Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012

Waiting – Paris Metropolitan

I’m on a train having left work just an hour before the New Year (and Happy New Year, by the way), which means I’ll see the year turn over on this train, but I’m struck with the realization that I haven’t left the country in almost two years. For me, that seems like a long time. For the past six or seven years I’ve traveled quite a bit and seen a lot of interesting places and things to photograph, but now I’m quite busy and not certain this will be the year to venture out again. I hope so. I’m running out of images to use on the blog from anywhere but here. It would seem a trip is in order.

This is an imperfect photo that could use some tweaking, and I may replace it in the future with a refinished version, but I’m thinking of Paris this new years and wondering what it’s like to spend NYE under the Eiffel Tower. Or at least in view of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, just a view might be nice. This train stop is just up the metro line from there. So humor me regarding the nature of the photo, which is one of my earliest HDR efforts, and just think of Paris with me if you’d like.
Waiting - Paris Metropolitan
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December 30, 2012

Backward off the roof

Same setting, different vantage point. After I got the skyline and the sunset to my satisfaction, I wheeled around and shot the back-lot view, which is awesome. In Chicago there are so many dwellings that don’t face the street but instead turn inward toward a parking or service area like this one. I’ve often wondered what that is like facing the backs of the other buildings. It must be weird being so tucked away. This is a long-enough exposure that someone came out the door of the third story of that building immediately below and went back in without disturbing the exposure at all
Backward off the roof
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December 29, 2012

Back on (the roof) top

Here’s a final shot of the southern view off of a six-story rooftop in Lincoln Park. With blue hour setting in and some pretty good foreground competing with the background, I had to be selective in my framing. If it wasn’t balanced or came off too jumbled, it’s failure. I loved how the distant buildings sparkled in the sunlight and yet their lit windows were still visible from so far away.
Back on (the roof) top
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December 28, 2012

Records ruins, Goose Island

I had to work a bit for this one. Around the corner from the photo shop on Goose Island is this records warehouse. At night it’s almost impossible to tell if its in use or left to ruin, and I didn’t have time to investigate further. Not after struggling to get my tripod set. The stones were loose and dry and rolling under the legs, especially with a heavy camera pushing down on three points. Every few seconds they’d give way and slip enough to bump the camera down. This became especially frustrating with long exposures and needing to bracket a few together in the darkness.

Eventually, after wedging the legs down into the stone for a minute or two, they remained still enough to get the job done. It left me to think the adding some movement in post-processing was the only way to illustrate the nature of taking this photo. I did that to mild amounts of success. I’m not totally thrilled with my work here, but after battling against the elements I feel as though I’ve won. Or at least tied.
Records ruins, Goose Island
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December 27, 2012

Hang on, I’m being questioned by the police

Seven minutes wait for a train is the perfect amount of time to produce one HDR photo from opening the bag to replacing the tripod on the bag when completed. You must have it scouted, though, and I hadn’t so much as noticed how broken this phone looked when this guy started talking to me. He was a street musician with a musician friend. They’d just finished. They’d done well. They told me all of this. Well, mostly he told me while his friend just said, “yessssss” to each of his declarations about conquering the night “over down the way here.” I had a “mighty nice camera, oh yes.” It could take a good picture, “maybe you could show me howda use it?”

There was no potential harm here, so I did. There were others around. Then the police came. Two of them. I can’t remember their names, but I want to say he was Alvarez and she was Pemberton. “What we got here?” Pemberton looked serious when she spoke. Alvarez just kind of looked at you all-knowing and vacant. I looked at the street musician, but he kept his head down and his friend just kind of looked the other way. Maybe this was commonplace for them. I realized suddenly that the cops weren’t worried about them. They wanted to know what I was doing, not anyone else, which was use a tripod in the subway, which is “illegal” even if there are no specific laws or guidelines about this. It’s a recommendation more than anything else, because subways are crowded and somebody could get hurt. But this is ridiculous, because there were now eight of us in the entire 100-yard tunnel including the officers, and nobody is moving until a train comes. It was just time to enforce a rule, because it’s a rule. That was the right thing to do in their minds. So, I explained my tripod is broken, which it is. I was trying to straighten it out, if possible. I couldn’t to this point. Alvarez asked questions. Pemberton was surprised I had a response. This went on for about five minutes, or until we heard the rumble of the train.

