Wrapped up a recent shoot of the Raleigh Depot for the North Carolina Railroad Company, while their Christmas decorations were still up in the parking lot. Photography required getting up in the air a bit so I shot from the platform of a 26-foot lift. Pretty cool, but doing so at 20 degrees Fahrenheit was a little bit too cool. Thanks to Nick for the reference and Reuben for the assistance!
So after spending the day in luxurious Camden, I hopped over to the Philly side. As I crossed over I received my first phone call from a potential client I had been speaking with for the last two weeks. They were ready to go. Without getting into details, that meant the second I got into Philly, I had to find the nearest hotspot to set up my computer and perform business over the next couple of hours. By the time I was done, most of the day was spent and I went to Genos for a cheesesteak before returning across the river to capture sunset.
I had the pleasure of experiencing sunset and early evening on the Jersey side of the Delaware River to shoot the Philly skyline. The first two are hand-held with zoom lenses. It was a sunny and breezy all day, and skies are usually agreeable on those evenings.
Building lights came on and I strapped one of my zoom lenses to a tripod for a more focused scene.
Then used my tilt-shift to capture twilight, including more of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Gateway to Philadelphia (2012)
Good day and evening of shooting despite the interruptions. I intended to travel to Philly the next morning to capture some photography then head to Baltimore that evening.
That didn’t work out as planned. As most know, I do photography most of the time, but do a little bit of architecture on the side. Instead of taking leisure time in Philly, I spent all morning fielding and responding to phone calls from a) current photography & architectural clients b) potential photography clients c) building contractors. I also put together an estimate and proposal for another assignment that I was in the running for.
The first half of my day was pretty much shot, so I drove to Baltimore.
And received more phone calls.
And more phone calls.
And then I had to find a hotspot in Baltimore.
By day’s end, my phone battery was dead and the “vacation” day I intended to spend in Philly and Baltimore all but evaporated in a hectic flurry of phone calls and e-mails. During the middle of all of this, I managed to stop by and surprise my wonderful friend Lisa at her workplace, and the highlight of seeing her made the trip totally worth it. I grabbed a hotel for the night, ate, missed sunset, but decided to take night shots in Baltimore by Domino Sugars. The distant glow of lights in the photo below are from the Yankees-Orioles game at Camden Yards, which I was kicking myself for not getting tickets. But the Yanks got spanked 10-3 so maybe that was a good thing.
I had never photographed the old factory from this harbor before, I certainly enjoyed shooting it from elevation and the cast reflections.
The weather in Chicago was highly instable but I had a lot of fun there anyways. After spending the morning catching up on work, photographing Wisconsin’s State Capitol, then hopping through Milwaukee and Racine, I arrived in Chicago at sunset.
It was a very cooperative, windy sunset and the best sky I got to photograph my entire stay in Chicago. I was ecstatic with the results down off Lake Shore.
Chicago Lights (2011)
I woke up to check out the Lake Shore Condominiums in the morning. Not as breathtaking, but still pretty cool. If it’s not my favorite high-rise in the city, it’s close to it.
It was a pleasant morning to shoot. I ventured towards the Pritzker Pavillion and the Millennium Cloud Gate – aka The Bean.
This is the underbelly of the Bean – the reflections are of me and a couple other people venturing below.
The curtain wall construction of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies was pretty interesting.
Nearby is the “Spearman” statue with the Congress Hotel serving as backdrop. It was getting towards high noon, so I called the Milwaukee Art Museum to see if the wings were open. They were, so I took a 4-hour round trip just to shoot for about an hour or so.
When I returned to Illinois that evening, I hit up the Chicago Theater and was lucky to get my personal favorite shot in at least a couple of years.
One Chicago Moment (2011)
It rained all day, so I went to Plano to see the Farnsworth House designed by Mies Van der Rohe. I was fortunate to be the only person there and got a private tour, which was pretty kickass.
I went into the city to see buildings I had no intent shooting, but wanted to see like the Carson Pirie Building, Monadnock, and others. Also stopped by to revisit the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. It was architectural civic duty to see them before leaving Chicago!
The next morning was cloudy. I ventured near the Chicago Tribune to get some black and whites.
Then took a trip up the Hancock Tower to see the city from above.
And this is the Hancock Tower. I had a good chuckle when one local paused to jest, “You know that building’s been shot before, right?” Yeah, but I’m going to admit, Chicago was the most touristy I’ve felt in a number of years. Combined with the weather, most of what I took were more snapshots than anything else. And it was FUN.
