urban exploration pt 2: undercity

17 01 2012

so – once upon a time we wanted to start a series about urban exploration because it’s one of our favorite things in the world. we kinda did, spurred on by the amazing urban explorers we came across on the internet, and also by our own semi-amateur adventuringz (FORT TILDEN!!!!11!1!).

this is something i’ve been wanting to post on SNT for a long while, and hopefully you’ll see more of this chap in some capacity.. but either way, meet STEVE DUNCAN of UNDERCITY!

queensboro bridge, view toward queens – 2006

knickerbocker avenue extension sewer, brooklyn, NYC – 2007

steve pretty much does all those things we wish we had the balls to do. he’s an amazing photog who explores cities around the world in ways that would probably give traditional tourists nightmares – he scales bridges, goes spelunking in sewers, traverses tunnels, and creeps through caves:

As an urban historian & photographer, I try to peel back the layers of a city to see what’s underneath. From the tops of bridges to the depths of sewer tunnels, these explorations of the urban environment help me puzzle together the interconnected, multi-dimensional history and complexity of the great metropolises of the world.

you can see his absolutely stunning photography work here, featuring explorations that range from the NYC subway to WII bunkers in berlin to mills, mines, and brewery caves in the twin cities. he even sells some of his prints online.

however what really got me hooked on steve’s work was this NY times article chronicling his underground NYC explorations with norwegian adventurer erling kagge, and this incredible video shot by andrew wonder that gives you a little taste of what it’s really like to be there. check it out and tell me you don’t thank your lucky stars for modern-day explorers documenting these things that most of us would never, ever get to see.


Notes From A Haunted Photographer: Carlos Detres

29 07 2011

We here at Sugar -n- Thunder are super-fans of the haunting, ethereal, raw photography of NYC’s Carlos Detres. We profiled him this past fall but you won’t believe how much has changed in a few months. Carlos is constantly pushing himself and experimenting with new techniques – here’s some words and a few of his newest snaps.

Notes From A Haunted Photographer, by Carlos Detres

“There are many cultures throughout the world whose religious and other belief systems include the concern that a soul can be ‘captured,’ imprisoned, or stolen wholly or in part by a variety of means, including photography.”
– Dr. George Simon, PhD

It’s years ago and I’m nine years old, down with the flu. I’m in my room. There’s a radio on. Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth” is playing to the book I’m holding. The pictures in the book are of alleged ghost photography.

The ghost of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall.

A soft visage of the dead flight mechanic.

A transparent black monk hovering near a church organ.

My passion for photography began with the dead – all dramatic nuances intended. I have spent much of my time emulating the gloomy, mysterious quality of supposed ghost photography by employing long shutter speeds, blurred effects, low-key lighting and minimalist compositions to discuss the inherent haunted-ness of pictures. The physical photograph exists in a linear manner rather than backwards, “behind us,” or retrospective just as how ghosts supposedly do.


long island city’s 1892 terracotta works building – exposed!

13 05 2011

i am a flag-waving born & raised long island city girl, and this building – the new york architectural terra-cotta works building – ranks pretty high on my list of things i love about my neighborhood.

it’s a mysterious little red building just under the queensboro bridge and across from the new ravel hotel on vernon blvd. it’s from 1892! and is still standing! i passed by recently and HAD to take photos – these are BRAND NEW and feature the building with many of its gorgeous elements exposed for the first time in god knows how long. previously wood casings were around them, but due to some renovation work going on it seems they’ve been left open to the elements. check this OUT!




Sean Colón takes on HDR Photography

23 02 2011

SNT comrade (photographer, videographer, SFX makeup specialist, horror enthusiast, adventurer!) Sean Colón is currently working on re-editing his photos as HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photos, as well as doing more photography of this type very soon. We thought we’d take this opportunity to look into HDR and share some of Sean’s awesome work and comparisons [click the photos to enlarge!].

What is HDR Photography?

Via the Wiki article: In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.

Via Trey Ratcliff of Stuck In Customs: HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. It is a post-processing of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed. […]

When you are actually there on the scene, your eye travels back and forth, letting in more light in some areas, less light in others, and you create a “patchwork-quilt” of the scene. Furthermore, you will tie in many emotions and feelings into the imagery as well, and those get associated right there beside the scene. Now, you will find that as you explore the HDR process, that photos can start to evoke those deep memories and emotions in a more tangible way. It’s really a wonderful way of “tricking” your brain into experiencing much more than a normal photograph.

