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Random Jazz: On the Road Edition

I’ve been shooting a fair bit lately, but mostly stuff I can’t share with you. That’s why you get two random jazz posts in a row. Also, because I saw what you did in the pet food aisle at Kmart. You don’t deserve a coherent post.

Anyways, below are a handful of photos each from a few recent trips: Seattle, East Jesus/Slab City/Salton Sea, and an abandoned waterpark.

First up: the waterpark. The slides and such are destroyed and not very interesting. However, the graffiti and stencil work left by vandals is pretty awesome.

Abandoned waterpark stencil

Abandoned waterpark stencil

P1010155-1Abandoned waterpark stencil

The previous tenants left their tumbleweed behind. I hope they don’t need it.

Abandoned waterpark tumbleweed

Abandoned waterpark graffiti


As you enter the park, there’s a road with billboards on either side of it. These artists took over each one to wonderful effect.

Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard
Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard

Abandoned waterpark stencil billboard

Oh, and here’s a picture of some Chinese lanterns just because.

Chinese lanterns

I visited Seattle for a few days. I didn’t get time to do a ton of photography, but still enjoyed it immensely.

Seattle ferris wheel

So, as usual, I had near perfect weather on this visit. Regular readers will recall that I’m cursed with good weather at most places I travel to. It’s great for just existing and getting around, but it usually makes for sort of ho-hum photos. Anyways, I drive over to this park to try taking a boring sunset photo of downtown Seattle and the very impressive and very tall Mt. Rainier in the background.  I’m actually kind of excited, because I didn’t expect such a clear view of the mountain.

I got to the park two hours before sunset so I could make sure I got a good spot, since I know this place gets crowded. Not a single cloud was in sight the entire time. However, once the light finally started getting interesting, this one cloud decided to meander in and block my view of Rainier. I’ve decided that I’m at war with the sky.
Seattle sunset


This photo probably couldn’t be more cliche, but I decided I should get it anyway. Consider this a reward for what you did in the toothpaste aisle.

Seattle public market sign


Mt. Rainier, before my enemy The Sky made his move. Fact: Zeus lives here.


This was visible on someone’s balcony whilst walking to the waterfront. Don’t ask me. I don’t know.


A shot from inside the market. Supposedly, there’s guys throwing fish everywhere. I imagined it as though I’d have to be ducking fish left and right (on a side note, are ducks known for squatting to avoid things? I wonder where that term comes from.). The only flying fish I saw were on this sign.



I was walking away from the market and this man said “hey, can you teach me everything you know?” I said “no, but you can have my hat.” And so, I gave him my hat. Also, my bucket full of balloon animals.



So long Seattle, and thanks for all the fish.

Speaking of fish, this is the Salton Sea.  It’s 50% water, 50% salt, and 50% dead fish. The air is 100% gross to smell.

It is the only place I’ve ever been, and I’m not joking about this, where the shore is literally made of ground bones.

Salton Sea dead fish

Why go there? Because of East Jesus. It’s a cool place, and much nicer than West Jesus. Slab City, which is the larger community that East Jesus is in, is…interesting.

Here’s my friend Ania, sitting in the dirt for some reason.

Anna at East Jesus

East Jesus


My brother and I thought the art installations and low amounts of light pollution would make for interesting photos. We were right. Unfortunately, we didn’t really take any. Both of us came away feeling disappointed in what we had captured.  Here’s one that I did like.

Night photography at East Jesus


A shot from the pet cemetery at Slab City. Poor Gunner.

Pet Cemetery, Slab City


And, since hummingbirds are good luck, I’ll leave you with this shot as the last of the bunch. Feel free to click on my name at the top of this page to see more of my stuff. Thanks for visiting!

East Jesus humming bird

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Random Jazz: Way Overdue Edition

I’ve been collecting photos for a while now that don’t quite fit into their own sets. So, here’s a somewhat largish collection of location and portrait work I’ve done recently.  I’m supposed to get up at like 4:30 in the morning tomorrow and it’s already 11:30 p.m., so this is almost all of the writing I’m going to do. Lucky you. :)


On the trail to Holy Jim Falls



Holy Jim Falls

Dominator wreck


A random yard chicken




San Clemente rainbow

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

Memorial at Holy Jim Falls

The next four are from a campaign I did for my friend’s new business Bronzed Sugar. The weather had been nice for a while, but of course on the day of the shoot it was super overcast and cold. Poor models. Fortunately, my friend also owns a marketing company, so these photos after retouching look decidedly better.

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach

Bronzed Sugar Long Beach


Bronzed Sugar Long Beach
Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir





Dominator wreck


Me and a model on location.IMG_7699_1

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir

Long Beach lighthouse

Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir


Jezebelles Girl Rock Choir


And to close, variations on a sunset at San Clemente pier.


San Clemente pier at sunset

San Clemente pier at sunset

San Clemente pier at sunset

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Salvation by Way of East Jesus

Jake Reinig travel photographer

Location: Salton Sea, Bombay Beach, East Jesus, Slab City

(Editor’s note: Jake has been having trouble sleeping, so he took a sleeping pill before he started writing this. Please forgive its somewhat incoherent structure.)

(Author’s note: I don’t actually have an editor.)

My brother and I felt like taking a road trip adventure to the Salton Sea area, so we headed out to this little part of crazy this past weekend.  Our first stop was an abandoned city with an abandoned prison somewhere not anywhere close to the Salton Sea; unfortunately, while it’s no longer inhabited, it is decidedly unabandoned. Razor wire and security were onhand, but apparently, my social engineering skills were not.  Undeterred, I’m now trying to find a route via the owners. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Because of the distance, it was late in the day by the time we made it to the lake, so we opted to shoot sunset at Bombay Beach, home to a large number of destroyed buildings from the lake’s sordid past.  Unfortunately, in the few years since I was last there, most of the structures have been totally wrecked. This is one of the last ones still standing.

Building ruin, Bombay Beach

Salton Sea sunset

Sunday we made our way to East Jesus, an artistic community in the midst of the crazy lost settlement called Slab City. East Jesus has some pretty rad installations, this tower being one of them.

