Last December I was back at Chicago Photography Classes to teach a 2-day workshop on abstract architecture photography. I had a small group of students but we had a great time together. We started off with a presentation on composition followed by a few hours photographing downtown. Our first stop was the atrium at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Next, we spent over an hour at the Art Institute. There are three great staircases in here but lately I seem to be drawn to the arches in the various areas of the museum. First, near the grand staircase in the main entrance.
Onto the next staircase and a couple abstract takes on my favorite location in the museum for photography. The contrast between the textured concrete against the smooth white walls and underside of the staircase play nicely off of each other, both in black & white and color.
In a neighboring room are these amazingly lit arches that I’ve been particularly drawn to on recent visits. While I did edit in black & white as well, I thought I’d share the color this time around.
Our final stop at the Art Institute was the modern wing and the Renzo Piano-designed space and staircase. Not the easiest location to photograph since it’s so busy but focusing on the underside of the staircase for some abstracts tends to work well. Nice patterns and tones.
Our next stop was the Palmer House Hilton. On this visit, I chose to shoot wide to get an exaggerated perspective of the curviness of two staircases.
Day two began with more shooting. This time we started at Burberry on Michigan Avenue. The pattern of the facade along with the patterns created by the reflections of the neighboring buildings always works well. And on sunny days the blue sky reflecting in the building’s surface along with the warmer tones of the surrounding building’s creates a nice contrast.
Then onto the Museum of Contemporary Art for two more fantastic staircases. The first is the original designed by Josef Paul Keihues. Most often I tend to shoot tighter, abstract shots. This time I opted for wider shots. The first one from the bottom up felt like a bird in flight.
From the second floor, I liked both the angled and straight-on perspectives of this hourglass shape.
Now for the new staircase designed by Johnston + Marklee, which pays tribute to the original.
Our final stop of the day was the Sofitel. Great curves, reflections, repetitive patterns and symmetry in this location.
After grabbing lunch we headed back to the classroom where I shared some post-processing tips, students had time to edit a few of their own photos as well as print some to take home. We ended the day with a critique of the printed images. If this session didn’t work out for you but you’d like to join me for the next one, I’ll be back at CPC on March 9-10. Head over here for all the details and I hope to see you there!