B173 – YOU DON’T NEED A HELMET

I’m writing this a day before I actually need too, the next 48 hours are going to be a bit stressfull, so I thought I would do this post way before I need to just to make sure that its decent and not completely rubbish.

Today I wanted to post more pictures of the junk yard I went too a few days ago, just because it was something that I think is worth posting. The whole idea of taking photos at a place where you would think to take photos is what I like about this and its made me want to go to more junk yards and take photos.

The first photo I want to talk about is the guy riding the motorbike, in Illinois is legal to ride a motorbike without a helmet. Now for someone from London its completely weird to see people riding motorbikes around without a helmet on, it just doesn’t look normal. But it definitely adds to the cool factor, it makes motorbike riders look more like Nomads than part of a society. Like this guy, he’s just cruising around looking like he’s going nowhere but everywhere at the same time. the guys probably just on his way to get some milk for his family at home, but that’s not the impression he gives. I’m not sure if I agree with the helmet laws over here, but who I am to judge.

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For all these photos I used a Canon 20mm prime, shot in Black and White but also used RAW + JPEG format, but so I had the safety of using an Uncompressed image but was using Black and White as a reference. When you shoot in RGB but plan on changing the photo to B&W later on you shoot completely different and don’t think about the lighting as much as to when your only seeing B&W as an in camera reference.

My tip is to always shoot in the colour scale you plan to edit in and release you image as. I think it makes a huge different to the out come of your photo. Someone might say differently but by shooting RAW + JPG, you aren’t risking anything.

Here’s my other two photos. As your reading this, im currently on my way to an airport.

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– I like the rough paint on the side of this truck –
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– not for sale –

B172 – THIS IS A PROPER PIZZA

I thought today I would have a look back at some Iphone snaps, Ive got a few days left of America before heading to Canada for a bit and then I will be heading home. So this seems like a good idea, since most of the time I carry my 5d with me where ever I go, there hasn’t been many iphone photos. Which is a bit annoying because I enjoy using my phone as a camera. its really good at just capturing photos in the moment and not as “set up” as a DSLR can be sometimes.

These photos from my phone, were taken around Chicago, the group of birds I think are king fishers but I’m not sure, they where all sitting on the grass by a road, I decided to jump out, try and sneak up on them and get a photo which didn’t really work out, they all bolted and flew off. which i think made for a cool photo the one time I didn’t have my camera and a good zoom lens and I see these. Next time ill be prepared.

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– I quite like the fact these birds have flown off, i think it makes the photo better –

I want to show is the stupidly big Chicago deep pan pizza, which weighs about 5lbs. No joke. When I walked into the kitchen last night and saw only a big and small box to share I was bit worried it wasn’t going to be enough. That wasn’t the case, four slices later and I’ve loosened my belt and gone a bit dizzy. That thing wasn’t a pizza it was more like a quiche. Half pepperoni half sausage was more than enough to feed 5 people. What surprised me how well it all worked together, not only was this thing more like a challenge but it had taste, I eat 3 slices before my body even realised and then after half way through the 4th, I hit the wall and it was all down hill after that. 16 hours later and I still haven’t eaten a thing.

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– this was too much pizza for 5 people to eat, they are about an inch thick with mozzarella –

 

I don’t really have a reason for taking this photo, I was in Starbucks and it kind of made me chuckle how all these guys were studying, facing the same way and looked like they were all sat like you would be if you were doing a test. I kind of like the mood they set.

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– this looks like an intense study session –

Let me know what you think of this new layout and if you think it works.

B171 – COOL UNKNOWN AMERICA – I THINK IVE LEARNT SOMETHING – PT.5

Today is the last day of me doing my first mini photo project, Cool Unknown American. Im not really sure how much is unknown or how much everyone knows, but my plan was just to show the inner workings on America on a whistle stop tour of America these past few days. Im about to have a really busy few days, so I think its probably best is I go for a five part project.

I’m currently sat in someone’s garage as the temperature hits 95 degrees, its pretty hot and there’s no air con but that will no break me.

