Veteran’s Eve Day Walk, November 10, 2018

From the Cultural Center fo Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park to State Street. In the cold.

Autumm Leaves Walk, October 27, 2018

Some of the trees, especially the maple trees in Millennium Park are turning into fiery reds right now. I just had to do a walk today before the leaves disappear.

I also got to use the Sony A7III exclusively … I like it more than the A7. It feels a little bit more solid than the A7 in my hands.

Also, I used, for the second time now, the Russian-made Helios 44-2 58mm lens and finally got the swirly bokeh in some of the photos that this lens is known for. Loving it!

Swirly Bokeh



From Russia With Love


Testing the Helios 44-2 58mm lens that I purchased from Ukraine’s SmarketUA on etsy. This lens is Russian made that apparently tried to emulate Zeiss lens. According to a Digital Photography School post, several companies made these lenses over several decades, in the millions of units, so they aren’t exactly rare nor expensive. For less than fifty bucks, I got mine in no time at all. It even came with an adapter for the Sony A7 and an Allen wrench to mount it! You can’t go wrong with that!



So, after the Chicago Marathon today (Oct. 7, Sunday), I went out to the Lincoln Park Conservatory to test this lens out. I thought, it would be easy to test this on flowers. I really was trying to see if the reported “swirly bokeh” which I really wanted to have also results from this lens. There are reports that it may happen in some, it may not happen in others. First of all, it is threaded – so that took a long time for me to mount it on the camera (I had to play around with a little screw, thankfully, the Allen wrench came with it.) It’s manual and the aperture setting is also manual. It took me a long while to figure it out. And because I have only one eye working (I am half blind), focusing was a little bit difficult.

But I got the hang of it eventually… and my results? Good bokeh but no swirling. Apparently, you never can get the same quality of pictures from Helios 44-2, and that’s why this is getting a cult following. I know some photographers who own a couple or more of this lens and really, for less than fifty bucks, you can’t go wrong.

Have a look!



Art on the Mart

Art on the Mart Opening Night

Public art at its best.  It is touted to be the world’s largest permanent art projection – art projected on over two football-fields size of the facade of  Merchandise Mart (theMart).  According to Wired magazine, “the project uses 3D architectural mapping to display art via 1 million lumens on the building’s massive facade” and may be instrumental for Chicago surpassing Paris as the city of lights and certainly stealing Dubai’s title as home of the largest digital art show.   Have a look at the website here.

The spectacular  public opening was last night (September 29), attended by hundreds, if not thousands of people.  The city blocked the stretch of Wacker Drive from basically, Michigan Ave. to Orleans (or thereabouts). Four inaugural artists were featured:  Diana Thater, Zheng Chongbin, Jason Salavon and Jan Tichy whose works were certainly masterful, whimsical and cerebral and at the end, a pathetic fireworks display.

Here are some photos (randomly ordered – this new editor for WordPress sucks big time.  Still have to learn it):

Slow boat to Chinatown

With Pons and sons David and Marxii

A classmate of mine, Pons Cabagnot, from veterinary school recently arrived with his family from the Philippines as immigrants. During their first weekend in Chicago where they are planning to settle, I took them for a water taxi ride to Chinatown for lunch.



It was a little bit chilly yesterday, but I think we had a good time seeing some parts of Chicago that many people haven’t seen. We were a little bit lucky to be treated to a side show – a Great Blue Heron hunting for food on the Chicago River.  It’s getting to be more and more common now – wildlife on the revived river!

Chicago Air and Water Show, 2018

Just a few photos from last weekend’s Air and Water Show.



Throwback: Chicago Photography Collective Show, Opening 12.19.2009

I used to be a member of a group of illustrious Chicago photographers called Chicago Photography Collective that existed from 2009 to 2011. It was billed as “a group of professional photographers who have come together to build a sense of community among
photographers. It started out as a group of four people having lunch once a month, and now has more than thirty members. The mission of the CPC was to provide a forum for the discussion and display of work by serious Chicago area photographers; to offer support and solidarity to photographic artists while educating and enlightening the general public about photography’s capacity as a force for both change and reflection.



