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Alleys & Ruins no. 77, Trains and Buses (2005, Chicago, IL, 12:30am)

Alleys & Ruins no. 77, Trains and Buses (2005, Chicago, IL, 12:30am)

In Summer 2005 I'm driving through Chicago at night when I get a sudden urge to go shooting. While exploring I discover this bizarre scene: a mad-maxed bus tucked under the L Train somewhere west of downtown. I set up my camera and pull out my lighting equipment. During the 15 minute exposures, I furiously fire away with my green-gelled flash at the bottom of the tracks, and even venture down into the distance where you can see small bursts of green light.

I am shooting alone making the experience a little tense. So the first time the train screeches by above I'm not prepared for the sound. It nearly blows my ear drums. The screeching is so fucking insanely loud, it also serves as an adrenalin boost and my heart almost bursts through my chest. I am suddenly even more aware that I'm alone.

But I have a job to do, and now whenever the train passes, I plug my ears and wait for it to pass. Eventually I am satisfied I have the shot and I'm gone.

In the image, above the tracks there's a bright white area. This is where the steel wheels of the train would grind against the tracks creating sparks ... and noise.

Since shooting Alley 77, I've come to learn that the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), uses (or used) the bus to examine the tracks. An inspector will stand on top and the bus will drive slowly. The bus is madmaxed because it is routinely assaulted by gangs. The last time I saw it was apparantly after one of these assaults: it had four flat tires.



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