With these posts its always tough to figure out what to write about and with photos, Ive always wanted to let my photos do the talking and just let people read each image and take away from it what they please. That’s not really the case, if you can take a good photo that seems to be about 60% of it, the other 40% is your writing. How well you can capture and write about that photo. That’s what I’ve learnt about this project, my photos are only doing a percentage of the work, I need to explain the reason behind the photos and what I think. Maybe its time for a new shake up of this blog, change the layout and my angle. I’m coming up to the 6 month mark in 11 days and the past 171 days have taught me a lot.

Two of the photos you see below are from previous days, one is of this incredible sunset we saw over the Illinois river on the drive from St.louis to Chicago. It was like a 6 hour drive, on the same straight road of like 200 miles, we got bored half way through and turned off on to the old route 66, this photo was taken just after we joined back on the highway across over the river and then were met by this crazy sunset. I love taking photos of sunsets, they never get boring. my favourite part about this photo is the reflection off the river in the back ground, it makes it feel like mid west america to me.

The other photo is from the VW car meet, this guy was standing up on the flat bed trying to sell things I think. I dont know why, I just thought it was a good photo opportunity so i took it. that car meet was one of those moments that will stand out for me on this trip. I just happened to look out of my hotel window and saw all this craziness happening across the road, so grabbed my camera and just started taking photos. nothing was planned, it just all seemed to fall into place.

anyway I’ve just eaten way to much Chicago deep pan pizza to keep me full or the next week, so heres my three photos.  enjoy.

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– this is my view of the amazing weather outside –
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– sunset on highway 55, Illinois river –
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– this guy knew how to sell –

 

B170 – UNKNOWN COOL AMERICA – A QUITE DAY MADE FUN- PT.4

Yep train tracks, thats what I took photos of today and I learnt something. I really dont like taking photos of train tracks, but where I am in Chicago, there is basically nothing apart from some massive car parks, and fast food joints. So train tracks will have todo.

Ive had one of those days where I just feel completely nackered and just looking forward to getting some good food inside me. my conclusion is that mid west america dont know how todo breakfast, they either have fruit loops or waffles and maybe some turkey sausages and some eggs. thats good every now and again, but not everyday. get some fresh fruit in and some yoghurt, trust me america it will change your life. or even try some fresh food, its a real game changer.

but enough of the moaning, At Lunch time today, i thought what should I do If I have nothing todo, so I decided to stop off at a gun shop to get that culture shock and wake my day up.  I ended up shooting my first ever gun a military grade AR-15 semi automatic machine gun. The nice guys in the gun shop gave me a little tour of the place first, I only I walked into the store to have a look at what guns they sell and maybe get my hands on the clint Eastwood smith and western gun that he has in those movies, but after speaking to Gunny Mike and this cool guy Marc, they ended up letting me shoot some rounds of the AR-15. It was a pretty sick time actually and scared the crap out of me. but after the first 10 rounds I was like a young rambo. They even gave me a cool T-shirt for me to remember the first time I shot an AR-15. I was like a 10 year old boy, who just discovered this whole new world. I dont think i would ever own a gun or something but it was definitely a good bit of fun. my shoulder is in a bit of pain now though, that guns got a bit of a kick to it.

After that I decided to go on a bit of a drive and take some pictures of something that has no baring on my day, but of something that is everywhere in the states and thats how I ended up taking photos of the exciting world of the American Railway tracks. enjoy these photos.

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– cheers Gunny Mike and Marc for setting this up. as you can see Im a natural, the hole closest to the red was Gunny Mike, I was going to claim it as mine but it was all him that one.  –
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– rail road crossing number one –
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– this was a rail road crossing, I just made it look like I was standing in between the tracks. I promise –

B169 – UNKNOWN COOL AMERICA – THE JUNK YARD TRIP – PT.3

about a mile down the road from the hotel we are staying in, is this cool scrap / mechanics / junk yard that has a few hidden gems. From the freeway that runs parallel to the yard, you can see this 1970’s all white cadillac and as today was a prep day, basically getting ready for our up and coming shoots. I thought I would get in a bit of time to explore this yard.

