Millennium Park is one of the most popular attractions in Chicago so we obviously had to pay it a visit. At various times I have taken pictures of the park that I like. These show the park itself. However, one of the things I love about the place is the effect it has on people. The Bean in particular is great for people watching. They are all looking at their own reflections in the mirrored surface and it causes so many people so much fun, you just can’t help but enjoy the fun they are having.
The new Maggie Daley Park is being constructed at the moment. That cuts off a section of the park. I wonder when it will be finished and whether we will still be in Chicago to see it. I do hope so. A few other things have changed since my sister was last here including the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute. We took a walk across the bridge to see that before heading in to the loop. The Art Institute has a Picasso exhibit running and they have added his name to Daley Plaza in front of his sculpture there as part of the publicity for the exhibit. That seemed worth a look before we headed back.
It is easy to get complacent when you have so much going on around you all of the time. I saw something in the paper about an installation in Millennium Park where there was a light field set up around Cloud Gate (or The Bean to everyone except the artist who created it!). The lights were illuminating the ground and also reflecting from the surface of the Bean itself. Sounded worth a look.
I mention it to Nancy and the following day she says the paper mentions the exhibit ends the following day. It is Sunday so I figure I had better get down there that night to see it before it goes. Of course, I am not alone in thinking this. I head down there and it is absolutely packed. There are plenty of photographers around and one of them tells me how quiet it had been the previous Tuesday. Great! I am doing well recently with people telling me how it was better sometime before but they never give me a time machine to make this information truly useful!
Anyway, the presence of all of the people has some good effects. I set up a time lapse when I first get there since it is busy and the people add something to the time lapse. Besides, having a lot of people around makes it feel more exciting. The other benefit is that, while the people obscure the light projections on the ground, they become a screen of their own so seeing the shapes play out on them can be just as good.
I hang around for a while since I figure people will drift off home at some point. It is Sunday after all. Sure enough, the numbers do reduce over time but the exhibit ends at 9pm and there are still plenty of people around at that time. The patterns of light are different on each side of the Bean. Projectors are mounted on scaffold frames and beam constantly changing patterns down. There is also musical accompaniment (although I ruin that effect by staying in my own world with my own music – philistine!).
It was certainly worth it. Someone asked me recently why to live in a city. After you had seen everything once, what else is left to do. A fair question if you don’t live in a city. However, this was one of those things that says to me why it is fun to live in a city. Something like this was happening and it was less than 15 minutes for me to walk there.
As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes it is useful to have someone come to the city to encourage me to get out and about. A few friends had been to Chicago in a previous week to do some shooting but I had been tied up when they arrived. They were planning some evening shooting and I had been out all day and had plans for the evening so missed it. I was a bit disappointed but there you go.
Consequently, I was pleased to see that a few of them were planning to come back a few days later for another session. This time I was free so agreed to meet up. Some of the group that were coming I knew and others I hadn’t met before. I headed out to the Adler Planetarium – our meeting spot – and started taking some shots. A few guys were already there taking their own shots so I wandered over to find out if they were some of the people I hadn’t met before.
While it was true I hadn’t met them before, they were not part of our group. However, in common with many photographers, they were a friendly bunch a we chatted for a while. They had come to town from Texas and were looking to get as many things in to their trip so I suggested a few spots that they might like to try.
After a while the rest of the guys did show up – well, all but one who had wandered off on his own – and we started taking some pictures. The skyline was lovely as usual and we took some shots around the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. Then we headed across to Millennium Park. I’m becoming a regular.
Shooting around the Bean at night is good since the long exposures you need tend to make any of the other visitors disappear. You get a cleaner shot if you plan it right. We got a bunch of shots and then we started playing around with a flashlight. More of that to come!
It has been a while since I last went out and did some night photography around Chicago. I had been meaning for a while to go and photograph the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park at night when they have the light and music show. This was supposed to be a relatively quick trip out but ended up being a rather longer expedition.
Chicago at night is a great place to photograph. It is fine to walk around at night and there are usually a bunch of people out and about. However, do you do get a feeling that the city is yours and that you aren’t sharing it with the tourist masses. The night lighting is also a lot more generous to sights that look less impressive during the day. The dark hides a lot of the blemishes!
