Tim and Eric Awesome Tour Chicago 2009, Great job!

Insane absurdist skit comedians Tim and Eric as well as many of their friends performed to a sold out crowd in Chicago recently and, lucky me, I was able to take photos of it.

First, a little bit of explanation to those who have no idea who the guys are, they’re the creators of possibly the most insane show on television today. The show is filled with jabs at bad public broadcasting, karaoke hits, guest stars out the ears, and just about anything that’d make someone unacquainted to the show confused and possibly uncomfortable. I’ll put it this way: a small, animated. screaming baby with an overly hairy face named “Chippy” is a common occurrence in between skits on the program. It’s that weird.

The question is, does the show translate well to the stage? The answer – yes. Freaking absolutely.

The night started as any show night does. Waiting in line. It was cold. By cold I mean mind numbingly cold. The kind of cold that saps every bit of feeling from your extremities. Completely ignorant of that fact, hundreds were already lined up for the sold-out show over an hour before the doors were even planned to open.  Finally, after a long wait, the queue was checked for camera equipment and let through to wait in front of the stage, enjoying some ambient Tim and Eric music in the meantime.

After a short wait, DJ Douggpound, a friend of Tim and Eric as well as the guy responsible for the theme song for the show as well as a lot of music featured in the show, came out on stage and worked the crowd.

The main event began. A melodic techno-tune fills the air involving the word “diarrhea”, and finally, Tim and Eric burst onto stage in their patented skin-tight costumes. Yellow this time around. The place went wild.

Following the introduction, the show exploded into a menagerie of skits and video interludes reminiscent of the television program that we had all come to love. It included throwbacks to Awesome Show as well as completely original material that hadn’t been seen before (for instance, Tim and Eric tried to sell the audience a hot tub in an effort to give us the special “Tim and Eric TOUCH”). Guest appearances were abound.

Also, a surprise visit from John C. Reilly as the much-loved character Dr. Steve Brule. Unfortunately, I don’t have the permission to post the photos that I took of him, so maybe another time.

To finish up, I’m going to dump a large bunch of the rest of my photos. I’m no writer, so I can’t really say much more past the fact that the show was excellent and I recommend it to literally everyone who is a fan of the duo go see it. Even if you’re not a fan and want to experience something like nothing you’ve experienced before, go see it.

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Double Silo Quickie

I hit two silos a while back, figured I’d put them both together. The first was an old grain silo. I have no history on the actual building, but it looks to have been active before the 60’s and maybe even as far back as the 30’s. The inside was almost too dark to take photos:

We climbed up the hulking structure, crossing frighteningly decayed cement walkways to get to another section where we could climb to the top. I took a quick photo of some of the coolest industrial equipment I’d ever seen:

The relative darkness of the inside compared to the bright winter day made it difficult to take many photos. I snapped one more shot before leaving that I really ended up liking. It turned out looking like it was processed, but this went straight from my camera to my computer with only a little leveling, temperature correction, and sharpening in between:

The second silo, oddly, looks like a gigantic castle. We didn’t know exactly where it was, but we followed it’s hulking presence on the horizon until we finally were able to park across the street and wander to it from there. We walked along some tracks until we were right next to the structure.

The inside of the first part of the silo was dark and full of dirt. Long rains had obviously washed in every surrounding bit of soil, which cascaded in through the windows. Small holes in the concrete let the light in. Unfortunately, there was no way to the higher floors as time had taken its toll on the steel ladders, which were either sprawled on the floor or barely intact.

As we walked from the first section the second, I took a photo. The wind between them was unbelievable.

There was very little in the second area past the same dirt and holes in the first. Jordan pointed this out to me and I thought it was pretty hilarious.

To see more of my abandoned photos, check out my main site.

Chicago Hospital Complex Exploration pt. 2

We started the day with plans to explore two abandoned hospitals in the area. The hospital has been a historic point of Chicago since it was built and even had a popular TV sitcom based on it. The hallways were gigantic, but also very empty. Being a county hospital, the city had pinched every penny from the closure that they could.

There was almost nothing left but the structure of this building. Rooms stood completely empty with only a scrap or two of metal or a radiator against the wall.:

Making our way up to the top floor, we could see the Chicago skyline outside of the window. I wound my way through a small hallway to find an oddly placed auditorium that was probably used for the observation of surgeries at one point. The floor of the auditorium where the instructor once stood was now completely filled with what seemed to be heating equipment. A hulking wall of aluminum blocked us from going any further down the stairs.

The hallways were as gutted as the actual rooms. I have no idea why, but dirt was covering the ground of this 7th floor hallway.

