense color in these photos. Unfortunately, Agfa Ultra 50 is one of the many 35mm films to be discontinued in the wake of the ascendance of digital photography. While you could probably make the same color adjustments pretty easily in Photoshop, there was something fun about doing it the old fashioned way. I also think that deliberately pairing a particular technology (the color saturated film) with a subject that suits being explored with that technology is a useful exercise.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Today's photo, like yesterday's fry guy, was taken in The Netherlands. This one was taken in Utrecht, which is known for having a canal located below street level. I like this view of the canal, seen between two of the tall, narrow buildings which line it. The couple sitting on the stairs adds a nice element to the photo as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anthropomorphic Fry Headed Auto-Cannibals

When I was in The Netherlands a few years ago, I saw odd anthropomorphic figures everywhere. They were always next to snack bars, and most of them were auto-cannibalistic. As you can see here, the container of french fries is eating part of himself and giving a big thumbs-up (apparently, he’s yummy!). These figures weren’t always french fries. I have a photo of a hot dog with arms and legs, squirting ketchup on himself and licking his lips hungrily, that I took in Amsterdam. I also saw anthropomorphic ice cream cones. I found these ubiquitous figures amusing and more than a little bizarre, and of course I loved them.

As I was driving to Michigan this past Saturday, I stopped for dinner and a walk along the beach (as seen in yesterday’s post). Driving through Benton Harbor, MI on the way back to the expressway, I passed a storefront with large model dinosaurs in front. A sign said it was the Time Travel Museum. It wasn’t open when I drove past, but I made a point to return on my way back to Chicago. It was also closed when I returned on Monday (I was a couple hours too late), but I stopped to take some photos outside of the building. It looks to be a junk/antique shop with displays of old funky pop culture artifacts. Peering into one of the windows, I saw this.

It’s the same auto-cannibal french fry figure I took a photo of in Zwolle, Netherlands. The only difference is the size. The one in Zwolle was life sized, at least five feet tall. The one in the Time Travel Museum was just a couple feet tall. They also had one of the ketchup-squirting hot dogs, a much larger one than the one I saw in Amsterdam, but there was too much glare, so I couldn’t get a good photo through the window.

I ran into the owner of the Time Travel Museum while I was outside shooting photos, and he told me the place has only been open for a couple of weeks. He said it was an attempt to ward off developers who want to put a large gas station in that location. He invited me to look behind the building, where he has set up life-sized dioramas with skeleton figures. I found the whole place charming and quirky, and I’ll definitely return sometime to tour the museum. I forgot to ask him about the anthropomorphic figures. That just gives me an excuse to go back. Maybe he knows something about them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I just got back from a couple of days spent in Michigan, hanging out with friends and family. I stopped in St. Joseph, MI for a couple of hours before heading in to the boring part of the state I grew up in, and shot this photo on the beach.
I like Chicago fine, and after being here for ten years would probably hate living anywhere with less culture and activity. I have to say, however, that the Michigan side of Lake Michigan is much better than the Chicago side. The beaches are better, the water seems cleaner, and you can't beat sunsets on the beach (like I'm ever going to be up in time to go see a Lake Michigan sunrise here in Chicago!).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rubber Ducky

There's Ernie's bathtime friend, floating in a pond in The Netherlands. I took this photo in 2005, when I was in The Netherlands on an educational exchange. There was a pond in my host's yard, and she kept this toy duck floating in it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Costume Shop

Here's another recent Holga photo. It was taken a few weeks ago when I was on a bike ride, just like yesterday's photo. This costume shop is on Western Ave. in Chicago, about a block from the city limits at 119th St.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I haven't been doing much studio work this summer, for various reasons. I have been doing a fair amount of shooting, however, especially with my Holga toy camera. Last summer, I got in the habit of tucking the camera into my bike bag when going for a ride, a practice I have been continuing this year.
This photo was shot in a small playground in Evergreen Park, IL. Recently, it seems I've been concentrating on playgrounds and store signs when shooting with the Holga.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Yep, another hideously hot and humid day in Chicago today. I was out in it for a while, shooting with my Holga camera while waiting for my car to be repaired. After a day like today, I really need something cool to look at.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

More From The Institute

Here's a couple more images from 'The Institute', the photo essay I posted at JPG magazine. I pretty much said everything I wanted about these photos in my last post, so I'll stop writing and let the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Institute

I've just published a photo essay titled The Institute at JPG magazine. Go take a look at it, and let me know what you think.
It's basically photos I took of models of the new Renzo Piano designed addition that the Art Institute of Chicago is building. When shooting, I focused on the small 2D figures placed throughout the models, rather than on the building itself. I think the results are interesting, and more about emotion than they are architecture.

Shooting these photos was an interesting experience. The Art Institute of Chicago has a much appreciated policy on photography. If they own it, and you don't use flash, you can shoot whatever you want in the museum. However, they were being very protective of these models. When I was shooting them, they were in a highly visible location, at the top of the main staircase leading to the museum's hugely popular Impressionism collection (they have since been relocated). I had gone to the museum and spent about a half hour shooting them with no problem. Returning to the museum a few days later, I had barely started shooting when I was stopped by a docent. I reminded her of the Art Institute's photography policy, and she informed me that it didn't apply to these models, as they were trying to avoid having them leaked on the internet (by the way, when I returned home that evening, I Googled 'Art Institute Renzo Piano' and found detailed images of the building on Renzo Piano's website. Anyway, if you're trying to keep something secret, why put large models of it in a very prominent location?).

I showed her how I was shooting the figures, not the building, and asked if I could get permission to shoot. It took about 20 minutes of waiting around before a second docent appeared. I explained the situation to him, to which he replied 'I see", then began to walk away. I stopped him and ask if I could shoot, and he answered "I don't care". Taking that as permission, I began shooting, and was there for about an hour. The entire time, people swarming up the staircase (this was on a busy Sunday afternoon) would see me shooting, and immediately whip out their cameras and start shooting the models as well. The poor docent had to field complaints and listen to people saying "but he gets to shoot!" the entire time I was there.

I took fifteen of the photos I shot of these models and used them to make 13 X 19 inch cyanotype prints. Some of them have shown up on Lightbender, my other blog. Click that link to see three of them.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


This photo was taken on Maui, in the desolate upcountry beyond Hana. I posted another photo from the same part of Maui here, and wrote a bit about it as well. Rather than repeat myself, I'll let you read that old post for more info. I'll just say that it is an unexpectedly beautiful part of the island, which few tourists get to see.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Backwards L?

I don't have much to say about today's photo. It was taken in the parking garage at Midway Airport a couple of years ago, while I was waiting to pick someone up from an arriving flight.
I have no idea what the marking means, I just liked the way the orange looked against the black and white.