Tag Archives: Chicago

Carousels and Ferris Wheels

Carousels and Ferris Wheels

This image, of the ferris wheel and carousel of Navy Pier in Chicago, is very much an “Instagram picture” to me. Pictures as wide, expansive scenics don’t seem to pop up on the photo-sharing site much, but close-up pictures of food, a city in all its glory, or detailed images like that above seem to dominate my feed. (I follow about 100 people on Instagram, from friends and their personal images to professionals and their current projects.)

I’ll be curious in the years to ahead where photography goes. In the past ten years film photography has all-but-died. Now Nikon and Canon — the two big players in the industry — are pushing bigger, sexier cameras. Their iconic cameras run for a couple of thousand dollars, as does the lenses that go with them.

As society evolves and cameras get easier to operate and smaller to carry around (nearly everyone’s phone has a camera now, and that they carry in their pockets each day), will more people shy away from spending $2,000 for a camera, when a $300 will do just fine? Will only a few old timers carry the big, bulky cameras and their cumbersome lenses, while the kids have the quick and fast pocket cameras? At one point do those kids become “old timers” and still use the small, inexpensive cameras?

While the legacy camera manufactures make fancier gear (36 megapixels, anyone?), will they ever get into a situation like film has become, where no one is buying their product because it’s easier and cheaper to get something dramatically smaller and lighter? Will Nikon and Canon adapt, or will they go the way of Kodak?

0512. (5003)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Duct Tape

Duct Tape

More often than not, when I’m out running around and I see something I want to come back and take pictures of, for one reason or another, it doesn’t work out.

It can be the colors of leaves during autumn and later that same day wind or rain comes through and wipes them out, or maybe a colorful sunset which disappears in seconds. Like I said, more often than not, it doesn’t work out to come back (which is why it would be good if I started carrying my camera around with me more often).

So all of that being said, the above picture and all of the small pieces of duct tape on a wall was one of the few things where it did work out. Driving through the Chinatown neighborhood in Chicago, I saw the duct tape covering a wall as I was driving through an intersection. For obvious reason I couldn’t stop at the time, but a couple of days later I made it back and got the shot I was looking for.

I’m not sure of the origins of the tape or even the purpose, but I think they’re certainly interesting enough to grab a picture of.

0910. (3646)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Christmas Skyline

Christmas Skyline

The city of Chicago’s skyline is decorated for Christmas.

This that magical time of year where I take a couple of weeks off from photoblogging. Well, I don’t take time off, really, I just do other things. For example, the week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally slow for myself as far as image-making. Every year, as a result of the “down time,” I fill out the appropriate form and ship pictures off to the U.S. Copyright office. The process of copyrighting takes maybe an hour from start to finish, but it’s well worth the time and energy later on if something comes up.

The first year I sent pictures in for copyright, I feel like the process took forever. That’s mostly because I had no clue what I was doing. Now, several years later, I have an extremely streamlined process and I’m done before I know it.

If you’re interested: I use Form VA each year and it costs $65. I’ll go into Adobe Lightroom and export all of my pictures taken in any given year to a folder on my desktop. The file size doesn’t have to be spectacular; just enough to show your picture is indeed your picture. That folder is then copied to a CD-ROM and sent via UPS overnight to the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington D.C. Yes, I am well aware there is a cheaper method available ($35) and it involves simply uploading images via their secure server, but there is also a 60-minute window where you can upload as much as you can upload, and that’s it. If you go past that 60-minute window you’re out another $35. For me, it’s easier to just ship the images out on a CD-ROM and be done with it, plus I receive confirmation that it was received and signed for (the government is VERY slow to cash checks) and I also make an exact duplicate of everything I send in.

One additional note is the first year I used a couple of DVD-Rs to send my images in for copyright. One of the nice things about using the mail-in method is I sent in a boatload of images spread across several disks. In my labeling, all I needed to do was “Kettner 1 of 3,” “Kettner 2 of 3,” and “Kettner 3 of 3” all for the one price of $65. If copyrighting music, movies, paintings or pictures, it is nice to have the flexibility of more than one hour and more than a 11.3MB file.

