A few more frames from my day on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with Illinois Marine Towing. I wanted a little “more” both from the portrait of Dan Egan and the image below, with Steve Gray growing in proportion from one frame to the next. As for the third image, I can’t help but be drawn to photos of flowing water, although usually I try to make it silky, I enjoyed the way that the faster shutter speed froze the large droplets.
Before I even got onto the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, I found myself outside the office of Illinois Marine Towing in Lemont, Ill., talking to some of the deck hands who were scheduled to start work that morning, and would remain at work for three weeks. Crews on the tugboats that push barges up and down the waterways live on the boats for three weeks at a time, sometimes four if they’d like to earn a bit more money, before coming home for a few weeks. There are a lot of moving parts in the discussion about Asian carp and the Great Lakes, and these people who make their living working on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are a part of that debate, as is the cargo that they help to push up and down the waterways.
Last Wednesday I had an opportunity to spend most of a day on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with three men who make their living pushing cargo up and down the man-made waterway created 110 years ago. Bill Russell at Illinois Marine Towing, a small barge company in Lemont, Illinois, granted me access to one of the fleet boats as it repositioned barges and other tug boats around the shipyard and up and down a stretch of the canal. Capt. Dan Egan, Antonio Lopez, and Steve Gray were all very open to the idea, and basically allowed me great access to the work that they do, although there are some safety precautions that certainly limit how much of their job I could photograph from close range. But I didn’t want to be the victim of a snapped line or fall into the water, either! Be sure to see the rest of the images after the jump. And there will be more to come!