Posts tagged “Chicago

Ghosts of Chicago

On a cold day in January, Kathleen was drawn to this window as we walked down the street heading for The Bean…she said, “Erik, you have to get a shot of this, there is something about it” What do you think?

In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral ritesexorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of phantom armies, ghost trainsphantom ships, and even ghost animals have also been recounted.

To purchase a Digital Download or Print, just Click on the Image and you will be magically transported to our Website – look around while you are there…lots of cool stuff  to Share with your friends!

Marilyn Meets Chicago

Sometimes it is easy to forget that everyone has a story to tell, if we only take the time to listen! Sometimes, the shy, quiet person at work has the most amazing life story and biggest dreams – it is just up to us to find out! Some people travel the road of Fame and Fortune, while others struggle with only themselves to rely on – both have great stories to tell. Each has learned lessons, made critical choices and has developed a unique perspective which is theirs to claim and a treasure to be explored. You never know who you may run in to and the tales that can be exchanged!

This image, as you might have guessed, was taken in downtown Chicago or (as you may also have guessed, Marilyn Monroe. She decided to pose for us during this cold day in January! After spending much of her childhood foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946. The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a “probable suicide”, the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol.

To purchase a Digital Download or Print, just click on the picture and you will be transported to our photo website where many choices abound – have a look around while you are there!

Two Worlds – The Bean People

Wow, everything is Straight!

We were in Chicago early New Year’s Day hoping to have a clean shot of The Bean (or as some call it, “The Cloud Gate”). The previous post was from the South side, this being from the North side. It was mostly devoid of people who were probably still recuperating from the New Year’s festivities. We did manage to capture some People In The Bean.

OK, imagine if these people lived in a place where everything was wildly distorted (normal to them), and they can visit their Own Bean which provides them with these strange linear views of their City of Chicago! The Bean People would be just as excited to get shots of themselves straight up and down as the Non-Bean Peeps who just love the distortion. Two Dimensions, two realities. M.C. Escher would have loved this sculpture! (Look up Escher and prepare to be amazed…a very early influence).

When the park first opened in 2004, Metro police stopped a Columbia College Chicago Journalism student who was working on a photography project in Millennium Park and confiscated his film because of fears of terrorism. In 2005, the sculpture attracted some controversy when a professional photographer without a paid permit was denied access to the piece..As is the case for all works of art currently covered by United States copyright law, the artist holds the copyright for the sculpture. This allows the public to freely photograph Cloud Gate, but permission from Kapoor or the City of Chicago (which has licensed the art) is required for any commercial reproductions of the photographs. The city first set a policy of collecting permit fees for photographs. These permits were initially set at $350 per day for professional still photographers, $1,200 per day for professional videographers and $50 per hour for wedding photographers. The policy has been changed so permits are only required for large-scale film, video and photography requiring ten-man crews and equipment.

We recall the “No-Tripod Police” in Rome – they explained that if one uses a Tripod, one must be an Artistic Photographer and hence needs to apply for a permit which costs $350 Euros. (European Travellers, buy a Gorilla Pod from a Company called Joby…it is discrete, acts like a Tripod with its multiflex legs and will avoid the gentle reminders of the Photo-Enforcers)

Release The Beast

Release The Kraken

This is another shot on New Year’s Day from the mouth of Millenium Park in Chicago. The early morning and blustery winds kept most people away allowing us almost full reign of this shoot. Rather than focussing on the towering buildings, we decided to examine The mouth of this structure. It almost looks like some gigantic Cage Match, where some fearsome creature would emerge from behind the Dark Gate to challenge the awaiting Opponent, much to the delight of the feverish crowds! (Eating Deep Dish Pizza and Chicago-Style Hot Dogs) OK, a bit far-fetched, but a fun image.