So while I do plan on getting out and taking a few more pictures before the holiday, I also plan on getting my images copy-written. One of the pictures I plan on taking is similar to the image above.

Shortly before Christmas a few years back, some of Chicago‘s buildings were decorated for the holidays. I remember it being one of the coldest nights thus far as I tromped around in the snow. This image was captured well after sunset, and I’d like to take it again, but this time with a little brighter-sky.

0512 (0383)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Two Branches Meet

Two Branches Meet

This is Wolf Point in Chicago.

Since I’ve taken this picture in 2010, the spot in which I stood has been completely reworked and the railroad company is building something fancy. Also, as I was taking this picture, over my left shoulder are a number of high-rise condos with a spectacular view down the Chicago River. At Wolf Point (the tiny tree-filled knoll on the waters edge, to the left of the image), a development company has decided to pull out its parking lot and build another high rise condo — thus blocking the view those over my shoulder have. Everyone has decided to go to court and sue to slow things down (or kill projects all together), but I’m glad I was able to sit and spend an evening watching the sun set down the river.

A year or two later  went back for sunrise hoping to get an image of the sun blazing down the river, but my calculations were wrong and the sun perked up between some buildings. I never made it back to try the picture again, and if I don’t go soon, my chance may be lost forever. As long as I avoid the ongoing railroad construction, of course.

0610. (2237)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Waveland and Wilton

This isn’t the picture I was going for this night, but I found myself a block from Wrigley Field as the sun was setting.  Seeing the sky slowly turn pink was impressive, so I set up the tripod and waited for a train to fly by.

As it turns out, this is one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of Wrigley Field.  I think the ballpark is a photographic field day any time of day, but most pictures I’ve viewed are of the front of the building during the day.  Having an iconic part of Chicago (the CTA train) whiz by as the sun sets behind Wrigley is even more delicious.

(1644) 0109.

Posted in Sports Also tagged , |

Tribune Towers Over Regeneration

Tribune Towers Over Regeneration

On the Michigan Avenue bridge spanning the Chicago River, there are four sculptures on each of the four bridge houses. One represents discovery, one represents the pioneers early to the midwest, one represents defense in the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn, and on the Southeast corner, Regeneration depicts life in Chicago as the city rebuilds following the fire of 1871.

One of the fun footnotes of this bridge is the Southwest bridgehouse has been converted into a museum, which allows people to learn the history of the Chicago River and its bridge houses. Somewhat nifty is one can climb to the top to see the size of the workspace and down to the bottom to view the gear room.

During the spring and fall, when the bridges are raised to allow boats to travel up and down the river, tourists can also sit in the gear room to watch everything work as the bridge does its thing.

I’ve been in the museum and it is a fun-yet-quiet history lesson of Chicago in the middle of one of its most crowded areas.

0709. (1937)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Magnificent Mile at Night

Magnificent Mile at Night

Every-now-and-then I like to head into the city of Chicago and shoot some images. Sometimes I’ll get out and shoot at sunrise, other times at sunset.  I like taking the train around when I do this because I can wander the streets and head home when I’m exhausted, and not have to somehow make it back to my car (once I remember where I parked it).  The downside of this, is I carry nearly a ton of gear with me, since I’m not sure if I’m what I’m going to need whenever I end up where I end up.  That’s always good for the back, I’m sure.

Anyway, with this particular picture, I’m in the median underneath a traffic light shooting north up Michigan Avenue.  I always feel odd doing shots like this because people sit and stare at you while they’re waiting for the traffic light to turn green. One of these days I’m going to wear a gorilla mask while I’m taking pictures just to really give people something to stare at.

(2077) 0809.