On the way over I thought I would try something a bit different and shoot these in Black and White not edit them later in lightroom and turn them black and white. but completely shoot black and white. my thought process was that because theres a  complete mixture of items from eras and parts from around the world that have all ended up in the same place, the only way I would be able to get across the feeling abandoness *not sure if thats a word, but ill go with it*. was by shooting Black and white.

Its 99% worked, these photos have a feel of loneless and despair, everything you see in this junk yard once had a home, it was once used for a purpose and now its left out in the elements to rust away until its up-cycled and found a new home. Hopefully. places like this yard are full of stories, like the van below which to me looks like it has a bullet hole in the windscreen and the front completely caved in. what the hell happened to that truck? as someone who likes the over the top story line, I like to think it was involved in some kind of gangsta stuff involving two bonnie and Clyde characters who instead of robbing a bank accidentally ended up in my library because bonnie was drunk that day and didn’t scoop the place out first. which meant the police got involved and took a pop at Cylde the get away driver. so now their choice of get away van is sat rusting away in the junk yard in Chicago instead of Mexico.

I can almost guarantee thats no where near what actually happened, but thats the kind of crap my brain likes to conjure up when Im taking these photos.

heres my photos from todays mini shoot. thanks to Frank and Al for letting me explore their Junk Yard!

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– the caddy is something I want back home –
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– the bullet hole? –
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– this van –
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– black and white just adds to the photos –
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– this tool was probably once pretty useful to someone –
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– big and small –

B168 – COOL UNKNOWN AMERICA – CLASSIC VW MEET. PT.3

A Few years ago I brought a 1967 VW Beach Buggy for my dad and me to drive, it was a sick little car when it worked and we would always need new parts or an MOT. The last time I took it for a spin, the accelerator peddle would get stuck on and the car would stop. which made of an interesting drive. when I brought that car at the age of 16, I could get insured and didnt even have a license, when I passed my test the insurance was so expensive it was really worth it.

Today my love for beach buggys has been re-lite. across the road from our hotel today was this VW car meet, with people selling parts and showing off their cars. The beach buggies were pretty impressive but thats not the main reason I decided to go, I love looking at those cars and seeing people impression but I wanted to photograph the people who import all this, it cant be easy finding classic VW parts in Silver Lake Chicago, it must take a network of people to find all the small parts like a 60’s Beetle speedometer or a carb and its these people that I want to photograph.

I was speaking to a few people about what its like selling old VW car parts and the life style it brings and the whole thing is pretty interesting, every purchase has to be calculated and thought about. can they use it on there projects or can it be cleaned restored and sold on. its definitely something which has to be a hobby first and then maybe possible make a living from it down the line maybe.

What my favourite thing about these classic cars is the fact that none of them are standard, everyones added their own personality to them, like the crazy Mexican’s who have built a massive table football  on the back of there VW camper and then all just play football and laugh, its their two favourite things football and VWs coming together in a way that you wouldnt find in the back of a toyota Prius. classic VW’s just seem to have a personality that no other car has.

anyway enough of hearing my views, heres my snaps. By the way these were all shot on a 20mm 2.8 canon lens. I think its my new favourite lens.

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– VW camper, table football edition –
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– these guys were selling old VW manuals and magazines, just happy to be there –
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– he was happy really –
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– this photo just made me smile –

 

B167 – COOL UNKOWN AMERICA – ST LOUIS TO CHICAGO PT.2

today we drove from St.louis to our next destination Chicago for the fourth location on this little filming trip. its fair to say this country is absolutely bonkers but in a good way, from the size of the food portions to the crazy ideas that people seem to have and then make them work. like the city museum in downtown St.louis, where they have a 10 story side and have decided to park a school bus and a plane on top of the building, it was the sort of place were kids and grown ups can just run around and explore climbing weird structures and old planes high above the city sky line! I thought it was amazing but i wanted to explore the city and decided to go and check out downtown, I got about 5 blocks from the museum when a bunch of motorbikes started racing down the road pulling wheels and stuff just like in the movie creed it was nuts. my camera was on completely the wrong settings, so the photos were just over exposed. thats why I need the Leica M.

