Archive for January, 2013

January 31, 2013

London windows

I struggled with what to post for today’s image. In the end, these pastel windows in London near Russell Square won me over. I think they’re on Great Russell Street or Museum Street. It doesn’t really matter where they are considering what I did with them. The light was coming from the back, and I knew I was going to thrash this in editing. They actually look quite a bit different than this, but there was something about their shape or structure that I wanted to call attention to. I also wanted the wires to stand out.

The windows reminded me of one of my favorite English bands, Joy Division, in the way that they are astutely British and somehow beautiful and falling apart all at once. I wasn’t sure to like them or wonder about their relevance in the future. There are so many old and awesome buildings in London, but in a way they kind of halt progress. That is to say the new runs into the old and needs to find its way around. It clashes fiercely. I’m not complaining. I quite like them – the old buildings, that is. I’m just not sure if that will be the case for a few generations down the line. At some point everything’s a dinosaur.
London windows
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January 30, 2013

Block 37 red stars

Block 37 is a still relatively-new mall in the heart of Chicago’s business district. It was an epic undertaking just getting it installed, and now that it’s here most of it remains empty. I used to cut through the mall after it had closed every night on my way home, but that’s less frequent these days. The security people came to recognize me at that time – which was right around Christmas. They let me shoot the stars hanging from the ceiling. The stars change from blue to red to green to orange to purple to yellow.

There’s a soccer team in Serbia called Red Star Belgrade. I decided to shoot the stars in red in their honor, because they are responsible for one of the craziest riots in soccer history. See what I mean?
Block 37 red stars
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January 29, 2013

Weather, tree

It’s as simple as that. The snow came down just enough to illustrate with a camera. The tree stood there holding the light and providing a context for the snow. I got this hand-held from probably 100 feet away at 1/25 of a second & ISO 800. I have pretty steady hands, which is good for this sort of thing. This required almost zero post processing work. No photographer should ever knock point-and-shoots, because they do a pretty good job when you ask them of their best.
Weather, tree
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January 28, 2013

Getting down

Hank, my cat, makes a second appearance on the blog. He’s a lot of trouble. He’s always poking his nose where it shouldn’t go, and he loves tables. Kitchen counters are for him, he thinks. He’s more like a dog in a way. I’m not sure which way that is, but he’s not like any other cat I know. I found him in an alley when he was a baby, so maybe he’s just rough around the edges? He likes dogs, I know that much. Any time one is walking by, no matter its size, he walks right up.

Hank is allowed on this short table, often times sitting under the light so uncomfortably close you can tell he’s trying to get a little warmth off the bulb. I wanted to get him sunning his noggin, but he maybe decided I was about to shoo him off of this perch like so many others. He decided to get down as I was setting up. Never one to miss on an opportunity, I raked the aperture and slowed the shutter a hair. It allowed for me to catch him in silhouette with a little blur while still keeping most everything else in focus. No animals were harmed in the making of this photo, and I was OK after getting up off the floor.
Getting down
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January 27, 2013

Ice drip

I’ve been really busy the past couple of days processing photos for a client and with other rigors of life. I feel like I’ve hardly had time to do any blogging or scope out twitter/Facebook/Google+ for the happenings in the world of photography, etc. I guess that isn’t really the runaround; those things, and the things I’ve been getting done, are fairly sedentary by nature. Word choice, it is everything.

We suffered a slushy ice storm this afternoon which got me thinking of this old photo I took two years ago. I shot this icicle probably 75 times before getting it right. It took two hours. There wasn’t a whole lot to it other than getting right underneath, but in standing directly below the end of it the drip falls onto your lens. Then there’s cleanup. During cleanup other drips slide down to the tip and either fall off or freeze (yes, I realize I’m explaining how an icicle forms and you know this, but there’s a point), and this causes changes to composition due to the changing nature of the icicle.

This stelactite of ice was in perfect position with the sky, the background and the sun, so I either had to whack off the end of it and wait for the hook to reform or I had to hope that after others smoothed out the crag still others would reinvent the bump you see in the photo. After deliberating for a while I decided nature should prevail, and so I allowed the ice to decide the photo’s fate. Does that make sense? I didn’t think so, but this is the result… pretty, albeit a bit noisy.
Ice drip
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January 26, 2013

The Flamingo

I took the best class in high school called Humanities. Mr. Jim Wright, who developed the class, was an eclectic mix of soccer store owner, green-home builder, English teacher and art lover. He sold me my shin guards and shoes each season at his local shop. He was slowly building a house in the woods that would be energy efficient, including large, south-facing windows, deciduous trees wrapping that side of the house and a wood-burning stove. He forced me to learn 10 vocabulary words a week for two semesters, a practice I continued through college because it was so beneficial to learning and growing; how else would I know correct usage for lugubrious, loquacious and alacrity? Most importantly, however, he built a confidence in me for digesting art.

