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Chicago Food and Travel Photographer

Chicago From Above - The United Center

Chicago is such an amazing city with incredible views from all angles. I’m patiently waiting for the summer months to get here so I have more opportunities to get out and fly my DJI Mavic Air. The image below puts Chicago in perspective of it’s size and accessibility. The grid layout creates some amazing leading lines from all over the city. I’m partial to the South and West views (the image below was taken from the West side of the city) but you will also find amazing views from the North side as well.

Chicago is filled with lush parks and green spaces but this perspective reminds us of the scale of the city. The United Center is just a handful of blocks from the city center and is a staple of Chicago.

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I love photography and giving back to the community. If you like this site and want to support it I would greatly appreciate using the links to purchase any of the products in my posts. I also sell a book "The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago". If you want an easier way to replicate the shots in this post please consider purchasing my Lightroom and Snapseed presets using the link below. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my work!

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The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago

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Chicago From Above - The Field Museum

I’ve been really enjoying my DJI Mavic Air this past year and I’m working on some more interesting aerial shots of Chicago. Attached is an image I took over by the Field Museum on a nice summer day. I can’t wait to get the drone back up in the air to see what else I can capture in this amazing city I call home!

Wabash Bridge

45mm - f4.8 - 1/125 sec -  ISO 160

45mm - f4.8 - 1/125 sec -  ISO 160

The bridges that run across the Chicago river are amazing engineering feats and a sight to be seen. There are multiple bridges and each has a unique characteristic. This particular image is of the Wabash Bridge during the Fourth of July weekend.


How to get the Shot

For this shot I rented a 60mm tilt shift lens.  Many people simulate this effect using photoshop or even Instagram but this effect was captured in camera. I captured this image from the State Street bridge on the 4th of July.  I shifted both the vertical and horizontal lens plane in order to achieve the blurred effect. This shifts the plane of focus and places the emphasis directly on the subject of the photo.  I don’t shoot with a tilt shift lens often so when I do I tend to experiment with the amount of shift to obtain the desired result.  I this particular day I was looking to shoot “miniature” Chicago but I ended up stumbling upon this scene during my shoot.


Editing the Shot

Screenshot 2018-08-17 20.53.08.png

 The image above was edited only slightly from what came out of the camera.  I did increase the contrast through the use of a tone curve and I added a few points of vibrance to increase the color saturation to match the colors I saw that morning.  Raw images tend to come out flatter than their Jpeg counterparts so I find that I almost always add vibrance and contrast to my images to reproduce the image the way my eye saw it.


Other Tips

Consider renting a tilt shift lens from a local photo store. This will give you a very unique view of Chicago and you can try to shoot with it at each location. You never know what amazing photos you might end up with.  Here in Chicago I love to use Helix Camera or borrowlenses.com.  Both have great rental departments and both are very affordable.  If you think you will use a lens often I normally suggest you buy it outright but in this case a tilt shift lens is so specialized that unless you are an architectural photographer you probably won’t use it often enough to justify a purchase. 

Wander throughout the other bridges and see what interesting shots you can get of buildings or the bridges themselves. There are a number of bridges that cross the river and each has a unique perspective. If you are going to do this start further west near Wells Street and make your way East.


How to Get There

This location is right on the Chicago river and is very easy to access.  If you take the Brown, Orange, Green, or Purple lines then you can get off at the State and Lake stop.  From there head North two blocks and you will be at the river.  If you take the Red line you can get off at the Randolph and Wabash stop.  This stop is only a half block south of the Brown, Orange, Green, and Purple line stop.

 

How to Support My Site

I love my photography and giving back to the community. If you like this site and want to support it I would greatly appreciate using the links to purchase any of the products in my posts. I also sell as well as a book "The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago".If you want an easier way to replicate the shots in this post please consider purchasing my Lightroom presets using the link below. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my work!