After this little de tour, we hit the road heading for Chicago, driving north on the 55, around an hour into the drive we went past this crazy vintage car dealer, it literally had every car you could imagine from pre 1970, including rolls royce’s, ford pops and the car that malcoms parents drive in Malcom in the middle. unfortunatly it shut like 10 mintues before me got there, which basically meant we could only look at it from the fench. I still managed to get some photos of a burnt out car they must of brought to resort. I have no idea what car it is, but I properly like the picture.

Im now at the hotel in Chicago in the area of Lake on The Hill, not sure if im near a lake but it sounds like I am. the lady at the reception told us to go and try the famous restaurant Portillo’s across the road, its fair to say that is was a good shout. that place is amazing and as its somewhere that I quite like, so heres some info on it.

Portillos was founded in 1963 by a man names dick portillo, After he was honourably discharge from the marine corpe decided to open up a hot dog stand and invested $1,100 in a 6 x 12ft trailer and parked it on North Avenue in Villa Park, Chicago. he called it “The Dog House”. the van didnt have any running water so he would have to run 250m to a local bar every now and again to give his stand a top up.

4 years later he had turned it into a successfull business and decided it was time for a revamp and opened “Portillos” , it basically took off and he went on to open more and more locations. then in 1983, the first drive though opened in Downers Grove (Chicago) and instantly became know for its quick service and good hot dogs.

this place is quickly developing a name for its self all over the US and has now opened up in southern California, Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota. If you ever pass one of these places, trust me and stop off for a hotdog. they’re crazy enough ship anywhere in the USA!

I also drove along route 66, which i didnt get todo last time as my mates didn’t think I was a good enough driver to drive the RV. well this time I did and it was pretty cool. Im also not sure if this post fits in my project, Cool Unknown America. But I feel like this is cool america off the beaten track so it should be allow and its my project so I can say its allow, so it is. I suppose this post is more of a dairy kind of think which I quite like.

heres my snaps from today, let me know what you think! Im also not sure if this 20mm prime lens is working properly, so tomorrow im going to put it through its paces and see what happens. so if tomorrow photos are crap I apologies in advance.

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– route 66, just off the north 55 –
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– st. louis city museum –
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– the vintage car dealer on route 66, is burnt out car was waiting out the front –
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– Portillos, chicago. Hot dog and fries. Well worth it –

 

B166 – COOL SIDE OF AMERICA – NIGHT TIME. MID WEST. P2

this is the first day of my mini project Cool side of Unknown America inside of the 3 photos a day project. the plan is to show the of the tourist trail america, just the suburbs and where locals go and what day to day life is like. for my first day I wanted to show night time in St. charles. this historic town dates back to 1796 and if your ever round here you have to try the toasted ravioli on main street. I think I mentioned it yesterday, but this stuff is worth checking out.

On the way back to the hotel from location today, there was a sign that apparently ready “Cool stuff, cheap”. well as my first photo project is called cool side of unknown america, it was only right I waited for it to get dark and  then go take some snaps of it to open this project up properly! thank you Libby for pointing that sign out!

I wanted my first shoot to be a night time one, I think photography at night is not the easiest thing, but when the light hits a certain focual point it really opens the photo up, it creates some sort of mystery to the rest of the image and tells a story in its self. when you take away all the light and only have a small outline of a object or person in the for ground and then something lite up at the back of the shot. for me it adds a whole new dimension. that was my thinking tonight, give you guys something to look at a few times and notice something else, maybe something that I havent even seen. a lot of the time, I just take a photo by accident and the somehow that turns out to be one of my favourite. for these photos Ive got the ISO pretty high, because I need it for light but I also like the grainy look it gives these photos especially because they are black and white.

I would love to hear what people think of these photos, I might just be a bit delirious after work and none of this make sense and for that I’m sorry!

Heres my snaps, enjoy.