Everyone looked down the tunnel, and realizing this was my moment, I hit the button. I snapped off three photos while the distant train caused just enough din for them to miss the unmistakable sound of a shutter sliding open and crashing back together three times. When they spun back around the camera was already in my bag, the tripod breaking down to fit back on the bag. I stuck my nose in my phone and acted like I wasn’t even interested in their looks, like I had no idea this sort of thing wasn’t acceptable on some vague level. We got on the train, all six people waiting, and rolled away. We never did that photo show-and-tell.

So, this was a no-look photo taken under duress while the shot clock was winding down, literally. As for the subject, I’m not surprised these old-school pay phones still exist, but I’m certainly impressed that they haven’t gotten much updating in the past 10-15 years. Nothing’s changed. Even the box around the phone is crooked, as usual. It would seem lighter use doesn’t improve things if they’re never maintained. Oh, and cops really aren’t allowed to question a photographer about what he’s photographing in public space, but answering beats detaining. I always explain myself, even when working professionally as press. It doesn’t hurt to reply confidently and to seem understanding of their concern.
Hang on, I'm being questioned by the police
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December 26, 2012

Between & beyond – the wedge

While waiting for the best moment to photograph a sunset, I found myself worrying about my camera and its rather precarious position on a ledge six stories above concrete. I was forced to stand a couple of feet behind my tripod, so I couldn’t get the strap around my neck to save it in case of a sudden wind. I decided to keep one of my hands on the leg at all times in order to keep it secure – which is hardly ideal when your middle exposure will be no less than five seconds on a three-bracket HDR. I remained still, however, and captured a ton of depth in this image. It remains in focus from the edge of the wedge all the way to the distant skyline.

In case you’re wondering, the distance between the two buildings in the foreground is about five feet. The sidewalk below is of standard size, and that’s all the width needed in this area, apparently. I normally don’t post photos from the same scene in successive days, but I felt this view is so different from my last post that it still satisfies the requirement.
Between & beyond - the wedge
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December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, here’s a sunset

Merry Christmas, and to my friends and family who say “Happy Christmas,” well, Happy Christmas! I have access to very few rooftops in Chicago, but this one was available over the weekend along with a sunset. It’s always nice when a sunset comes with the view. It’s also nice when it’s cold enough that nobody ventures to the rooftops to watch the sunset. The temperature must’ve dropped quickly, because someone left the chair without a cushion and ran for the exit.
Merry Christmas, here's a sunset
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December 24, 2012

Under the green near the red

My aforementioned trip to the zoo met heavy traffic between all of the Christmas light displays. This photo sort of illustrates the commotion. What’s interesting to me is the nature by which people move. Some shuffle, others glide. Some people start and stop, but there are those that move rhythmically. A few aggressively focus their path while most meander relatively aimlessly. Some of those paths stand out in the photo, but light has a lot to do with how we digest movement in a photography. Certain colors pop out due to ambient light around them.
Under the green near the red
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December 23, 2012

Lights at the zoo

Lincoln Park zoo does its annual lighting display this time of year, and my whole family went last night. It was super crowded and tricky to navigate, but you could find a clearing or two for a photo. I took four, maybe five. This is the heart of the display nestled between the ape habitat and the cafe in the middle of the park. The lights flicker and flash to music, so multiple exposures really help to catch each item.

A couple of mentions.. this display is on a gradual decline, which is tough to show off in frame especially when it is dark. Tilting the horizon with the flow of the decline helps to give the effect of standing hillside. The indoor animal enclosures were open to the public. Dozens of people were taking flash photos of the apes – right in their faces. That takes me out of the holiday spirit. Why is this not deterred?
Lights at the zoo
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December 22, 2012

The box and the buildings

I’m not sure what this one’s about, but there was this box and it seemed like it needed a photo. I didn’t check if it was empty, but there was a dumpster nearby filled with them. The security camera was watching me, and it was cold. So I left.
The box and the buildings
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