When we moved to Chicago, our apartment overlooked the Chicago Sun-Times building on Wabash Avenue alongside the Chicago River. This plot was sold off for development with a large tower being built on its site. The construction that followed will be another post but this one relates to the demolition process. The view from our window provided a great view of the tearing down of the old building. It didn’t hurt that much of it was done during the Chicago winter, but I could watch from the comfort of our living room.
The building came down pretty quickly. Crews were using jack hammers to drill out the concrete flooring of each level and the machines that these were mounted on could also pull over the wall sections once cutting torches had taken out key elements of them. There was plenty of cutting going on with torches taken out structure and piping. This didn’t always go smoothly with more than one occasion when the cutting set fire to something and the fire department came to deal with it. A lot of water from the hoses would pour out of the spaces in the walls and, given the low temperatures, lots of icicles would result.
There weren’t too many floors in the building with the lowest levels being where the printing presses had once been. The whole thing came down quickly. It wasn’t an attractive structure so we weren’t so sad to see it go. However, since it was low, it gave us a good view across the river. The new building would be 92 floors tall and was going to take out a chunk of our view but such is the way of things when you live downtown in a city that is constantly evolving.
When putting together some images for a group online that I am involved with, a dug out a couple of shots of jets departing O’Hare I shot years back. When coming off 22L, some of the jets make an early turn to the south and you can get a view of them that is either quite level with the wing line or slightly above. When shooting them, they are climbing so it is obvious what you were shooting. However, as I looked at these shots, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like an air to air position except the angles were wrong because of the climb. Since I had shot quite tightly, re-cropping the shot required some Photoshop work.
Taking the image out of Lightroom and in to Photoshop, I selected the crop tool and rotated the image to be the sort of angle that an air to air shot might be. Doing this crops off the nose and tail of the jet. However, one feature of the crop tool in Photoshop is that, if you then drag the edges of the tool back out, you can expand the canvas size. You now have the whole plane in shot but have added some white space in each corner where no image previously existed.
It is a simple task to then use Content Aware Fill to add sky back in to these areas. The result is a shot that looks almost as if you had been flying in formation at altitude. Would you have spotted it? Having done it with an A320, I then had a go with a 757. The light angle makes it look a bit like we are flying along towards a setting sun. I was rather pleased with the trick.
Chicago was a stop off on a work trip. We were on final approach to O’Hare and I was looking out of the window at the industrial areas that surround the airport. There are rail tracks scattered throughout these areas so seeing trains is not a surprise. However, I was a little caught out by what appeared to be some old Metra commuter cars parked up in one space. They have clearly been out of use for a while. If anyone knows who they belong to, please let me know.
Dropping in to O’Hare you get to overfly lots of neighborhoods. The lower you get, the more you see each individual house. I find myself wondering about each of the house and who lives there. Since they clearly have a lot of planes flying over them every day, do they get annoyed by my passage or are they oblivious to each passing jet given the frequency with which they appear?
These shots are from a few years ago. I had the privilege to spend a day with the late Alan Purwin during the filming for one of the Transformers movies in Chicago. I got to fly with them on some of the shoot but I also was on the ground when they went off on part of the filming. I put myself directly ahead of the Astar when they took off and Alan buzzed me. I noticed when going through the images that the cameraman was tracking me with the stabilized mount on the nose as they flew over the top.
The Riverwalk along the Chicago River takes you under the bridges. Each bridge is on a cycle for refurbishment so, while they are repainted regularly, they do progressively show signs of weathering. Some of them are rather old structures with the iron and riveting being something of a period long gone. I stopped for a while to look at the different colors that the gentle corrosion created. Nothing too drastic but an interesting contrast with the original paint color.
Walking under the bridges along the Riverwalk in Chicago provides a very different perspective that that which you get from above. Some of the bridges have solid deck and others have gridded metal decks which allow light through (and anything else someone might drop). The lattice structures under the deck are ornate yet grubby. They are obscured from most views and get covered in the grime that washes down from above. I am not making this sound very appealing but I find them very cool to look at. The noise of the traffic above is there but slightly isolated which adds to the atmosphere for me. They do put a curved stainless-steel cover over the walkway itself so you are not vulnerable to anything from above ending up on your head which is something I am grateful for.
When we were getting ready to leave Chicago, the city was in the process of extending the river walk. This had originally gone along the river up to Michigan Avenue. The first phase extended the walk to State Street and this was in place by the time we left. The plan was to take it all the way to the branching of the river. A few years have now passed and the plan is now a reality. To get from my hotel to my meetings took me along the river so I checked the walk out.
This proved to be a bit more tricky than I expected as it had snowed the night before and the surface alternated between clear, crunchy with frozen snow and slick with ice. Just what you want when walking close to a river! On the way back, things were warmer and a lot more relaxing. It is too early in the year for all of the businesses to be in place but you can see what will be there. One wine bar was open though with clear plastic igloos to give you some privacy and, more importantly, warmth.
You can now walk from the lake all the way to Lake Street. This is a great improvement and is a lot nicer than walking along Wacker and having to cross the streets at each bridge. Now I just need to find a reason to be back during the summer so I can hang out down there when it is warm!
Online forums can be a great source of information. They can also be full of rubbish. With the introduction of the split scimitar tips on the 737 fleets, Southwest was an early adopter on their 800 series jets. However, I read that they had not been happy with performance and had stopped adopting them. They definitely weren’t going to have them on the 700 series. Above is a 700 series with split scimitars. A number of airframes have now been fitted including this one so I guess those people were not the most accurate source of info!
More shots from a fun shoot a while back. If the wind is coming from the west, evening departures from O’Hare provide plenty of opportunity to get some shots. The heavy departures to Europe leave later in the afternoon and in to the early evening and, as the sun drops down things are getting better and better. The nice thing about this day was that we got a combination of good conditions. Earlier in the afternoon, while the light wasn’t as good, a storm had not long passed through and there was plenty of moisture in the air.
The result was a lot of vapor in the inlets of the jets as they climbed out at high thrust settings. Some of them had clouds sitting in the inlets for long periods of time. Others would just pulse with the vapor as they climbed away. They would also puff up little clouds over the upper surfaces of the wing as they fought to gain height. As the afternoon wore on, the air dried out a bit and the vapor went away. However, the light was then getting better so no reason to go just yet!