Earlier this week we went to Chicago for a quick overnight getaway. It was the first time I’ve been to Chicago since getting serious about photography, so it was, at least in part, a kind of reconnaissance mission. Monday afternoon when we arrived was quite cold and the wind was brisk, so I only took a few random indoor pictures. Tuesday afternoon was quite a bit nicer, so I had my camera out pretty much the whole time while we walked from near the water tower to Millennium Park to the train station. It was great blending into the crowds and being able to snap away, even though we needed to keep moving, so I wasn’t able to really concentrate on any one thing.
There were quite a few things that struck me, but one of the most intriguing was the way light reflects off the high buildings and illuminates random places at street level where you wouldn’t expect it. And it’s such an interesting quality of light that has a softness to it, as well as a color cast from whatever it’s reflecting off of, so that it can be quite special in the way it illuminates people. I could spend days working just on that.
Then there are the rougher topics of the urban environment—rust, dark corners, buildings in various states of repair, signs. The amount of it makes Madison seem pretty tame in comparison. On the train heading out of town right at sunset, I took a whole series of photographs of the warehouses and industrial detritus we passed by, illuminated by that wonderful late afternoon light. Once I removed the green color cast they had from shooting through the window, many of them became quite interesting; the way the slight blur from the movement of the train and the dirt on the window combined with the almost random views, give them a dream-like quality that somehow works.
Now that I’ve discovered that taking the train is much easier than driving, it makes it more likely that I might head down there some when the weather gets more comfortable again.
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