East Jesus tower, Salton Sea

Mirror doll,, East Jesus, Salton Sea

Salvation Mountain at Slab City.

Salvation Mountain, Slab City, Salton Sea

Walter the bus, East Jesus, Salton Sea

The “trophy room” at Salvation Mountain.

Salvation mountain detail, Slab City, Salton Sea

The room was full of trinkets; “laser cats” was my favorite.

Salvation mountain detail, Slab City, Salton Sea

Another sunset shot at Bombay Beach.

A bird hunting at sunset, Salton Sea

Interior of Salvation Mountain.

Salvation mountain, Slab City, Salton Sea

Salvation Mountain, Slab City, Salton Sea

A random sand dune that unexpectedly swallowed a road we were driving on. Guess we didn’t want to go to that wrecked neighborhood anyway.

Sand dunes, Salton Sea

Salvation Mountain truck, Slab City, Salton Sea

We had high hopes to do some star photography, but the moon was too full and waaay too bright. Long exposures made the ground look like day. Sort of bored, we decided to try our hand at making our own burning bushes. We’re making plans to go back to East Jesus on an upcoming new moon and do some night work with the installations. With any luck we’ll have more interesting results from that.

Long exposure, box canyon near the Salton Sea

Apparently, this station has been closed for a few years.

Gas station of years past

Terrible psychiatric advice, East Jesus, Salton Sea

Hopefully this mannequin doesn’t get anyone in trouble at work. I mean, she does have geese bodies for arms.

Goose girl, East Jesus, Salton Sea

The difference between me and my brother: he climbs my truck to get a better view of cows, while I try to shoot the abandoned factory. Obviously, I’m way cooler, and I’m pretty sure my grandmother would agree.

Nate with cows at the abandoned factory near Salton Sea

East Jesus, now with 25% more goose parts.

First floor of the tower, East Jesus, Salton Sea

Dear sleeping pill: please don’t let me dream about this guy tonight, especially since I know you’re not going to let me wake up when I need to.

Chimpanzee boy,, East Jesus, Salton Sea

To wrap up, here’s two variations on sunset from the shores at Bombay Beach. With a returned trip planned for the near future, I’ll hopefully have better stuff for you guys next time.  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Salton Sea sunset long exposure

Salton Sea sunset long exposure

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Paris and Beyond, Part 1: 300 Miles to Everywhere

Jake Reinig, travel photography

The last day of my trip to Paris, France, was the most stressful one of the trip by far. Confusion over the navette from my hotel to Charles de Gaulle airport got me there incredibly late, leading me to practically sprint through the claustrophobic walkways of the annoyingly designed terminal 2.  Wayward children choked on their crepes and leapt from my path as I navigated a luggage cart towards my check-in counter, conveniently placed at the opposite side of the airport from where I was dropped off. Sweat literally dripping from my face, I pulled up to see the staff closing the luggage doors. I was not happy.

5 weeks earlier I had been in this same airport, much more relaxed (albeit just as exhausted) as I made my way to the RER train station. Nary a child was injured in the journey to the apartment I had rented near Place d’Italie in the super charming Butte aux Cailles neighborhood. My employers had graciously allowed me to work remotely from Paris, so during the day I got to run loose photographing the city and worked at night on a roughly California timeline.

Over the next 3-4 posts I’ll be sharing a selection of photos I took in Paris, Mont Saint-Michel, and London. In the 5 weeks I was abroad, I walked almost 300 miles and took more than 1,000 photos, most of which are complete junk. Even so, my one real regret is not doing more candid street photography, which will be rectified on my next such trip.

I got to know Paris exceedingly well and plan on doing  a practical guide  a little later. In the meantime, if you or anyone you know are planning to visit France, feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

Oh, and as for the airport: I got checked in with three minutes to spare.  I’m having a terrible time readjusting to the atrociously boring pace of life in Orange County; maybe I should have done more to “accidentally” miss my flight. ;)

This is how I brought my California workspace to Paris (although the wine was consumed while I wasn’t working, I promise!).  The large monitor is actually the apartment’s TV, pressed into service as a second monitor.

A bridge in the Japanese garden at the wonderful Albert Kahn museum and gardens.

Opera Garnier is the setting for the Phantom of the Opera. The placard on this door pays tribute to the location where the phantom sat.

Self-portrait at the Pompidou modern art museum.

Headstone decoration at the aristocratic Passy cemetery.  Some of the most magnificent funerary art can be found at this small cemetery near the Eiffel Tower.

The Tower Bridge in London.

Interesting flowers near my apartment.

This Mustang in the middle of Montmartre was one of the more unusual sites I saw while in Paris.

Bookseller on the Seine near Notre Dame.

My friend Jen poses near Notre Dame while we take a break on the Seine.

“What are you looking at?” Mont Saint-Michel.



About the time I arrived in Paris, many in the Muslim world were upset about an obnoxious American film, and a week later, about some offensive cartoons published in a Parisian magazine. A small protest-turned-small-riot happened near the US embassy in Paris, and it was rumored that more of this might happen the next weekend.

Never one to shy away from danger (i.e. “Jake is often stupid”), I decided to go looking for trouble. I happened to be near Gare d’Austerlitz when I saw a huge contingent of Gendarmes (para-military police) organizing and hung around a bit. A short while later a large group of young people began thronging a nearby bridge, so I headed in their direction. Within minutes I was surrounded not by angry Muslims, but by what seemed to be a million young French revelers at the Techno Parade 2012. I have never seen so many people in my life. Dora seems genuinely surprised too.

In order not to be overwhelmed, I climbed up on top of some sort of large electrical box and shot photos for an hour or two until the parade had passed me, leaving an army of very efficient street sweepers in its wake.

Behind them came another large team of Gendarmes, decked out in riot gear.

Lots of people were doing stupid stuff (like climbing on top of bus stops and trees and traffic lights), but fortunately, I didn’t see anyone get injured. Later, however, I happened to walk by a triage facility and noticed a fairly large number of people being treated for who knows what.

This old lady was dancing like a maniac on her balcony. The crowd loved her, despite the fact that she wasn’t really very good at dancing to electronica.

