The Chicago Board of Trade is the world’s oldest futures and options exchange, located at the end of the financial district in downtown Chicago. The top of the building is capped with a 31 foot statue of the Roman goddess of grain, Ceres. The Board of Trade building is a classic Chicago skyscraper with hard and strong lines. It dramatically caps LaSalle Street and sits perpendicular to the other buildings that line the street.
How to get the Shot
There are many locations along LaSalle Street where this shot can be captured. I prefer to use a wide angle lens closer to the building. This image was taken at Adams Street and LaSalle Street (the green check mark). If you have a longer lens you can walk further North on LaSalle and shoot South towards the Board of Trade. There are some high medians that would allow for a good vantage point while maintaining the symmetry of the shot. There is also an elevated train track at Lake Street that has a great view of all of LaSalle Street. If you ride the Orange, Pink, Brown, Green or Purple lines in the Chicago Loop, you will cross LaSalle Street. They all travel East on this stretch of tracks so you won’t have another train passing or blocking your view. You will have to shoot through the train’s windows, but it is another elevated, interesting view of LaSalle Street.
Since this is the main financial district, this area of town is very busy during the week. This shot was taken around 7:30 on a Saturday morning to avoid the crowds and traffic.
Editing the Shot
This shot was processed using Photomatix Pro by HDR Soft. This particular image was processed using 3 images (-2 exposure, 0 exposure, +2 exposure) at an aperture of f11. I used a tripod to capture the 3 images so that they were perfectly aligned. Once I got the images into Lightroom, I exported them to Photomatix and used the settings on the right to process the image. Once I had the image processed, I used the correctly exposed image from the series of bracketed photos to paint in some of the exposure that I thought made the photo look better. For example, in this photo I painted back in the sky because of the exposure, color, and clouds.
Although wide angle lenses tend to have good depth of field, I still prefer to shoot with a higher aperture. In this example I shot this image at an aperture of f11. You can definitely get away with shooting more wide open, but if you don’t have a specific reason to do this then I would shoot in the middle of the aperture range for clarity. One of the downsides of shooting with a smaller aperture is that you will need to exposure your images longer. In this image you can see the blur of the flags in the shot due to the longer exposure. I think these types of effects add to the allure of the shot.
I recommend shooting in the morning on the weekend. This will cut down on the traffic and number of people in and around your shot. The city allows free parking on LaSalle Street on the weekends and this can add to the clutter of your shot. The absolute best time to shoot would be in the summer just after dawn when the streets are empty.
How to Get There
Downtown, “The Loop” is very central from almost any neighborhood. My suggestion is to take the Red line to Monroe stop. This will drop you off 3 blocks from the area you will be shooting. You can always take a cab, but this location is not very time sensitive.
The Photographer's Guide To Capturing Chicago
This post is part of an eBook I wrote about the best places to photograph Chicago. If you enjoy this post consider buying the ebook to support my site and to get access to all the best locations in Chicago!
The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago was written to help visitors and Chicago photographers find and capture the best locations in and around Chicago. The book describes various locations, how to get the shot and the best ways to access over 25 of the best locations in Chicago. Readers get access to final processed images, processing tips and maps for each location. Skip the research and get straight to shooting!