Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Old Town

I really like Old Town.  It's one of the first places we went to as tourists, and one of my favorite places to go for photowalks.  It's always different, and it has a lot of examples of things that I like to photograph.  Add to that the fact that I really enjoy Mexican culture, and it's a total win. We went for a very pleasant walk last weekend: beautiful, cool weather and very few tourists.
The front porch of the Hotel Cosmopolitan

Most of the historic part of Old Town is a state park, which includes a restored hacienda, and several buildings which used to be banks, post offices, sheriff's offices, etc, all of which now have historical exhibits set up in them.  It also has  a bazaar, Fiesta de Reyes, where you can get a burrito or a margarita, and all kinds of merchandise, from the really tacky gifts to quite nice housewares.

On weekends, there are displays of Mexican folkloric music and dancing.

And did I mention the flowers?

And lastly, just some of the details that caught my eye as we walked

Thanks for looking.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Well, I won't bore you with all of the excuses for why I haven't posted anything in two months.  Let's just hope that things have settled down to the point that I can get back to doing this regularly.

A week or so ago, I spent three days in Chicago at a conference.  It was my first time there since (ahem) 1988, so it was more like I had never been there at all. I was picked up at the airport by someone who I consider to be a close friend, even though I had never actually met her before.  We had a wonderful dinner and didn't stop talking for more than three hours, before she finally dropped me off at my hotel.  Thanks again, B!

The conference was pretty interesting for the most part but my favorite part of the day was after the last session when I was able to get outside and go for a walk around the neighborhood.  On Monday, it rained until about 4pm and was overcast but dry for the most part.  A photographer's favorite environment because everything is pretty evenly lit and there are no harsh shadows anywhere.  So I asked at the desk how to get down to Lake Michigan and off I went.

There were a lot of different sculptures in the park by the Navy Pier, which reminded me of a photo that another of my photographer friends had taken about a year ago for one of our weekly contests.  So I decided to go and find that "bean" thing.  Thank heavens for smartphones, because I had no idea where it was, or how to get there.  As it turned out, I was losing the light very quickly, so I decided to walk back to the hotel along the river instead.

Since it was getting so dark, and I didn't have a tripod with me, I had to shoot in a very high ISO, in order to get my images in focus.  Usually that results in images being very grainy (noisy), which is why several of these were converted to black and white.

The next day, I set out to find the Bean.  Now I knew where it was and could take a much more direct route to get there. 

When I got to the park, I could see that the light was getting really good, so I walked around a little bit but I didn't know where to find the Bean.  Until I turned around.

How pretty is that sky! 

It's the most amazing thing.  Smooth and shiny, apparently seamless, and it provides fascinatingly distorted reflections of the people and building around it.  I am standing facing west, and it's reflecting the lakefront back at me.  So I did what everyone else does: took a self-portrait.

This is what it looks like from underneath.

I was just fascinated by it, and how it appeared at times to be almost transparent.

Oh by the way, they have seasons in Chicago and I was reminded that it was October on a couple of occasions.  There is a lot of landscaping around the buildings in downtown Chicago, a lot like San Francisco, but with different flowers.

And of course, the leaves were starting to turn and fall.

All of these were taken with my 50mm lens, the only one I brought with me.  I almost forgot how much I love that lens.