Indy Downtown Randomness – 6/6/2015

On Saturday I did a thing that most people don’t really understand terribly well.  I intentionally stranded myself downtown in Indy for the day without a car so that I would be forced to go forth and make the best of the day.  I also intentionally didn’t look at the events calendar so I had no clue what (if anything) was going on downtown.  If I was going to find anything at all then I’d have to do so on foot and at random.  As it happened, it worked out wonderfully.

My fiancee has class downtown on Saturdays all day so I went downtown with her and walked her to class.  On the way, we noted a large yellow tube in the road and also that the road was blocked off to traffic.  We questioned what this could possibly be but since she was due in class she had to go on her way while I was left to investigate.  After dropping her at class I wandered up New York Street and found a gaggle of people making their way down Blackford.  Heading that direction the first thing I noticed was that the Indian State Museum is a HOTBED of Ingress activity.  There must be 50 portals in a single block area.  That distracted me for quite a while as I took out some Resistance Portals (which, since that time have been reclaimed by the Resistance and then re-reclaimed by the Enlightened)


So wandering down that way it quickly became clear that that the day was dedicated to “The Color Run” in which runners make their way around the 5K course and get squirted with all manner of colored powder on the way. Interestingly, it was one of my long-term goals to photograph a Color Run so in some weird happenstance of randomness, I managed to wander exactly into the thing I had been trying in vain to do for a long time. Which, if you know me at all, you’ll know is one of my key life ideas. That the best things happen to you when you’re not really trying to make them happen at all. At any rate, let’s get on to the pictures.

So to begin with I got a surge of energy from the opening. Here’s a shot of the crowd before they get colored on at all. It’s whiter than a Zionsville baseball game!

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After a bit of photography at the opening, I decided that the best course of action would be to find my way to the end of the course and walk it backwards. That way I’d catch everyone head-on and as they were coming around the course. Essentially, I was walking the 5K course backwards.

At first, this worked out poorly. This gentleman was the first to finish and I didn’t realize he was a runner until he was already past.

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But soon things started to get more lively. This group of four was places 2-6 and I told them so as they went past.

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After a bit I came upon a color station. Which was quite an amusing waypoint, plus or minus the obvious danger to my camera equipment from airborne orange dust.

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Moving onward, I noted that the course doubled back on itself a bit. The blue checkpoint is apparently the first and it is at this point, more or less, that I noticed the death fog of colored powder and when my camera started to complain of the airborne particles.

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Between checkpoints orange and pink, there is a fairly large gap and it is in this section that the crowd began to thicken. I had worked my way through the hard core runners and found myself in the land of the casual attendees and they were exceptionally happy to ham it up for the camera. To be frank, their energy and verve for the event was one of the most delightful moments in my life as a candid photographer. They posed. They strutted. But they were their own happy selves. And that was profound. This really is the happiest footrace on the planet.

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I have to admit that I find myself rather sad that I was only an observer of this happiness and that I can’t share any of these moments with the random strangers that were involved. Sad as usual that I feel disconnected from the world around me. Any rate… I traipsed manfully onward until the pink station reared its head.

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My camera was already having fits about the dust so I opted to bail out at this point to save the equipment. In a rather desultory manner I wandered downtown….

I didn’t find much of interest until I heard Indian music a couple blocks away. I hurried to determine the source of the ruckus but even after seeing it…. I have no clue what this was about.

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All I can say for sure was that it was amazing, very musical and distinctly Indian in nature. I regret, as usual, that I’m on the outside of such events and not in-the-know. I adore Indian culture (and, honestly, people in general) so I regret that I was an ignorant witness.

At any rate, from there I wandered on downtown and then back to IUPUI but didn’t take any pictures. The day turned out to be rather a scouting event for future days. The point is, I suppose, that the city is extremely picturesque and given the right open-minded attitude, there is always something going on. Even in the event when you don’t actually PLAN anything but just let the wind blow you wherever it will. Such is the joy of human experience.


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What’s going on in Carmel…?

