In early June I spent a couple days teaching a one-on-one workshop to a woman from Pennsylvania. We had a lot of great locations planned, mostly outdoor, but we had some pretty rainy starts to both days. That didn’t deter us, we just adjusted the start of each day. On day one we started at the Cultural Center, followed by the Palmer House Hilton. I still love this staircase and it’s still fun trying to find new ways to photograph it! I thought this one kinda looked like a leaf.
As a side note, because I’ve photographed all these locations many times I decided to bring only my 70-3oomm lens. Like I’ve said numerous times, limiting yourself can actually push you to see more creatively. It forces you to try things you may not if you could just swap out a lens.
Back to the photo locations. It was still raining lightly after leaving the Palmer House. Regardless, we decided to brave it and head to the Calder Flamingo. I think this is the first time I’ve photographed this location in the rain. There was something about the light that really made this location stand out to me this time. I also shot from the west side of the block more than usual. This is just one take but there are a few more in the link at the end of post.
Our next stop was 235 Van Buren. Always a great spot for patterns and fill-the-frame abstracts. Again, the first time photographing this location in the rain and even overcast skies. Every other time I’ve been here it’s been very sunny, which is great for harsh contrasts, but I really liked the soft light the overcast skies created.
We walked a bit north to 540 West Madison or the Bank of America Building, if you prefer. There’s this triangular, metal, sculptural area on the edge of the building that, again, works well in creating abstract repetitive patterns. Again, I think the overcast skies created a nice, soft, even light on this space.
We ended the first day at Marina Towers. I decided to go high-key with the editing to erase some of the cracking and dirt on the underside of the balconies. Call me crazy, but something about the composition makes me think of a bouquet of flowers fanning out.
On day 2 we had another rainy start. Thankfully, it calmed down enough to still meet at our planned location of The Bean (Cloud Gate if you wanna be precise). Another subject I’ve never photographed in the rain. This was a welcome opportunity to try to create something different of the this much photographed location. This was a favorite from here. Never miss an opportunity for symmetry 😉 And as much as I don’t love birds, this one added a little something extra.
Just next door, the Pritzker Pavilion. I feel like the only way I get decent shots of this location is with my telephoto lens. This time I focused on the sharp edges of some of the metal pieces near the stage. I also like how the red seats reflect in parts of the metal, creating this pink hue to break up grays.
As we crossed the BP Bridge I turned back and made a wider shot of the pavilion. From this vantage point the curves resemble sails, very common in Frank Gehry’s designs.
Just across the street is the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) building. In this first abstract I was playing with the reflections and layering of the building’s beams behind the glass.
Then a little symmetry. The shadows are what drew me to this one.
Just behind BCBS is Aqua. The first one is a bit different than I’ve seen it before. I liked how the balconies kinda looked like planks and the horizontal curves contrasted with the vertical lines in the building behind.
Next, a more typical abstract of Aqua. Very high-key editing for the same reasons I processed this way for Marina Towers. Concrete doesn’t age the greatest if you’re trying to create clean architectural images.
We made a quick stop by the Wrigley Building and Trump Tower. Always a great place to get reflection shots and contrast the old with the new.
We headed north to the Sofitel Chicago. This is a great geometric building. However, if you get close to the entrance there’s this great curved wall that makes for more great reflections, repetitive patterns and counters the sharp angles of the rest of the building.
We ended the day with a walk through the Gold Coast and a stop by the Studio Gang designed pavilion on the south pond of Lincoln Park. There was a bit of haziness in the atmosphere, which seemed to create these soft greens and yellows in the translucent shell of the pavilion. Always surprised I can still get something new here given how many times I’ve photographed this. Just proves that returning to the same location can result in something interesting. The weather, light, time of year, lens your using and mindset can make for very different results from one visit to the next.
It was a great couple of days exploring the city on this one-on-one workshop. As always, it’s fun to help someone see this city and its architecture in a new way and help them evolve at their own pace.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, if you want to see everything I edited from the day you can head over here!