Chicago Forms No.1

Chicago Forms No.1

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Chicago Forms No.1

I have always been attracted to the strength and diversity of Chicago's architecture.
Anytime I'm in the Windy City, my cameras are always active. And, as my visits to Chicago
are usually separated by years, there are always new motifs to beckon.

While this image is not strictly speaking a new motif, it is a new interpretation of
an old favorite “rediscovered” while scanning some long-unviewed slides.

I first photographed the distinctive Marina Towers, as a teen rookie photographer on
my first visit to Chicago. My vantage point was the bridge that carries Michigan Avenue over
the Chicago River, close to the Wrigley Building. I was using a very basic rangefinder camera
without the benefit of a wide angle lens. And I couldn't figure out how to get far enough away
to allow my modest little 45 or 50 mm lens to encompass the soaring height of the twin
“corn-cobs” (a nickname I later learned was used by locals to describe the unique shape
and features). Somewhere in a nondescript old box would be a crude (by today's digital
standards!) black and white “panoramic” that a local camera store's lab cobbled together
from two adjacent frames of Plus-X shot in that basic little camera.

New views of the “corn-cobs” were shot on each subsequent visit. The cameras (and their
lens capabilities) got better, of course, but the viewpoints were always at street- or water-level.

Then, on one visit, as a result of a chance meeting, I had the opportunity to shoot some
Kodachrome-64 slides on a spectacularly clear day from a balcony halfway up one of the Marina Towers.

Naturally, there were all manner of cityscapes, including elevated trains, the Chicago River, and the aforementioned architectural feast.

But that high viewpoint also allowed for some nice telephoto-generated geometrical contrasts between the curving balconies of the East Tower and the stark vertical lines of the dark monolithic office building adjacent to Marina City at 330 N. Wabash (I believe it was then called the IBM Building).

As much as I like the unaltered Kodachrome slide, the nocturnal creative urges took over,
and I allowed the digital genie out of her bottle briefly, for a bit of interpretive license.
Hope you'll enjoy the discovery as much as I did...

Photo/Text ©Steve Ember

(For best viewing of this vertical composition, please select F11 and size accordingly.)

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