Posts tagged ‘night photography’

November 12, 2014

American night

American night
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September 14, 2014

The urban valley

Sometimes I hang on to my images for a while before making them. It’s not that I don’t want to post them immediately, it’s just that I’m not sure if I’ll feel the same way about the moment later on. With some images you get the sense that you might need to spend a few hours on them to coax them into existence. With others, like this one, you take 10 minutes. It’s tarnished, I shot it at 1/10th hand-held. It still says something to me. Sometimes the city glows in a way that lifts you up.
The urban valley
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June 1, 2014

Night shifted

It’s striking how many people work late into the night in The Loop. Most corners you turn you can see them up the street, down a hole in the street or even up in the air. So many security staffers tuck up inside of lobbies. You can see them in every other building you pass. I remember in high school a friend of mine considering how strange it is that a third of the planet is asleep at any given moment – just because the light hides around the other side. That’s not always the case.
Night shifted
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September 25, 2013

Paradox towers

This is just my 17th post since breaking my leg back on June 19th. I’d like to believe that it was the injury that stopped my post-a-day routine that ended at something like 378 straight days, but that isn’t the case. Yes, breaking my right fibula in two places drastically reduced my ability to carry a camera backpack for approximately seven or eight weeks, but I could have made things work with different kinds of shoots to fill up the space around here. No, the real reason I posted just sixteen times over roughly three months was I was burned out again – but in a different way than before.

I wrote a few times about how this past winter developed in me a creative block that challenged my ability to post a photo every single day. It came in January and really became near-debilitating in February. There were a few times that I wondered if I’d have to quit somewhere along the path to producing my 365 days of photos. Things worked out, but it really stretched me at times. This latest “burn out” that actually ground me to a halt, however, was more about thinking about what I was doing and what I needed to do moving forward. I got wrapped up in shooting for clients, including a wedding, a reunion event and booking a couple of others as well, and the business of photography became more of the focus than the creativity of photography. I was no longer allowing myself to think creatively on the average day as I was constantly figuring out how to merge schedules and mix in opportunities. Focusing attention on development became more important for a time.

I think I’m starting to learn to balance the two and it’s a tricky concoction of a-little-of-this and a-lot-of-that. Hopefully it means I get back to posting images regularly again. That’s the most fun in all of this – sharing what you’re doing as you do it. I like that I’m picking up more and more photography opportunities at the same time. Things are kind of syncing up as needed. So, today’s image is three buildings that are seemingly out of sync despite the fact that they are identical to one another and part of the same complex. I love paradox.
Paradox towers
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July 13, 2013

Stardust over the goat farm

While nursing my broken leg back to some level of decency, I found myself on a trip to Texas and Louisiana. The airport was an ordeal, even in a wheelchair. Everyone, I mean everyone, had to help me. By the end of the week, however, I was able to climb into the bed of a pickup truck to shoot this night sky. We were just far enough into the countryside that the stars really came out. That big light crashing through the exposure is right in front of the barn behind the dwelling.
Stardust over the goat farm
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June 24, 2013

The other way up 90-94

When I arrived on this site this was the second of three shots I expected to take. The third became the first I posted, the first never materialized, and I have one more I think that will make the blog. Such sequences get spread out over time so as not to bore you, but I think this is an exciting shot, full of energy. There’s not a whole lot to say about it outside of this being the northern way up 90-94 as it parallels the lake on the western edge of downtown. You can see the beginning of it’s significant bend to the northwest as it leaves The Loop. Some of the trucks are so heavy on the elevated sections that you and your tripod bounce along with the bridges.
The other way up 90-94
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June 23, 2013

The site at night

My leg problem has limited my effectiveness. This much was obvious, but the amount of rest needed with a broken bone is more than I expected. Last night I ran out of time for posting, then fell asleep, so I technically missed a day of blogging, but I did finish a photo, and here it is.