We exited the first of our destinations and made our way to the second. This hospital, midway between the point where a building is closed and the point where demolition work starts, was much more interesting. It was full of leftover equipment, records, x-rays, film – you name it. Unfortunately, we were running low on daylight so we were forced to rush through.

The hospital felt as if everyone had just gotten up and left. Not a single room in the building that we were able to explore was completely empty. Chairs, piles of records, even medical equipment was just left to rot.

The furniture in the building was dated. Seems the last time that they actually refurnished the place was in the seventies, although I’m pretty sure it closed much more recently.

The halls were dark, full of furniture and debris. Peeling paint coats floors that have paint, other halls are lined with tile that has not yet fallen off.

Meet the most frightening CPR dummy that you’ll ever see.

One of the most surprising and incredible things that has ever happened to me while exploring suddenly happened. We were wandering around looking for a way to make it to the basement and something insane happened. We were in a dark stairwell. Dirty floors, peeling paint everywhere, no lights, darkness – suddenly, we opened a door and found ourself in one of the most pristine abandoned buildings that we had ever been in. It felt surreal, almost dreamlike. The colors on the walls were the same as they were when the building closed, the floors almost looked waxed. It was crazy. We were in a hurry (many windows, well lit), so I couldn’t get a great photo.

More to come of course.

To see more of my abandoned photos, check out my main site.

Chicago Hospital Complex Exploration

Ok I’m back after a few weeks of slacking for some more uploady goodness.
First off, I returned to the hospital complex that I went to last time. We explored a few different buildings, although I didn’t get photos in many of them because it was so dark.

The nurse’s residency was one of the places that we hit. The bottom floor actually had a boarded up ballroom with wood floors, chandeliers, a fireplace – the works. There was even wood left in the fireplace from the last time that they had extinguished the flame before they abandoned the building. We walked up a few floors to find room after room.

Colorful rooms, they were painted with almost childlike colors contrasting with the dull decay of the hallway.

One of the rooms was inhabited by a particularly successful bum.

We wandered into an animal testing facility. Jordan was a bad monkey.

In the same area, they were storing all sorts of medical equipment:

To see more of my abandoned photos, check out my main site: http://www.cityeyesphoto.com/index.php?x=browse&category=29

My Tamron Lens Broke!

My Tamron 17-35 recently screwed up majorly. I have no idea what went on inside, but I went out on a full day (which seemed to be going perfectly), framed up a shot, hit the focus button – it would NOT focus. For some reason the area that the focus ring was supposed to be at was PAST infinity. I took a closer look, and my aperture ring was off-track.

So, doing what any insane photographer that wants his lens to work would do, I opened the lens up, thinking that the worst case scenario would leave me $300 down and since my job involves photography, that wouldn’t be too bad.

Turns out, for some reason, the track that my aperture ring sits on was cracked and the ball bearing had become lodged into some evil area. No idea how this happened, since I have it tacked at 22 and let the camera control the f-stop.

So, I had to choose whether I should glue it, or discard the cracked fragment. I just tossed it out. Unfortunately, in the process of getting everything to work, the tiny, tiny ball bearing slipped out of my grip and flew to the floor. Not even a strong magnet could find it.

So, now I had no way to lock my aperture ring in place. It sucked, but I could live since I just keep it tacked stuck to 22. I replaced everything, closed it up, put the screws in, and fastened the aperture ring to 22 with some electrical tape (it has a tiny spring mechanism, so without the ball bearing, it doesn’t stick).

Works fine now, but I figured I’d share my pain.

Why Lomography Bothers Me

I couldn’t have said this better myself:

“…the basic Lomographic principles of “talent not required” and “it’s art because I say it is” has developed a cult following amongst people who would otherwise be forced to read books and improve their mediocre photography, but who find acceptance of their talentless shite amongst others who got suckered into the same boat. They use “technological throw-backs” because it requires more effort to take a truly horrendous photograph with a modern autofocus, autoexposure camera.”

What is with the current trend of “no-skill-required” photography? I’m all for experimentation. Lomo a bit, pinhole a bit, use a Brownie for a while, shoot some Polaroids – but for god’s sake don’t make technically inferior photography with no composition or skill in mind your main forte.

I have nothing against Lomo in general or even people who use it to take a break from their normal photography and mess around a bit, but to those who think of Lomography as “a way of life” – you need to get a real camera and learn how to properly take photos instead of relying on gimmicky flaws. While the rest of the members of their lomograpic society might love seeing crappy, blurry, badly composed photos of the top of your head, the fact that your plastic camera makes your photos look “artsy” does not make you an artist.