This shot shows a small portion of the parade as it makes its way towards my neighborhood. Like I said, it was insaaaaane how many people there were.


Towards the end of my trip I stayed with a friend in a small, sleepy suburb of Paris. In the middle of the river is a small island (actually two islands that look like one) nicknamed “hippy island” for its eccentric populace. At one end of the island is an abandoned waterpark of sorts. Unfortunately, because the island is private I wasn’t able to make it over. Regular readers know that I’m a junky for abandoned buildings and such, so it was painful to be so close to a site like this without being able to get to it.



Dueling Eiffel Towers and a full moon, shot from the Trocadero.

Long exposure shot inside the Pantheon.

Parisian cemeteries are super fascinating for their imaginative graves and mosoleums. Someone must have managed this particular grave for a while in order to get the tree to wrap the headstone in this manner.


I like doing panning photographs, but oddly enough, only tried it twice. This was shot near the Palais de Justice and Sainte Chapelle.

I don’t recall where this was shot, and am currently too lazy to look it up in my journal. So, you’ll just have to take my word that it was somewhere nice.

Marie Antoinnete and Louis XVI were basically dumped in the Madeleine cemetery after their executions during the French Revolution. Several decades later, during the Bourbon restoration, their remains were exhumed and moved to the royal necropolis at the Basilica of St. Denis. Note: the Basilica is absolutely worth a visit, but it’s in the poor suburb of St. Denis. Be mindful of your surroundings if you do go out there and be prepared to see some sad sights, including a large corps of injured and disfigured beggars.

Note the discoloration of the queen’s boosies; that’s what happens after 200 years of people disrespecting a grave site.  Oddly enough, for as many important sculptures as there are at St. Denis (kings and queens from the 500s are here), visitors can get right up next to most of them. Some of the monuments have been heavily defaced by idiots carving initials and names into them. Marie Antoinette has been heavily groped, but appears to have avoided being carved on.

Here’s a rear shot of the memorial statue of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

The face of Medusa, hanging in the Pompidou.

A section of the abandoned Petite Ceinture, not far from my apartment in the wonderful Parc Montsouris.


The king’s view, at the Palace of Versailles.

Inside Hotel des Invalides.


The London Eye near sunset.

I went to the Paris Aquarium at the Trocadero one rainy day. I have no idea why, but this little red light in one of the exhibits fascinated me. I think people were confused by why I was photographing it for like 10 minutes.

This guy (Iya Traore) puts on one of the best shows in Paris just outside Sacre Coeur (one of my favorite places in Paris).  If you’re up there, make sure to watch if he’s performing.

I love the interior of Invalides. The design of the dome and its surrounding alcoves makes for really interesting wide angle photos.

Long exposure near sunset at Mont Saint-Michel. Unfortunately, major construction is being done on the causeway, so I wasn’t able to leave it to get more shots. Even so, it was a pleasure to watch the sun set over this interesting site.

Incidentally, I say “unfortunately” above, but really, the construction is a good thing. Mont Saint-Michel used to be a frequent island when the tide rose, but since the construction of the causeway in the 1800s, water can’t circulate correctly and much of the bay has been silted in. It’s only an island during extremely high tides now. The work is being done to change the causeway into a bridge, which will allow water to properly flow once again. I hope to go back in a few years once the work has been done.

This shot of the Eiffel Tower is my last for this post. Check back in a few days for the next set of photos from Paris. Thanks for looking!


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London to Chernobyl: the Case of the Nuclear Ghost Town

Jake Reinig, travel photography

Location: London, Kiev, Chernobyl, Prypiat

One of my life’s goals has been to visit Chernobyl and the nuclear ghost town of Prypiat in Ukraine. After the disaster at Fukushima in Japan last year, the Ukranian government shut down access to Chernobyl. Following some nervous legal wrangling the site was reopened and I booked my trip almost immediately in case they closed it again.

Rather than spend two weeks in snowy eastern Europe, I started the trip off in London, hung out in Kiev for a while, and then finished off in Paris. This post has photos from London, Kiev, and Prypiat. I’ll post Paris photos in a few days.


I love the city of London, but don’t find it particularly interesting photographically. It’s got great night life and the most fashionable people on earth, but for whatever reason, it’s not a place that makes me want to shoot a ton of photos. My new friend Dr. Taylor has volunteered to show me around on a proper photographic tour, so I may take her up on that and go back sometime in the nearish future.

Anyhow, I arrived during one of the nicest weekends the city had in a while, and the flowers were out in celebration of this event.

One of my favorite historical locations is Westminster Abbey, which of course doesn’t allow photography except in one outdoor spot. This is unfortunate since Westminster Abbey holds the remains of some of the most important people in Western civilization, and is where the royals get married. Even though I didn’t get to take photos of things like Isaac Newton’s impressive tomb, I still like this photo of a rushed docent.

Another blooming tree, this one taking care of someone’s prayer.

I forget the name of this store (Anna: help?), but the storefront in Notting Hill had  like 1,000 old Singer sewing machines comprising an awesome art display.

The massive London Eye as seen from the bridge near Parliament.

Practicing parkour  near sunset.

The feeling I got from drinking all the volcanicity in this water was indescribable.

Another shot of the London Eye. Each of those cars holds 25 people.

Although I don’t smoke Heather tried to give me a lesson in rolling cigarettes, which is impossible unless you’re a wizard. I liked how direct the packaging was. 

This is the one photo that I absolutely did want to get: sunset at Parliament. I have a rare photographer’s curse of having no clouds and nice weather most places I go. *Sigh* Clouds would have made this photo so much better. 


After a few days in London I headed off to Kiev. I was supposed to arrive at 2:30 on Monday and have the day to run around, but thanks to Lufthansa–who apparently hates me–I didn’t get to my apartment until after midnight.

It was snowing all day Tuesday, Wednesday I was at Chernobyl, and Thursday I came down with a cold so Thursday and Friday were shot. The net result was that I didn’t get much opportunity to get out and take photos.

In the little amount of time that I did I have, I discovered that Kiev loves the heck out of gold-domed churches.  This is the lovely Saint Sophia Cathedral, not far from St. Michael’s golden-domed monastery.  A little way across town is the AMAZING Perchesk Lavra.  If you visit the latter, make sure to venture into the catacombs. Lit only by tiny candles, the claustrophobic tunnels hold some of Orthodox Christianity’s saints.

