Personal projects have been beloved by artists for ages. They are highly flexible, and allow you to stretch your wings. Best of all, they can breathe new life into your business and even make you a better professional. At Jeff Gathman Photography we mainly photograph wedding and portraits, but I love to photograph city architectures and I’m always looking for the opportunity of a personal project.
I decided to photograph the Navy Pier ferris wheel with the Chicago sky line in the back ground around sunset. One of Chicago’s most prevalent but overlooked cultural contributions, first unveiled at the 1893 World’s Fair. More than 120 years later, Chicago adds to its legacy with a new Ferris wheel.
Once I decided to photograph the ferris wheel, some research and decisions needed to be made before making the trip. The first decision to be made was the timing of the photograph. I decided that the best time would be either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Photographing city architect in the past I have noticed that people work the latest on these days keeping more lights on in the buildings. I also waited until later in summer when the day light is shorter increasing my chances of capturing the most lights on in the buildings. I believe when photographing a city the lights add detail to the buildings.
I was also looking for color and cloud detail in the sky to add to the photograph. I gave myself a 3 week window to capture the photograph and each day watching the sky looking for a sky with clouds and color. I was lucky that on the second week of my window a storm come through the city creating a sky with very dramatic clouds and color that I was looking for to create the photograph I had imagined. I was also lucky that my wife Angie had the day off and joined me on our trip to Navy Pier, Chicago. We arrived at Navy Pier just before magic hour giving me the time needed to work on the composition before entering into this time of the day that photographers call magic hour.
Composition next to proper lighting is very critical to a photograph, you need to watch the fore ground, mid ground and back ground of the image to make sure everything comes together to help support the main subject, in this photo the main subject would be the ferris wheel. I decided that the top of the parking garage would give me the best view of the ferris wheel and Chicago. Once on the top of the parking garage I wanted to make sure I had Lake Point Tower centered in the ferris wheel and the height lined up so that the building would not interfere with the gondolas at the top of the ferris wheel. Once I had the composition lined up next was to watch the sky during magic hour and wait for the sky to set the stage for color and cloud detail.
After about 45 minutes waiting for the sky to darken and the city lights to turn on I was ready to actually take the photograph. Once the city lights and the sky was in its prime, focus needed to be placed on the ferris wheel. Due to the longer exposure needed (20 seconds) there was a timing issue to capture the ferris wheel not moving to keep the ferris wheel in focus. As the ferris wheel rotates the colors change, my goal was to photograph the ferris wheel with the red lights on.
After capturing the photo and spending some time in Lightroom making minor color adjustments to the photo I thought this would be a good photo to enter into a photo contest. Not every photo trip ends with a photo worthy of a contest entry. I’m a member of the Crystal Lake Camera Club and like to enter the CLCC and CACCA competition that the club offers. Last month I entered the photo in the large color category naming the print “The Eye of Chicago”. The photograph won 1st place in the large color category and print of the month. The photo award winners for this competition were mentioned in Monday October 24th Northwest Herald in the neighbors section along with the Crystal Lake Camera Club November newsletter.