News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for May, 2011

Chicago – My Kind of Town

by on May.23, 2011, under Photography

I just realised that I had completely failed to post anything about my experiences shooting in Chicago a month or so ago. I was up there on a business trip but managed to arrange a couple of photo get-togethers, one on a very cold, very early morning with Matty Wolin (who you probably know as ShutterRunner) and the other the same evening with Charles Dastodd. I had known both of these guys via Twitter but we had never met so I was delighted that we were able to get together and shoot some images in their home city.

Chicago Reflected. A section of the Chicago skyline seen reflected in the surface of the Cloud Gate (known to most of us as

Matty introduced me to the North Avenue Beach pier which offered a spectacular view of the downtown skyline. We arrived before sunrise (meeting at about 5:45am as far as I can remember) and shot pictures from the breakwater as the sun rose. I was ill-prepared for the freezing temperatures and found my creativity stifled by the thought of, for example, taking my hands out of my pockets to change lenses. There were many, many great shots to be had from that location but I concentrated on getting the HDR panorama that I had hoped to capture. In the end, despite the cold, I’m delighted with a couple of the panoramas I shot that morning. Matty, obviously made of sterner stuff, was being a great deal more creative and took some great shots including this fisheye image.

A panoramic image showing the skyline of Chicago, Illinois as seen from the North Avenue Beach pier.

A panoramic image showing the skyline of Chicago, Illinois as seen from the North Avenue Beach pier. The original image for this picture is large enough to give excellent quality prints at 100 inches or more in size.

After my day’s work, I raced back into downtown and met up with Charles Dastodd at the famous “Bean”. It’s real name is the “Cloud Gate” but regardless of what you call it, this enormous, reflective globule must be one of the world’s best examples of urban sculpture. The warped reflections of the city skyline on the curved surface are fascinating. Milennium Park, which hosts the Bean, also contains many other large-scale sculptures along with a huge concert shell designed by Frank Gehry (of folded, titanium-clad building fame). We didn’t get to shoot this but Charles introduced me to another wonder of modern architecture, the Aqua Building just a couple of blocks from the park. I loved the curvaceous, organic feel of this tower. From there, we moved on to a great view of the Chicago River from a bridge that vibrated fairly dramatically whenever a vehicle crossed it (timing the shutter release was rather important for this shot) before heading over to Michigan Avenue and wandering down to the Water Tower.

A night shot of the spectacular Aqua Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

All in all, it was a great trip – work went well and I ended up with a collection of images I’m very happy with and a couple more faces to add to Twitter handles. Many thanks to both Matty and Charles for being such great hosts and showing me round some of the wonderful sights in downtown Chicago. We only touched the surface and I’m very keen to get up there and see more of this great city.

A night shot of the Chicago River showing the Trump Tower and Wrigley Building.

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Shooting in Houston

by on May.07, 2011, under Photography

Houston Skyscrapers

Houston Skyscrapers, originally uploaded by DaveWilsonPhotography.

Things have been rather quiet on the blog this week. I’ve been extremely busy at work and have also been down here in Houston since Wednesday working on a TI project. Luckily, I”m pretty close to the wonderful architecture downtown so I’ve managed to get out with the camera twice to shoot skyscrapers.

As in all big cities, you can be pretty sure that the minute you show up with a tripod, local security guards start getting all itchy. I’ve had no unpleasant encounters this time but, as usual, got the distinct impression that I was considered a security risk:

  1. I was asked to stop shooting the Wells Fargo building (it’s the blue/green shiny one in this image from a couple of years ago). The pleasant security lady who came out and talked to me after I had finished my second bracket indicated that she thought the policy was silly but that was the policy.
  2. While shooting at the Chevron building both today and on Thursday evening, I found myself shadowed by a security guard who hovered around me but didn’t complain about my presence.
  3. While trying to find a high vantage point to shoot the downtown skyline, I wandered into the Hilton Hotel which has a 24th floor terrace. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public and the bell captain I spoke to indicated that the hotel has a policy of no photography with tripods unless you have permission from a manager (which is fine) and that he reckoned none of the downtown rooftops would be open to photography since everyone currently has a heightened awareness of “security issues.”

While some of these are still examples of ridiculous policies, in my opinion, there was one very obvious difference between my experience here and up in New York. Here, at least, both the security-related people I spoke to were friendly, courteous and professional. Neither was belligerent or overbearing and both saw the humour in the situation. Our discussions were completely civil and not at all confrontational.

If we have to have ridiculous anti-photography policies in place in our big cities, I would suggest the people imposing those policies take a lesson from the folks I interacted with in Houston instead of employing the New York model.

P.S. I don’t have any image management software on my work laptop so I can’t post any of this week’s captures just now. Look for a couple of pictures within a few days once I’m home.

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Yay Nikki!

by on May.02, 2011, under Family, Miscellaneous

After two years of very hard work, my beautiful and talented wife has some great news to announce today (though we’ve know about it for several months). I’ll let you read it yourself over on her blog.

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