Tag Archives: Chicago

Hot Summer Fun With a Hydrant

Hot Summer Fun With a Hydrant

Last week it was blazing hot in Chicago as temperatures were in the mid-to-upper 90s. After the heat finally broke late in the week, it was rather enjoyable to be outside. (As I write this, I’m sitting in the backyard enjoying a cocktail.)

During all of this, I completely forgot about the sequence of images from last year’s scorching temperatures.

On the first day of the summer that Chicago broke one hundred degrees, I jumped in the car and went in search of kids playing in an open fire hydrant. Technically it’s not only frowned upon, but illegal, to open up a hydrant, so I had wasn’t sure I would find what I was looking for. Luckily, I had a fairly good hunch of where to go, as several years earlier I had watched kids play in a hydrant under similar circumstances. My hunch paid off as I was only three blocks off from my “educated guess.”

There was about six or seven kids and I hung out with them for about an hour, as water gushed from the hydrant into the street. It was so hot, and looked so refreshing, I gladly wandered through the water a few times myself. As we stood with the open hydrant, a few neighbors came by to wash their cars with buckets of soapy water, while others just drove through with their cars, turned around, and drove back through soaking the other side of their vehicles.

It was a nice, cool way to spend an hour on an obscenely hot day, and no one really cared if it was against the law or not.

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Gold Coast Sunrise

Gold Coast Sunrise

I originally posted this image last week, but never wrote anything about it, nor did I share it on Facebook, Twitter or all of those other fancy places. I, apparently, had a bit of a writer’s block.

A few years back I shot this image of an early morning in Chicago, Illinois. As clear as it was that day, I moved on to take a few pictures farther into town. I needed to sun to get a little higher in the sky, so I had breakfast to kill time. While at breakfast, the clouds rolled in and the picture I was waiting for was no longer.

This picture, however, was taken before the monster clouds rolled in. It’s Chicago, Illinois‘ Gold Coast skyline, viewed from North Avenue’s Beach.

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Patriotic Kayaker

Patriotic Kayaker

Happy Independence Day, America!

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Wolf Point

This is Wolf Point, in Chicago.

It’s where the North and South Branches of the Chicago River meet up to form the Main Branch. It’s also where Chicago‘s first three taverns were built, the city’s first hotel, and the city’s first church. The city’s first ferry to cross the river was here, later replaced by the city’s first bridge. So there is a little bit of history here.

Now, the famous Merchandise Mart sits across from Wacker Drive. There are still a few taverns and churches in the immediate area, but no ferries.

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Chicago Skyline from Montrose Harbor

Recently, the Chicago Sun-Times announced they were letting every one of their staff photographers go. The next day, the newspaper held a mandatory meeting with their reporters, handed them iPhones, then taught them Photography 101. The idea is? why hire photographers when we can make the reporters shoot the pictures to cover the stories?

While the idea of a newspaper launching their photographers is unsettling enough, I have a few questions that keep coming into my mind about it. The first is, “Wait. What?”

After going through a few more questions, a couple of others worth noting are:

“Are the reporters going to be paid more to take pictures?” Their job classifications have now changed, and with the newspaper saving all that money by not hiring photographers, surely they will reward better photography by those who now have to do it.

“What about the Associated Press (AP), Reuters, etc.?” This past weekend I was at the Chicago Blackhawks game at the United Center. The place was swarming with various photographers, ranging from the Blackhawks’ own photographer to a number of “wire service” guys (like AP and Reuters). Now, it is my understanding that nearly all newspapers contribute to the Associated Press (for example), and also use the Associated Press’ images. So in the case of the hockey game, was the Sun-Times just going to use AP images instead of using their own photographers? And if that’s the case, at what point will the AP step up and say “Um, wait. You can no longer keep taking our high-quality images and contributing back “meh-quality” iPhone images.”

Since this has been a fairly new development, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Chicago‘s other daily newspaper, the Tribune, has been gleefully and mercilessly reporting on the situation. It frightens me a little bit to think that, while the Tribune is happily reporting how bad this is, that some management-guy in some office in their building is also watching it  getting inspired to do the same, depending on how it plays out.

Obviously, none of this has to do with the image above, but I wanted to write about this anyway.

The image above is of the skyline of Chicago, Illinois just after sunset, viewed from Montrose Harbor.

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Buckingham Fountain at Dusk

One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in ChicagoIllinois was completed in 1927. From that time through 1980 the water was manually operated by two engineers located on site working 12-hour shifts. A computer system was eventually brought in to automate the water flow, but the fountain still operates it’s every-hour-on-the-hour twenty minute sound and light show while the fountain is in operation (8am through 11pm daily, weather permitting).

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Tulip Standing Tall

Hello beautiful weather. So nice to see you!

After a rather forgettable winter, our spring has been rather insane. In Chicago, we’ve gone from 40-degree days one day to 80-degree days the next. As I write this, our “normal” is somewhere near 70-degrees, but I feel like every day is about twenty degrees warmer, or twenty degrees cooler. Getting dressed in the morning makes for an interesting challenge.

