Moonlight Sonata, November 3, 2017

Did a very quick visit to the lakefront just south of Ohio St. Beach and Lakeshore Drive last Friday night. It was quick because it was damn cold. I kept on asking myself, why am I even doing this?

But it was a good way to end a very strange week.


Leone Beach, Rogers Park, October 27, 2017

Leone Beach on Touhy at Lake Michigan is one of Chicago’s largest beach, stretching for 8 blocks in Rogers Park, in the city’s far northside. The beach is just north to our beach in Edgewater. Nothing is happening much on the beach in the fall and when we went there a little more than a week ago to shoot the sunrise, the sunrise was nowhere to be seen.

But there are these pilings that jut out of the water surface that seemed to be remnants of a pier. They look very ethereal when photographed in long exposure.

Have a look!

Riverwalk, October 28, 2017


Kind of oft beaten track instead of off the beaten track, but there is always something interesting happening on the walk. We were taking photos to submit for the October upside down challenge at Drink and Click. It was an impromptu walk as it was a last minute decision – our organizer, Lauri Novak, was away and could not organize a meet up. So Mark Marshall and I hastily thought of something just so the Chicago group could be represented in the challenge.

It was a difficult challenge to fulfill but we did what we had to do.



I was surprised to see a black-crowned night heron right on the river – this is supposed to be a relatively rare bird and endangered in Illinois, but here it was in the middle of the concrete jungle.

At the Navy Pier area of the river, we bumped into some Halloween revelers who graciously posed for us … and at the end of the walk, we were rewarded with a fireworks display! What a wonderful way to cap an almost 7 mile walk in the cold.



Apple Opening Unplugged – October 20, 2017

I have been an Apple user since 1994.



So naturally, I went to see the opening of their new store on Michigan Ave. The old store was on corner Huron and Michigan which opened back in 2003. I guess they’ve outgrown that location and built a remarkable structure on Pioneer Court right on the Chicago River just steps off the northeast end of the Michigan Ave bridge (DuSable Bridge). The all glass structure that rises off ground is transparent, so it blends in with the surroundings and doesn’t block the view of the river for the most part. Its roof is shaped like a laptop!

Inside and under the glass structure, going down the stairs, is a sprawling space – the store itself plus space for performance and seminars. There is also more space on the bank of the river and a terraced seating area outside on the Chicago bridge side.

Visitors at the opening were herded like cattle outside in Pioneer Court (really, they directed people to chutes just like livestock brought to slaughter) and then made to run through a gauntlet where they had Apple sales people and other employees applauding and high-fiving the arriving guests. It’s all a sham to me though as most of these young kids during regular store hours are arrogant and haughty. (I came back two days later to purchase a charger, and sure enough, a snotty kid unanswered my questions about compatibility issues, he was sort of in a hurry and I saw him sauntering off to tend to more beautiful people than a paying customer like me.)



But I don’t go to the store to pay attention to their sales people. I go to the store to buy Apple products. As I said in the beginning of the piece, I have been an Apple user since 1994.


White – t-shirt from the 2003 opening; black – t-shirt from the 2017 opening

And of course, I went to the opening hoping for a free t-shirt which they had. Good on you, Apple!

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!

Chicago Marathon 2017


Elites

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).



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.



Cool.