Artwork dedicated to the victims of the Communist inquisition.

Another shot of St. Sophia’s. The little boy was looking at this brother who had just gone face first into a puddle.

I have no idea what this is for (while I can read Cyrillic, my vocab is junk), but it cracked me up.

St. Michael’s, as seen from St. Sophia’s.

Ummmmmm…no idea?

A tribute to Gauntlet, the video game. Really.

This place was right next to my apartment. After seeing how incredibly beautiful the average Ukranian woman is, I can’t say I necessarily blame a guy for wanting to marry one.

The massive sculpture dedicated to berehynia in Independence Square.


Chernobyl and Prypiat

My love of abandoned structures and ghost towns has long made me aware of Chernobyl and its aftermath. A catastrophic explosion at reactor 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 resulted in the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The nearby town of Prypiat–one of the most luxurious in the USSR–was evacuated within a matter of days and has been uninhabited ever since. The former town of nearly 50,000 is an eery, amazing place.

When approaching the exclusion zone, the first thing you see besides a well armed military checkpoint is this shrine.

A sign welcoming you to the Chernobyl facility.

Along with Prypiat, something like 180 smaller towns and villages also had to be evacuated. This monument pays tribute to all of these dead towns that literally will not be safe for habitation for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Many of the towns have been buried. It’s a strange thing to be driving through the exclusion zone and see a big black sign with the name of a town crossed out, and yet, there’s no town. It’s because the town is underground, entombed by dirt and radioactive trees above.

Radioactive military vehicles on display. These were not particularly close to the disaster, so while they’re heavily radioactive compared to the environment, they’re safe to approach for a few minutes.

These personal Geiger counters set off a crazy annoying alarm when the number on the screen (in microSieverts) got over 0.30. This particular tank measured radiation 50 times over that. Because of the alarm, this photo was much more annoying to take than it looks. 

The first abandoned place we visited was a kindergarten, slowly being consumed by the forest around it. It’s weird to think that items like this learning aid have been hanging on the wall and untouched for almost 30 years.

If memory serves correct, this is the abandoned reactor 5. Being built when reactor 4 exploded, construction was stopped. The cranes and construction vehicles sit in the same place as they did in 1986. 

Prypiat was a futuristic city in its time. The engineers and scientists who lived there made the best wages in the USSR and lived in a relative paradise. Contemporary photos show a Disneyland-like utopia with happy people in a city of flowers. The void that 50,000 people leave behind is unimaginable.

Note the tree growing inside the building. The forest is everywhere now. 

A former theater, now destroyed by time and nature.

The most famous icon of Prypiat. Because of the radiation levels we were only allowed 7 minutes in the amusement park. 

A group of artists has done graffiti in many places in order to restore a sense of life to the dead town.

A sign for a youth organization.

I found this stool in an abandoned grocery store. I liked the way the ice melted away from the legs.

The numerous gymnasiums (I think there were 12 of them) must have been incredible in their day. They have enormous swimming pools and sports courts and are still impressive even now. This pool is probably 20 feet deep and descends into the first floor.

Near the end of the excursion we were taken to a facility right next to the destroyed number 4 reactor. The public relations director who runs the facility was kind enough to take time to discuss the explosion and its horrible consequences. This is a model showing the inside of the destroyed reactor. To give you an idea of the power of the explosion: that round ball structure in the middle with all the wires coming out of it is called an upper biological shield. It’s meant to contain the energy from an explosion and weighs 2,000 tons (4,000,000 pounds). It was thrown 30 feet into the air and came to rest on its side. Think about that: 4 million pounds was thrown 3 stories into the air.

I would have loved to have talked to this woman for more time, but we were kicked out when a high ranking UN delegation arrived. The  Chernobyl facility represents one of the gravest dangers facing humanity today, but because of their 26 years of experience, it also represents the frontier of securing our nuclear legacy. The UN and experts from Fukushima visit regularly.

This is an external shot of the dead reactor 4. Enclosed in an aging sarcophagus, the structure is set to get a new radiation shield in about 5 years time. Amazingly, even after they put on the new high-tech shield, work is scheduled to continue to secure the material inside for more than 100 years.

Visiting Chernobyl is one of the strangest things I’ve ever done. If you didn’t know the haunting secret behind it, the location would seem almost idyllic. The place is dead quiet, and peaceful forest is everywhere. And yet, this one building has enough poison in it to kill millions of people.

During the entire time near the reactor our detectors were in full panic mode. Radiation is a horrible mistress: something you can’t taste, touch, feel, or smell has the the power to kill you, and quite effectively at that. Scores of people died horrible deaths in the aftermath of the disaster, and something like 6,000 more have died since from the after effects. I made sure to tip a glass to their memory later that night.

I plan on visiting the site again sometime in the next year if possible, but will be exploring Prypiat more fully. If you’re reading this and want to join me, drop me a line and let’s see if we can’t figure something out.

Look for my Paris photos in the next few days!

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Livin’ Hard in the Big Easy

Jake Reinig, travel photography

Location: New Orleans Subjects: Cemeteries, French Quarter, Garden District

After my trip to San Antonio I flew to New Orleans for a few days.  I’m not a great architectural photographer, so I looked at the French Quarter as a great place to work on this. I don’t know that I improved a whole lot, but I had tons of fun!

Two quick notes: First, Bourbon Street is insane and loads of fun. Don’t bring the kids or yourself if you’re easily offended.

Second: I want to say thanks to Chris at American Photo Safari. He normally gives walking workshops in the French Quarter. In my case I hired his company to show me around and give me some background on the city. Chris is a good guy with great knowledge of New Orleans. If you’re in town and have a camera, make sure to give APS a call!

I spent most of my time in the French Quarter, but as you’ll see in the photos below, I took loads of photos in the cemeteries. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I have a background in History, so cemeteries are a fascinating place for me, as morbid as that may sound. The cemeteries in New Orleans are amazing, if not for their history, then for their numerous above ground crypts in all stages of celebration and decay.

