Monday, Nov. 24, 2008

The Chicago Skyline

To photograph his hometown for Travel, magazine photographer Jon Lowenstein bought a ticket on one of Chicago's jump-on jump-off tour buses and pretended he was a tourist for a day. First stop: this spot near the Adler Planetarium, which the tour guide indicated was a "good vantage point" to shoot the downtown skyline. Even better when you use your fellow passengers as foreground material.

Lake Shore Drive

This isn't your typical shot of Chicago's Navy Pier amusement park, which was Lowenstein's second stop on the tour bus. Lowenstein couldn't find anything interesting in the park, so he hoofed it back to Lake Shore Drive, where this double-decker bus was disgorging its tourist passengers. The riotous color of a Blue Man Group ad on the side of the bus caught his eye. A super-fast shutter speed (1/3200 second) froze the action.

Hancock Tower Observatory

Lowenstein prefers the observatory of the Hancock Tower to the better known one atop the Sears Tower, because it's closer to the city and the lake. In this photograph, he used an aperture of f3.2 and a 1/640-second shutter speed — set for the light outside — but carefully crafted the activity inside. Each of the other visitors falls into the plane created by the window edges, giving the feeling that each person is locked in his own world.

Lake Michigan

From the Hancock Tower Observatory, Lowenstein noticed this tableau on the lake below. He thinks the jaunty angle of the jetty and the patterns created by the wakes of the boats create an image that evokes an abstract expressionist painting. The overcast weather softens the horizon, enhancing the two-dimensionality of the photograph.

Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

The reflective surface of Anish Kapoor's 110-ton steel sculpture (known locally as "The Bean") at Millennium Park is a fun way to capture your visit to Chicago. This is what it looks like from the inside.

Magnificent Mile

A typical street-corner scene on North Michigan Avenue. Lowenstein used a wide-open aperture (f1.4) with a super-fast shutter speed (1/2000 second), which forced the buildings in the background to fall out of focus, so they don't distract from the image's central element, the pedestrians on the sidewalk.


Lowenstein likes to explore the way photography infiltrates every aspect of our daily lives. "Images are paid for and controlled in order to push people one way or another," he says.

Michigan Avenue

The red, white and blue of the flag is echoed in every element of this frame, from the shirt worn by the security guard taking the flag inside to the other pedestrians on Michigan Avenue and the red stoplights and blue signs lining the street.