Here’s another HDR shot of Sean’s:

And just so you get the full effect, here’s two of his comparisons (shot in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery):


urban exploration pt 1: north brother island

24 01 2011

it’s no secret that eric & i love urban exploration, and treasure every time we stumble upon some relic of the past hidden from view or fallen into disrepair (see our ft tilden post, for instance!). it is an adventure and a feeling like no other to experience an era gone by still clinging to life – somehow resisting the march of time or modernity’s wrecking ball.

i’d love to kick off an ongoing series highlighting the brave souls that share this passion – some risking more than others to pursue their passion for exploration right here in NYC. i truly enjoy discovering the work of amazing photographers and videographers blogging and documenting their findings, and i’d love to share them with you – the avid internet explorers stumbling upon SNT!

first up:


my friend and fellow photographer liz (who does fantastic work, by the way!) tipped me off on a great photo piece gawker.com did recently featuring photographs of north brother island by ian ference/richard nickel jr. (of the kingston lounge).

much to my delight, the gorgeous photos gawker pulled were just a taste of what you could find on nickel’s actual post on north brother island.


Love at First Fright: Sean Colón plays zombie master for ‘Dead of the Night’

30 11 2010

SNT comrade Sean Colón rocked out his special FX skillz earlier this month for a live interactive zombie performance called ‘Dead of the Night’. After the undead legion he helped create ran loose in a NYC art gallery, Sean shared some photos and notes on his experience with us.

Photos by Anastasiya Kizima.

It has always been a dream of mine to be able to do special FX and create my own horde of zombies. Little did I know that I would get that chance and so soon. On November 13, 2010 I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of ‘Dead of the Night,’ a reimagining of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, by Jillian Mcdonald.

Working with Jillian has always been a pleasure as she shares my love for zombies and other creatures of the night. So during my last year at Pace University when she asked me to assist her on a project I made sure I took that opportunity. It was at this point I realized that not only did I want to do photography, but video and special FX as well.


SNT comrade in artist Jillian Mcdonald’s ‘Dead of the Night’

9 11 2010

Our artist-in-arms and friend in time Sean Colón is doing special FX for artist Jillian Mcdonald‘s interactive zombie performance, ‘Dead of the Night’ this Saturday! The performance is part of Savoir Faire, SOHO20 Gallery’s second annual performance series featuring the work of women artists.

In a nutshell:

Dead of the Night is a re-imagining of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) in the gallery space, where audience members are inserted into the narrative as the horror unfolds. Surrounded by menacing zombies and set within the context of a rural farmhouse, visitors attempt to evade the ghouls unyielding thirst for human flesh.

The story behind the work:

Jillian is interested in film zombies as a now universally recognizable archetypal horror film monster. Since Romero’s 1968 classic, audiences agree on the hallmarks of zombism: zombies moan as they stagger stiffly and unconsciously in packs towards their single goal – to catch and consume the flesh of the living; gruesome and rotting, they are ordinary people reincarnated as characterless and soulless ghouls; although they are brutish, vile, and almost unstoppable, they are neither resourceful nor clever, and are imminently expendable; and most horrifyingly, they can turn victims into monsters. Caught in the unknowable position between “alive” and “dead” they have the power to fascinate and terrorize.

Recent works focus on “fear as entertainment” exemplified in the American horror film. Unlike contemporary horror film itself, Mcdonald’s work eschews extreme gore and violence, in favour of stripped down narrative and character that highlight familiar plot motifs and archetypes. Research plays an important role in her work, and to that end her process includes reading film theory, watching popular films, and exploring fan culture.

If you’re in the NYC area, stop by SOHO20 Gallery on Saturday night (November 13th) at 7pm to catch the performance. Make ’em eat some brains for SNT, Sean!

SOHO20 Gallery
Dead of the Night
Sat Nov 13, 2010, 7pm
547 W. 27th St #301, New York, NY


6 10 2010

.. is amazing.

welcome to one of the most epic and unforgettable adventures eric and i have ever had.

as you’ll see in a moment through the pictures below, FORT TILDEN is pretty much everything we love rolled into one: beaches, shoreline, trails, wilderness, but also history, grittiness, graffiti, ruins, abandoned buildings. organic yet industrial, it’s a sprawling harbor park on the rockaway peninsula that still bears the remnants of its former identity as a US military base. the base was established in 1917 and decommissioned in 1974, but there are still fortifications (as well as bunkers, magazines/storehouses, and artillery railways) hidden in the dense foliage.

eric and i stumbled across quite a few of these on our journey, and even went in to explore the often pitch black rooms and pathways armed only with a camera flash to light things up (!!). exploring fort tilden was intense, spooky, surreal, strangely beautiful, but more than anything – absolutely exhilarating. it is these kinds of experiences that make us so thankful to live in new york city where you don’t even have to leave the five boroughs to have an insane adventure in a place that seems like an entirely different world.

you can find out more about fort tilden on military railroads of the NY metro area, urban ghosts mediaforgotten NY, and of course the official NY harbor parks site.

here are some snaps from our trip – you can view many, many more on the SNT flickr.