Night Owls at the Harold Washington Library

I really liked the Harold Washington Library.  It’s one of the more iconic symbols of Chicago and one of the primary protectors of Chicago’s history. Here’s a factoid for you: The Chicago Public Library system didn’t exist until word of the Great Chicago Fire reached the Queen of England and in response, she sent library’s worth of books to Chicago because she thought that Chicago’s libraries were all up in smoke. In truth, Chicago didn’t have any libraries to begin with.

The library has owls in place of gargoyles that line the roof. And as you can see, they are very nicely lit at night!

 

The Harold Washington Library in Chicago at night has owls instead of gargoyles guarding the rooftop.
The Harold Washington Library in Chicago at night has owls instead of gargoyles guarding the rooftop.

This picture was panorama of three photos in the portrait position each photo was an HDR processed bracket of three exposures. I hope you enjoy.

Almost Sunset in Chicago

This was taken as I was leaving the Museum Campus downtown and walking into the University Campus of Chicago’s South Loop.

Almost Sunset in Chicago

Almost Sunset in Chicago

With this photo, I processed just a single frame in aperture priority mode at 0 EV with f8 and ISO100. I played with the color values and adjusted the tone. I was prepared to process this with HDR techniques, but I don’t think I needed to.

The Loop’s Gateway

I went to Chicago on the evening of Sunday March 23, 2014 and I parked by the Adler Planetarium on Solidarity Drive because it’s only $2/hr and the parking times go on until pretty late at night. (Although, the police try to get everyone out of there by 11 pm, but I have trouble finding signs that say when you aren’t supposed to park there.)  I walked from there to get a chance to see “Chicagohenge” which was coined by the folks at OutOfChicago.com. (It was a term to call attention to the fact that Chicago has East/West streets that will give you a sunset / sunrise during the spring and fall equinox because that’s when the sun rises and falls due east and west.) It was a little late in the year. But I think I will have a decent sunset shot later to show.

BUT! Chicago is wonderful feeding ground for panoramas and night photography! I walked pretty much due west to State Street from the museum campus, and then walked due north to Wacker to view the Chicago River. That is where I took the picture I am posting today. It was such a cool view. There was a sign there that said that it was the “Gateway to the Loop”. Indeed the view from this intersection when looking north is a view that opens up and shows the sky and the full scope of the buildings across the Chicago River.

This is a image stitched from 7 HDR processed brackets at State and Wacker in Chicago. Chicago lables this location as the Gateway to the Loop, but this photo is looking away from the loop to the near north side of downtown.

This is a image stitched from 7 HDR processed brackets at State and Wacker in Chicago. Chicago lables this location as the Gateway to the Loop, but this photo is looking away from the loop to the near north side of downtown.

I did seven brackets from left to right with the camera in a portrait position. I did the brackets by manually setting the exposure so I wouldn’t have different processing across the brackets. After processing the HDR brackets, I then combined them into a single panorama where I cropped it.

A Sign of Spring: Daley Plaza Fountain

Tonight, I had every intention of going into Chicago to shoot what local photographers are calling, Chicagohenge. When the Spring Equinox arrives, that means that the sun rises and set due east and west. And since we have a great grid system for streets, that means that the sun sets right on the street! Well, by the time I was on Congress Parkway, the sun was in my rear view mirror with mere seconds left.

BUT! THIS IS CHICAGO! It’s not like there isn’t anything else to shoot in this town!

I do have a post sunset shot, but that will take more work. For now, I give you the fountain at the Daley Plaza, a sure enough sign of spring if I ever saw one!

Taken the first night of spring in Chicago, the water flows! A sure sign that we are putting winter behind us.
Taken the first night of spring in Chicago, the water flows! A sure sign that we are putting winter behind us.

This photo was a long exposure at f/16 and a 20mm lens on my NEX-7. Very little processing on this one. I think I like it the way it is. 🙂

Equitable Building, Chicago

Here is the Equitable Building from Chicago. This was shot on the day of the Greening of the Chicago River. I was out shooting with a group called Drink and Click Chicago. It’s a lot of fun to shoot with this group. The theme of the day was Depth of Field. I’ll wait to display some more of those till later.

Equitable Building HDR

The thing about some Chicago skyscrapers is that they were boring. Steele and glass in a predictable grid on four sides with a flat roof. With this one I shot a three shot bracket for HDR processing. Once I got it into Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw, I was able to bring out some of the colors and present the clouds in an as interesting way as I could.

I hope you enjoy this one!

More Stained Glass

I’ve got some more stained glass here.

I’ve said it before if not here then elsewhere on the web, stained glass is hard to photograph. The light that comes through tends to blow out the scene if the interior of the church is well exposed. But the interior of the church is jet black if you correctly expose for the glass. It’s like photographing a projector. I think this time I managed to change my processing just a little bit to allow this to come through better. I hope you enjoy it.

SMOTA Stained Glass

 

Rockefeller Chapel and Frank Lloyd Write

Last Saturday, I decided I wanted to get some experience at regular residential interior photography. When you live in Chicago, where else do you go but the legendary, Frank Lloyd Write? Well, I can’t show you those pictures of the inside because the foundation for Frank Lloyd Write basically locks you down from distributing them online or anywhere in any public forum except in your own home and in closed social networks. BUT, they can’t keep you from taking photos of the exterior! So I’ve included one of his home and studio in this post.

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I also visited the Robbie house in the Woodlawn area of Chicago. Personally, I like his home and studio better because it actually felt more like a home. The Robbie house has some very interesting features to it, but photographically, it feels more like a commercial building to me than a home. He didn’t believe in having lots of ornate furnishings and knick knacks. I can say that I did enjoy his habit of making common areas like hallways ‘compressive’ and the rooms the release.  I also enjoyed his habit of slowly bringing you from the outside with transition zones for both the patios and decks. You can only wonder what he would have done with today’s engineering capabilities.

But, when I went to see the Robbie house, I parked next to the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. So I might be a sucker for the vast spaces of these churches. I also find them photographically challenging. Stained glass can be very difficult to contain it’s essence. The scope of the display is so hard to translate into a single exposure. So I keep trying. I hope you get to feel a little bit of what I felt from this place.

The Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, IL. On this day they were gettign prepared for a wedding which was a few hours away from this photo.
The Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, IL. On this day they were gettign prepared for a wedding which was a few hours away from this photo.

Technical stuff: When I took this photo, I did a five exposure brackets that were three frames wide, and five frames tall. However, the top frame was almost completely cropped away. It’s hard to get everything to line up right. I did the HDR processing first and I was careful to make sure all the settings were universal throughout the HDR processing. Once that was done, I stitched everything together and did my final adjustments. Do the math, 5 exposures per bracket x 5 high x 3 wide = 75 exposures! I had to reduce the resolution just a little so my computer could handle the data. (Time for an upgrade?)

SUN-DIAL

The Chicago Botanic Garden takes on a different flavor in the winter. Many of the soft edges and forms of plant life leave the scene and what is left is the hard edges. I really like it when some things line up, and I just couldn’t resist getting a picture of the sun coming through the sundial.

A sundial at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
A sundial at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Technical stuff: This photo was done with HDR processing because the sun is so bright. It was -4, -2, 0 were my exposure values. I used Photoshop’s HDR software. Once I turned it into a 16bit tiff, I brought it back to lightroom for some additional adjustments and cropping. But I still wasn’t happy with it. I decided to bring it into ON1’s Perfect Effects 8. The color adjustment and boarder seemed to fit this image.

Chicago Botanic Garden for more information on the garden.

Religious Statues: Mary Says Goodbye

This statue is the depiction of Jesus’ mother holding her son after he came down from his Crucifixion. This particular statue was displayed at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL. It is a very beautiful church and they have many more statues, other forms of art, and the church has been redone. But this depiction is so full of emotion and detail that it’s worth displaying on Ash Wednesday.

This depiction of Mary holding her son, Jesus, after the crucifixion is found at St. John Cantius, Chicago.
This depiction of Mary holding her son, Jesus, after the crucifixion is found at St. John Cantius, Chicago.

Technical stuff: Sony NEX-7 ISO 1600, 55mm, f/5.6, 1/15 sec.  The statue allowed me to get up close and personal. It was actually in the stair well and the light was pretty good without being overwhelming.

I hope you enjoy.

Mrs Dawes’ Room

This room is completely unique to the rest of the home. Her feminine charm is on display here. The deep wood mantles and dark tones are gone. This room is bright in comparison to the rest of the home. The paining above the fire place is of their son. He died in a drowning accident in Lake Geneva, WI. To the right was a painting of their daughter. To the left were some ancestors.

Vice President Dawes' wife kept this room to entertain her guests and honor her son who passed away at the age of 21.
Vice President Dawes’ wife kept this room to entertain her guests and honor her son who passed away at the age of 21.

I processed this picture with HDR processing. There were three exposures as -2, 0, +2 exposure values. I tried to bring out the colors as much as possible without breaking reality. I also used Adobe Camera Raw to adjust the light of the scene to better connect with what the scene felt like.