The centerpiece of Millennium Park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, (Our Cage Match Arena) a bandshell designed by Frank Gehry. The pavilion has 4,000 fixed seats, plus additional lawn seating for 7,000; the stage is framed by curving plates of stainless steel, characteristic of Gehry. It was named after Jay Pritzker, whose family is known for owning Hyatt Hotels and was a major donor.  The pavilion is built partially atop the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the park’s indoor performing arts venue, with which it shares a loading dock and backstage facilities.  Initially, the pavilion’s lawn seats were free for all concerts, but this changed when Tori Amos performed the first rock concert there on August 31, 2005.

The Pritzker Pavilion is the home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival, the nation’s only remaining free, municipally supported, outdoor, classical music series.  The Pavilion hosts a wide range of other music series and annual performing arts events with Performers ranging from mainstream rock bands to classical musicians and opera singers. It is awesome!

Still think that a venomous Fire-breathing Dragon should emerge from the Dark Gate and take on all commets! 😉

Thanks for the kind visit and if you have any questions, drop us an email at

Chicago – The Windy City

Go Blackhawks!

We spent the New Year’s weekend in Chicago exploring this amazing city, searching for the best Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago-style Hot Dog, marvelling at the splendid architecture and discovering why it is called The Windy City. We had heard once that it was named after the long-winded Politicians (some notables) who never cease to talk. We, however, discovered that it is more of an Urban/Environmental phenomenon. Chicago is located on the West shore of Lake Michigan. The prevailing winds hail from the North through the West. The downtown layout has north to south and west to east streets. When there is a Eastward wind, the west to east streets turn into wind tunnels which, in the Winter, can easily drop the perceived temperature by tens of degrees and make for challenging walking! We think this is the true origin – please chime in if you have a different theory!

The name “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as “wild onion” or “wild garlic”!

The 1920s saw gangsters, including Al Capone, battled law enforcement and each other on the streets of Chicago during the Prohibition Era.

It is believed that Capone ordered the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. Details of the killing of the seven victims in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street (then the SMC Cartage Co.) and the extent of Capone’s involvement are widely disputed. No one was ever brought to trial for the crime. The massacre was thought to be the Outfit’s effort to strike back at Bugs Moran’s North Side gang. They had been increasingly bold in hijacking the Outfit’s booze trucks, assassinating two presidents of the Outfit-controlled Unione Siciliana, and made three assassination attempts on Jack McGurn, a top enforcer of Capone.

To monitor their targets’ habits and movements, Capone’s men rented an apartment across from the trucking warehouse that served as a Moran headquarters. On the morning of Thursday February 14, 1929, Capone’s lookouts signaled gunmen disguised as police to start a ‘raid’. The faux police lined the seven victims along a wall without a struggle then signaled for accomplices with machine guns. The seven victims were machine-gunned and shot-gunned. Bet they went for Pizza afterwards!

Thanks for visiting our humble Photoblog and make sure to check out some of our other Chicago images!

The Bean – Two Worlds

Two Worlds

This is another look at The Bean in Millenium Park in Chicago. This shot was taken from Michigan Avenue using a Nikon D7000 equipped with 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Using a telephoto tends to compress distances and with this shot brought all of the wonderful distortion right into the back ground behind the non-distorted people watching the skaters down below. The skating rink, which was packed on New Year’s Eve can be seen as the white band stretching through the middle of the frame, Chicago downtown (West side of Michigan Avenue) is in the background. This was shot faciing East. What is fascinating about this shot is the contrasting worlds of the distorted and non-distorted. We wish we had a Bean in San Diego – this would provide countless hours of study, critical photography in various light conditions and seasons!

A cool Bean fact: Inside Cloud Gate‘s (the Official Name) polished exterior shell are several steel structures that keep the sculpture standing. The first structural pieces, two type 304 stainless steel rings, were put into place in February 2004. As construction continued, crisscrossing pipe trusses were assembled between the two rings. The trusses and supporting structures were only present for the construction phases. The finished sculpture has no inner bracing. The supporting structural components were designed and constructed to ensure that no specific point was overloaded, and to avoid producing unwanted indentations on the exterior shell. The frame was also designed to expand and contract with the sculpture as temperatures fluctuate. As a result, the two large rings supporting the sculpture move independently of each other, allowing the shell to move independently of the rings.

