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.
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.
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.
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.
After a last minute call on the Austin Photography Group message board a couple of days ago, a group of about a dozen photographers gathered at the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue on Lady Bird Lake for a photowalk in downtown Austin yesterday evening. We spent a very enjoyable 3 hours wandering up Congress Avenue to the Capitol then back down to the lake in time to shoot some dusk skylines.
I spent more time chatting than shooting though I did manage to take both the shots I was looking for – panoramas of the Capitol rotunda interior and the downtown skyline with reflections in the lake.
One of the best aspect of the evening for me was a chance to meet three photographers I’ve known from various online groups but never actually met in person. Evan Gearing is an Austin photographer whose HDR images are among the best around. Brian Matiash is another well known HDR photographer based in Boston but, coincidentally, was in Austin for the weekend. Brian was shooting with Jack Hollingsworth, known to most photographers who use Twitter as @photojack. It was great to meet these guys and I’m very interested to see what they post as a result of the evening.
Given the success of the jaunt, I suspect there will be more of these gatherings in future. Would anyone like to suggest possible routes?
I attended a rather interesting and fun event this part Thursday. Trey Ratcliff, of Stuck in Customs fame organised a photowalk in downtown Austin and 160 people showed up. It was a bit of a zoo – tripods everywhere – but we had a great time. I’m pretty sure the State Troopers at the Capitol thought some kind of invasion was underway!
One of the challenges Trey handed out was to take your best photo of the Capitol yet. While I’m pretty sure this isn’t my best (you can see others here and let me know if you agree), it is definitely my favourite monochrome shot of the interior of the rotunda.
One of the other great benefits of the get-together was a chance to meet several Flickr photographers who I have been in touch with online for quite a while but have never actually bumped into in person. Among the list were Alex Suarez and Brandon Watts not to mention Trey himself.