My youngest is doing a 4H photograph project so I got her out and about this Saturday to take some pictures.  No idea where she gets the idea that photography is fun…

First stop was the Museum of Miniatures in Carmel.  As always, we just stumbled across this place not knowing that it had previously existed.  I always say that the best trips are those whose plans are simple blank slates.  Sometimes you end up in a cornfield and sometimes you end up seeing tiny suits of armour…

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or playing a tiny game of chess

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or sitting in a really uncomfortable chair. I have to admit that I wasn’t very well equipped to look at tiny objects in a poorly lit environment behind glass but some of these vaguely suffice.

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Tiny loo, anyone?

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You have to admit, the level of detail on these guys is amazing. I’m tempted to go back with a tripod and take some much more solid shots if they’ll have me.

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You can never have too much armour.

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After the small stuff, we hit the streets and saw some real characters in the Arts and Design district.

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Catching up on some old news…

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And there’s always a friendly policeman to show the way.

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Spring is in the air. It’s time to water the flowers…

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I’ve tried to teach Izzy that the best photographs you take are those in which you’re least comfortable. Here she is getting the low shot.

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We always stop to listen to the music. Such as it isn’t.

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And we close with this dude who is…. well, have to admit, rather sinister.

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And that’s the day that was on March 21st in Carmel.


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So what have I been doing for almost … well, since September of 2013?

I look at this blog rather infrequently, obviously, and realize that I’ve not done a great job of keeping it up to date.  To be honest I’ve felt rather crestfallen about photography over the past year or so and imagined that I was just throwing all my time and effort into a big hole and that nobody really cared or noticed if I took photos or not.  As it turns out, nobody did say anything so it tended to lend credence to the idea that I was wasting my time.  I didn’t snap out of my ennui until I happened to Google myself and realized how many of my photos were being used by websites under the Creative Commons license that I grant to all my Flickr pictures.  That made it seem like it all might be worthwhile, so here I am back on the horse again.  So what HAS happened over the past year or more…?

In reverse chronological order… I visited the Depauw campus in Greencastle, Indiana. A wonderful locale and delightful architecture.
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Spent a bit of time at ComicCon in Indy
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Did some photography for the Special Olmpics
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OK, well, that was actually all just yesterday.

And there were dozens of soccer games, of course…

As always Zionsville had its classic car show

And we saw this guy from field level

Oh, and we went to Oregon and goofed about on some big rocks.

Found a sunset or two

And some water did its waterfall thing.

So it was a pretty good several months. I’m sad that I didn’t document it in more detail but I promise that I’ll think about doing better next time.


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Of National Parks and Classic Cars

Looking back on the past week or so I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time uploading slightly refined versions of photos previously taken rather than taking anything new. As much as I may enjoy looking back on old holiday snaps, I’ve come to realize over the years that no picture of crater lake…


… can really do the place justice. While I’m reminiscing joyfully in my head about the place, the rest of the world just says, “oh. lake. Cool…?” Totally understandable. Those determined stalwarts who wish to may check out Crater Lake National Park, Diamond Lake, Oregon, and the Umpqua River. I don’t really expect you to necessarily do so, but as this blog is primarily dedicated to what I’m doing photographically, there’s your answer.

No, what I’m really here to chatter on about is the Zionsville fall festival. As the seasons turn here in Indiana we find ourselves ready to celebrate the coming onslaught of winter. I wandered out see what could be seen on Sunday of last week and ran into a classic car show. I’d rather forgotten how much I adore the visuals at these things. All the wonderful chrome details are just generally dazzling. I need to make a point to get out to more classic car events.

I just can’t get enough of these shiny, gas-guzzling old birds. Even when I was a wee lad I dreamed of owning a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Until, of course, I realized what it would cost to drive a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Ah well.





And that’s the day that was, more or less. If you’ve got a classic car or anything else that needs photographing drop me a line. I’ll be there with bells on.

PS: Click any photo for a closer look and go look at flickr if you want even more photos.


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Hire me!

In the vein of needing things to take a picture of, I gave in to the pressure of 57 Facebook adverts and signed up for a new-ish site called ‘thumbtack’. It claims to connect professionals with jobs in their field. At worst it’s a site that mines personal information for some sort of nefarious gain. Either way, I signed up. Worst case scenario I don’t have any more gigs than I did before. So that said, go hire me!