Members included Paul Natkin, Ron Seymour, Ron Gordon, Sandra Steinbrecher, Eric Futran, Marc Pokempner, Tom and Marcia Palazzolo, Lloyd DeGrane, David Kamba, Patty Carroll, Emily Long, Allan Teller, Matt Tuteur, Michael Jackson, Beth Rooney, Karen Hoyt, Scott Shigley, Rosemary Warner, Rebekah Raleigh, Peter Ha, Stephen Sostaric and some others who joined later. How I got accepted to the group is still beyond me. Heck, as you can see in the pictures, I can’t even focus!

We had our gallery, first at a space now occupied by a 7-11 on Madison and Wabash, then we moved to a nicer place in Block 37.

This opening was taken in December 18, 2009, probably our second show. We used to have one show a month!

And here are some photographs of us preparing for our first show (taken November 15, 2009)

Chicago Full Moon Jam, July 26, 2018

Chicago’s Full Moon Jam season began in May but I was only able to attend July’s celebration. There are more and more participants, more and more spectators, and more and more daring acts. This is a grass root movement … it’s nice to be in a loving, non-judgmental, inclusive and safe place for a fleeting moment.



Whidbey Island – June 29, 2018

Whidbey Island is the largest of the islands that compose Island County, Washington. It lies about 30 miles north of Seattle, in Puget Sound and forms the northern boundary of the sound. According to whidbeyisland.us, the island is approximately 55 miles long and 1.5 to 12 miles wide making it the 4th longest island in the United States. It is the largest island in Washington State.



As you can see in the pictures, the island’s terrain is rugged and is composed of farmlands, forests, hills and beaches. It lies between the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle Metro and is home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The coastal towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley have boutiques, cafes and galleries.



Xochimilco, Mexico City – June 19, 2018

Xochimilco is one of the 16 boroughs (alcadias) of Mexico City situated in the southeast part of the city. It is known for its canals which are remnants of the lake and waterways that connected most of the settlements in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Colorful flat-bottomed boats called trajineras ply the canals at the present time – and are popular for tourists and residents alike – to navigate the canals and artificial islands called chinampas – and eat, drink and be merry while doing so.



It’s not as exciting as other river boat rides in many cities around the world – there is not much to see along the canals BUT it is an experience to ride the trajinera – as it is not motorized, driven completely by humans using wooden poles that they thrust into the river bed to propel the boat forward. Because there are a lot of these boats traveling through the canals, it is interesting to see how they maneuver the boat without bumping into each other. There were also other boats hawking touristy souvenirs, food, and drinks and some boats that carry mariachi bands for entertainment.

According to literature, the boats float along “lined with gardens and curtains of trees” and there are gardens of flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants on the chinampas, but I saw a little of those. The area along the canals are so developed now. However what I really like are the folk art on the boats themselves and the fact the whole enterprise feels like it stemmed from backyard tourism that just took off. While the boats are of similar construction, each boat has its own unique decoration and each is named as a female!

We had lunch while we were on the “cruise,” the delicious lunch were delivered to the boat while it was moving, then while we were having lunch, a mariachi band boarded our boat to entertain us while we were eating and drinking. It got to be rowdy later on – millenials among our tour group – from South and Central America, the US and Canada – opened up singing and dancing after they had some alcohol. They had a great time! Friendships were made, FB accounts were exchanged, and promises to hook up later were overheard.

I was going to watch a mariachi band later on the night in Garibaldi Plaza, but I had my fill here so I decided to chuck that activty out.

As usual, I had the mole for lunch. I can’t get enough of mole!


Mole

Because of the canal and Chinampa system, the area has been designated as a World Heritage Site.