My favorite part of the trip was walking around the Garden District. The architecture there is breathtaking and the history of the residents is pretty interesting (for example, Jefferson Davis died here, and Ann Rice lives and has set many of her novels here). Unfortunately, I didn’t do too well photographing the houses since the landscaping on most of them prevents wide angle shots. If you don’t have the money for a tour guide, numerous walking tours of the area are available on the web, and thus, on your cell phone.

On to the photos, presented in no particular order.


It’s odd to say this about a city, but New Orleans has lots of interesting shadows.  This is one from a cross on a grave.

Many of the houses in the French Quarter are in a state of moderate disrepair. I suspect that it’s intentional; the colors and distressed paint actually add to the appearance of the homes in my opinion.





Edited with Comic Sans for your amusement. Also, so my mother doesn’t get mad at me. (Found on the banks of the Mississippi.)

Apparently, this grave is one of about three reputed to belong to Marie Laveau, a well known Voodoo practitioner. People leave stuff for her and write Xs on the tomb, which represent wishes. You’re supposed to come back and circle your X if the wish is granted, but I didn’t see a whole lot circled. Either people are lazy, or Marie’s not pulling her weight.

The cemeteries in New Orleans are in terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE shape. In a way though this makes them more appealing. Many of the tombstones are broken or warped. In this case, some kind soul took the time to piece together a gravemarker that had fallen and shattered.

Everything in New Orleans is crooked. I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong, but as Chris pointed out, the whole area has shifted from being built on what is essentially swampland. Doors and windows change shape, and whole buildings tilt one way or the other.

The area around St. Louis Cathedral has a great flea market as well as some open air vendors. This was one of the more colorful displays.

One of the houses in the French Quarter has a special perch in a window for its cats. Apparently, they just sit there most of the day and check out all the activity.

Note the busted and warped grave markers. This is typical of the graves at many of the cemeteries.

These horse heads show up in many places in the Garden District. I wonder if they were originally actual horse ties? The area is certainly old enough.

Although the grave was interesting for its design, I was puzzled by the period after “Gerhard.”


Shot from across the Mississippi at Algiers, looking back towards New Orleans. I tried to catch a sunset over here twice; each day I was shut down. Note the ship: there is a ton of traffic on the river at all hours.

Exterior of St. Louis Cathedral.

A house in the Garden District. I think this might actually have just been the garage, with the main house behind this.

After Katrina hit, Banksy did some pieces in different parts of the city (I’m not sure how many). This one was near the French Quarter. Note the plexiglass over it. I admire Banksy’s pieces, but it’s a strange thing to think that graffiti in come cases gets protective coverings.

Another interesting shadow.

I’m not sure if it still is, but this garden (and the huge house behind it) was at one time owned by Nicholas Cage.

I originally planned to show this photo at a much wider angle. However, before publishing I happened to zoom in and noticed the decay. It’s more haunting this way I think. The poor girl is showing some age, although she’s still beautiful after all this time.

These last two photos are my favorites of the trip. They’re not necessarily great photos themselves, but they’re reminders that even though we eventually die, we’re a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

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Ghosts of San Antonio

Jake Reinig, travel photography

Location: San Antonio Subjects: Alamo, Missions, abandoned sanitorium, cathedrals, etc.

This post has something like 50 pictures, so give it a minute to load. 

I was heading to San Antonio for a conference, so as I often do I headed out early to explore the area and make some photographs. I really enjoyed the downtown area, and thought the Riverwalk was great. Locals probably hate it because of how crowded it gets, but with cool scenery and great food, it was a nice way to spend a few days.

My hotel was about 2 minutes from the Alamo (pictured above), which I didn’t find particularly impressive. It’s not the fault of the Alamo per se; it is what it is. However, the Alamo as an idea has been this larger than life thing for my entire life that to see this tiny building and very uninspired educational displays was sort of a let down. The story of the battle for the Alamo is, on the other hand, pretty interesting, so take a gander if you’ve got a little while.

As an aside, there actually are basements of sorts at the Alamo, although there’s no place to store a bike.

My New Orleans pics will be coming soon, so check back in a few days!


I have a thing for water displays, be they fountains, waterfalls, rivers, ponds, etc. The downtown area has loads of them, so that was enjoyable for me. On a “Jake’s waterway happiness scale” of 4.5 to 7.3, with 6.1 being the highest, I give San Antonio a 5.9.


This was a store display at one of the local hotels. My picture isn’t very good, but the display itself was really cool. I think the sculpture was maybe 10 feet high.

One of my favorite photography targets is abandoned structures and places. I had a little bit of spare time so decided to drive around some of the more rundown parts of town looking for structures that might let me walk in. By chance I came across this house that was recently destroyed by fire.

I wish I knew whether this was posted before or after the fire. If after, it’s sort of a jerk thing for someone to put up.

This is an overview of the Chinese Tea Gardens, which don’t actually have much in the way of gardens. This huge pond had loads of slow moving koi; I think the place could make buckets of money if they tied glow sticks on the backs of the fish and let people watch them at night.

Outside the Alamo at night.

Southton Sanitorium

My friend, whom we’ll call Shmake Shmeinig, went to an abandoned facility south of San Antonio.  Most records list it as the “Southton Sanitorium,” but it’s also referenced as a former TB clinic (probably the sanitorium bit of its history) a “home for the aged,” and a boys home.  Research has not made it super clear what the proper name is.

Abandoned but not forgotten, the facility has some seriously scary barbed wire fencing around its parameter. Next to the Krier Correctional Facility, the place is apparently well watched by the authorities.  As with a lot of these types of facilities, it’s been heavily damaged by vandals and is being slowly reclaimed by nature. Trash is found throughout, and people have set portions of the buildings on fire. With many dark rooms and passageways and lots of creaky, blowing in the wind doors and windows, the place is not for the faint of heart.

One of my favorite things about older buildings is the variety of colors used throughout. You’ll see this in a number of the photos.

Click thumbnails for a larger view:


That hole in the elevator shaft is on the outside of the third or fourth story. How it came to be there is anyone’s guess.