Lightroom Presets

The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago

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by Thomas Campone

Summer Sunrise and Sunset Over Chicago

50mm - f18 - 1/40 sec -  ISO 200

50mm - f18 - 1/40 sec -  ISO 200

Chicago has arguably one of the most distinguished and photographic skylines in the world. This is partially due to the geography of the area and Lake Michigan blocking development to the East. Chicago’s views are best captured from the West and the South of the city, both of which provide full views of the skyline. This particular image was taken from a few miles West of downtown.  


How to get the Shot

This shot was taken from the top of the Rush Hospital parking lot just west of Chicago.  The photo was taken just after dawn on a partly cloudy summer morning. This shot is a combination  of 7 bracketed exposures and merged into an HDR image via Photomatix. Rush Hospital is located approximately 2.8 miles west of the center of Chicago (LaSalle St and Madision St). It is directly along the 290 (Eisenhower) expressway.  Before I captured this shot I took a few shots prior to the sun breaching the horizon.  The glow of the morning sunlight made the clouds a mixture of orange and pink.  These photos were very beautiful but I wanted an image of the sun coming through the buildings.  About 20 minutes after sunrise I captured this image.  Sunrise in general is an amazing experience and this was no exception.  If you have the chance to witness a sunrise from this spot I highly recommend it.


Editing the Shot

Screenshot 2018-08-17 20.41.24.png

 The final image above is a high dynamic range photo which combines 7 exposures into 1 final photo. The trick is creating an image that has more dynamic range than a single image without making the image look over processed or fake. I did this by creating an image in Photomatix and then blending in one of the original exposures back into the HDR image. The Photomatix settings I used for this particular image are shown in the screenshot to the right. 

Screenshot 2018-08-17 20.42.29.png

Once I created the HDR image in Photomatix, I re-opened it in Adobe Photoshop and laid the most evenly exposed bracketed image on top of the Photomatix photo. From there I changed the opacity of the original exposure to soften the HDR effect and to help remove any unwanted halo affects.  This helped create a realistic HDR photo which retains many of the great characteristics of HDR while not looking over processed. This process created an image that is closer to what I saw while taking the photograph than either of the two images alone.


Other Tips

Get there early. The sun is sneaky coming off the horizon and depending on the time of year it comes up pretty quick. Use an app like The Photographer’s Ephemeris or similar apps to time your arrival. This app will also help you to pinpoint the the sunrise and sunset and will show you the angle of the sun to the city. 

50mm - f11 - 1/30 sec -  ISO 200

50mm - f11 - 1/30 sec -  ISO 200


How to Get There

Although Rush Hospital is right along the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) there aren’t a lot of public transportation options to get there. There is a Green line stop at Ashland and Lake but this stop is about 8 blocks from the hospital.  I also would not feel comfortable recommending anyone walking through this neighborhood if you don’t have to. Really your best bet is to drive to the parking structure and to pay for an hour of parking. 30 minutes of parking will cost you $8 while an hour will cost $9.75.  This is by far the best way to get to Rush if you have access to a car.  If you have to take a taxi you can go that route and when you are ready to leave you can have the information staff call you a cab to get home.  Cab fares should be less than $15 one way from most places within the city.

 

How to Support My Site

I love my photography and giving back to the community. If you like this site and want to support it I would greatly appreciate using the links to purchase any of the products in my posts. I also sell as well as a book "The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago".If you want an easier way to replicate the shots in this post please consider purchasing my Lightroom presets using the link below. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my work!

Lightroom Presets

The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago

Categories: Tags:
by Thomas Campone

Chicago from Above the Clouds

I think most people that aren't photographers think that we just show up to a location one time and snap a photo and there you have it a portfolio shot. Truth be told in order to capture amazing images sometimes it takes you dozens of attempts. I've been trying to get a shot from the top of the Willis Tower looking back at the John Hancock and the Trump tower poking up through the clouds. On this particular night a few weeks ago I thought I was going to finally get the shot but as the clouds continued to roll through and the sun set, I realized that I would have to keep chasing this image. At least it wasn't a total loss. I got a great timelapse and got to watch an amazing cloud show. 

If you like my images and want to find out how to create similar images, check out my store for Lightroom, Snapseed and soon to be coming Luminar presets.