Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thunderbirds Are Go!

I just got home from two days at the Sun N Fun Fly-In up in Lakeland. It's the second largest airshow in the world, and it is BIG. But the big draw for me this year was the USAF Thunderbirds. I shot them twice, and I think I got some really nice pictures. The shot above is from the Friday show, which was technically a practice, but they went through their whole show flawlessly, so they obviously didn't need the practice. I'm too tired to post much now, but I wanted to go ahead and get this teaser up. Lots more to come! Oh, and any of you who are fairly close to Lakeland, they are performing again tomorrow (Sunday). It's worth your time and effort to go see these guys. Trust me.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Not The Top Of The World, But Close

You've seen a shot I took from the top of the Sears Tower, but you haven't seen any of the pictures I took from the top of the John Hancock Building. I managed to get to the top of that one a couple of hours after sunset, and it's quite the different view at night. The Hancock building is near the northern end of all the skyscrapers in Chicago, so the money shot is looking back south, with the lakefront being to the left, and the loop district being towards the right. Standing above everything on the right is Sears Tower. The big North-South road you see near the left center of the picture is Michigan Avenue. Somewhere a couple of miles south on that road is my hotel. It was a long walk, but well worth the trip.

Hmmm, I thought the Hancock building was the second tallest in Chicago, but it looks like I'm wrong. The second tallest is the Aon Center, which I think you can see above just left of center. If I had known that, I would have tried to get to the top of it, too. Oh, well. Wait, I guess it depends on if you count the antennas or not. With the antennas, John Hancock is still second tallest. I tell you what, just nevermind. They're all tall buildings. I live on the second floor, and that's high enough for me!

Ye Olde Water Tower

Continuing on with more pictures from my trip to Chicago, I bring you the Chicago Water Tower. I believe this was one of the few structures in Chicago to survive the great fire of 1871. It's an interesting building, stuck in the middle of other buildings that look nothing like it, yet mirroring the appearance of the pumping station across the street. If I hadn't known it was a water tower, I'd have guessed it was an old church, or maybe some eccentric's castle.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

That Miro

Here's something I shot in Chicago without having any idea what it was. I took this in the near-darkness, so it's not the best picture ever, but it turns out to be the only shot I took of it. Well, one of two, but they're both about the same. This is by Joan Miro and is called Chicago. Or maybe it's called The Sun, The Moon And One Star. Hard to tell. Anyhow, it's due south of the Picasso I shared earlier (Literally on the other side of the street), but I didn't know what it was, I just shot everything that looked artsy.

Under The Loop

I tried to get a decent picture of the streets that run under the El in the Loop in downtown Chicago. None of them came out. It's too dark under there, and I didn't want to stop in the middle of traffic to shoot. But I did get this shot looking down into the theater district from under The Loop. I think you get the idea.

I Can See My House From Here

For those of you that might be curious, here is a view of the hotel I stayed at while in Chicago, as seen from the top of the Sears Tower. Look close near the exact center of the picture, and you can see the words Congress Hotel in reverse. They display out towards Michigan Avenue, so you're looking at the back of them here. Just to the right of the top of the red CNA building is Buckingham Fountain, which was not in operation while I was there. Top of the picture is Lake Michigan. It wasn't frozen over, but there was ice in the water in some spots. The road you see going left to right through Grant Park is Lakeshore Drive, aka US 41. I could not have asked for a hotel located in a better spot, let me tell you!

Always Use Your Spell-Check

Just a warning to those of you in charge of anything that's going to be seen by the public. What you see above is a sign on the observation deck at the Sears Tower (on floor 103). Note that #7 is Buckingham Founntain. My hotel is also visible in the picture, and when I walked over to the fountain from the hotel, it wasn't spelled founntain. (It also wasn't on, but that's another story...) That's the sort of thing that annoys me. I paid about $13 to ride the elevator to the top, so they have plenty of money available to make a corrected sign. Someone should write a letter. I just hope there aren't any typos in this post...

That Calder

When day two of my Chicago stay turned out to have nice weather, I decided to get out and shoot after work. I left my hotel with directions to the Sears Tower and figured I'd see plenty along the way. Guess what? I was right. I stumbled onto both a large Calder sculpture, and a peace protest that was to follow me around the rest of the evening. I think the protest was in the gathering stage when I stumbled across it (Turns out it was the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq). They were gathering in front of this large Alexander Calder sculpture called Flamingo. I didn't remember it at the time, but I recently noticed it in the background of a shot in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I guess I should have watched that again before I travelled to Chicago. To my eyes, this sculpture is very much influenced by the Picaso just a few blocks away, which, by the way, was where I ran into the peace protesters next.

That Picasso

I know it's taking forever for me to share my Chicago pictures, but I'm hoping you'll find it worth the wait. Here's another great landmark I spotted while I was in the windy city. This large statue is an untitled work by the great Picasso. I remember seeing this statue in The Blues Brothers, and I'd always wanted to see it for myself. On the taxi ride in from the airport, I made the driver take me past it so I could make sure I saw it during my stay. Turned out I walked by it twice more during my trip, so I was able to get a picture or two. It's in a dark canyon between some pretty tall buildings, so I don't know how often, if ever, it gets direct sunlight. So that's why it's only about half illuminated in this shot. But at least I got a shot.