Click to embiggen:


This building was in bad shape. Portions of it were collapsing, possibly from a fire which had damaged large portions of it. And, since the worst damaged areas were in a basement of sorts, the building may end up collapsing someday.  Of course, since he’s stupid, my friend still explored the area.


This room was absolutely wrecked, both from fire and from the elements getting in. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the vertical beams are completely charred and in terrible shape. 

The “redrum” bit is a nice touch.

Another room with great color.

I spent a good deal of time exploring the San Antonio mission system, of which the Alamo is part. There are 5 in total, in varying size and condition. This is Mission Espada, which is the smallest. For some reason, the front of the chapel reminds me of a snooty buttler. I feel like it’s about to scold me for something.


A sign above a doorway celebrating Epiphany.  The “20” and “12” parts correspond to the year, with “C M B” meaning Christus Mansionem Benedicat (loosely, God bless this house) or alternately, representing the names of the three wise men who came to see Jesus: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. (Fun fact: the Bible doesn’t actually state that there are three wise men. However, since it only lists three gifts, Western church tradition has always held that three gifts equals only three givers. Eastern tradition says there were 12.)


I found this on the side of a building near Mission Espada (I think). I’ve no idea what it means.

According to the NPS, modern commentators didn’t know that this figure had two eyes until after recent cleaning work. I love that for possibly hundreds of years, people thought this was a one-eyed persona. Reality is a fickle mistress.

Mission San Jose (if memory serves correct) is undergoing restoration. As an homage to the history of the site, the work is being done on site using local stone materials. This is a photo of one of the artisan workbenches.


I had planned on shooting the Riverwalk more, but rain was in the cards for the day I wanted to do it. Alas, this is about the only photo I got. Since it has three water features in it plus rain, it’s probably my most favorite photo ever. :)

One of the nights I went to the top of the very tall Tower of the Americas to catch sunset. The viewing deck had lights that slowly changed color, so I dragged the shutter for a moment and got this.

Unfortunately, the open portion of the deck made for some howling winds, which in turn made it tough to get shots in the waning light. I’m sorry my photo doesn’t do it justice, but if you’re ever in town I strongly encourage you to catch this view at sunset.

Thanks for scrolling through this huge post. Look for NOLA soon!

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2011: Year in Review

Jake Reinig, portrait photographer

Yes, yes…I know I’m late. Rather than bore you with words, here’s a small selection of 2011 photos from a myriad of different shoots. Apparently, I spent a lot of time on various beaches.

In 2012 I’ve got trips planned to San Antonio, New Orleans, London, Paris, Kiev, Chernobyl, and more, so make sure to check out the site from time to time.  You’ll only be mildly disappointed!






I took this next picture the day my friend Bobby Villanueva died. He was a good man who brought a lot of light to many lives. He’s still missed pretty badly.














Since I haven’t mentioned him elsewhere, I’ll mention him now: this is Dave Beck. He’s an all-around great person, cancer survivor, and soon to be an esteemed published author. You should buy him a beer sometime if you get the chance.













Remember that book entitled “The Monster at the End of this Book,” starring Grover? Well, just a heads up that in about 4 pictures there’s a photo of a lovely young woman that implies nudity. There’s no actual nudity, but since you might work at the Vatican or be looking at this post with your grandfather with the weak heart, I just wanted to give you a heads up. I think it’s worth scrolling past, but I don’t want to be responsible for murder.


Yes, we spelled “Death Valley” wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.


Hopefully you’re still with me. If not, I hope the Vatican pays you well, although I suppose if you’re not still with me you won’t know that I hope this.

This is my friend Dave, a world famous linguists specialist. Although this isn’t my best photo ever from a technical  standpoint, it is a nice photo of Dave. And because it’s a nice photo of Dave and because he really is world famous, this photo is my most published one to date. It’s even appeared in a newspaper article in Estonia.






This is another one where I think I could have done better, but people seem to like it. Of all the photos I’ve ever taken, this is by far the most popular. I think it has something to do with parents connecting to a memory of their kids at a young, magical age. Before they had boyfriends or cars or credit cards, they let their parents push them in a swing.  In life, moments like these are over in a flash. Make sure to enjoy them while you have them.

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Death Valley 2: Electric Boogaloo

Jake Reinig travel photographer

Location: Death Valley Subjects: Gold mines, ghost towns, stars, awesome stuff, moving rocks, tea kettles, volcanoes, “working girls,” other jazz

I had planned on writing another witty and urbane post about my latest adventure to Death Valley but I’m taking forever.  So instead of careful introspection and my usual brand of down home, upbeat humor that Roger Ebert calls an “American Treasure,” you instead get a ton of pictures with links to Wikipedia articles.

Maybe someday in the not too distant future, when men were men and women were willing to go on dates with me, I’ll write more.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here’s more explanation on the title.

Oh, and one last thing: if you’ve got a bit of cash to spare and want a great introduction to Death Valley, I would encourage you to join Keith Skelton’s photography workshop there in March. I was introduced to the park a few years back at one of his excellent trips and can’t recommend it enough. It’s open to all skill levels, so check it, yo!


The photo in the header is of Zabriskie point, while this great view is Ubehebe Crater (you-be-he-be).  My friends in the foreground are a little misleading in terms of size; I think the crater is about 800 feet deep.



This is a shot of the power plant at Scotty’s Castle.  The villa is beautiful, but the Welte Organ performance at the end is one of the coolest things you’ll ever experience. In fact, you should get in your car right now and drive there.  Take both tours. Oh, and buy a National Parks passport. It’s fun and educational. 

I like detail work, and I like abandoned and ruined things.  This is a detail of an old and distressed caboose at the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada.

A shot of ruins and the valley at Leadfield ghost town, the site of a mining scam from the 20th century.

The massive “Lady Desert: the Venus of Nevada”, stands in the Goldwell Open Air Museum at Rhyolite. Strange stuff.


One of the nights we went to Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America) to do star photography as well as light painting.  In this photo my friend Christina was supposed to write “Death” and I was supposed to write “Valley,” but we both got confused. Somehow I started writing “valley” but ended up finishing the word “death.”