Thanks for visiting our humble blog and if you have any questions drop us an email at 

Chicago Blackhawks vs Edmonton Oilers

We spent the New Year in windy, cold Chicago away from the blissful Sunny & Seventy San Diego to take in the sights, search for the Best Chicago Hot Dog, sample some Real Deep Dish Pizza and watch the Chicago Blackhawks crush the struggling Edmonton Oilers at Chicago’s “Madhouse”, Chicago’s home of NHL Hockey!

The morning of the game, we decided to grab an early breakfast at the Westin Hotel’s restaurant before venturing out to revisit The Bean hoping that fewer people would be there on New Years Morning – prime time for Photography! When we entered the breakfast area, immediately I could tell something was up! The first tip off was a bunch of people in the Lobby of the Hotel with Edmontom Oilers gear, all signed. Hmmm. Then as we entered to be seated, two young gentlemen looked right at me, had a few words and chuckled…I was wearing my Hockey Canada fleece!…Hmmmm.  Next,  there was a large group of young, tall, slim gentlemen in suits and ties chowing down immense amounts of food. We sat down,  and Kathleen was facing the group. I looked over my shoulder curiously and saw that under each chair was a netted sports bag, and inside were some work-out clothes and orange and blue Nikes. Each bag had a number on it. I said to Kathleen, “Those guys are the freakin’ Edmonton Oilers!”

Kathleen pounced into action with her Smartphone, searched the Edmonton Roster and soon confirmed my suspicions. She then located Eric Belanger, whom our Daughter adores and pounced on him as well (Umm…for an Autograph). She cursed that she didn’t work out that morning in the hotel Gym as surely the Oilers did. It was awesome just seeing these guys.  Now about the actual game!

And the Game Begins

After the opening ceremonies, the rabid Chicago crowd was whipped into a frenzy after two soft goals against Edmonton. We were treated to their “We got a goal” crowd song – Hockey Fans will know this one. Edmonton was not done and came blazing back – they are a young team and Fast! Here is Gangner attacking the net with Hall looking for a rebound….and being hooked by a Chicago defender.

With The Oilers on the attack, Chicago draws a Hooking Penalty on Taylor Hall (#4) giving Edmonton the man advantage.  (By the way…We saw Taylor Hall being picked by Edmonton at the 2009 NHL Draft in Los Angeles – check previous posts).

I swear it went in Ref!

Chicago’s  goalie, Corey Crawford (a Montreal native), was stellar between the pipes stopping Gagner who looked stunned that the puck did not go in – Gagner is a real Sniper when it comes to pin point shooting but was no match against the intuitive net minding skills of Crawford!

As the two teams settled in, things turned a bit more physical. Here we see Eric Belanger and Jonathan Toews tangling behind the net. Penalties played a large role in this match, one of which ended in a Chicago suspension, two Edmonton goals, and two players injured. The NHL has to do something about violent headshots and boarding – this almost always leads to injuries and even worse, concussions. Pittsburgh Penguins Sydney Crosby is still not back to 100% after close to a year recovering from a concussion!

(Above) Physical play turned to a bit of roughness – things always get a bit touchy around the net, often leading to “altercations”. The Refs were quick to stop this from becoming a fight. Refs have such a tough job, Judge, Jury, Diplomat and always skating for the entire game!

Below, Eric Belanger pours on the pressure with the NHL Ref watching closely!

Let's Go, Boys!

Tensions rise as the game is tied. Edmonton gets the next goal, and Chicago counters to again tie the game at 3 to 3. In the third period, Edmonton’s young guns score again. Chicago takes a Time Out to figure out how to overcome Edmonton’s defense.

