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Monday, 08 August 2011


Within these limited highlights, it appears that Ken never descends from his Lakeshore tower at all. ;)

So Ken just sits on his balcony and shoots killer shots of Chicago anytime he wants?
Imagine if he lived on the Hubble Space Telescope?

Oh, how would I have liked to be in front of the stages, photographing...

Another really fine photo from the nosebleed section. Now if Kertesz only had a P65...

Sorry for the obvious question, Ken, but where the heck are you standing here?

Do I feel another print offer coming on?

There are some odd vertical streaks in the sky. Any explanation?

Nice one Ken, even if I had to navigate my fully loaded touring bike through it yesterday!

@Nick: This image was taken from the same position as my "Summer Storm" image last year; the pool of my building.

@Peter: Indeed, there are. This is a banding-type phenomenon that sometimes appears on flat areas of my P65 images where tonality is ambiguous -- here a hazy twilight sky between blue and magenta. It does not appear in a print but when such a large image is compressed it sometimes forms these faint vertical lines, rather like aggregations of chroma-like noise at the frame edges. Ultimately I will probably take another full swing at the post-processing, perhaps hip-bumping the hues to try to eliminate it.

@Patrick: Naw.

@Charlie: You must be a remarkably skilled and determined cyclist. Just walking through the area was challenging.


One of the delights of living where I live is just being able to observe and sometimes capture a remarkably diverse range of scenes and subjects from my home. It's certainly not unlike people who live in wilderness areas an can shoot wildlife marching through their property. For example, from the same position as the above image I captured this recently:

From another location, this:

And this:

And of course there are opportunities like this:

I was inspired several years ago by Richard Misrach's "Golden Gate" book in which he gathered a large body of images he's made of the Golden Gate Bridge from the front porch of his home. I realized that I could create several such persistent location collections just from my home and currently have two that are nearly ready to show.

Of course, yes, I do get out with my camera, too. ;-)

Thank you for your comments, fellow TOP-ers.

That Chicago skyline keeps getting taller!
What is that building in the frame center with the blue light?

@Ken Wow. I, uh, envy you your view. Wow.

@Mike: It's an enormous condo building at the south end of Grant Park on Roosevelt. It opened just about the time the market crashed.

May I inform what's so special about that shot......for me personally that is nothing but the location from which it was shot and for the rest point the camera in the right direction (which is the resultant of the festival location and the location of the camera) and fire away. I personally see no artistic input of Ken whatsoever, no decisive moment, no powerfull composition (for instance a true central perspective would have helped) and therefore no handwriting of Ken in this shot.

Ken, I'm actually not that fond of the image Mike posted but I love the building in the clouds shot.

@Ed, @mwg:

In some ways it's easy to dismiss this kind of image ... we've all seen night shots of buildings, traffic and stadiums.

But here is a lovely shot of all three, shot to technical perfection at dusk with orange and blue colours from artifical lights. And the stadium is full of dots, each one representing a person. This is the "decisive moment" (perhaps 10 minutes in this case).

I suspect Ken really enjoys his city lifestyle and it shows in his images (the artistic input).

NB: Check out more images on Ken's blog ... you'll get a better feel of what he's about compared to just looking at one image.

@Sven, I have.......and I'm still not that convinced. But hey, opinions differ and that is a good thing. And I hope he enjoys his city life if he lives in the building he's living in he should be. I would love to have that view of Grant Park and the Chicago Art Institute with it's lovely photocollection (I know my dad and some of his photofreinds to a large set of them to Venlo for an exhibition at the local art museum, the Netherlands back in the late nineties).

But I remain at my position that a more central perspective (for instance shot from the neighbouring appartmentblock) would have greatly benifited this shot. Also I would have added a little perspective correction (dropped the lensboard since my camera can do that) an then you would have seen a shot that I would have liked. Why, because there would be number of choices present in the picture I would have made and I would have made them. A good photo is more then a nice subject mwg, it is a nice (or even mundane) subject combined with artistic and personal choices that should be clearly visible to the viewer. Through those choice a photographer aspires to raise the importance of a subject. Nice example of what I'm talking about is Gursky's Montparnasse. A verry mundane appartmentbuilding ellevated to sheer beauty by Andreas by combining two viewpoints shot from 2 different appartments (in 2 different buildings as my analysis of the location, a building at the Rue du Commandant René Mouchotte) tells me.

Greetings, Ed

I am enjoying reading the critical discussion of the image! Frankly, TOP is one of the very few places online where intelligent discussion of images takes place.

To round-out the discussion of this image perhaps you might enjoy just a bit wider view of its background.

Art was not really the image's objective, although I always seek to create images that feature purposeful compositional organizations. The objective with this image was principally documentary on two fronts.

First, of course, I wanted to get a good image to convey the enormity of the music festival at a peak time. My attempt last year produced a so-so result. A bleak weather forecast for Sunday made Saturday evening the best choice.

But I also wanted to set the scene into its historical period. Like most large cities Chicago has been using low-pressure sodium street lighting since the 1970's. The lamps' horrific color characteristics faded in comparison to their energy economy over their mercury vapor predecessors. But Chicago has very recently begun replacing these ugly orange lamps with new LED lamps which are far more efficient and, thankfully, have a much higher color rendering index. So the orange street lights, and the small test strip of LED-converted Lake Shore Drive at the left, represents a key part of visually setting the time period for this image.

Re: "Decisive Moments"
It may not seem like there was a "decisive moment" (boy I hate that phrase) in this image, but there most certainly was. My technical objective was to get the shot just after sundown but before the sky darkened. That left me about 10-15 minutes at this time of year. After I had shot perhaps 10 frames I was running out of time and it just wasn't coming together, as exemplified by this frame.

I could capture the twilight city but the festival crowd was turning to dark mush. And then came the moment! The band playing on the stage in the foreground flashed ultra-bright lights into the crowd for approximately 3 seconds as part of their show. CLICK! That was exactly what I needed to put that crowd into the scene! I could not have done better if I had staged the lighting myself! (In fact, that flash did not happen again.) So the featured image does indeed present a "decisive moment".

Re: Composition
I normally eschew strict centricity and symmetry. It might produce a pretty image but the lack of visual tension normally inherent in centered frames generally make a very dull image. In this image my preference was a horizontal frame composed as the frame above, showing the city stretching out to the south but purposely excluding the Art Institute's Modern Wing whose bright lights would have been a major distraction. As it so happened, the chosen frame was captured in portrait orientation, so its shoulders were just a bit narrower than I would have preferred. But the tall tower at the other end of the park does serve as a visual thumb tack from which the rest of the image hangs. If you wonder about that, put your thumb over it as you view the image.

So that's the scoop behind this image. Thank you for the discussion.

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