One of the fascinating moving rocks at Racetrack Playa, aka the Devil’s Racetrack. The exact mechanism for how the rocks move is unknown, but scienticians think it may have something to do with winged rabbits.

A cool door at Scotty’s Castle.


The Mesquite Flat sand dunes. We got there about 15 minutes too late to get the light on the dunes. Visit this place for sunrise, as it’s quite lovely.

A window inside of a window at the ruins of Agueberry camp, Harrisburg.

The side of an abandoned building at Death Valley Junction. While there, try to take the tour of the Amorgosa Opera House. Reputed to be one of the most haunted places in America, they make you sign a waiver before taking you into the “most haunted” area.

The splendid Teakettle Junction, 6 miles north of the Devil’s Racetrack. Visitors, including us, leave tea kettles with various messages and gimmicks.


Interior of a ruined house at Agueberry camp, Harrisburg. The place is not in great shape, as inconsiderate visitors have roughed up the place considerably. That said, there’s still enough left to make for an interesting visit, including old furniture and appliances.


Indian pictographs in Titus Canyon.  This is a neat drive, although the first part will beat up your car a little bit. Don’t take it if you’re afraid of rough, steep, tight-cornered roads.


More art in Rhyolite. 


I shot this at the Racetrack. It’s the shadow of the hilltop, thrown in stark relief on the floor of the basin.

Detail of an old box spring at Rhyolite.

Detail of a beautiful gate at Scotty’s Castle.

A shot of the Cashier Mill above the Eureka mine and a huge valley, next door to Harrisburg.

The main house at Scotty’s Castle.


The Devil’s Racetrack again. Note the long, winding trail behind the stone. 

Detail of the incredible hard surface of the Racetrack.

Just before sunset at the Racetrack.

My brother Nate and Annette did this one. I’m not sure what a flower, a Mcdonald’s, and a dinosaur have to do with each other.

The grave of working girl Isabelle Haskins, a woeful story from Rhyolite.

The large Rhyolite ruins in the distance, looking out from the interior of an abandoned cabin.


A plaque installed in the art district at Rhyolite, it puts a Tolkien-esque spin on the place.

Interior of Scotty’s Castle.

Art at Rhyolite.

An incredible view on the road to Titus Canyon.


And quite literally the last photo (I ran for a quarter of a mile over rough terrain to get this just as the sun was setting), I took this at Badwater Basin as we were leaving the park. We didn’t have clouds most of the weekend, so these made the sunset much better.

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Not Being Mauled by a Dog -or- How I Learned to Hate Driving in New York

Location: Pennsylvania, Manhattan, Occupy Wall Street

Subjects: ruins, living people, dead people, protests, waaaay too many words, other jazz

Thanks to Mark, Bruce, Charlie, and Toby for putting up with me for a week, and to Joann, for the wonderful home cooking and the lovely carved wooden toys she made for me to use in my studio.  

For the third time in about a year I found myself in Scranton, PA. I worked during the week but had, as my only necessary photography target to get at some point, this building:

This is the outside of the Scranton Lace Company’s factory, in operation for over 100 years. They closed down in 2002, abandoning the factory and leaving the place as a living museum. I was salivating over the opportunity to photograph the interior, but alas, it was recently acquired for redevelopment and is no longer abandoned. I tried contacting someone with the new company but apparently I wasn’t important enough for a return phone call. Oh well.

In any event, there are now a lot of perimeter cameras and shiny, new looking “Beware of dog” signs at various places on the exterior. While I have no problem walking into an abandoned structure, I generally don’t trespass, especially when there’s a threat of being some dog’s chew toy.  I left Scranton a very sad panda.

For some beautiful photography of the site, I highly recommend a taking a glance at Tom Bejgrowicz’s work from a few years ago. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, plus a cool video.

I had all of Saturday and part of Sunday to myself, so I decided to drive into Manhattan and visit Occupy Wall Street to see what was going on. Some quick observations:

  • I was surprised at how relatively small the park was.
  • I was surprised at how many people, both protesters and visitors, were at the site (walking inside the park meant being crushed basically).
  • I’ve never seen so many police officers in one place before. The protesters didn’t seem to be causing any trouble, so mostly the cops were just hanging around and talking to each other.
  • I’ve never seen so many people with cameras, and I’ve been to the Academy Awards. I have a thought about this, including why #OWS made me angry, but I’ll save that for the end of the post so that you don’t get bored.
Here’s a general shot from one side of the park.  Tents and people were everywhere.  I didn’t take many photos of the people themselves, as most of the ones I could have easily photographed I largely found annoying and not worth photographing.  Instead, I tried to find personal touches on the living spaces, some of which are shown below.



I had tickets (required) to see the 9/11 memorial, so after visiting OWS I headed over. I should thank the protesters for occupying a park so close to the memorial, as it really allowed me to maximize my time.  So…Thanks!

The memorial itself is quite pretty, although it didn’t feel particularly sacred yet. The amount of security you have to go through to get in coupled with the huge amount of construction surrounding the site made it hard to lose yourself.  That will change as things come to completion.

Here’s one of the pools situated where a tower previously stood.

I saw this sign just outside the fence at an adjacent construction site. I think it’s funny when signs are written in the first person, as they remind me of the old–and often silly–propaganda posters from World War II.

I’m a very tactile person and like to touch things. I’ve been known to walk through Barnes and Noble just to feel the embossed book covers. I made it a point to walk portions of the memorial without looking at them, and instead let my hand simply feel the names. It’s a different way to appreciate the sad fact that all we have left of these people are carved letters.

I came to a name and was puzzled by how long the unbroken string of letters was. Looking down I saw this reference to a lost pregnant woman and her child. All of the names are tragic, but the addition of a child made me think about the process of life, and how easily it’s interrupted. This woman probably had a baby shower planned in the not too distant future.

I think i saw 3 flowers on different names at the memorial. Lots of people stopped to photograph them, realizing what a powerful shot it would make. I wanted to take the photo too, but I didn’t want to be part of a parade of tourists taking bad photos of a very intimate display. I walked around and felt the names for a little while longer and thought about the photo I wanted. I decided that reverence was the proper approach, and took the photo whilst on my knees.

