“Is this the right place?” I asked Jean, as we pulled up.

“I don’t know. What was the address again?”

“I don’t remember. Funk said it was at Wabansia and Elston. Right across from the Hideout.”

“That’s the Hideout.”

“That’s the Hideout? ”

“Yeah. But there’s nothing across from it. Call him again.”

Turns out the party, a Pitchfork Festival afterparty, was diagonal from the Hideout, in one of those warehouse-to-loft conversions, with a rooftop deck. On the deck, it was nice and coolish, for a balmy summer night with little breeze in the city supposedly famous for its wind. But inside, on the building’s second floor, where three bands played to a BYOB crowd of 200-odd twenty-something hipsters, it was really fucking hot.

To see the series, click here or on the image.

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The cabin by the lake

July 22, 2008

Mosquitos and beer and the smell of old wood. Two fishing skiffs tied together, middle of a small lake, middle of a still-bright night, too many stars, trying to see distant fireworks above the trees. Fourth of July in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

I haven’t been up north since my ski racing days in college. I forgot the sheer beauty of the middle of nowhere. My mistake.

To see the series, click here or on the image.

Lately, I have been shooting regular daily coverage. So, while I try to find myself a project that interests me, I decided to put together a slideshow explaining how I approach my daily work, the life of a newspaper freelancer in Midwestern suburbia.

To see the series, click here or on the image.

The 101

May 28, 2008

When I first moved to Ukiah, California, in January of 2005, I noticed only the difference in the flora. Lichens and mistletoe hanging from the gloom, and straggled grapevines marching in dormant rows, off into the hills.

So different than the Mississippi valley of my childhood, oak and limestone covered in an Iowa snow. I took comfort in the difference. I found fascination with the differences. I saw nothing else.

By summer I began to notice the rest.

The drive from Ukiah to Eureka is desolate, rising out of the Ukiah valley vinyards, irrigated grapevines green and alive against the brown desert of the hills, towards Willits, and the mountains in the north. The mountains become the redwoods, where the moisture comes back to the air, before the sea materializes among the logging operations, and Eureka appears out of the drizzle.

I drove this stretch of U.S. Highway 101 with more frequency, the longer I lived in Ukiah. I had friends in Eureka, and I found Ukiah dull. I had favorite parts of the trip, the sun-drenched hills of Garberville, the redwood canopy of Humboldt County. I never noticed a plot of land just north of Willits. Most people, I think, never noticed the plot of land, just north of Willits, known as the Schoolhouse property.

To see the rest of the series, click here, or on the image.

Rhonda (last name witheld per subject’s request) greets Jim McLeary, a Mendocino County official, with apprehension. McLeary arrived at the Schoolhouse property Nov. 17, 2005, to second an earlier letter informing the property residents they had 30 days to vacate the premises. The property had been labeled unlivable by the county, due to alleged lack of proper maintenance on the part of the property’s landlord, including unpermitted mobile homes and illegal power line splicings. In all, 14 residents living in the nine rentals on the property were told to leave their homes. Most had no where else to go.

While shooting the Palos Heights half marathon, on May 3, for Runners Ultimate Network on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, I was pulled aside by the producer, Rush.

“If you’ve got time, I’d like you to just grab some portraits after the finish.”

No problem.

The race ended for the best runners at 9:30 a.m. I found a large white tent, the medic tent, and used it’s east-facing wall as a reflector. I would have liked to clean the backgrounds up some, but since I was using a medic tent for my fill, I wasn’t too mobile.

May 3 was also the first day I used a new 2x tele converter. I intended it to lengthen my long glass for baseball and soccer, but since I had it, I figured what the hell. I attached it to my 50mm f/1.4, for the full-body shots. It made a blurry kind of vignette, which was unexpected. I used a 28mm f/2.8 for the close-ups.

To see the rest of the series, click here, or on the image.