More stuff from Mies on Lake Shore Drive
The Aqua Tower looks like one of those architectural projects in design studio that you’re like, “There’s no way that’s ever going to get built”. Very interesting what they did with the floor plates in creating the undulating pattern. In the day it’s interesting to look at, but I think it becomes moreso at night.
Because of its reflective surface, the Bean is much easier to photograph on cloudy days than sunny ones.
That’s Gonna Be One Huge Beanstalk (2011)
It’s an interesting centerpiece to downtown, but I’m not a huge fan of Pritzker Pavillion. Maybe I’d feel differently if I was there for a concert or event. Or maybe I’ve seen too many swoopy metal structures.
Finally, I hit up the staircase in the Contemporary Art Museum that EVERYBODY and their grandmother photographs. As a tourist, I was no different.
Saw Wrigley field on the way out of town, which was incredibly underwhelming. That pretty much covers it. I got to see just about everything I wanted to in a few days and would like to thank Tricia, Brian, and Mr. Zeke for their hospitality! This’ll be my last blog while I make a few major tweaks to my website.
This blog basically covers some of my travel between October 23 and December 8, 2010 – Spartanburg, Shrevesport, Myrtle Beach, and Nasvhille. Ready? Here goes:
SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA
Trespassing at an abandoned truck stop across the street from my hotel:
Abandoned IV (2010)
I hadn’t traveled to Shreveport since visiting with my parents as a teenager. There’s a riverside with a slew of pretty tacky casinos (great food though!) While there, I was very fortunate to have an extra day to roam around by myself and explore downtown a bit:
My black and whites are getting grimier and moodier with every shoot. I’ve been trending this way for the last year and I’m unsure exactly why I’m doing it. Yet.
406 Cotton (2010)
Hotel 6 King Street (2010)
And of course, you know I have to show tagging some love:
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
You’d think a trip to the Carolina coast, even in November would be relatively warm, right? WRONG! I woke up at a 5 a.m. to capture the Second Street Pier at sunrise. It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit with a bitter wind chill down into the teens. As I shivered uncontrollably with tripod, camera, and remote trigger in hand, I thought to myself, “So this is what death must feel like.”
Second Street Pier (2010)
By sunset it was much warmer in the low-40′s. This is a scene at the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier. I was actually parked at a different pier when the colors came ablaze and I could see this scene in the distance. Driving to the pier would’ve meant taking about 15 minutes to travel by car, park, and pay a fee to enter the park and get to the pier. Time was of the essence, so I ran (yes, ran) about 1/2 mile with my camera equipment and tripod slung over my shoulder to catch this scene. It’s stunning I didn’t collapse, really.
I’m not sure what happened here…whether I accidentally bumped the tripod, triggered the camera while adjusting or what, but the result of this capture seemed interesting.
And this is the finished “polished” photo.
Sunset over Myrtle Beach (2010)
Nashville. Man, what to say about that. It reminds me a bit of Los Angeles. Huge music scene, respected art scene, and ugly as sin. I didn’t bring myself to capture any of the iconic downtown buildings, though with more time, I might’ve considered it. The afternoon I arrived and parked downtown, I exited my vehicle and caught a baseball lying on the curb:
Love the Game (2010)
…then walked downtown a bit.
Nashville has a slew of industrial and old mercantile and manufacturing facilities that I would’ve loved to explore further. I think it’s enough to merit a return trip just for those buildings.
If you’re an architect or have studied architecture, or visited Greece, you must be like…WTF? Yes. That is exactly what you think it is. It’s an precise true-to-scale replica of the Parthenon in aggregate concrete, the only one of its kind outside of the actual Greek Parthenon. So I had a bit of fun toying with it in black and white.
That’s it for now, everyone enjoy their holiday season and have a great New Year!
I hadn’t done a lengthy road trip since my Colorado/Utah trip in 2007 and this seemed ample opportunity to do so, and having one of my best friends get married seemed ample excuse to launch what totaled to 2369 miles of a glorious, breath-taking, unbelievable amount of …
…rain. Just warning you, there’s a lot of bad photography ahead, this wasn’t the most successful of ventures even when weather conditions were “optimal”…I just didn’t do that well, but it was still a very rewarding trip.