This is the other side of the construction area I posted a few weeks back. They have amazingly powerful lights to keep them working through the night. I was lucky that they kept that light on for exactly as long as it took me to take six exposures – enough to produce this photo – then they cut them off literally a second after my shutter closed on the final shot. I was on my way over the bridge and toward the loop.
The site at night
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June 19, 2013

I broke my leg | Alone on LaSalle

So, today was a bit of a trip. Late for a train, attempting to avoid bumping into someone on a staircase descent, my right heel slipped on the third stair and caught the fourth. My leg bent back awkwardly and I heard a pop. A few people tried to help me, but they couldn’t. I don’t even remember them or what they said. I was so certain I broke my leg – and so focused on being able to walk down the stairs – that I paid attention to nothing but the popping in my fibula as I put pressure on the leg. It was weird.

It turns out I broke it in two places, just above the ankle. I was in a train station when it happened, one with no canteen or bathroom – or anything. I had to wait quite a while before I could get to the hospital, because the CTA doesn’t really do a good job in emergency situations (only took my name and information and let me lay there, and nobody tried to help me walk, even when I had to hobble out another 100 paces and down an elevator). Thankfully my dad was free and picked me up – a 20 minute drive from his house. Ninety minutes after my fall, I was finally getting checked out at a hospital. It took that long just to get ice. I tend to take a lot of photos, so although in a bit of agony after getting to the bottom of the stairs, then up the escalator, then a fifty-pace stumble to my resting place, I got my iPhone out to take a few photos (my camera bag acted as my leg-prop, as you can see in the photo). None of my camera gear broke in the fall, though I’m sure the extra 30 pounds contributed to my ankle’s demise… ouch!

This may put a significant dent into my one-a-day posting habit. My one-a-day posting promise! We’ll see what happens. It looks like no carrying my gear nor tripod for a few weeks. Now I’ve got a broken leg and a previously broken tripod. Thank goodness the camera bodies are intact.
Broken leg wait

DAILY PHOTO: ALONE ON LASALLE
I have this habit of pausing on city streets for a few minutes at night. The ambiance gets weird when you take in the size of a building over you that almost disappears up into the dark. Their enormity is shrunken down to the first handful of floors. The street becomes more important to a photo at night. It’s little bit of leftover energy is all that’s left to support the mood. It’s somewhere between empty and electric with the pace of the speeding vehicles.
Alone on LaSalle
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June 15, 2013

Wacker viaduct

Wacker Drive is kind of awesome. I don’t know of many double-decked cities, and this run on the west edge of The Loop is cool both above and below ground. I’ll never forget a cab driver gunning me through the lower section many years ago, as if he were a race car driver. It used to be really dark and dingy under there, and I think the cabbies were certain nobody would be around a corner. Now that they’ve redone it, and the river walk areas are nicer, look out! In this photo a car descends into the now-well-lit corridor below me. I had to put my tripod on the official seal of the reconstruction to get this angle. That was kind of cool.
Wacker viaduct
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June 12, 2013

365 straight COMPLETED | The dawn of a new blog year

A MESS OF THINGS:
This is it! Three hundred and sixty-five straight days of photo blogging, complete! I’m quite relieved to be done, but I really screwed things up by 1) posting twice before I began my run, offsetting my personal calendar by a couple of days… and 2) Blogging into a leap year! Because 2012 has one extra day, to complete my full year of every-day blogging I’ve got day 366 tomorrow. That’s ok, I’ve got a photo set for that, and going 365 was the goal, so we’ve arrived! Today marks exactly one year of blogging every single day for one earth orbit around the sun.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED
1) I’m not a very organized person.
Lady in the streetLollapalooza souvenirs
Only for a few short months did I actually get ahead in this process and have posts done ahead of time. Probably half of the days were spent trying to finish a photo in the final hour before midnight. I should have paid more attention in school. I always think of myself as a capable writer, but I’ve forgotten a lot. My grammar is decent at best, I think. I break rules with writing all the time, but that’s OK, I break rules with photos, too!

When blogging every day for a year you go on autopilot after a while. I just knew things would work out after about six months of blogging every day. It was funny how I could keep it in the back of my head on most days that things will just get done when they need getting done. You don’t realize you’ve gone on AP, you just do. You learn to live with imperfection and roll with posts that make you 75% satisfied, but most of the time you end up really happy with what you’ve done. It’s not for lack of effort – it’s just that you get in this mental groove at times and can’t impress yourself with what you’re doing for a time.