The show at the fountain takes place every hour on the hour. I got down at 8pm which was just after sundown. This wasn’t such a good plan as, even at the end of the 20 minute display, it really wasn’t dark enough to get the benefit of the lights. I figured I would try again another time but ended up taking enough shots of details around the fountain that soon it was sufficiently close to the hour again that there was no point in leaving. The 9pm show was certainly more photogenic – even if I had to take a few angles that concealed some of the construction sites on the skyline.
With some shots in the bag, I headed back in the direction of home. however, along the way were plenty of things to shoot as well. The Art Institute, the Pritzker Pavilion and the bean were all there along with the goings on of Millennium Park. It ended up being pretty late by the time I finally headed home. I have now whetted my appetite for some more night shooting so hopefully it won’t be too long before I am back out.
After the trip to the Cultural Center from my previous post, I headed across to the Bean to try some other ideas. I was interested to use the intervalometer to do some more experiments with time lapse photography. Ever since I have got it, I have been experimenting with different ways of compressing events in time. To date I had focused on larger scenes transitioning over periods of an hour or more. This time I was looking at getting a short result that portrayed the movement of people around a busy scene like the Bean.
What I hadn’t planned on was the rain. The day had been looking pretty unpleasant for quite a while but, since I was more interested in the movement of the people rather than a picturesque shot of the landmark, I wasn’t too bothered. Besides, this was an experiment so, if I screwed a few things up and learned my lesson, I would be better prepared when a better day came along. However, the rain that started around the time I arrived was a little more persistent than I had expected.
In such circumstances, where does everyone go to shelter? Under the Bean of course. I quickly joined them when I realized the rain was getting heavy. As I sheltered under there, it was obvious that this might be an chance anyway. I thought everyone would just stand under there so nothing would work from a motion perspective but I was wrong. Despite the lack of anything to do for a while, people were constantly on the move. I stuck the camera low to the ground under the surface of the sculpture and left it to do its thing for a while.
As the rain eased off, I headed outside to try and different look at people passing by. I even decided to see what a slow moving person in front of a busy scene might look like. I’m not obvious and it isn’t great but when you find a way to have fun in the rain, you do.
While the time lapse was underway, I noticed another group had arrived. At this time of year it is no surprise to see wedding parties arrive to get some pictures in Millennium Park. When it is pouring with rain, it’s not what they were hoping for but I guess you can’t come back another day when you only have one wedding day! I felt bad for the people as they struggled to get their shots as the rain fell but the photographer was a determined guy and they were going to get it done. I do hope they look good when they see them.
An ISAP friend of mine, Bonnie, was visiting Chicago with her husband Gary and her friend Julie to see a photography exhibit and asked if I wanted to tag along. Absolutely! Sometimes it is a little annoying to find out what is going on in your neighborhood from people out of town but always good to find stuff out.
The exhibit was at the Chicago Cultural Center. It is the old library and is a really cool building. I am going to have to go back there and spend a bit more time – plus take equipment based on a plan rather than whatever I had with me. The colors and patterns are really vibrant but lighting is uneven so I decided to play with HDR for the day.
Once we had finished, we hopped across the road to Millennium Park. I know the Bean is a tourist trap but it is still really cool. I have no idea how many pictures I have taken of it, of the people around it or of the reflections of the city in it but I still come back for more. The view on the underside is particularly cool in my opinion!
Everyone gets a kick out of their reflection in the Bean. It can be great fun to spend some time watching people spotting themselves and trying to do something a little different. Julie had a great idea to walk on the Bean and dropped to the ground to try it out. I think it worked rather well. I wonder how many other people tried it after we wandered off.
It wasn’t long before I needed to head back home and leave them to the rest of their day out (and the long drive back up to Wisconsin!). One of the things I had been discussing with Julie was my desire to get a good shot of the many fire escapes on the older buildings. As I headed back home, I passed a few more and had another go.
I still haven’t quite got what I want so I guess I will just have to keep trying. Whatever is in my head is not transferring itself to what I am shooting. Always another photo challenge I guess!