Wednesday, June 3
Drove halfway up to see Ira and Errol and their new house near DC. Was very good seeing them, it was the first time I had seen them in the new digs since they moved from Raleigh. It was overcast the entire way up and began to thunderstorm that evening. As soon as we returned from dinner, the power went out!
Thursday, June 4
I took the quick quick jaunt from DC to Baltimore to meet my friend Eric for breakfast. He’s rebuilding historic airplanes and is keeping weird hours, so morning worked best for him. My original intent was to take a few hours in Baltimore and surrounding areas to do a bit of photography, except – you guessed it – it was raining. So I drove straight home to Jersey to see the parental units. They look good.
Friday, June 5
By this time I became convinced the rain was going to follow me everywhere. It stormed all day and all night. That evening I had dinner with childhood friend Kim, her husband Luis, and their two adorable children. Kayleigh was a total trip!
Saturday, June 6
Went to church with my folks that morning – it was still depressingly overcast. However by that afternoon, the sky gave way to some relatively clear skies and some great clouds. Just in time for John and Lysa’s wedding, which was on a boat off of Point Pleasant. Awesome sunset off the boat. It was the first time I had seen many people in over a decade, including John’s family. What was odd about this was those that knew me back in high school didn’t recognize me at the wedding for the first hour or so, but I was the only black guy at the wedding besides the photographer! I mean, seriously, I was the only nerdy looking black dude with glasses in the entire town, so you’ve gotta be able to mathematically deduce that’s me, right? Right? So anyways, it was a good time and I was happy to see them finally hitched. Somewhere in there was a realization I was approaching middle age – sometimes I feel like it and other times I don’t.
Sunday, June 7 – Tuesday, June 9
I spent Sunday with the folks and took the trek across Pittsburgh on Monday morning. Mostly overcast with intermittent rain. Stayed overnight in a hotel and on Tuesday traveled to Fallingwater. Along the way, I took some photos between raindrops in and around the towns of Connellsville and Dunbar.
As a soon-to-be-licensed architect, I figured if I don’t at least stop by Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s masterpiece, I might be in for a caning by the AIA or hastily admonished by my peers. The tours were rain or shine, so I went…that’s right…rain.
Well, Fallingwater was awesome and very inspiring, it was clear where Bennett got many of his organic design influences from. As a visitor, you’re only allowed to take photographs in particular locations and certainly not for commercial purposes, so I didn’t stress on taking a lot of photos, just wanted to see the house. Definitely way ahead of it’s time and worth the trip!
Did some highway photography off I-76 on the way to my couchsurfer’s place, Heather. A Pittsburgh native, she was cool to hang out with and very hospitable.
Okay, now Pittsburgh itself is a total labyrinth – my poor Garmin GPS didn’t know where to go or where it was. Between highway loops, simultaneous left and right turning lanes, tunnels, one-way traffic and a gaggle of bridges, it is one tough city to navigate. Now a couple of my friends asked me, “Why would you go to Pittsburgh? Like, what’s there?”
See, now some people are perfectly satisfied with boring cruises, laying out on the beach, being a complete mindless vegetable, and seeing the same redundant drivel over and over and over. Hey, if that’s what they like, fine, but that’s not my style and the fact I find that sort of thing VERY dull isn’t weird. Give me some context. Now to be frank, I’m not a huge fan of the architecture in Pittsburgh though Vinoly’s new convention center seemed okay from the outside. Pittsburgh and the surrounding counties are really a sum of its parts, a virtual playground of urban and industrial artifacts. However, there is SO much it’s impossible to see all Pittsburgh in the mere 3-4 days I had there (over 400 bridges!) It would have to relocated there and take years to discover all the nooks, crannies, and gems that the Steel City has to offer.
Wednesday, June 10 – Thursday, June 11
The cities of Pittsburgh and Seattle are polar opposites in atmosphere, industry, architecture & urban planning, climate, but share one key thing in common – the skies are often overcast and it rains a LOT.
The duration of my Pittsburgh stay was no exception and posed quite a challenge for me. It wasn’t even interesting storm clouds, just mundane uniform gray. I had a gut feeling that I was going to working mostly in black and white.
The sun actually came out for about one hour, enabling me to take the last picture above at the PPG Center. During lunch on Wednesday I had lunch at Primanti Brothers. There’s a bunch of native Pittsburgh folks reading this but for those of you who don’t know, it’s some place you have to go otherwise you don’t have the full Pittsburgh “experience”. My dear friend Eric raves about the place and I asked Heather about it. Her response was basically, “Uh…it’s some place you do have to go to.” Basically the premise of their sandwiches is this – because the mining workers and truckers were in such a hurry, they wound up tossing everything that was part of the meal in between the sandwich bread, including meat, french fries, cole slaw, and helpings.
Sounds disgusting doesn’t it? But a lot of people rave over it and it did launch chains like the Primanti Brothers. So I ordered the least offensive thing on the menu – some sort of three cheese concoction. They threw in the french fries and the cole slaw.
I took a bite. And…blech. First, I’m not a huge fan of cole slaw or the tasteless white bread these guys use. So I was like…okay, maybe it’s the cole slaw…I removed that and attempted to eat the rest of the sandwich. It was a passable but I just couldn’t eat the combination of ingredients, it didn’t taste good to me (sorry Eric!). I’m thinking that’s maybe because I wasn’t in a rush and didn’t actually HAVE to shovel down everything in one sandwich. An acquired taste, that’s for sure!
The rest of the day was cloudy and raining, so I focused on a lot of subject matter that didn’t rely on the sky so much. Though I didn’t get to shoot exactly what I wanted I did find some neat things and despite the weather, discovering the city proved to be very rewarding. It is one heck of a town.
I was going to originally leave Thursday but had too many household items to tidy up. I arrived into Savannah on Friday morning, crossed the Talmedge Bridge and immediately got in trouble with the Feds.
Well, okay, not in trouble trouble – but if you’re coming from the north, you’ll notice the heavy industrial district on the river as you cross the bridge into Savannah. So I figure that would be a great place to start my shooting, right? As I’m doing photography some security dude approaches me, rattling off some sort of federal Homeland Security regulation that I can’t shoot photos. I really had no clue, he was very nice to me and answered my questions, and as I left it looked like he was jotting down my license plate. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh great – next time I get on a plane, they’re going to pull me to the side because I’m on some sort of list.”
And if you think I’m paranoid about this, a few days later, my website receives an engine search with my FULL name, including middle initial, from Savannah. So how many of you know my middle name? Yeah, exactly. You mark my words, whenever I hop the jet to my next trip to Texas or California or something I’m going to get totally waterboarded because I thought the Savannah ports would make for some cool photos.
Having been properly chastised, I decided to do something less risky: take my handy-dandy SLR and roam the projects right next to the industrial area.
Yeah, no joke.
The Projects (2009)
It had been cloudy the entire day and by the time I hopped over to Tybee Island in the late afternoon it began to downpour. That would be the first time I got drenched.
Storm Chasing (2009)
I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day and couchsurfed that evening with my hosts Cindy & Jim. Cindy went to SCAD is a good photographer in her own right, developing all of her own B&W film, mostly portraiture. From what I can remember, she had a bunch of medium format cameras and some Holgas, including the cutest purple Holga. Another couchsurfer stayed over at their place that night – Nicole, she came up visiting from Gainesville, Florida.
Well the rain didn’t stop that night, in fact it continued through to Saturday afternoon. That morning, Nicole and I drove to downtown where we had breakfast at this coffee shop she had found. -Very- good food. She was really cool and I had no plans that evening, so decided to join her on a “ghost” pub and crawl tour. We parted paths after finishing our coffees, she to go shopping and I, to play photographer in the rain for drenching #2.
Back Alley (2009)
From downtown I went over to the Roundhouse Railroad Museum and took the rail “tour”. Currently the rail tour is fairly limited, but they’ll expand it over the next several years into more of Savannah. The tour guide was the entire entertainment during the tour – fortunately, both informative and interesting. I spent an hour or so afterwards shooting around the facility.
To Atlanta (2009)
Roundhouse Railroad Museum
Tower of Babel (2009)
The rain was beginning to break after visiting the railroad museum. I roamed Savannah’s historic neighborhoods for a few hours, including Forsyth park.
A Savannah Welcome
As I left downtown, I decided it was a good idea to visit more dilapidated low-income urban areas.
Positive Reinforcement (2009)
Having spent 8 hours attempting to shoot during and between downpours, I was tired and wanted to get an old-man nap at Cindy’s house before going out that evening. I woke up a couple of hours later. Nicole apparently had the same brilliant idea, as she was sleeping on the couch.
