Back in January I stumbled upon a Flickr photo collection 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 —a low budget, high quality studio located west of Toronto.
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: Sure, thanks for the feedback! I’m the organizer for the Toronto Exploration Society . 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.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: What is it that attracts you to the Rochester Subway? Do you have any plans for a sixth trip?
CHRIS: The subway 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.
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.
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.
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 is quite an experience due to the danger aspect. Buffalo always has lots to see. One of the most interesting locations was the Phoenix Trotting Park . 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”.
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 or the 1928 version ?
CHRIS: The 1928 map would be excellent! Thanks! Cheers, Chris.
Tags: abandoned subway, abandoned subway tunnel, abandoned tunnel, Canada, Canon, Chris Luckhardt, Cleveland, Cleveland subway, Detroit, Dinosaur Bar B Que, Flickr, Lee Plaza, Manchester NY, Michigan Central Station, Motionblur Studios, New Foundland, Phoenix, photo, photography, Photomatix, Photoshop, Rochester, Rochester Historical Society, Rochester NY, Rochester Subway, Toronto, Toronto Exploration Society, Trotting Park, urban exploration, urban explorers
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.
I am trying to find out if there are any copyright restrictions on the Rochester Subway image. Can anyone tell me please?