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Sunshine, Dog Walking and Chicago Skyline

Sunshine, Dog Walking and Chicago Skyline

The temperature has plummeted here in Chicago. When we first got our dog it was late-June and the temperature was damn-near perfect. Throughout summer it was easy to take her for a walk, as my biggest decision came with deciding between wearing a baseball cap or not. Now, with winter temperatures blasting in, the morning walks with the dog are slightly more complex.

My wife and I picked up one of those jacket puppy can wear, not to mention I had to find some gloves and hats for myself, as well. The first day puppy and I went for our morning walk in the 30-degree temperatures, I’m pretty sure she didn’t like the frozen blades of grass. So there we were walking along the sidewalk; puppy was in her jacket and I’m dressed up like “Nanook of the North.” It made me think back to the above picture of two women walking a dog along the shores of Lake Michigan. The skyline is slightly obscured because there is so much haze in the air. I don’t recall the exact temperature, but I do remember it being super-hot on the day I took this picture.

After a couple of cold morning walks, that super-hot summer day seemed so long ago.

1011. (0832)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Lakeshore Drive and Chicago Skyline

Lakeshore Drive and Chicago Skyline

Last week I went out late in the day to shoot some images of Chicago‘s skyline at “blue hour”. Blue hour is the period of time after the sun sets but before the sky goes black. It is usually a window of less than an hour after sunset, when the sky turns a wonderful dark blue. (The same effect happens in the morning shortly before sunrise.)

For awhile I had wanted to seek out a location for trying to show some “motion blur,” in this case cars driving by on Lakeshore Drive. Several years back I took pictures from this same location during the Chicago Half Marathon, and thought it would be good this time around.

Turns out, it was. The pedestrian bridge at 35th street is just the right height and not encased in chain-linked fencing. I had a platform that covered eight lanes of traffic and five or six lanes of railroad tracks, both offering unique looks at Chicago‘s skyline.

1013. (7407)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Willis Tower at Sunset

Willis Tower at Sunset

Chicago, Illinois has one of the best skylines in the world. Part of why it’s so good, is the Planetarium provides a fantastic viewpoint that every TV show, news crew, tourist bus and photographer stop by on occasion. You could sit there every day for a week and see seven amazingly different sunsets, and people of all walks of life.

Part of the fun while hanging out there is watching everyone bustling around you while you sit. For this image, there were segway tours, photographers, lovers, walkers and the kids all running around watching the sun set (well, the kids were playing tag, but everyone else was watching the sun set).

Chicago is a beautiful city, and opportunities like this really enhance the experience.

1011. (9874)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Evening El Train

Evening El Train

Last week I went out and shot some images of Chicago with photographer Chris Smith from Out of Chicago. He introduced me to a fantastic vantage point on the top-level of a downtown parking garage. Right as the sun dripped below the horizon and the sky turned blue, many of the buildings’ lights came on. Throw in a passing CTA train and the picture just sort of composed itself.

0913. (7170)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Rockin’ Rodrigo

Rockin' Rodrigo

A few years back I shot a boatload of concerts. From Dashboard Confessional at Madison Square Garden to Dave Matthews Band at Red Rocks, I criss-crossed the country shooting concerts to cover my rent. It was certainly a fun couple of years. When I think back, I can’t help but think about how much time is taken up preparing for concerts on the actual day of.

In everything else I do, there is a certain amount of down time. It isn’t anything “set aside,” but it just happens. In a baseball game, there is standing around as we wait for the game to start. In auto racing, there is always time between the cars coming and going from one’s side of the race track. Later this week I’ll be at the Red Bull Flug Tag here in Chicago, and that event SCREAMS downtime. However, in concerts, there seems to be a constant drum of effort. (No pun intended.)

From setting up cameras, to sound checks, to lighting checks to souvenir stands popping up, there is always activity. I don’t think I worked a single concert where we sat around playing cards or swapping stories from the road. Even when it was a four-day concert, the following day was spent going over the previous night’s show working on what we could do different. I’m not saying its good or bad, I just think its interesting.