We drove back to downtown and had pizza at this place she found, called Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. Oh man, definitely the best pizza in the city, and the best I’ve had in quite some time. Their pizza with spicy Italian sausage topping is primo. After inhaling our food, we quickly scooted over to the pub to start our tour.
The tour was okay, and the guide was a riot – he had this weird New York / Georgia mashed-up accent. He had a lot of ghost stories which Nicole and I shared a huge skepticism for. We also shared annoyance with this one shrieking chick on tour with us who was totally drunk off her rockers. But we got to see some cool places, including some dilapidated rotten interiors of old buildings we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Savannah is totally cool because you can walk around downtown, freely drinking with cups of beer in your hand. Just for the record, since so many people reading this blog know me…I actually had two beers.
During the tour, I decided to expand what I label my “anti-bucket list”. What is the anti-bucket list, you might ask? It’s basically everything I don’t EVER want to have happen to me or do in my life. So far, the list is very short, but perfectly understandable (at least I think so):
I don’t want to get run over by a postal-delivery truck moving at 20 miles per hour between mailboxes.
I don’t want to suffer a nasty papercut while licking an envelope.
When I die, I don’t want a highway public restroom named in my honor. If the summation of my life ends in the opportunity for you to take a dump in the Sterling E. Stevens Rest Area, I’m perfectly comfortable with passing away with complete anonymity.
I will not be forced to deal with my psychotic ex-girlfriend again without exacting the severest of legal repercussion.
After hearing the tall tales and the involved horrific context surrounding these supposed ghost sitings, I’ve decided to add, “I would like to prevent a bizarre gruesome death to avoid becoming part of ghost-telling folklore.” to the list.
Neither Nicole or I saw Cindy and Jim very much during the entire stay, but they were pretty kickin’. Left that morning for “historic” Bluffton, on the way to Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Bluffton is overrated.
And for that matter, so was Hilton Head – that may be the most boring beach destination I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to Myrtle Beach. It was here that I experienced Drenching #3. I was waiting to pick up one of my photographs from the local art show and spent much of my time wasting away in Starbucks, in an existing elevator shaft that was converted into a regular room.
So at 6:00 p.m., I go to the art gallery to pick up my work from the juried exhibition and WOW – I usually have mixed feelings about what I see on the walls, but I was stunned with what I considered to be the quality of work. 150 juried pieces from artists around the United States and there were only a few I didn’t like. And surprise upon surprise, my photo received an honorable mention!
I must’ve appeared unexcited because the gallery director didn’t realize I was the artist until I was about to leave. I just didn’t want to look like a giddy idiot. But by the time I stowed away my photo and got into the car, I started to excitedly pump my fist and go “YEAH! OH YEAH! WOOO!”
Two parking spaces adjacent from mine, the woman sitting in the car was looking at me kinda weird…I don’t know why. It could be because I broke into the cabbage patch.
I got into Charleston on Sunday and finally got to hang out with Lewis & Jamie, who are both totally kickass. We ate lunch then roamed the downtown wharf area and some of the neighborhoods. The city was not very crowded at all, I think much of the Memorial Day crowd waned because of the soggy weather, high gas prices, and shaky economy. Regardless, the lack of crowds was awesome. I had to expose them to the desserts at Saffron then accidentally took them in the wrong direction on the way back! Sorry Lewis! I felt bad, he was so red from the sun. But we all had fun and I’m looking forward to hanging with them again!
Between Sunday and Tuesday, I barely took any photos. But the weather was so perfect, I knew I was going to get the photo I had been wanting a chance to re-take for the last six years – a good photo from the top of the Holiday Inn.
The City of Charleston, South Carolina – Riverview (2009)
(click here for a larger view)
I had been playing phone tag with a buddy from grad school, Ben, and we finally caught up in downtown Charleston. He showed me his architectural office, some of the work he was doing, then we for a drink and appetizers. Was good to catch up with him and talk shop, had been a couple of years since we had last seen each other.
From there I traveled to Folly Beach where I was able to view some of the area before sunset.
Sunset on Folly River (2009)
And that’s when I began to sneeze. I had a tickling sore throat the night before, but now I was suffering under sneezing-fits galore. I barely got any sleep Tuesday night and the sneezing pretty much lasted through Wednesday. I was so miserable by the time I got home I crashed (and took some Vitamin C), which apparently did me a lot of good. I guess that’s what I get for shooting in the rain. But overall the trip was good, despite all of the dreary weather conditions!