Yes, any random idiot can make an “interesting” photo with a lomo. The colors have that “wow” effect and the vignette and aberrations might make for an interesting photo, but why are we putting so much of an emphasis on the medium in which we communicate our photography and so little on the actual content? It’s like praising someone who just picked up a vintage guitar and started strumming because the sound is “warm and inviting”, but not critiquing the fact that he can’t play for crap.

Good on the marketing department though, for convincing a bunch of clueless “artsy” types that a toy camera is worth $100 just because the photos that come out are over-saturated, vignetted, and badly focused.

If you’re thinking of buying a Lomo – please, please reconsider. Pick up a used film SLR from ebay for less than half the price and pick up a prime lens with the other half. Experimenting with composition and subject is 80% of the fun of photography – you’re skipping most of that when you pick up a lomo.

As always, comments of all sorts are welcomed and accepted. If you love Lomo, state your position, if you hate it, do the same.

Indiana Exploration

Exploration Catch-Up first post:
First off, an abandoned hotel.

Second, we hit a schoolhouse in the area. Built in 1922, it has been shut down since somewhere around 1960.

This hallway is actually in the basement. Originally, it was made of poured concrete and could withstand the blast of an atomic bomb.

Some of the cool paintings we found in the building:

For some reason, a single chair and desk were all that was left in this room. The floor was drooping pretty badly, so I didn’t spend too much time tromping around up there. There was a hole in the ground that led to a classroom below:

There were a lot of weird things painted around the building:

One last photo before we left the school – Jordan taking a shot in the stairwell:

Obama’s Chicago Election Night Rally

Here comes a big set. It was an absolutely electric night. People of all types, of course, but the mood was euphoric.

Keep in mind the lighting while viewing these photos. I had the ISO cranked up to 3200 or 6400 and the temperature of the light changed so often I’d have a batch of blue photos followed by a batch of yellow photos. Either way, I’m happy with the results. Most of my photos were taken with my 50mm 1.8 prime lens, the rest were with an 18-50 and 70-200 2.8 if you’re interested in technical details.

Almost immediately after getting off of the train, we were bombarded by various people selling all sorts of Obama merchandise. From shirts, to mugs, to hats, to posters, to freaking paper fans. No idea who would be interested in a paper fan in 50 degree F weather, but whatever. This particular guy was standing on a street corner selling Obama/Biden posters.

As we got closer to the fairgrounds, signs started popping up.

We were corralled into lines – sent through various checkpoints along the way to make the wait seem less. It was surprisingly streamline considering that every person entering the event was forced to open all bags and remove all metal objects before making their way through an array of metal detectors.

We made our way in, finally. It seemed almost staged. The entrance was on a raised area of the field overlooking the whole place. A sea of people stood before us, flags waving in the distance and hands raised. It was ridiculous.

The media was there, of course. This woman is apparently from CBS. The price of media passes were insane ($900+ per pass), so unfortunately only the bigwigs had access to the cordoned off areas.

Suddenly, an incredibly early win was announced. The crowd erupted in celebration. It was deafening. I actually forgot to start taking photos I was so swept up in it. Finally, I got my act together.

People were taking photos like mad, of course.

I moved over to the other side of the fence (the non-ticketed area) people were just as excited over there ,but this kid just looked tired.

The crowds were crazy on the way out, but oddly controlled. We all walked happily out there with literally no problems. People were happy, shouting Obama, dancing, playing music, waving flags. All down usually packed-with-cars Chicago streets.

More at my Flickr page: Obama Set at Flickr

Gary Church Revisited

Here are a few more shots of one of my favorite places in the area. I’ve been busy at the paper with all of the floods going on in the area, but a forced detour due to the closing of a highway and a bit of lucky downtime, I managed to stop by to take a few shots.
In the rain, the church takes on a whole new mood. Water floods in from the ceiling and collects on the floor of the once great church. The brickwork is exposed where the water hits, dirt washed away. Water runs down the limestone pillars. The pounding, pouring rain gave the church a completely new feeling, almost as if it were alive again. It was absolutely beautiful.

I took a photo or two of the sanctuary before deciding to explore the rest of the building again. I made my way into another room and made my way up some stairs.

I climbed up into the church bell tower in order to get a shot from above. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be in the area next time it was raining so hard so I figured I’d capture the moment.

On my way down, I stopped by a room that I’ve always liked. The floor was an inch deep with water. In the winter, the floor of this room is often coated with ice. Today, water gathered.

Finally, the result of exploring a very wet abandoned church: