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December Photos

As December got to a start, I felt like I had to go out and shoot. I hadn’t seen the sunrise in a while. Winter performs a wonderful miracle in letting the sun come up late.

Morning in Chicago

I hadn’t done that much shooting with a tripod on my new camera so I went to one of the areas of the city made for tripod photography, the Adler Planetarium. I took a few pictures of the Chicago Skyline.┬áI wasn’t able to stay long, so I wasn’t able to do a true bracketed shot. But this is good enough. ­čÖé

The skyline, contrasty and black and white:

black and white skyline
The Chicago Skyline done in a contrasty black and white fashion from the Adler Planetarium.

I highly recommend finding a group of people that meet up every month to do a local photowalk. Drink and Click is just one such group. They have a monthly theme and sponsors for prizes for the best photos of the month. This group is worldwide with chapters in every continent and many major cities. Look them up! I gave you the link.

From a “Drink and Click” outing in Chicago. December’s theme was “selfie” but… not all my pics were selfies.


After the Drink and Click event and another photowalk with Out of I hung around the Cloud Gate for a few images. It was a wet night in Millennium Park.

wet cloudgate at night

This next image was from the same night. I took a few shots from the lake side of the Pritzker Pavilion. I have to give props to my friend, John O’Neill who lent me his tripod bracket between shots. He’s a really smart photographer, btw. He takes his time, looks for the lines, and really makes an image.

Pritzker Night

And finally, there was Christmas. So I have a few pictures from my maternal grandmother’s tree.

OK, so that was December! I hope you enjoyed. We’ll see how 2016 turns out. I’ve got some ideas. When I really feel strong about a resolution, I don’t really talk about it. And I feel it this year. All I can say is that I’m going to work real hard on my photography!

Take Care and Have Fun this year,

Adam Dooley

November Photos

Hello, here’s my photos from November.

Yep, I know, I’m late. November and December are hectic months as you know. It’s not that I didn’t shoot. But as soon as Thanksgiving hits all plants go straight in the bucket. As a result I will be doing some extra duty for catch-up. I have all my edits for my December pictures done too.

Without further wait, here are my photos for November:

A friend of mine, Laurie Novak introduced me to Cycle Cross photography in the beginning of November. In this shot I used my new super wide 14mm lens. It creates some interesting perspectives. (It’s such a fun lens!)

A cyclecross race in Elgin, IL the day after Halloween. This was taken with a wide angle lens that captured the mime and the racers behind her . A mime is a terrible thing to race.
A cyclecross race in Elgin, IL the day after Halloween. This was taken with a wide angle lens that captured the mime and the racers behind her . A mime is a terrible thing to race.


Feeling the need to click the shutter, I went to a local forest preserve for some moody black and white.

Next I needed to explore some Chicago Neighborhoods because I’m hoping to move and would like a better handle on the City I love so much.

After Thanksgiving my twin brother, Tony Dooley, and I went shooting at a local bar that also has a good music stage.

The next day I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and tested a “new to me” lens, the Minolta F/4 70-210. Not bad for a 30 year old lens!

A primate at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. This guy was taking a moment to look at the visitors before he had to consider if one of his zoo mates were going to chase him.
A primate at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. This guy was taking a moment to look at the visitors before he had to consider if one of his zoo mates were going to chase him.

Lastly, I went to the Loop in Chicago and took some skyline shots. This one took some work. I forgot my tripod so it was handheld. I discovered some new tools to handle noise. The fact that my camera is a dream for handheld shooting is a plus, too.

The Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago has these wonderful lines that draw you through the image and across the skyline.
The Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago has these wonderful lines that draw you through the image and across the skyline.

That’s it for my November photos! ┬áMy December shots will be coming soon.

The future of Monthly Blog Posts

HI! It has been a while since I’ve posted. Let me explain what has been going on.

I feel like that ever since the beginning of the year, I’ve been re-examining my photographic presence online. How do I emphasize my best work but still participate socially with people? How do I decide what goes out if anything. Should I do less on social media or more?

Manhattan Sun

Then, there is my work inside of The Arcanum. It’s has been stretching my idea of what is good photography. What makes for a good crop? How to shoot in the first place? What is my style? What should I focus on? These are all lofty questions.


(Photo of NYC Skyline with sun beam)

I was beginning to doubt myself quite a bit. But yet, at the same time, I continued to shoot more and more photos. I continued to make images. But I wasn’t sharing them publicly very much. I was basically outside of my Arcanum cohort only sharing with my very closest people, my identical twin and my mom. Now, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. My mom and brother both like taking photos and are actively trying to improve what their photography, too.