Nearly two years ago, to the day, I took the above picture at the Chicago Botanic Garden, in Glencoe, Illinois. That particular spring was as normal as normal could get, which was nice for planning trips to the botanical garden. This year, however, I find myself at Mother Nature’s mercy, as I try to work in time to get out and take pictures of everything from iconic lighthouses to flowering tulips.

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Raised Bridges

After several years of putting the early Chicago River bridge raises in my calendar to “keep an eye on,” I finally had a day where my schedule, the weather and boats all cooperated.

I’d been wanting to shoot images of boats traveling under bridges for quite some time, and finally had the chance to make the trek to the river last week to watch. Slowly — very slowly — boats traveled along the river getting help from the Bridge Division of the Chicago Department of Transportation. The process reminded me a lot of ships traveling through the Panama Canal; it was a very slow moving process, but very fun to observe. (I often tell people watching boats go through the Panama Canal is the most exciting boring thing you’ll see in your lifetime)

I had set the day aside to head downtown to watch the bridge lifts, but I’m pretty sure most (if not all) of the motorists downtown were caught off-gaurd. When the lights would starting blinking and the bells would start making their noise, motorists would mash the gas in hopes of making it through the gates before they were stopped. On more than one occasion, I witnessed a brief shouting match between a cab driver and a bridge attendant.

It made for an enjoyable, but long, day. My quest started at half-past nine in the morning, and at two o’clock I made my way back towards home. Running a few errands later in the day, I heard the radio mention the last bridge was just on its wait down, snarling traffic on Lakeshore Drive. Hearing this, I found myself smiling knowing the dozen or so boats made it to their home for the summer.

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Marina Tower Tulips

I finally got out to shoot some pictures. Between my schedule, the weather, and a few other things, yesterday was the first day in a very, very long time I went out with the purpose of taking pictures for myself. It was such a fun day.

My goal was to head downtown and shoot the bridge lifts. Chicago has eighteen bridges along two miles of the Chicago River, and while I’ve wanted to shoot some pictures of them for the last few years, something always seem to come up and I never made it. This year I was determined to make it, and I was so enthusiastic, I was an hour-and-change early.

While I waited for the sail boats to make their way into Chicago‘s Loop, the tulips near Marina City caught my eye.

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Chicago’s Willis Tower

Yesterday I was listening to a photography podcast I regularly enjoy (On Taking Pictures), and the two hosts briefly mentioned how one of their photographer buddies went up in a helicopter and shot some some spectacular video from above an old military base. The two hosts quickly discussed how technology has advanced so much that it is now possible to go up to shoot aerial images for an amount one can, basically, put on their credit card. Twenty years ago it would have cost someone about $50,000 to do the same thing — if it was even possible at all.

It got me to thinking about my recent adventures into aerial photography (something I very much enjoy). I admittedly started exploring it when it became dramatically cheaper and much easier to do, technologically speaking.

Cameras now are far more advanced, so I can easily go up in a helicopter without thousands of dollars in support gear. I can shoot two hundred images without having to stop to change a roll of film every 36 shots. I can bring the images into my computer and do a lot of minor adjustments that, as a whole, were difficult to do ten or fifteen years ago.

So the image above is a result of that whole discussion, and how I could affordably head up in a helicopter to shoot some pictures far easier than even the greatest photographers could have done ten or fifteen years ago.

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Buckingham Fountain

I recall the day I took this picture as one of those “perfect temperature” days in Chicago. One could have worn shorts and a T-shirt, jeans and a sweatshirt, or anything in between and have been comfortable. Later in the day, however, it rained. And by “it rained,” I mean “it poured.” Buckets and buckets of rain fell, with blinding lightning and roaring thunder. It was a good afternoon to spend inside going through pictures from earlier in the day.

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Looking Out From Wrigley’s Scoreboard

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a television show to use my previously posted image from inside of Wrigley Field’s scoreboard. It was a nice e-mail to receive and it made me think about other pictures I have from inside the iconic landmark. Hence, this image.

As you can probably figure out, this picture was taken from inside the Chicago Cubs’ famous manually operated scoreboard, looking out at a quiet Wrigley Field before a game later in the afternoon.

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Home Run Fireworks

Today Major League Baseball begins yet another season of play.

While I wouldn’t mind it if the sport picked up the pace of play a bit, I do appreciate the “boys of summer” representing just that: Summer.

About the time of year when all of us get “Cabin Fever,” Spring Training begins and before you know it, it is opening day. Summer, at that point, is just around the corner. Sure, it is still cold through mid-June, but even then, we’re getting a hearty dose of hot, sunshine-filled days.

With the picture above, I remember it being a hot day at U.S. Cellular Field as I purchased a ticket and wandered around the ballpark with my camera. About the time the sun got low in the sky, I made my way to the upper deck because I was hoping for a picture like the one above. I remember the wind was blowing “in” really strong and thinking no one was going to hit a home run.

