Open House Chicago Day 1, October 14, 2017

Open House Chicago is the annual event organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in which over 200 buildings in various neighborhoods and communities of Chicago are opened to the public for free. In most cases, the “behind-the-scenes” activities of many tenants in the buildings are open for the public to see. We started with three buildings on Randolph St., then two on Michigan Ave., then two in the La Salle Canyon in the Loop and ended up in the Chicago Temple, also in the Loop.

Frequent photowalk buddy, Mark Marshall and I were at the Aon Center first (we were the first one to show up there, they were not even ready for the deluge). We planned to shoot the sunrise first before hitting the Open House, but it turned out to be an overcast day, so we arrived about twenty minutes before opening. Just like the previous years, they opened the 71st floor with a commanding view of Millennium and Grant Parks, albeit blanketed with low lying clouds.

From the Aon Center, we headed next door to the BCBS building. The view is the same as in the Aon but from a lower floor – the 30th floor and clearer because it was below the cloud cover. From there, we ended the Randolph Street leg of the walk on the deck of the One Prudential Plaza.

We then headed to anything open on Michigan Ave. On the avenue, we hit the Pritzker Military Library and Museum and then the Cliff Dwellers, a private club with a restaurant overlooking Michigan Ave.

Then on to lunch. At this time, it was pouring and I was very wet despite the plastic poncho I was wearing.

But we planned to see more buildings in the loop so we headed out there, first to the Wintrust Bank where they opened the no longer used bank vault in the basement. We were about to end our walk, but since we were there, and the Federal Bank of Chicago was just across the street, we decided to see what’s in the offing. I am glad that we went – they opened the money museum and got to see how much a million bucks look like!

We heard from people that the River Walk was flooded and we wanted to see that -. We started to walk from the La Salle Canyon to the river but somehow on our way there, we decided to just skip it and go home. So heading back to the Aon Center where Mark’s truck was parked, we passed by the Chicago Temple on Washington and Clark – and decided to check it out. It wasn’t that much. We climbed up 178 steps to the chapel in the sky, supposedly the highest place of worship, at least in North America, but didn’t stay long as it was too stuffy up there.

After that, we called it a day.

Chicago Botanic Garden, October 7, 2017

Mark Marshall, a fellow photographer and I went for a short visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glenview, IL two weekends ago to view the changing colors of the leaves … but not many leaves had turned colors yet. Fall colors have been soooo slow arriving this season, it seems.

But we were treated to … not only one but two elegant Great Blue Herons in the garden!

Throwback Quebec City 2008

Quebec City countryside

Nine years ago, we were in Quebec City to witness its 400th year celebrations. It is such a wonderful vibrant city. I can’t wait to go back.

Chicago Marathon 2017


Scenes from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, 10/9/2017 at the Magnificent Mile (Grand Ave. under Michigan Ave.) and Lincoln Park (Stockton and Webster area).

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Indiana Dunes hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is one of the most diverse biomes in the United States and indeed in this part of the world. It consists of 11 types of ecosystems (from wetland to oak savanna to prairie) and has a very very interesting history. Back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, Many of Chicago’s industrialists didn’t want to have the ugliness of industrial landscape in the city, so they built their money making industries (steel and shipping especially) on the shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Indiana.

This stretch of Lake Michigan used to be so polluted that some parts were deemed biologically dead BUT eventually, with community, industry, government and other stakeholders working together, parts of the lakeshore have been restored to their full glory. The restoration is still on going and the success of this movement has served as a model for many other conservation efforts around the world. There is a great documentary called Shifting Sands that chronicles the conservation and sustainability of this region.

Three Days of Chicagohenge

Chicagohenge as seen from Navy Pier

I have been photographing this phenomenon that is now called “Chicagohenge” when the setting sun aligns with East-West streets of Chicago (similar to Manhattanhenge in NY) since 2010. So far as I know, it was first mentioned by Whet Moser in the Chicago Reader in 2009, was photographed by a Flickr user named spf3million and named it as such, also in 2009, and then the following year, the ChiFlickr group (of which I was a member of) had a meet up to photograph the henge anywhere in Chicago, but particularly on Washington and Michigan. There might have been other mentions of this phenomena (BTW, aside from Manhattanhenge, I know that there is also Torontohenge).

Since then, photographers have been gathering in the choice location of Washington and Michigan in Millennium Park to photograph this – and it got so popular – when the mainstream media had featured the phenomena in the past few years that it is sometimes impossible to take pictures of the henge from that location. It is just too crowded with photographers and tripods.

There are many other locations one can view Chicagohenge – practically any East-West Street will do. This year I first photographed the sun on the 21st, early in the morning as it rose above Becker St. in Hammond, IN. Then in the afternoon of that day, just like in 2015, I went to the Navy Pier to photograph the henge as the sun set above Grand Avenue. I was to meet Drink and Click Chicago photo buddy, Adam Dooley and some others at the entrance, but I was late. They were photographing the henge from the parking structure of Navy Pier. I arrived at the Pier just as the sun was setting, and was able to snap a few shots but they were just snaps.

So the next day, Friday, the 22nd, I went back to Navy Pier, earlier this time, to shoot the henge again, and this time with frequent walk buddy, Scott McMorrow.

Today, the 24th, I photographed the henge, for the third and fourth time, while on 147 bus as it passed along the Plaza of the Americas on Michigan Ave. (which I have photographed last year) and then in new location, Jackson and Michigan, with Scott again.

Have a look!

Hammond, Indiana, September 21, 2017

Navy Pier, Chicago, September 21, 2017

Navy Pier, Chicago, September 22, 2017

Jackson and Michigan, September 23, 2017

Plaza of the Americas, near Illinois and Michigan

Chicagohenge over the Years – an album on Flickr (since 2010)

Half the Early Birds – September 10, 2017

Only half of the Early Birds group came to the sunrise walk last Sunday. But that was ok. I was really on it for the exercise. According to my iPhone, I did over 5,000 steps that morning – basically walking around Burnham Harbor then to Millennium Park.

And one photo:

Yoga in the Morning

made it to explore on Flickr.

Early Birds – September 3, 2017

I have a group called “Early Birds” which goes out every weekend for sunrise shoots and then breakfast. Last week, we shot at Montrose Beach – and shot the sunrise, and our equivalent in the bird world, early birds on the shore. I had three lifers that morning (ID to be confirmed) – the stilt sandpiper, the semipalmated plover and the buff-breasted sandpiper.


Throwback: New York City, February 2003

Our 2003 visit to New York City. We used to go there at least once a year. This time, we stayed at the then renowned Gershwin Hotel (now gone). During this trip, I saw the Flat Iron Building for the first time, attended a party hosted by journalist Gail Pellet and pop-up map guru Stephan Van Dam (and may have met Bill Moyers at that party), had a conversation with authors Claudia Dreifus and Andrew Hacker, and had lunch with friends Tom Knapp, Noel Calingasan, and Carmen Lavilla.

During this time, I was very much into the Mirror Project so you will a lot of me and mirrors or mirror-like surfaces in these pictures.

Throwback – A short walk in Millennium Park 12 Years Ago Today

All photos taken with a fish-eye lens and then defished at processing :-). And there aren’t any Bean pictures. As you can see above, the Bean was under a canopy since January of that year. The seams of the stainless steel panels that compose the outer shell of the Bean were being polished and they had to do it away from public view .. or something.

Here’s a photo of the Bean with the seams showing taken two months after it was unveiled.

Some say that they like the Bean better with the seams.