David Sudler’s Chicago Igloo

001_igloochicago_010716David Sudler of Chicago works to fill the gaps between blocks of ice on the igloo he constructed on a median on Wacker Dr. at Columbus Dr. in downtown Chicago, early Thursday, January 7, 2016. Sudler, who resides in a high-rise near the intersection, is a retired boilermaker.

The Chicago media was abuzz today with an unusual tale of an igloo that seemingly sprouted up out of nowhere on a median on Wacker Drive. While it was first thought to have been constructed by a homeless person, it turned out that a retired boilermaker and local resident, David Sudler, was the craftsman of the wintery abode. Always a fan of the odd and out-of-place, I decided to take a quick drive up to the city and see / photograph the igloo for myself.

What I didn’t expect to see upon my arrival at 1 a.m. was Sudler himself (whom I immediately recognized from all the news coverage) still toiling away at his creation. I could immediately see how he was mistaken for homeless when the story broke. Clad in a filthy coat, Sudler worked as his long, wispy, unkempt beard and hair were taken in opposite directions by the biting Chicago night wind. After shooting a few overall wide shots, I couldn’t help but go over and introduce myself and pick his brain as to why exactly he was doing this. The answer? “I was bored.”

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“I have a tugboat in Alaska, and a chateau in France.”

It quickly became apparent that I was speaking to someone quite intelligent and ambitious, if perhaps landing a bit left of typical social norms. We discussed his volunteer work with two local fire stations (gardening and shoveling snow), his steam-powered tugboat he currently owns in Alaska, his relationship with the inventor of the fluid head camera tripod, along with his brush with Dodi Fayed (who perished with Princess Diana). Had I put more time on my parking meter, I’m sure the stories would have continued!

He also took great pride in the tools he was using to construct the igloo, showing me how solidly constructed they were. He said that superintendents from neighboring high-rises (Sudler lives in a building just across the street from the igloo with his wife) often come to him to borrow tools.

I asked Sudler if the police had bothered him about his project, and he said they hadn’t. I also asked if he would re-construct the igloo throughout the winter as it melted. He assured me that, given his technique of sealing it off with more snow and ice, the igloo was likely to survive intact until the spring. Time will tell.

002_igloochicago_010716David Sudler of Chicago continues work on an igloo he constructed on a median on Wacker Dr. at Columbus Dr. in downtown Chicago, early Thursday, January 7, 2016.

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Thoughts On Life on January 7th, 2016. No Comments.

A New Understanding: 2015 Retrospective

01_guypoy2015_122915Mammatus clouds in the sky over St. Nicholas Church in East Chicago, Ind., following a thunderstorm, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Mammatus clouds are formed by cool air sinking rapidly from the upper atmosphere.

For the past several years, whenever I’ve sat down to begin selecting my favorite images for this year-end blog, I’ve gotten an overwhelming feeling of worry. I’ve always second-guessed whether I’ve shot enough things throughout the year that stand out enough to be featured together in a best-of collection. Typically, my worries go unfounded, and I’m left struggling to narrow down 50 or more of my favorite images to a palatable selection.

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Floating Aloft

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Sergeant Chris Clark (right) and Sergeant First Class Teigh Statler with the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team jump from the team’s Fokker C-31A aircraft over Lake Michigan during their performance in the 2015 Gary Air Show in Gary, Ind., Saturday, July 11, 2015.

As the U.S. Army Golden Knight’s Fokker C-31A aircraft became light on its wheels and floated aloft from runway 12 at the Gary Chicago Airport, the team of skilled aerial performers seated ahead of me in the plane performed their ritual of donning their helmets in unison. It’s a ritual I’ve had the privilege of photographing each year since 2006 that the team has performed in Gary, Indiana, and I was thrilled to be back in the air for another opportunity. While theatrical lighting work this weekend prevented me from photographing and enjoying the air show as thoroughly as I typically would have, I was thankful to have a small portion of my schedule free to cover one of the Golden Knights’ morning jumps in this year’s 2015 Gary Air Show.

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Posted in Aviation, Photography, Photojournalism on July 12th, 2015. No Comments.

Lighting Linus

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Snow blows through the air above St. Nicholas Church in East Chicago, Ind., early Monday, February 2, 2015. The image was created by back-lighting the church with a 600 w/s strobe, fired remotely via a PocketWizard unit.

I’m not sure what it is about major snow emergencies that gets my creative juices pumping, but during the bad winter storms we’ve had over the past few years, I’ve repeatedly gotten the urge to gear up and make some unique visuals amidst Mother Nature’s chaos. Some of you might remember my Vapor Chill video from last year, where I lit clouds that formed from tossing boiling water into the frigid air. There was also my Snowpocalypse Voicemail Remix from 2011, where I juxtaposed my friend Jeff Grafton’s message about his power going out with doomsday footage of the blizzard from around my neighborhood.

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Posted in Experimental, Photography on February 2nd, 2015. 2 Comments.