During the final minutes of the game, the Chicago goalie, Corey Crawford, races to the bench to allow Chicago an extra man on the ice and leaving the Chicago net empty… hopefully over powering Edmonton, get a goal, and force the game into overtime.

The Chicago pressure was immense, the movement of their forwards was precise, shots were hard and accurate but to no avail. The underdog Oilers survived the onslaught of the best team in the NHL and left Chicago with a win under their belt. Hockey is never predictable!

Thank you for visiting our humble photoblog! If you have any questions, drop us an E-Mail at

Kathleen and Erik

Marilyn Monroe In Chicago

As were were fighting the brisk Chicago Winds on North Michegan Avenue, we stumbled across this huge Marilyn. Hundress of people were snapping away with their Cell Phone cameras and other things. We took a bit of time to examine the light and find the right lens. We then jumped onto a Traffic Circle, equipped the trusty Nikon D7000 with a Uber Cool Nikkon 70-200mm f2.8 lens. The idea was to capture Mariyn and the Historic Chicago Tribune ediface at the same time. Maybe she would have made the front page with her pose?  The pose was from New York City, by the way. Now a bit about Marilyn!

Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s.

After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946. Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) drew attention to her—by now her hair was dyed blonde. By 1953, Monroe had progressed to a leading role in Niagara (1953), a melodramatic film noir that dwelled on her seductiveness. Her “dumb blonde” persona was used to comic effect in subsequent films as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955).

The Old and the New

We walked many miles up and down Michegan Avenue in Chicago during our visit during our New Year. Many locals questioned our motives after we explained we are from San Diego. Sometimes Sunny and 70F get a bit boring – so we sought a Cold Wintery Chicago-Style Blast. (PS always good to have the option to return to Sunny and 70 BTW). This morning as we were exploring Michegan Ave, Kathleen was struck by these old Sewing Machines. So we unloaded the trusty Nikon D7000, put a Sigma 10-20mm on it, screwed on a Polarizing filter and executed this shot.

We attempted to contrast the Old and the New. Old being the sewing machines and gritty details, and the New being the reflections of the Chicago Skyline. Very clever Marketing as this is not a Vintage establishment at all!

AllSaints Spitalfields is a British High Street retailer, which produces clothing aimed towards a progressive/fashion-forward niche market. It sells menswair. womenswear, children’s clothing, accessories and small home decorative furnishings. Allsaints has over 70 stores in the UK and abroad. (And Chicago)

Allsaints established in 1994 as a menswear brand wholesaling to the likes of Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Barneys New York and Japan. In 1998 Womenswear was born directly out of the expanding Menswear collection. The name “Allsaints” refers in part to 60’s TV icon Simon Templar, aka The Saint – and in part to All Saints Road, in Notting Hill, notorious for its artistic and musical associations, especially its links with the Clash.

It is amazing what one kind find, if you only slow down and look! Thanks for the kind visit to our little PhotoBlog. If you would like a print or just advice on Photography, just drop an email at

Kathleen and Erik

Enter The Bean: Chicago

This is another look at “The Bean” but from a different perspective! On the underside of the sculpture is the omphalos, an indentation whose mirrored surface provides multiple reflections of any subject situated beneath it. The apex of the omphalos is 27 feet (8.2 m) above the ground. The concave underside allows visitors to walk underneath to see the omphalos, and through its arch to the other side so that they view the entire structure. During the grand opening week in July 2004, press reports described the omphalos as the “spoon-like underbelly”.

The stainless steel sculpture was originally envisioned as the centerpiece of the Lurie Garden at the southeast corner of the park. However, Park officials believed the piece was too large for the Lurie Garden and decided to locate it at Millenium Park, despite Kapoor’s objections. Skyscrapers to the north along East Randolph St, including The Heritage, the Smurfit-Stone Building, Two Prudential Plaza, One Prudential Plaza, and Aon Center are visible, reflected on both the east and west sides of the The Bean.