(Cactus flower in Montana)

But, there is this wonderful little activity I participate in called, Drink and Click. It’s a monthly contest of photographers from many metropolitan areas from around the world. Locally, two participants that have impressed me very much are Lauri Novak and Deirdre Hayes. (If you don’t know who they are, I highly encourage you to find out about them and follow them.) Both of them have very different approaches to their photography. I do not want to undersell the additional talents I’ve shot with during Drink and Click. There are some great photographers in the Chicago area.


(April┬áDrink and Click – Light at the end of the tunnel)

During the April, June, and July events, some of these photographers had observed that I don’t post a whole lot. I couldn’t deny that they were right. I knew it was a sign that my photography as a whole was being questioned internally. I just didn’t know how I wanted to continue!

A Chicago alley waiting for an escaping detective.
A Chicago alley waiting for an escaping detective.

(June Drink and Click – Alley Color Noir)

I knew that I had to share! What did I share? Well, I had enough! I needed to get a lot of my stuff out. There was and still is a lot to share. I decided to use Facebook more than ever. Many of my photos will be shared on my personal page. Of course, you can view my page that shows my social media profiles. I’m all over the place!


(July Drink and Click)

Also, G+ is going to see more posts, too. As I get used to sharing more, I will also use 500px, and viewbug to gauge my performances compared to others. I have also started a new account on I’m not sure how that will go, but we’ll see.

Manhattan Bridge

(Manhattan Bridge – to sell on Fine art America)

I will continue to do a lot more than just cityscapes. And I will post them on social media. Like this one I did from Devil’s Lake, WI:

This rock climber was preparing to decend Devil's Window rock formation in Devil's Lake, WI.
This rock climber was preparing to descend Devil’s Window rock formation in Devil’s Lake, WI.

For now, I’ll be focusing more and more on Chicago. I’m hoping to capture more city life in more interesting ways. But, why not one more skyline shot before I close?

Buckingham Fountain and cotton candy sunset

and a street photo…

Intersections, elevations, and transit

Take care, and I hope to see you again next month.

-Adam Dooley

Chicago Skyline on Valentines Day

This is a post I originally meant to publish back in February. But somehow it fell through the cracks. Here you go!

Chicago Lights up February 14. I shot this from the outer wall of the Shedd Aquarium. I tried shooting a little closer to the Planetarium, but I got sprayed with water that instantly froze on contact on my camera. The camera was not damaged, however. After drying off a bit and warming up, I tried again and got this shot. Note, the wind was whipping around 30 mph and it was roughly 8 degrees outside.

Chicago Lights up Feb 14

I’ll say this again, please do not mess around with ice and water. This is potentially a deadly combination! Respect the conditions. Missing “the shot” is better than losing your life. When I got closer to the water, I didn’t get so close that I could slide into the lake. I stayed on the land side of the ice slope that was on the concrete. Another foot closer to the lake, however, and I would have been asking for a LOT more trouble up to and including losing my life. Be careful and mindful of your surroundings. As soon as I could hear the water rushing my way, I got out of the way. I still got spray, but I was safe.

The result? I didn’t get as much ice in the above photo as I was hoping to. But I still like the view.

New Years 2015 – Skyline Photography

I don’t usually like to get thick into the weeds when it comes to creating a photo. I do get technical, but I’m fully aware lots of people don’t like reading all that stuff.

I’m preparing to do a skyline panorama of Chicago. This morning I went to the Adler Planetarium to take these photos. It was 6 AM when I got out of the car. It was FREEEZING out, btw!

Here’s the photo:

Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium. New Years morning, 2015.
Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium. New Years morning, 2015.

I took about 5 images going from left to right. This one is roughly the center image. Whenever I do a panorama, I almost always at MOST move the camera’s field of view only about 1/3 of the frame. ┬áThen I take another photo.

When I’m stitching a panorama, I’ll try it one of two different ways. First, I’ll try it in Photoshop. This is usually easy but also takes a long time for the computer to do.

The second method I use is a free program from Microsoft called Microsoft Composite Editor. This program is actually pretty quick. The knock I have against it is that it requires me to create 16-bit tiff files to my hard drive.

But the problem that I have with creating panoramas happens regardless of which program I use. A panorama program will stretch the image if you tell it to stitch to maintain PERSPECTIVE. The tends to stretch the lines so that they are all straight. Straight lines matter with architecture. But, it stretches out the sky, too. What is the problem with that? What used to be clean and clear sky is now showing pixels that I couldn’t previously see.

There are several things I can do to minimize that, but it takes a bit more work. It would be lovely if there was a tool that minimized this problem all in one step, though.

