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All about Chris Trott, my work

Started in Riverdale in 1990

I started photography in 1990 with my mom’s 1990 35mm Minolta film camera.  I took Photography 101 at a community college where the focus was learning black and white and understanding contrast. Color is more difficult.

I was an original photo blogger who took photos at random around downtown Chicago . Back in those days, you could take photos of strangers and people wouldn’t get mad at you.  The B&W film process was a little tedious – film, supplies, you needed a darkroom. You didn’t get pics instantly, so I always smelled like the chemicals –  the fixer & the developer.

Stopped creativity for college

I stopped creative photography when I began classes at Northern Illinois University in 1992. A classmate at NIU introduced me to computing and I first used Adobe Photohosp version 3. In 1992 I then started building web pages for a NIU professor and started editing photos and creating various graphics for the webpages I created.

I graduated NIU and started doing digital photography with a Sony Cybershot, then I got a Cannon DSLR. I shot Canon cameras for 12 years, then made the jump to a in 2017.

Camera upgrade to full frame and urban exploration

Full frame cameras give you bigger photos because of the larger sensor size. With this digital camera I would go into different abandoned areas around Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and take photos of places where other people didn’t, the off-beat, the unusual.

Urban exploration is what I was doing, photo archaeology of places abandoned long ago. And of course, my policy was to take photos, don’t touch anything, and leave the space just as I found it.

One of these sites was the Acme Steel Coke plant, south of Chicago near Deering, where they made coke for blast furnaces.

In 2004 or 2006, I saw some people in Acme.  They said “we want to put this in a museum.” I didn’t have my camera and came back to take photos of the remnants.  They had a scientific building, with beakers and test samples. We went high up on a coal bunker.

I was in Gary, Indiana, and shot the First Methodist Church. It was too expensive to demolish, but a solid structure.  Later vandals came in and ruined it. The old Gary post office was wide open. Gary Screw and Bolt  Factory.  The old Jewish temple on the NW side was quite a sight. The rabbi gave me the keys.

I went to Brach’s on Chicago’s west side and documented the abandoned candy factory.

My photos got some exposure on

Industrial  and abandoned sites

I was attracted to rust while walking around industrial sites. My first love through the camera lens was rust.  I think the brain works that way, attracted to imperfections. Rust is not perfect. If an object or subject is too perfect, I feel that it’s not as moving, appealing. Rust is organic. Depending on what elements are in the steel or iron, the rust can be bright orange or green hue.

I coined the phrase “In rust we trust.”

Imperfections in an object make it more appealing

I read somewhere that the brain seeks symmetry in certain things, like faces. But it’s also looking for imperfections in non-living things. It’s more interesting than what’s clean and symmetrical. An older woman with wrinkles and distressed features gives a photo texture. I stopped taking photo shots of people like portraits.

That’s why I love vintage cars and abandoned trucks. I love the old type face on the car badging.

I like cityscapes. Daytime city photos are for tourists. I go at night. I can keep the exposure longer.  I shot Chicago CTA subway stop in the middle of the night. I set up my tripod and got a photo of a train coming in and going out. I combined them in photoshop and came up w a composite field.

When I took a photo, I knew what it’s going to look like when I see it in Photoshop. I’m not a purist. I don’t like to manipulate them so much they look over saturated or lower their quality.

I look for contrast, hue, or manipulate contrast and saturation or use a technique to enhance the colors, adding or reducing saturation. I took a red barn, increased the red and decreased the other channels, or increase the blue of the sky.

Chris Trott

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