So last year when I shot Rodrigo y Gabriella in Chicago, it was interesting to shoot a show for no other reason than myself. I showed up to took some pictures, then enjoyed the show. The deal I had with their management company (as all concert photographers this particular night had) was we could shoot the first three songs and then we were escorted out. I had tickets to the show anyway, so I joined my wife in our seats and rock and rolled to some of the best guitar playing I’ve ever seen.

0412. (3882)

Posted in Sports Also tagged |

Skyline of Chicago

Skyline of Chicago

I’ve been getting ready to go back up in the air to shoot aerials from Chicago. It’s one of my favorite views of the city.

The other night I was going through images from my last airborne adventure seeing what I liked and what I didn’t like. I learned I need to shoot more close-ups. I know that sounds weird, but I think half of all good photography is showing people things they don’t normally see.

We all know what the John Hancock Center looks like. Seeing it from above is one thing, but seeing it close-up from above is another. One of my favorite pictures of the Willis Tower is a close-up of the skydeck and all the people looking out (see it here).

So that’s on my list in the next month or so. We’ll see how everything turns out, because Mother Nature has a big say in whether aerial photography happens and how it turns out.

1012. (3170)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Cold Fun on a Hot Summer Day

Cold Fun on a Hot Summer Day

This week we flirted with 100 degrees. Even though autumn is around the corner, summer made sure to give a hearty reminder it is still here. We also regularly get a nice warm spell around mid-October, but this week was scorching hot. And, as if record-setting 95 degree temperatures weren’t enough, tomorrow we’re supposed to only get up to 65 degrees. That’s a 30 degree temperature swing in three days. Yikes!

This week’s furnace-like temperatures reminded me of last year’s late-June heat when we did hit 100+ degrees. In parts of Chicago, even though civilians opening hydrants is illegal, kids found creative ways to stay cool.

Of course: If its fun its against the law.

0612. (8308)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Chicago Skyline From The South

Chicago Skyline From The South

Earlier in the summer my wife and I rescued a puppy from a shelter. Said puppy has really been dominating our time this summer, but she’s adorable and worth it. As house-training and things with the dog have settled down, my wife and I have began to get back into our routines.

It had been quite some time since I had gone out in search of pictures, but finally made it out a few times in the last week. I forgot just how nice it was to get out and shoot some pictures. I love watching Chicago in motion; whether it is a softball game in the park right next to were I stand, or the boats coming and going along the Chicago River. Whatever it was, it damn nice to be out taking pictures again.

0913. (6986)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Towers and Antennas

Towers and Antennas

A couple of summers ago I played kickball in a Chicago city park. I really enjoyed playing the game, but even more so, I really enjoyed the view from the baseball fields.

I had been meaning to make it back to the park with my camera for some shots of the skyline in the early evening, but never got it to work out. In an attempt earlier this year, as I waited for the sun to dip below the horizon, the clouds rolled in and opened up. I didn’t mind the clouds rolling in, but the pouring rain was something I wasn’t a fan of.

Tonight, however, things worked out. As the sun dipped low on the horizon, the lights in the various buildings began to light up.

It may have taken two summers, but I do like how the picture turned out.

0913. (6848)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Aiport Taxis

Airport Taxis

One of my most-favorite and (at the same time) least-favorite parts of travel is jumping into a taxi cab at the destination airport.

It’s a favorite because everything I have been doing to get to my final destination is almost at completed. That last little leg, many times with the radio blasting local music (which is nice for a variety of reasons), is a fantastic and quick tour around my new temporary home.

It’s my least-favorite because nothing screams tourist like walking out of the airport with a giant sack on one’s shoulder asking to go to a hotel.

