Chicago

The Flamingo

So there's this famous public art installation smack in the middle of Chicago's Loop called The Flamingo. You may have seen it featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Or maybe you just came across it wandering around the Loop. It's hard to miss.

Cameron, Sloane and the Flamingo. The Red Wings colours clearly aren't Calder Red.

Created by noted American artist Alexander Calder, is a 16m tall "stabile" (as opposed to a "mobile" that would move with the wind) located in the Federal Plaza in front of the Kluczynski Federal Building. It was commissioned by the United States General Services Administration and was unveiled in 1974, although Calder's signature on the sculpture indicates it was constructed in 1973. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Notable for its wonderful red colour ("Calder Red"), it stands beautifully juxtaposed against the black steel and glass of the modern and minimalist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed Kluczynski Federal Building.

What's remarkable about this statue, apart from it's sheer size, shape and striking colour, is how it changes with the light. When I visited two weeks ago, there were fair-weather clouds blowing through the troposphere (I had to look that one up) above Chicago that were changing the light on a minute-by-minute basis.

Here are three images of the Flamingo shot in quick succession—no more than 50 seconds elapsed between the 1st and last image—and you can see how the quality of the light changes from soft to harsh. And that Flamingo still glows. (My personal favourite is the first one, mostly because of the composition, the slightly more muted tones and softer, less distracting background light.)

It is a challenging subject to capture; installed in a relatively confined space, surrounded by tall buildings, the light doesn't always hit it quite the way you'd want it to. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to matter.

Without Lightroom's perspective correction, this would look very different indeed. Where'd the light go?

 

 

Photo Essay #14: Looking up in Chicago

You can't visit Chicago without marvelling at the architecture. It's tall, it's diverse, it's modern, postmodern, art deco and everything in between.

I really developed a kink in my neck two weekends ago when I visited. It was worth it!

Photo Essay #13: Sunday morning in Chicago

A little over a week ago, I had the privilege to spend the weekend at the Out of Chicago conference (hazard a guess as to where it's held). Chicago is one heck of a city, and its buildings and people are as photogenic as they get.

On Sunday morning, I wound up getting up very early. My body clock decided that 6AM was time to get up and go. So when the sun is shining, and is still low in they sky, what else could I do? I went for a little photowalk before the day's proceedings got going.

Here we are on the State Street bridge over the Chicago River. On the left are the iconic Marina Centre towers. At the base of the eastern tower is Wollensky's Grill, where I found Rick hosing down the patio before another busy day was about to begin. We chatted for a few minutes and he was gracious enough to pose for a quick street portrait. This is a man who takes pride in what he does and you can see it in his eyes.

There is constant boat traffic on the river: pleasure craft, water taxis, ferries, tourist ships, and this: the yoga cruise. Walking along Wacker Drive I could hear a voice over a tannoy and turned my head to take a look. I had to double take since I'd never seen an entire upper deck of a boat engaged in yoga before.

The tall shiny buildings downtown make for some spectacular light and reflections at all times of the day. Half the time I wasn't sure whether my subject was the person/place/thing I pointed my camera at or the shadows!

26,271 steps Out of Chicago

Sunday was a heck of a day for me at the Out of Chicago conference. I wound up waking up early (like 5:30AM early) and couldn't sleep. I had nothing to do before 8:30 when my first session was set to start.

A photographer alone in a new city, unencumbered by anything other than photographic gear always has something to do.

So I headed out for a little photowalk. A black Venti Pike in my left hand, a silver X100F in my right, I hit the streets before most of Chicago was even awake.

(Please click on the images to open them in a lightbox. They'll look a lot better!)

Later on, it was time for a street photography photowalk with Marie Laigneau. I learned more than anything else I have a lot to learn about street photography. But I think I got a few interesting shots in, nonetheless.

I went out for a walk at lunch (what else is there to do, really?) and headed for Millennium Park, which was totally overrun by tourists. The Bean, a must-see piece of public sculpture, is surrounded by throngs of people and is almost impossible to shoot "cleanly". So I didn't even bother trying. It makes for some pretty compelling abstracts, though. Rick Sammon's closing talk at the end of the day inspired my to play around with colour, in honour of the day's Pride festivities.

After lunch it was time for yet another photowalk, this time with Angie McMonigal, an exceptionally talented architecture and fine art photographer. She's really nice, too! Our walk was centred around architecture (naturally) and I think this is where I came into my element a little more.

After all that, it was time to head back and put my tired feet up.

Photowalking in the Loop

Today was a day of lectures and a photowalk with the one & only Valérie Jardin, where she helped us put the theory of street photography to practice.

In for Out of Chicago

I am so privileged to be able to attend this year's Out of Chicago summer conference, in, you guessed it, Chicago.

It's a 2½ day gathering of photographic enthusiasts and pros, where we get together, network, learn from the best and most importantly, get out and shoot!

Chicago is really a photogenic city unlike any other. Vibrant street life, incredible architecture, characters all around. It's going to be a great weekend!