Rob Slaven Photography


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On portraits and “Tamelife” photography

If you look at my work at all you’ll notice that it’s quite a lot of random. When it comes to photography, if something sits still I’ll shoot it in macro. If it runs I’ll chase it and if it’s looking back at me then I’ll try to pretend I’m not really taking its picture. I tend to approach all my photography like I’m stalking a wild animal on the Serengeti, even if it happens to be the middle of GenCon and everybody will stop and pose even if you look at them funny.

Despite this general outlook, I still like the idea of taking people’s pictures because they want them taken. For years now I’ve put out the general message that yes I will take your picture, dozens of pictures, and give them to you if only you ask. You don’t even have to sit still because I’m accustomed to that sort of behavior in my subjects, though usually they’re furrier and faster than the average human. On a very rare occasion someone will take me up on my offer and I’ll show up and awkwardness will commence. Having done this a couple of times I’ve come to realize that portrait photography doesn’t really have all that much to do with actual photography, at least not as I define the science of the whole thing. I’m used to having to sneak up on my subjects and work for a couple of hours to catch them at their best whether they want to be caught or not. When you’re doing someone’s portrait though, they do something even more unnerving than run away. They stare back at you expectantly as if to say, “you’re the expert. so now what?” Somehow the desired answer of “Just go about your business and do whatever you’re going to do” doesn’t sit well with people.

This, I think, is a real pity though because it’s those absolutely frank and unposed moments that are most evocative. For example, a few years ago at the Talbot art fair I was behind a dad who had a very tired and very hot child in his arms and snapped this shot. It’s one of those absolutely raw moments but her eyes bore in to me even a year later. This is the sort of thing you get after you’ve let your guard down and stopped smiling the 3rd grade photo day smile into the camera.

I’ll wrap it up because I’m close to coming up on rant status, but I guess my real point is that the good shots happen after your hair is down, your makeup is smudged and you’ve forgotten anybody is taking pictures at all. It’s that moment when you look up and say, “Dad, is it time for lunch yet?” in your best and most expectant face. And that, I suppose, is the difficulty of Tamelife photography. Getting it to revert to its natural state so you can get the best out of it.

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Highlights from August So far…

Things have been quiet around this old blog lately but there’s certainly plenty going on in my head. As of late I’ve been remiss in posting but mainly because I’m going back through my entire photographic history and trying to be more organized and post everything to Flickr. So if you really want to see what’s going on then go check out Flickr. I promise fewer words, more photos.

In going through eons of old photos, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to be much more meticulous in my post processing. In the past I’ve just gone out, spent 7-8 hours shooting random things and then come home exhausted and spending as little time as possible in getting things up. This, as it turns out, is a mistake. After only a few days I started finding shots that I’d given up on and resurrected them from their graves. Take this one from Crown Hill Cemetery, looking up through the monument of James Whitcomb Riley.


Before it was rather a washed out mess in the middle. It was one of my “This turned out OK but it could have been better” shots. Just a tiny tweak in post though and it’s one of my faves.

Also, after telling myself for years that I was going to go and really set myself to looking at the State Fair in detail I bothered to spend about 11 hours there for a daytime and an evening session. I’m not absolutely tickled with the results but they’re reasonable I’d say.


Well, ok, I admit that I’m absolutely amused to the hilt about this batch. I spent an hour or so looking at the people trying to win $200 staying on the mechanical bull. Needless to say, the bull was undefeated but the expressions were timeless.


I also did a bit of scrabbling about in the yard. This Praying Mantis was wonderfully patient with me on one weekend morning. Couldn’t have asked for a better subject.

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At any rate, you can find more of my randomness on Flickr. The photos from this post were from the sets below; feel free to poke around if you have free time.

Crown Hill Cemetery
2013 Indiana State Fair

Add me as a contact on Flickr and I’ll return the favor.  Always looking for more photos to thumb through in that 10 minutes first thing in the morning when I’m not quite alert enough to safely get out of bed.


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