Posts tagged ‘Willis Tower’

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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September 13, 2014

The lobbyists

They look like people. They talk like people. They’re likely statues propped up by whoever owns the key to the door. Too big to be human. You’re on the outside.
The lobbyists
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May 28, 2013

Adams crevice

One of my favorite aspects of a big city are the little views of big things. So often you cannot see the expanse of the city, because you are tucked away up some street. Adams is one of the better streets for this sort of thing. Just duck in on any crossing street a few dozen feet and look up, and you might find one of the world’s tallest buildings looking after you.
Adams crevice
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April 1, 2013

Corner windows to the tower, to the street

I found myself at an intersection I don’t normally visit seeing the sky and the road in two different directions. I decided this would make a different look, and zoomed out as far as I could. The result is quite distorted – you can see the warping of the metal framework overhead. Usually I’ll fix this sort of thing, but this time I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted as much of the frame in frame. These weird glimpses of the city are very fun to stumble upon.
Corner windows to the tower, to the street
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February 25, 2013

People crossing Adams near Art Institute

I’ve been taking different routes through the city in recent weeks, but not for photography reasons. I just get bored sometimes and can’t maintain the routine of walking the same worn path as last time. This trip took me to the corner of Michigan and Adams, home of the Art Institute. All the tourists were taking photos of the museum, so, deciding I’m not a tourist I turned around and shot back in the opposite direction. It frames up nicely.
People crossing Adams near Art Institute
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February 11, 2013

Stacking up to the tower

The Sears (Willis) Tower is actually nine conjoined towers. You can think of it as sections that are like cylinders. If you took nine long tubes and bundled them together, then stood them up and hacked off the tops at different heights, that’s the Sears. You can see five of the sections prominently in this photo. The tallest, middle section of the building is just barely discernible, but altogether six of the nine are in frame. Most of the time while standing directly underneath you cannot see the tallest section very clearly.

I hadn’t noticed prior to shooting the Sears on this day that the base of the building kind of builds up the same way the sections of the tower do. I thought it was a pretty cool compliment to the overall structure, and I wonder how detailed the architects must have been to incorporate the geometry of the building completely from the tip top of its 110 stories all the way to the street below. It’s crazy that this was the tallest building in the world as recently as 15 years ago, and even after losing its title as top of the top it was only a few hundred feet shy of the newest world’s tallest until 2010. Now the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is nearly double its height!
Stacking up to the tower
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February 8, 2013

Looking up or falling over? The Sears (Willis) Tower

People tend to think – or photographers, that is – that you need a tilt-shift lens to appropriately shoot large buildings. It dramatically lends to perspective and avoids that look of the buildings leaning way backward like they might be toppling over. That’s all well and good, but I like my photos to look how it feels to be there, and I feel like looking up at buildings feels like falling over. I don’t mind that they bend and fall away. The surreal quality lends to the impact.

Here, for instance, I love how the Sears (Willis) Tower tends to look as though it’s leaning out to look down the alley. The stretching away from the street-level subject matter to the top of the tower leaves this feeling of motion. This is the sort of craning I get whenever I’m peering up at this or another massive tower.
Looking up or falling over? The Sears (Willis) Tower
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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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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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December 13, 2012

Willis from Congress

Driving to visit family I encountered a massive storm and drove through it. I stopped a few times to take photos before it passed. The clouds were so thick and extended to the horizon in nearly all directions, making daytime resemble night. Few cars were out on the circle interchange, and so I braved taking a photo while driving. This was one of three.

I came across this image recently after forgetting about it for maybe a year. It doesn’t blow up well, but it summarizes that day very well. Dark clouds wafted past the tall buildings at very low altitude. Gloom hung in very delicate air. The sky looked as if it would break up at any moment, so I left it grainy and stark. This is taken with a very limited point-and-shoot, but those little things can still take great photos given good light. It doesn’t blow up real well, but if you like grain a lot, go for it.
Willis from Congress
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