You start to see patterns in how you work. Everything becomes cyclical in this process. You repeat patterns, habits. It’s a challenge to change things up. I also have a slightly negative writing tone. I’m a bit cynical, as I feared. Sarcasm doesn’t always maybe come off properly here. I wish I was more positive. Things to work on!

2) Few people understand what you’re doing, especially why, but people are nice!

Moving manProtester
I can’t remember how many times people (friends) have asked me what all this photography is about. Well, it’s about being creative. I didn’t feel creative for a couple of years and decided to take this on. It was a way to build a portfolio quickly. That’s worked nicely. People are also nice. The blogging community is something I’ve only started to connect with even after one full year of blogging. I’ve been kind of insular while taking this all on, but it’s fun to see what others are thinking and doing with their blogs. I’m branching out and learning to live by likes and comments is not a healthy thing to do… though it does motivate you to do more when getting positive feedback.

3) There will be at least two bouts with creative block.
Fireworks 2012Driver's license
Though they try (and bless them for their kindness), nobody can actually help you blog. You have to motivate yourself, and that’s a trying thing about 10% of the time. In a year’s time you really go through a creative impasse once or twice, but that’s to be expected. You just drag yourself through. Draggggggg. You’re not sure what you accomplished though you’re happy with just doing this in the end, and though you end up with a pretty good portfolio, in the end they are married with enough clunkers to make you feel far less accomplished. I also discovered that sleep deprivation causes memory loss (especially shorter term memory), though it doesn’t limit your creative output. I started this project when my daughter was seven months old. I’m tired.

4) You live in fear of stumbling upon someone whose work can crush your own.
Grungy doorwayClark & Wrightwood
You don’t care about that really, but it’s always in the back of your mind. Will you see something today that makes you say, “what’s the point? Why am I even tying?” Well, there are different opinions on what is good anyway, so why give in to expectations or critics, especially photo critics? They seem to be a misguided, angry bunch. I live with photography, I’ve been doing it every day of my life for 13 years. Therefore, I’m not like other photographers, though photographers are, in part, all the same. You have to be part of the photo world and unique to yourself all at the same time. I hate cliche, and at times must be cliche. You can’t entirely escape convention. It’s emotional, enigmatic… but that’s what is great about photography: you have to care about what you’re doing and it has to read. You get instant feedback on what you produce. That’s what makes it unlike most creative mediums.

5) You realize you know less about where you live and that others’ have a distinctly unique and somehow similar understanding from your own.

WackerFlamingo
I’ve learned a lot about how Chicago fits together as a city in the past year, and I’ve seen so many photographers attempting to capture it as I do. I wonder where all their pictures are? There are simultaneously not enough and far too many photographers in Chicago. They are everywhere, but finding a good photo of the city is still rather arduous, even with Google connecting us all better and better each day.

6) I have no conclusion to draw from my year of blogging.

SearsFrozen
I guess, in a way, I’m still on autopilot. You just keep going and creating, because you can’t possibly succeed at this – you can only hope it becomes successful. I had one lawsuit threatened against me for a photo I posted of a barbershop and found two copyright infringements of my own work. Neither ended up a major issue.

7) I want to improve.

RooftopsParking lot
When you do something you love every day, you want to do it better and better.

So that’s it. That’s my year of blogging in a single post. I’m sure I forgot something. I have memory loss, remember, and I’m probably floating through on autopilot again today. To those that have asked here and elsewhere, I will be continuing. I see no reason to stop. Not now.

DAILY PHOTO: NIGHT SKIES | THE DAWN OF A NEW BLOG YEAR
I took these photos today! It was just after midnight, and I’d just gotten home. I noticed a car roll up the street with its headlights off – slowly. That was weird. You don’t see that very often, and it makes you wonder. I stopped and waited to see if something happened, but he rolled out of sight. So, I was left standing there, listening, and then I looked up. The sky was weird with these puffy clouds, and I liked how the light was streaming through the bushes and against the trees from different electrical sources.

I captured about 10 photos of 100 seconds exposure and was about to call it a night when a police car rolled the street, U-turned and headed off in the direction of the car with no headlights. That was weird. I got this very uneasy feeling and yet couldn’t move. I watched the clouds roll past the trees and toward the city lights. My blogging year was coming to a close amid strange circumstances. That seems about right. They sky is blue at night, too.
Night skies I
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Night skies II
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