Chicago Botanic Garden Workshop Recap – Days 1 & 2

chicago botanic garden
A couple weeks ago I taught a 3-day architecture photography workshop through the Chicago Botanic Gardens. We started with a presentation on subject & composition, followed by a couple hours of photographing the architecture around the gardens. There are more areas to shoot than you’d think!
First up, the ceiling detail in the Visitor Center.
chicago botanic garden
Just next door is a skylight in the gift shop. Sunshine and blue skies make for some great tones and shadow play, creating nice angles.
chicago botanic garden
Outside the Regenstein Center is a chrome sculpture great for impressionistic abstracts with the trees and sky reflecting in its surface.
chicago botanic garden
A detail of a bench with a pillar-like center. Creating symmetry with this is a little tougher than you’d think but the geometric shape along with the grey metal and bright blue sky seen through the cutouts compliment each other well.
chicago botanic garden
A little further south into the gardens, I used a telephoto lens to compress the spindles on this curvy bridge railing. This creates a nice repetitive pattern and gradient of blues.
chicago botanic garden
Looping back around to the Regenstein Center we stopped inside Nicholas Hall which has this fantastic angular wood ceiling. A slight angle of my lens created even more triangles within the frame.
chicago botanic garden
Wrapping up the first day of shooting we ended in the library next door. Great shadows on the corners of this recessed ceiling where it meets the pillar. While the image is symmetrical and centered, the irregular shadows break the balance, creating tension.
chicago botanic garden
We ended day 1 with a critique of a few of the students images to prepare for day 2. Which we began with a couple more hours of shooting. We started in the Learning Center which has great light in the morning with all its skylights.
chicago botanic garden
It also has this fantastic, colorful artwork that’s highly reflective. Including part of the building reflecting in its surface creates layers within the frame.
chicago botanic garden
Just down the hall those skylights create some softer shadows on the curved hallway where the wall meets the ceiling.
chicago botanic garden
Some nice geometry and color in a bit of a hidden stairwell.
chicago botanic garden
We continued to luck out with sun, which creates a layer of  shadows in this greenhouse roof, adding more depth to this geometric shot.
chicago botanic garden
Loved the impressionist-like reflections this railing created on one of the ponds.
chicago botanic garden
We ended our shooting time back at the Regenstein Center again. This time we focused our attention on the outdoor areas. The wooden undersides of the overhang reflecting in the building windows made for some great layering and geometric shapes. Plus the warm tone of the wood contrasting with the blue sky work well together.
chicago botanic garden
chicago botanic garden
There’s also fun to be had in the bonsai garden in creating contrasts between the organic and built subjects.
chicago botanic garden
After day 2 of photographing the gardens we spent time post-processing images. Me sharing how I work and then the students having time to work on a few images of their own. We ended the day with a critique of their edited images. Stay tuned for the final day of the workshop and our “field trip” downtown!
Also, if you’d like to see all the images from the Gardens from both this workshop and past workshops, head over here.
If you’re interested in upcoming photowalks and workshops, you can get all that info here 🙂

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