Chicago 2023 Workshop Recap

Time for a look at some of the locations we shot during the Chicago workshop a few weeks ago! Always fun showing peope around my hometown.

This year, I had a great group with everyone from out of town, mostly east coast and west coast and one from Indiana. We had, mostly, great weather. Friday was a bit iffy so we moved the itinerary around and shot some indoor locations Friday instead of Sunday to make up for the cloud cover and ensure we had some sun on the outdoor locations. Never a dull moment 😉

All in all, a great weekend! Let’s dive into some of the photos.

Day 1

The day started with a downpour but we lucked out and it got progressively better as the day went on. Our first stop was the Krueck + Sexton designed Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. We started outside and caught some great textutre between the different elements of the building, neighboring building, and raindrops on part of the facade.

Plus, an ICM shot of the sculptural wall inside the lobby. They’re always so great about our groups visiting and making images of their incredible space.

Next, we stopped in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a great atrium and staircase. I didn’t shoot this time around but it’s always a nice stop. We grabbed lunch and headed to the Art Institute!

A couple of my favorite staircase there and the new colorful ceiling installation in the Modern Wing

Onto Millennium Park. Lately, I’ve been into trying ICM at The Bean. It’s getting more and more difficult to come up with a straight shot that I haven’t made yet and ICM always offers a new opportunity. Plus, it’s fun!

More from Millennium Park, the Pritzker Pavilion (Frank Gehry). I always love the pink hue the stainless steel picks up from the red seats. The overcast day resulted in some nice soft light as well.

Oh, and BW too because I like the contrast in how different each image feels depending on whether its rendered in color vs BW.

Onto the Cultural Center, we had to swap this from the Sunday itinerary. Always a tough call given Fridays and Saturdays are often booked with events and the domes are blocked off, which was the case this weekend too. Bummer, but we still shot from the stairways.

We wrapped up day 1 with dinner and some nigth shots of the Chicago Theater. More ICM given I’ve shot this many times and forgot my tripod.

Day 2

We started day 2 in Lincoln Park at the Studio Gang designed pavlion at the South Pond. We had some nice soft light making for some soft contrasts.

Next, off to the Gold Coast and the Sofitel. More ICM with the curved glass wall at the entrance.

A short walk away, the John Hancock Building or 875 N Michigan Ave as it’s now known. I usually struggle with this building. The less sculptural and more direct a buidling is, the more difficult it feels to make unique compositions.

This visit, I decided to make most of my shots from the east looking west and incorporate the round parking structure.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is always a favorite stop with its incredible staircases. Here’s one shot I liked but I completely selected the wrong area to focus on so I’m a little disappointed and need to try to find this again sometime.

Then, there was this installation in the newer staircase. At first, I was disappointed but kind of like this gradient of green screens.

After a lunch break we headed south along Michigan Ave with our first stop at Burberry. Love the reflective nature of this building and all the patterns. Great contrast with the spring trees in full bloom and the older building across the street.

In this one, I liked the blue & white combo of these two buildings and the differences in patterns.

Next, the Apple Store. Always good reflections in its curved glass.

We’ll combine two buildings in one with this next shot – Trump Tower (Skidmore Owings & Merrill) and the Wrigley Building (Graham, Anderson, Probst & White). As you can tell, I’m a sucker for reflections and those old/new contrasts. Not to mention the warm/cool contrast with the sun hitting Wrigley and the blue sky reflecting in the glass.

Closeby, the iconic Marina Towers (Bertrand Goldberg). Dubbed the “corncob towers” for obvious reasons – they look like corncobs and apparently draw from the corn fields of the rural areas surrounding Chicago.

An Urban Quilt shot featuring a reflection of Marina Towers 🙂

After a little break, we headed to the Washington/Wabash CTA station to shoot the cool canopy here but what grabbed my attention was these shadows on one of the towers lining Wabash.

Time for dinner and then some night shooting of the Calder Flamingo. Day or night, the vibrant Calder red against the black Mies van der Rohe buildings is a great combo!

Day 3

Always a favorite of the group, the private hour we get to spend exploring the Oriel staircase in the Rookery (original design – Burnham & Root, renovation – Frank Lloyd Wright).

Some really great light and shadowplay on our way to the next stop.

After attempting Union Station (off limits due to an Indian wedding, wish I could have seen that!), we checked out 235 Van Buren (Perkins + Will) and the graphic concrete cantelievered balconies on the south side of the building and the nearby Sears Tower (SOM). Which is always a challenge to photograph. But I’ve found that focusing on the varying volumes at the top can lead to some interesting light and compositions.

On the south facade of the Sears is this sculptural wall titled the Atomospheric Wave Wall (Olafur Eliasson). This visit, I shot its reflection the buidling across the street. I like how it warps the wall further and, in this shot, how the trees frame the wall.

Time for another sculpture, Calatrava’s Constellation. I usually only edit any shot of this in color but there’s something more graphic and abstract about the BW version, so I’m sharing both for comparison.

Also, I feel like this portion of the sculpture feels like a cupped hand.

The last two stops of the workshop – St Regis and Aqua. Both Studio Gang designs and the two tallest towers in the world desinged by a woman-led firm.

St Regis can feel curvy or very geometric. From this angle, it’s going for the latter vibe. Another color vs BW comparison. The blue color is particularly blue due to this side of the building being in the shade and the BW just draws you to the angles more quickly.

Now, Aqua. Still a favorite building in Chicago. You just can’t beat these curves, especially when you get close and look up. The light was pretty dramatic on the south facade and in the second shot, I was pretty happy to find a new perspective (which I’m shocked I’ve missed until now). It feels like petals of a flower to me.

One more, because this building is just so pretty.

Big thanks to this amazing group for joining me for the weekend! We had a great time and it was so nice to see some familar faces and meet some new people! Stay tuned for their shots in the next week or two.

Oh, I almost forgot! One of the attendees shared this really fun multiple exposure app for the phone – PhotoSplit – which allows you to create multiple exposures. Something I really wish my real camera did. So, here are a few shots I made with the phone and this fun app.

You can probably guess where the first and last were made. Any guesses on that middle (BW) one?



One Response

  1. Wonderful images, and I know how much your group enjoyed every moment. Look forward to seeing the student showcase soon. Even though you live with these beautiful structures and photograph them so often, you can still always find some new angle to make it fresh.

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