For whatever reason, the home run balls were flying that night, and as a result so where the fireworks. When A. J. Pierzynski launched a ball that just cleared the right-field wall, I started shooting as the fireworks launched high into the sky. At the time I was afraid the sky was too bight to achieve the picture I wanted, but once I got home I realized it was pretty close to what I was going for.

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Water Taxi and Tribune Tower

Last year my wife and I spent most of the day kayaking on the Chicago River. It was a lot of fun and pretty cool to see the city I love from such a different perspective. All of the buildings seemed a lot more taller floating along the river and looking straight up. Additionally, it was enjoyable to float along under the numerous bridges watching traffic scurry along above us.

Before we put into the water, we got a warning from the guy at the kayak place telling us about the water taxis — they’re just like real taxis in that they’re more likely to plow threw you instead of go around you. We took his warning seriously, so we had no issues.

It isn’t difficult to see the Chicago water taxis, however. They have the same bright yellow paint-job as traditional road taxis, and it certainly helps in keeping out of their way.

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John Hancock and Lakeshore Drive

One of the highlights from last year was going up in a helicopter to shoot some aerial images of Chicago. I’d been meaning to do it for a few years, but for one reason or another, I never got around to it.

During autumn of last year, I chartered a helicopter and spent an hour buzzing around one of the world’s greatest cities.

The way a place looks from above is dramatically different than the way it looks from ground level. Maybe that’s because, in my opinion, 50% of all good photography is showing people something they don’t normally see. If we all looked at Lakeshore Drive “over the shoulder” of the John Hancock Building, we’d be bored with the above image. However, because most of us see “Big John” from the ground up, this image has a little bit more “Oopf” to it.

I’ve already made plans to go up again this year. Perhaps I’ll aim for early morning sunrise, or more likely, some evening where the Cubs or Sox are playing at their respective ballparks to grab an image of the stadium with the skyline in the background at dusk.

No matter what, however, an hour in the air with a helicopter at one’s command is pretty awesome.

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It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted an image.

For the last two years, I posted a picture online nearly every single day, and now I’m barely squeaking TWO in for the month. I have a few good reasons for falling behind — namely moving — but it still makes me kind of sad.

In the future, my goal for this space is to not post one picture every single day, but instead, post a group of photos from one excursion. In the case above (with Koji Kraft performing stunts during the 2010 Dew Tour in Chicago, Illinois), I think I’ve posted less than a half-dozen pictures from the day. In reality, I have about 50 on my hard drive worth noting, but in the future, I’d like to post about 20 of them online after the fact, instead of slowly drawing those twenty images out over the next five years.

So that’s my goal. I’ve had it in mind since September, but now I just need to take a break from moving and unpacking to get out and take some pictures.

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Columbia Yacht Club

As another one of the images taken from the day up in a helicopter, this has become one of the photographs I really, really like. I’m not really sure why, but perhaps it has to do with a fun view of the city of Chicago.

Taken with a the fish-eye lens, everything has a little bit of a curve to it, but the buildings still manage to stand tall and proud. Additionally, the boats in the harbor prevalent, as are the buildings of the beautiful skyline. Everything is a little bit more compressed.

I thought of posting this picture while I was working on various greeting cards last night. I hand-make cards and then sell them in local shops. (Shops which a very good friend of mine owns.) I was looking to upgrade my cards a bit this year, since Chicago cards seem to always sell the best, and thought I’d include this image.

Early on in my card-selling endeavor, my mom cautioned I may be surprised at what sells and what doesn’t. Boy, was she right. Some of the cards I like the best sit on the shelf and never move. Other cards, which I’m almost embarrassed to have included, have flown off of the shelf. Chicago cards, no matter the subject, seem to always do well.

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Ice Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

We hit 69°F in Chicago yesterday. When I opened up my photo program to look for an image for today, I very quickly came upon this picture. For some reason, I felt like this would be a good photograph to post.

Yesterday would have been a fine day to ice skate in downtown Chicago, with one of the world’s greatest skylines as your backdrop. No need for big, thick, winter coats or toasty hand warmers, just strap on some ice skates and go!

One of the best parts of ice skating in downtown Chicago, aside from the view, is the ice skating is free of charge. There is only a fee to rent skates, and even then, it isn’t too expensive. Ice skating at the McCormick-Tribune Ice Rink is a fantastic opportunity for locals and tourists to enjoy a fun outing in a spectacular setting.

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Trump Tower, Navy Pier and the Hancock Building

I love me some Chicago.

Earlier this year I went out on one of the skyline tours of the city. It was $20 and the tour was brief, but informative.

My wife wanted to come along on the tour, but that I specifically went on that specific Friday when the boats did morning tours, so I could get the sun over my shoulder as I shot the skyline. Additionally, it was one of the few Friday’s where I could make the tour before heading to U.S. Cellular Field for a day at the ballpark.

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Sunset Lighting Up the Lighthouse

This was a picture taken on a day when I just wandered around Chicago looking for things to photograph. As the sun started to dip low in the sky, I found myself near Navy Pier watching the line of sunshine move across the earth. Eventually, it reached a point where the breakwater was completely shaded, but the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was brightly lit.

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