So, that’s my riff on panorama stitching. If you found it interesting, let me know.

Grand Tetons

In the middle of the day from the north end of the range. I spent two nights in the Tetons this summer. The first night, the clouds were good and thick. There were also good and thick in the morning, but I did get a rainbow. I was headed back to my campsite for the afternoon because I was up since 4 am. But as I got back I saw that the clouds were beginning to break up and become more interesting.

Grand Tetons

I am back, Happy 4th! My Yellowstone trip.

I am back from visiting the 3 national parks. I went to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Arches National Parks. So, for the next several days I’ll be posting photos from there.

Anyways, today’s photo is from Yellowstone. One of the ideas I was wrestling with was the idea of how do you know that the photo is from Yellowstone, or any other place for that matter? I need to add context to the photo. Often time, that context is something in the foreground. When I saw this bison and the mountains and sky, I knew I had that element.

There were actually two bison here, but I decided to wait for the other one to wander out of the frame. He was a little too active and making the image unbalanced.

Bison Landscape in Yellowstone

To process the image, I did HDR processing. A little layering, to make the bison more defined. A little playing with the saturations, sharpening, and so on.

I hope you enjoy!

Carolus Linnaeus at the Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden presents all sorts of photographic delights and challenges. On 6-4-2014 I had visited the garden with a relative from California, Marie Dooley. She had formerly been a photographer but retired from the business of it some years back. Last year I drove out to California and visited with them and enjoyed some minor tutorial lessons she offered me. Now that she was in Chicago, I enjoyed the same from her.

But I have to say, I’m not the same apprentice I was back then! I’ve grown a lot in the craft. I won’t claim greatness, obviously, but I’ve grown.

But this photo of Carolus Linnaeus in bronze has typically been something a bit elusive for me. It’s hard for me to be satisfied with the view. He’s very interesting to see in person. But somehow to translate the experience to a photo is a bit difficult for me.

Carolus Linnaeus in giant bronze at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Carolus Linnaeus in giant bronze at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


When I did this photo, I decided I was going to do something new: aperture stacking.

I also did this as a panorama with my 50mm lens in portrait position. It was about five photos wide with about 33% of the photo panned at each shot, and I did one exposure at f8 and another at f1.8. When I processed the photo, the dominant photo was the f/1.8 photo. I masked in the f/8 photo so that I could show the flower he was picking.

However, now that I write this, I think that the next time I shoot this bronze, I’ll attempt a 3D image. That might just get the interestingness I feel when standing there.

Looking in and up: St Mary of the Angels

I guess some of the things I like about large old churches is that they invite you to look deep and high. There is a certain entertainment value here. But it’s guided. That when I get lost in thought, my eyes just bounce around and come back to where I am supposed to be, connecting with the Holy Spirit.

At St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, their art has gone to so much work to do just that. The church has a kind of light glow that is hard to feel when there is no one there and the lights turned off. But through post processing it is easy to bring that back.  In this image you can easily make out the mural above the alter that depicts the crowning of Mary in Heaven. There is also the stained glass ceiling.  We also have murals to either side of alter, further displaying the values of the parish and their devotion to St. Mary.

I know that people that go to new churches have good parishes. But they are missing something when they don’t stuff their church with nearly so much visual goodness!

Vertorama of St Mary Of The Angels
Vertorama of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago. This reveals a common stars in blue field in the ceiling and wonderful stained glass in the main dome. The crowning of mary is depicted above the alter. Then in the side alters you have depictions of people honoring the traditions of the parish.

The technical stuff: This image is a combination of six horizontal images. They were brackets of 2, 0, -2 exposure values. I combined the images into three separate  vertoramas of each exposure value and ran the HDR program in Photoshop. I then ran Adobe Camera Raw and touched up the HDR to reveal as much textures and tones as I could before converting it to what you see here.

St. Mary of the Angels Church, Chicago

Jesus and the Angel at St Mary of the Angels in Chicago in black and white.

I thought I’d try to explore a bit on my processing. I found a preset from ON1’s Perfect Effects program called Chrome that I liked. From a distant or zoomed out view, the background pops nice. But when you zoom in, this BW effect really highlights the textures of the statues nicely.

When I took the shot, I was just trying to get the tripod as close as possible to the statue from an angle as close as I could from the wall so we could see this as much from Jesus’ point of view as possible. I hope this works for you as it does for me.

This status of Jesus and the Angel is at St. Mary of the Angels church in Chicago.
This is a statue of Jesus and the Angel is at St. Mary of the Angels church in Chicago.