Although Kapoor does not draw with computers, computer modeling was essential to the process of analyzing the complex form, which created numerous issues. Being outside, concerns arose that it might retain and conduct heat in a way that would make it too hot to touch during the summer and so cold that one’s tongue might stick to it during the winter. The extreme temperature variation between seasons was also feared to weaken the structure. Graffiti, bird droppings and  fingerprints were also potential problems, as they would affect the aesthetics of the surface. The most pressing issue was the need to create a single seamless exterior for the external shell, a feat architect Norman Foster once believed to be nearly impossible.

“The Bean” Chicago

No visit to Chicago would be complete without a visit to “The Bean” in Millenium Park. We went there to scope this amazing artifact and were transfixed by its simplicity and amazing mystical beauty. As one circumvents the structure, the reflection of the cityscape and sky constantly changes. One can also go under The Bean where a combination of concave and convex surfaces make things crazy cool! Our first look convinced us that we should return when it was not over crowded with tourists. We found that opportunity the day after New Years – we were treated to brisk Chicago Winds, a sprinkling of snow and few folks willing to face the New Year as early as we were. Now a bit about The Bean (As people have nicknamed it)!

Cloud Gate, a sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, is the centerpiece of  Millenium Park and was constructed between 2004 and 2006. The sculpture is nicknamed “The Bean” because of its  obvious shape and is made up of 168  stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It is 33 by 66 by 42 feet and weighs 110 tons.

Said to have been inspired by liquid mercury,  the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. Visitors are able to walk around and under Cloud Gate’s 12-foot high arch. On the underside is the “omphalos” (Greek for “navel”), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections. The sculpture builds upon many of Kapoor’s artistic theme, and is popular with tourists as a photo-taking opportunity for its unique reflective properties.

The sculpture was selected during a design competition. After Kapoor’s design was chosen, numerous technological concerns regarding the design’s construction and assembly arose, in addition to concerns regarding the sculpture’s upkeep and maintenance. Various experts were consulted, some of whom believed the design could not be implemented. Eventually, a feasible method was found, but the sculpture’s construction fell behind schedule. It was unveiled in an incomplete form during the Millennium Park grand opening celebration in 2004, before being concealed again while it was completed. Cloud Gate was formally dedicated on May 15, 2006, and has since gained considerable popularity, both domestically and internationally.

Thanks for visiting our humble Photoblog – if you have any questions or would like to purchase one of our images, just drop us an email at

Happy 2012!

Kathleen and Erik

Millenium Park, Chicago

We recently visited Chicago for The New Year and to catch a Chicago vs Edmonton Hockey game. We were delighted by the weather – a warm spell… only slightly below freezing. However, the reputation of Chicago being “The Windy City” is true. We had previously thought that it was due to the Politicians with their Windy Triads about “Hope” and other such Lofty Ideals. Beware: any streets running West to East are Blast Zones for wind. Always walk on the West side for two reasons, sun for warmth and wind shelter – during the AM! We went to go see this amazing Park and made one “scoping visit” when it was over run by Tourists, then returned Monday, after New Years early and, surprise, nobody around. This is a shot of The Great Lawn. We were struck by the sweeping lines and wonderful architectural symmetry against the stark buildings its the background.

Now a bit about his place:

Millennium Park is located in the Loop Community Area and originally intended to celebrate the Millennium. Planning of the park began in October 1997. Construction began in October 1998, and Millennium Park was opened in a ceremony on July 16, 2004, four years behind schedule. The three-day opening celebrations were attended by some 300,000 people.The park has received awards for its accessibility and green design. Millennium Park has free admission, and features the Jay Pritzker Pavilion “Cloud Gate”. The Cloud Gate is now known as “The Bean” – it is mesmerizing.

We will continue the Chicago Series throughout the week featuring “The Bean” as well as some NHL Hockey Action!

Thanks for your kind visit to our Humble PhotoBlog and Happy 2012!

Kathleen and Erik – if you have any questions or would like an exclusive Print, just drop us an Email at contact