We took field trips to Chicago’s Art Institute to apply what we learned in class, but better still, we studied Chicago – how it fit together and where it was going. We considered why. Not just with Chicago, that is, but more generally “why” in art and architecture. What for? Purpose. He taught us Carl Sandberg’s Chicago, for which I still remember the words:

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

We were to recite these lines underneath Alexander Calder’s Flamingo as a class and then disperse through the city on a scavenger hunt for a single day during my junior year. I couldn’t go, and I don’t remember why. It was of great disappointment. I’m a Chicago addict, and I know quite a bit about it. I was enthused to take on my classmates and dominate the challenge, but in the end I never got a chance to recite those words.

Tonight I walked past Calder’s Flamingo for the first time in a long time and shot under it – capturing those Big Shoulders of the Sears ‘Willis’ Tower and the shorter ones like it behind the looping metal frame. The Flamingo stands 53 feet tall and weighs almost one ton for each one of those feet. My photo came out stormy, husky and brawling, I think. I’m still on that scavenger hunt every day. Thanks, Mr. Wright.
The Flamingo
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January 25, 2013

Sideways train

This thing flew by at a good clip despite heading into a station a couple hundred feet behind me. There’s a stretch of L track between a few of the loop destinations on the blue line where you can just as easily walk the platform to the next stop as you can ride a train. I’ve taken advantage of this a couple of times while waiting for delayed trains. If you skip ahead to the previous stop you stand a chance at avoiding an overcrowded car. Every once in a while I’ll jump on a train going the opposite direction for a couple of stops just to beat a crowd. I like getting an angle on a situation.
Sideways train
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January 24, 2013

Shadows through the leaves

I got an interesting message on one of my images yesterday about how somebody would like to share my work through their website. I’ve yet to approve the message, as I’m not sure if it’s spam or not, and I’m wondering if anyone else gets these messages from time to time. Usually the spam filters do a good job of getting out the problems, but I’m not sure about this one. I’ve had a few slip through in the past that I was certain were spam, and I’m worrying about setting a precedent on this and opening myself up to a can of worms.

Autumn used to be my favorite time of year. I liked when school restarted and the air muted from hot and thick to not-yet cool and crisp. The colors were always exciting and being outdoors was fun. It’s changed. Now I see piles of leaves on the way that will require raking, and despite the mild temperatures I sense some pressure of getting outside things done prior to the heavier blanket of cold.

I got sick a few years back with a fever of 106.3 degrees. That was my temp in-hospital after battling the illness for six days. I was told over 107 is when your brain begins to “cook.” I went through massive headaches and chills and sweats. I’ve never been that cold in my life – it was like the cold was coming from inside me. I believe to this day that it affected my body and that I handle the cold not as well as I did in the years prior to getting sick. I’m closer to my former self now, but for a couple of winters I was colder than I’d ever been. The creep of the shadows – the longer ones in fall – and the leaves piling up kind of weighed on me at the time. It was like the cold was coming. It inspired this photo, despite the warm colors from the leaves and the sun.
Shadows through the leaves
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January 23, 2013

Wrigley Field (and stands)

It’s quite a challenge to get both the field and the stands illuminated at Wrigley and especially so at night. The old ballpark wasn’t built for today’s amenities, and field lights that were put in during the late 1980s offer little in the way of spillover for the seats.

Wedged up at the back of the stands underneath the grandstand, I used six exposures to put detail back into this shot. The overwhelmingly bright field left the stands in silhouette when exposed properly; when exposing for the stands the field was left entirely blow out. It looked like people were staring into the sun. In retrospect I would have liked to do nine images to get this right, but I was able to pick and choose to get enough out of both the field and stands to make it feel like you’re really there.
Wrigley Field (and stands)
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January 22, 2013

Chicago Temple – praying for warmth

Strange that I’ve talked more about myself in recent days and attempted to make some new connections online and suddenly I see small increases in followers all over the place. That’s cool. I’m happy to have new people around to visit and share in some mostly Chicago-based photography. I welcome anyone without agenda – or at least without obvious agenda. It’s nice to share in stuff that is fun to make on a daily basis.

When I woke this morning around 7:15 my phone told me it was -2 outside. I can’t remember hitting negative digits in the past two years, but this was no surprise. After Monday’s frigid single digit weather it was quite possible. On Monday I stopped on my eight-block walk to work at the Chicago Temple, because I was freezing! To my surprise only one other person was doing the same. I think the man was homeless. When I said hi, he huddled up even more than he already was. I decided to shoot the place as quickly as possible. I had just 20 minutes to spare. Right in the middle of the shoot, when I noticed the room actually has no middle (it isn’t symmetrical… look closely and you can tell by the rafters, the alter and the pews… it’s kind of odd that way), a guy brushed past me in the back doorway and walked up to pray in front of the alter.

I assumed he was asking for warmth, because it had been a good 10-15 minutes and I hadn’t shaken the cold yet. He spent maybe a minute there at the front of the chapel, and I snapped off six frames. Three of them made the photo. I loved having a centered subject to focus on, because the room certainly didn’t provide it!
Chicago Temple - praying for warmth
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