In Vietnam, for example, the taxi drivers all stood up with excitement at the two Americans walking toward them. The guidebook said it should be a $6US cab ride to our hotel, but our driver told us a number that translated to $10US. Plus, at the end, he charged us a toll of $3 or $4 dollars that he refused to pay on his own (the cab driver taking us to the Vietnam airport at the end of our stay did not charge us for that same toll, I might add). In the end, it really didn’t do anything to inconvenience us. Aside from being dishonest and annoying, it’s hard to get upset at a $5 bump in price when we just spent close to $1,000 on airfare.

(1245) 1009.

Posted in Travel Also tagged , |

Millennium Monument

Millennium Park Peristyle

Recently I was going through a photography magazine and read a sentence that caught my eye: “If your community still has a local camera store, it’s probably much more than just a retail shop.” The paragraph goes on to discuss how the neighborhood camera shop is probably the local hub of goings-on in the local photography community, and check in with them to see what you participate in. Makes sense.

The part which baffled me, however, was the first part of the sentence “If your community still has a local camera store…”.

“If…”

I realize I live in Chicago and we have a few camera stores here. (Actually, we just lost Helix so we have one less.) But even as the greater Chicagoland area flirts with ten million residents, we only have three camera stores. The town in which my brother lives has exactly zero, so he has to drive an hour to find filters or ask questions. It’s unfortunate camera shops are slowly dying away.

A few years back, when I was looking at buying a new tripod, it was nice to be able to walk into a store and play around with the two-dozen or so options. Some features I liked and some I didn’t. I narrowed my choice down and made my purchase. It was truly enjoyable to spend the time tinkering and playing, instead of slowly trolling through Amazon reviews to see how things rate with other photographers, who may or may not shoot in my style.

We’re fortunate to have a couple of quality photography stores in Chicago, and they don’t just cater to the old women who come in to develop their 35mm disposable point-and-shoot film of a grand-daughter’s birthday party. So, I guess, if you’re going to have a local camera shop in your community, at least let it be a good one.

By the way, the monument above, known simply as The Peristyle, honors the founders of Chicago, Illinois’ Millennium Park.

0709. (1325)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Water Droplets and Spider Webs

Water Droplets and Spider Webs

While taking the dog for a walk one morning last week, I realized there was a lot of dew on the ground. Since the puppy didn’t want to go back in the house, I decided to come outside and let her roam around in the yard while I took some shots with my camera.

Originally I started shooting the one or two water droplets on a blade of grass. Eventually, puppy was curious what I was doing at there went my photography subjects. After getting up from laying in the of the wet grass, I began slowly wandering around the yard, looking for anything else that may catch my eye.

In our strawberry planter was a small spiderweb criss-crossing the top portion of the now dormant plants. I was fascinated by all of the droplets caught in the web and happy to have my camera in my hand. I spent about a half-an-hour in the yard shooting things here and there.

Considering I probably wouldn’t have noticed the dew had the dog not been taken for a walk, and also considering that I don’t normally look in the top of the strawberry planter for spiderwebs, I was pleased with how everything unfolded, and how one event led to another.

It’s nice when it works out like that.

0713. (6428)

Posted in Nature Also tagged |

Navy Pier and the Chicago Skyline

Navy Pier and the Chicago Skyline

Late last year I went up in a helicopter to shoot some images of Chicago. My main goal for this session was to go up and get some shots of the city looking back from out over Lake Michigan.

I took a fairly early morning spin in the helicopter to have the sun on the correct side of the buildings I wanted to shoot. (I wanted the sun to be behind me, shining over my shoulder as I shot the majority of the images.) It was a chilly early-autumn day, so I hung out the side of the helicopter shooting away, while my pilot was bundled up in a sweatshirt zipping us over the long stretch of Chicago shoreline.

Later this year I’ll be going up again, but this time focusing more on the actual city and the view from above, rather the view from a quarter mile out over the water. I am constantly amazed and how much the look of a city can change from a few stories up or down, or a few blocks over in either direction.

1012. (2881)

Posted in Scenic Also tagged |