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– its the perfect picture to get this project started –
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– I know its weird but ive always wanted to come to one of these –
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– photographing motor bikes is just fun –

 

B165 – The Cool Side of Unknown America – photography project

So today was has been my best day so far, I had 146 views. so thank you to everyone who checked my post out.  which is putting me on target of getting 12,000 overall views for the whole year I’m doing this photo challange, which is probably annoying a lot of you with my posts each’ day. its the end of a long long shoot day in pretty hot temperatures here is St.louis missouri, and for once im pretty happy to be in the best western hotel room. anit nothing wrong with some cheap bed sheets and thin walls.

its days like this were I really cant think of any to write and the urge to fall asleep is taking over. the last 45 mintues has been spent editing photos ive quickly taken through out the day, i really cant complain becuase im pretty happy with them. my plan before I came out to america was to just take nice photos each day. but that plan has kind of changed, as im here working and meeting people that you wouldn’t meet everyday, I think my plan now is to show life in america away from the tourist routes, like New York, LA, Nashville and Florida. I want to try and get across what everyday america looks like, from the cool little houses, to the massive stretches of roads. All of that is important, it gives an under the cover look at america. for a country with so much personality and with the constant cool factor, it think I should concentrate on showing the cool side to unknown america. maybe thats what I will call this project within a porject. “THE COOL SIDE OF UNKNOWN AMERICA”. great brainstorming session guys, youve really helped me to nail this one. for the rest of my time in american, Im going to try and show you the cool side to this great and crazy country.

If this fails in 5 days time, im sorry. but heres my first snaps from this project inside a project.  I think for day one of cool unknown america, I should show where people live and the roads they use. this is never going to be political photos, just cool pictures from inside the bigger picture of america. I dont even know what im going to write about for the daily posts, but im sure we will figure it out. if you have anything you think I should include, please let me know.

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– the view from my room, this morning there was “loads of fog” they should see biggin hill in January! –
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– over here the car is king and more importantly the pick up truck is in charge, everyone uses the pick up truck –
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– the most american house I ever did see, it ever had a swinging chair on the porch –

 

B164 – THE DAY I LOST 20,000 PHOTOS.

20,000. Thats the number of photos I may have lost today. my hard drive that I’ve been using for the past 2 months has gone down. its not being recognised in any computer. Im pretty sure its the SATA bridge but there no way to know until I get back to the UK and can run some tests, so I wont know for certain until the 29th if Ive lost those photos. Now, no one comment “did you not back them up” because I have, and at home I have two back ups for all my photos, just not any back ups from the last two months. I was going to back up those 90 days when I got back. I try to back up every month but to be honest I just havent for the past two months. this isn’t a lesson, this is just a test to see how good I am at digging myself out of a crappy situation. I got this. this is just what technology does, it breaks and goes down without any warning. I was using a professional 1TB LaCie Rugged, and its just gone down.

Im praying to god that I can fix this when I get back, by simply switching out the SATA bridge with one off Amazon or ebay. heres a link to the one I will probably buy.

https://www.amazon.com/IO-Crest-SY-ADA20079-Adapter-Cable/dp/B0057UAB2K/ref=sr_1_25?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1505357243&sr=1-25&keywords=sata+bridge

All I need todo is unscrew the casing of the drive and then disconnect the actually hard drive from the SATA to USB bridge that will be at one end and then plug it into my new one that you’ve brought of Amazon. easy.

if the same thing has happened to you, heres some tips: make sure you buy the right bridge, because depending on if you have 2.5 inch drive or a 3inch drive that will depend on what replacement you get). its easy todo and im pretty sure anyone can it do. please drop me a message at joshfspear@icloud.com with your make and model or the broken drive and I will help you to find the correct part.

Im writing this post to help anyone else who might be in this problem and has had a drive go down. its possible the worst feeling when you’ve lost content that you think is not recoverable. Im not saying its 100% that I’m going to be able to get it all back and if I cant I will be paying someone to do. it has added about 10 times more stress to my day and to this blog challenge!

to everyone else, read this and then go and back up all your content. please just do it for me. If I have lost all those photos I’ve taken on the first half of this trip, trust me they were probably the best photos you would ever of seen! they were incredible.

anyway heres some cool photos I took today in and around historic downtown st Charles just outside of St Louis. its about a 40 minute drive and is worth it. the street is full of cool little shops and is famous for its fried Ravioli, we wanted to try it last night but ended up with a burrito. tomorrow it is on the cards. enjoy these photos and let me know what you think.

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– this man was just sitting on the curb drawing on his diggery do –
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– this car looks like something out of a movie –
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– cant beat a good sunset shot –