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Chris Luckhardt… Pro-Photographer. Canadian. Rochester Subway Explorer.

Chris Luckhardt shooting inside an abandoned train yard warehouse in Manchester, NY. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
Back in January I stumbled upon a Flickr photo collection external link full of urban exploration photos from all around the Great Lakes and several “rust belt” cities… with several shots from Rochester and the abandoned subway tunnel. Shot after shot revealed some pretty unique views of Rochester’s underground world plus other amazing abandoned structures. As it happens, the owner of these wonderfully gritty photo streams is Chris Luckhardt, organizer of the Toronto Exploration Society. Chris is also the creative force behind Motionblur Studios external link—a low budget, high quality studio located west of Toronto.

Inside the abandoned Lee Plaza in Detroit, Michigan. This was Chris's first attempt at an HDR composition that included a person. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)

Originally from Stratford, Ontario, Chris Luckhardt’s creative exploration has driven him from New Foundland to Pheonix in search of forgotten places—strangely spiritual, places we’re not ‘supposed’ to go. I contacted Chris to find out a little more about these photos and what enticed him to visit the bowels of downtown Rochester…

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Hi Chris, I noticed you have a couple of nice shots of the abandoned Rochester Subway. How often do you visit the subway tunnel? Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your photos?

Chris Luckhardt is the organizer for the Toronto Exploration Society. Chris says he lives a life of 'creative exploration.'CHRIS: Sure, thanks for the feedback! I’m the organizer for the Toronto Exploration Society external link. The group, founded in February 2005, specializes in urban exploration (mostly around the Great Lakes region) and photo walks (mostly in Toronto). I’m currently west of Toronto in Cambridge, Ontario. Rochester was the first US city I visited strictly for urban exploration. I have lots of photos and video from inside the [Rochester] subway. I’ve been down there 5 times in the past 4 years, the last time being a couple of months ago. I also have lots of SD and HD video, but I haven’t processed anything yet.

An HDR image of the abandoned Rochester subway tunnels. From a visit to the abandoned Rochester subway by the Toronto Exploration Society. The graffiti is always amazing down there. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: What is it that attracts you to the Rochester Subway? Do you have any plans for a sixth trip?

CHRIS: The subway external link is a sentimental favourite, because it was the first major urbex location I went to. It’s also easy to get a large group into, so it’s ideal for our Toronto Exploration Society. Whenever we go to Rochester, the subway is always on the list to check out if we have time, so a future trip is always a possibility.

From another visit to the abandoned Rochester subway by the Toronto Exploration Society. This Mustang appeared out of nowhere. Turns out the driver is involved with the the Rochester Historical Society. He gave us lots of interesting information, and confirmed other information we already knew) about the subway system. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: You have a shot of the tunnel that’s lit using car headlights (awesome)… I have to know, what kind of car and how the hell did you get it in there?!

CHRIS: The lit up photo was a surprise. Our group was walking through the tunnel and suddenly we saw some headlights. The car stopped, so we walked up to it cautiously. It turned out to be a new, red Mustang, owned by someone that told us they work for the Rochester Historical Society. A few people from our group talked to him. He gave us lots of interesting information, and confirmed other information we already knew) about the subway system. I figured it was a once in a lifetime chance to grab an illuminated photo of the tunnel, so I got my gear out and set up. It was quite a site! The car got in there from an entrance near the middle of the tunnel, where it intersects with railway tracks.

A creative director shoots some video in the abandoned Rochester subway in Rochester, New York.  (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Many visitors to my site are interested in exploring the tunnel and taking their own photos. Do you have any advice for them? (i.e. how to get in, equipment to bring, best spots to shoot, photo-editing, etc)

CHRIS: My advice for going down there applies to all urbex. Being cautious, wear sturdy footwear, have good lighting, keep your ears open and go in a group. The “best shot” is really a personal preference. Choices are limited inside the tunnel, but there is a lot of amazing graffiti in the “entrance” section under the Dinosaur BBQ. Getting in has always been easy. Either end of the tunnel and that middle area are wide open. We usually go in on the weekend when the downtown area isn’t busy.

An HDR composition of the Detroit's abandoned Michigan Central Station. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Other cool locations, events, or people you’ve shot before (Rochester-related or not)?

CHRIS: I’ve been to lots of interesting locations. Detroit external link is quite an experience due to the danger aspect. Buffalo external link always has lots to see. One of the most interesting locations was the Phoenix Trotting Park external link. It was very difficult to get in and out of. Ontario has a lot of interesting locations, but they’re becoming more and more rare, due to demolitions. If you want to see a map of where I’ve been for urbex, check out my map link and use the keyword “urbex”.

This is one of the trains that used to be in service in Cleveland's formerly active subway system. (photo: Chris Luckhardt)
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: One last question, what kind of camera do you use and what do you use for post-editing?

CHRIS: I generally use a Canon Rebel XTi with a 28-135 lens. I do minimal post-processing with Photoshop and Photomatix.

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I’d like to send you a Rochester Subway poster… would you prefer the modern subway map external link or the 1928 version external link?

CHRIS: The 1928 map would be excellent! Thanks! Cheers, Chris.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 9:19 am and is filed under Art + Culture, Interviews, Rochester Subway, Rochester Subway Stories, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Chris Luckhardt… Pro-Photographer. Canadian. Rochester Subway Explorer.”

  1. Andy says:

    I am trying to find out if there are any copyright restrictions on the Rochester Subway image. Can anyone tell me please?

  2. @Andy, thank you for asking. All the photos shown in this post are property of Chris Luckhardt. Please contact him for permission to use them. They are outstanding images and he’s a great guy.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Hello my name is Jonathan I’m a recording artist from Ottawa and I’d like to know if possible I could use this image as a cover for the reverse side of my upcoming full length feature. Thank you.

  4. Ellie says:

    I just have a quick question. I am a photographer and am fascinated with old buildings and such. Being a women I wouldn’t like to explore and photograph these places om my own. Is there a group I could join?

  5. Pete says:

    Dude!, you could make your own movies. You do excellent work. Keep truckin.


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