I tried to get myself onto a helicopter to shoot the area from above, but didn’t have luck. I hoofed it over to the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and took a series of mostly bad photos. I have the uncanny luck of having nice weather when shooting bridges; why can’t I ever get clouds?

I went back to OWS for a bit, which seemed to come to life as the evening got going. I then discovered the special hell that is driving out of lower Manhattan. 2-lane streets become 3-4ish, lights don’t work in unison, the Holland tunnel converts something like 12 lanes into 2, and if you’re really lucky like I was, there’s significant construction on the other side of the tunnel.  It took me over an hour to go about 1/2 mile.

I, Jake Reinig, 5th Duke of Holland, do solemnly swear never to drive in Manhattan again unless my life depends on it. I’ll think about it in the event that yours depends on it.

I stayed in Pennsylvania Sunday and pursued some targets my friends Mark and Bruce proposed. I got up super early one more time to try and get over my worries about entering the lace factory but decided not to. Wuss. :)

Here’s a shot of an old building and bridge from the late 1800s on Lake Scranton.

I haven’t looked it up, but I think Lake Scranton might be part of a water control district, as there were important looking buildings spread around the outside. I came to this gate and couldn’t help but laugh. What’s the point of putting barbed wire on the gate if you can just walk around it?

For some reason, I got an image of a British buddy/burglar comedy while looking at this scene. Imagine the two bungling guards from the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.

Russel, whispering: “‘Ey Willie. Why are you usin’ a ladder to climb o’er the fence? We can just walk around it right ‘ere!”

Willie: delicately working his way over the barbed wire: “If we wasn’t meant to climb o’er the fence, why wouldst they ‘ave put barbed wire at the top?”

Russel, scratching his head: “Good point ol’ chap. That’s usin’ the ol’ bonce!”

I got lost in Wilkes-Barre and happened to pull over into a random, secluded parking lot. This awesome and quite large sculpture greeted me.

As it turns out, I was nearly across the street from where I wanted to be, which was an old train station turned abandoned multi-car train restaurant turned stray cat hotel. I’ve always thought that if I knew a real person with a silly name like “Banana Joe” that I probably wouldn’t like them very much. Apparently, no one else liked Banana Joe and his Island Party either. In the reflection is another of the cars, now left to the cats.

I took a number of photos of the train station and other cars, but they turned out just sort of…blah.


While driving I came across two neighboring cemeteries in Wilkes-Barre. Both were beautiful and both had some very old graves. One of them looked abandoned and in pretty bad shape. Large parts of it were overgrown and graves were knocked over and worn.  Near the river behind the older one was a large ruined building that I wanted to photograph. As I approached it I saw smoke, which I’m pretty sure was coming from a homeless person’s lunch. I decided to leave them be and to come back another day.

In addition to studying computer science and photography, I spent 6 years of my life studying history. Thus, I have a very strong affinity for cemeteries, leaving myself to wonder what life was like for these individuals. These particular cemeteries held people born in the 1700s and possibly earlier, which for some reason is just fascinating to me. Add the melancholy of abandonment and I’ve got the makings for a very personally interesting shoot.

I’ve not seen this elsewhere with this frequency, but throughout the parks were many headstones that only had single word titles on them. I’m not sure if this was from lack of money or lack of interest. Seeing a tombstone simply inscribed with “baby” on it made me sad, as that was probably a heavy loss to a rather poor family.


A hill in the abandoned cemetery.  As an aside, even in the abandoned cemetery someone still went around and put flags on veteran’s headstones. Despite many of the markers being so old that the inscriptions were completely gone, and despite many being overgrown or knocked over, this person or group still found them to provide a small tribute.

My last shared photo. How’s this for a nice place to spend eternity?


More thoughts on Occupy Wall Street:

As I mentioned earlier, I found myself frustrated with the OWS crowd. Although the Arab Spring got the ball rolling, they’re on the vanguard of what is perhaps the most important spontaneous political movement of the last 50 years.  The Occupy movement has spread to something like 1,500 cities around the world. And yet, what I saw at the park was typical disjointed American protest. Lots of people hawking junk merchandise, trying to educate people about this environmental cause or that anti-government project, and just in general being out of touch hippies. I have no problem with these individuals holding these beliefs and being passionate about them. I generally agree with a lot of them and wish more people did too.

However: for whatever reason, the country and world has decided that the time is right to give these people a stage. They may never have a chance like this again, and they can’t agree on a single guiding principle or goal to trumpet.  They have literally thousands of tourists coming by each and everyday to see what’s going on. A marketer couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to drive home the key points.

If I had even the least bit of sway over the group, I would try to organize around one goal and then run with it. Talk to every tourist about it. Put it on all of our signs. Talk to the media about it. Get it into the evening news and make it sound legitimate so that regular Americans can agree. The vast majority of Americans are unhappy with the state of our nation, but they simply can’t relate to some college kid with dreadlocks talking about composting or legalizing marijuana.

I’ll admit that I laughed when I saw a sign that read “We’re here, we’re unclear, get used to it.” Funny stuff, but so very, very frustrating.

I’m not the first person to suggest this, and I think most of the protest groups sort of understand this, but the single biggest message should be about a constitutional amendment stripping businesses (and other non-human groups, like unions) of the ability to act as political individuals. That is to say, businesses should not have the ability to spend any money on politics whatsoever, and they should not have free speech rights in the way humans do.  The conscience of the nation’s people can’t compete with the power of our largest companies to buy politicians.

Everything else can be worked on once this has been accomplished, and this one is relatively easy. There’s no way this will get done by the Federal government, but it can be started at the state level.

Near the end of my visit to OWS a guy stood up at one corner and announced to the OWS crowd that there would be a teach-in on some random government installation doing chemical testing or something. In the time that speech would happen, hundreds or thousands of tourists would pass by. How much better would it be to turn around and educate tourists on a single talking point that they can take home and get angry about? Instead, this guy was going to preach to the choir. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

In their defense, I’m not camped out, so really, what room do I have to criticize? I just wish they would take this opportunity to unify and achieve, rather than be disorganized and just make noise.

Maybe I should get involved and get ish done. Vote Jake Reinig for President in 2016, would you?

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