Atlas Statue in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City)

In front of Rockefeller Center (i.e. “30 Rock”) sits the “Atlas Statue” where Greek god Atlas is holding the universe above his head toward the heavens. Naturally, the statue is positioned directly across from the immaculate St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As I was taking this picture a tour guide was with a group and asked them ‘why the artist decided to position the statue in this location’ and the answer he gave was that it represented New York as the ‘center of the universe’.

Off to LA (I’m going to try and take some pictures at the beach if I have time) and Minnesota this week. A lot of flying for a couple hours of meetings but at least I get a decent chunk of miles for it. The American Airlines announced changes today to their mileage program which would make this trip a little less enticing.

Atlas Statue in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City)

Atlas in Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City)

Tower Bridge (London, England)

On our way to Africa we spent a long layover in London, England before making the last leg of the flight from London to Cape Town. Yes, you read that right for some stupid ass reason we flew from Chicago to London (7ish hours?) and then to Cape Town (13ish Hours?). So because that flight was so long we decided that spending the day in London would be a nice way to break the trip in two and not make it feel like we were doing back to back flights. For the most part it worked – however what we didn’t factor in was an hour delay in Chicago and a two hour customs line in London (it was days after the Brussels bombing so security was tight – especially for people planning to spend seven hours in the country).

Tower Bridge (London, England)

Tower Bridge (London, England)

Originally, our plan was to do some of the churches we weren’t able to see last time (including St. Paul). Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that we were coming in on Sunday and all the churches were closed to tourists on days to respect those in prayer. Instead of heading to the churches we decided to hit a pub (I needed a beer!) and then went off to the Tower of London which we enjoyed during our last trip in 2010 or 2011. We had to tour it quickly and on the way out I snapped a few pictures of Tower Bridge.

Grand Central Station (New York City)

This week I spent a few days for work in New York City and while the weather was less than cooperative as it constantly drizzled/rained on my proverbial parade I still tried to get out and take some pictures during downtime from work/meetings. This was my first time in Grand Central Station and I spent some time walking around and while they certainly don’t allow tripods to just be sprawled out the architects had us photographers in mind when they positioned the staircases and wide ledges in a fantastic spot to rest a camera and hit the shutter for a steady shot at a long(er) exposure time.

Grand Central Station (New York City)

Grand Central Station (New York City)

Busy weekend with the family and then a last minute trip to Kansas City at some point next week – should be fun! Hope the weather gets a bit better in Chicago and we actually start to believe it is “spring”.

View from the Hancock at Sunset (Chicago, Illinois)

The view from the 360 Degree skydeck in the Hancock Center in Chicago, Illinois is one of the best in the United States. For a photographer since you can’t get up there for sunrise the best time to be up there is at sunset when you have a chance of the sky lighting up in pink and purple colors.

Of course, Chicago hasn’t always been known for being such a photogenic and metropolitan city. The nickname ‘second city’ was a slight from the New York papers around the time of the World’s Fair that was hosted here in 1893.

Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.

Carl Sandburg, 1961

View from the Hancock at Sunset – Chicago, Illinois

At sunset we sat at the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago, Illinois and watched the sunset. The clouds lit up with some pink colors a few minutes after the sun went down and I was able to take a few pictures of the skyline with the nice sky accenting it.

A week from today we will be on the plane to Paris for a little over a week. We are both pretty excited and ready for some spring weather. Chicago just experienced the coldest February on record – beating out the 1876 February by a half of degree on average. Unlike in past years though it was a constant cold rather than extreme cold – sure we had a few days where the temps didn’t raise above single digits but we didn’t have those periods of time where the wind chills were negative for a week at a time. Of course, with the lowest average of all-time that means we didn’t have the occasional 40 degree day that we normally do.

Renaissance Center (Detroit, Michigan)

Standing on the Windsor side of the Detroit River I took sunset pictures of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Built in the 1970s and (at least partially) funded by Henry Ford II the RenCen now houses the world headquarters of General Motors – one of Ford’s biggest competitors. The seven-building complex remains the tallest building in Michigan as the hotel in the center of the complex rises 79 stories into the air.

The sun shined perfectly on the tower as it set to the west. The reflection cast a blinding sparkle towards me and reflected on the water. I stopped down the aperture to f/32 (essentially squinting for your eyes) and fired away to try and create the starburst effect that you can get while shooting directly into the sun. The reflections on the building were essentially the same thing so I wound up with a number of star bursts.

Renaissance Center (Detroit, Michigan)

Renaissance Center (Detroit, MI)

My father worked on assembly lines in Detroit while I was growing up. Every day, I watched him do what he needed to do to support the family. But he told me, “Life is short. Do what you want to do.”

— Anita Baker

We all can’t be so lucky – to do what it is we want to do – but at least thus far I’ve been pretty damn close. It isn’t always perfect but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This life is too damn short to miserable so get out there and enjoy yourself. You never know when your ticket is going to be punched.

View from the John Hancock Center (Chicago, Illinois)

One of the primary reasons I bought a full-frame camera was because of the low light capabilities and the ability to shoot at a high ISO level without the quality of the picture being compromised. I can say the Nikon D750 kicks some serious ass when it comes to this compared with my Canon Rebel T3i where the images wouldn’t have been nearly as clean. We are heading to Africa at the end of this year and I wanted to be able to shoot wildlife on the edges (when the light is poor) and keep the images sharp and not overly noisy. I didn’t think it would be useful for shooting Chicago architecture but it paid off when up on the top level (94th floor) of the Hancock Center and the images were all coming out blurry at ISO levels of 100, 200 and 400. For this picture the shutter only had to remain open for 1.3 seconds versus 15 seconds or more at lower ISO levels. I’m not sure if the building was swaying or if people were tapping the makeshift tripod I assembled (since ‘normal’ tripods are not allowed) but having the ability to capture the same quality image 13 seconds faster was a huge advantage.

View from the John Hancock Center (Chicago, Illinois)

View from the Hancock Center (Chicago, IL)

Honeycomb Buildings – Chicago, IL

The Marina City buildings in Chicago – often referred to as the honeycomb buildings – sit on the Chicago River in one of the nicest areas of the city. Mixed between residential and commercial use the two towers were built in 1965 by legendary architect Bertrand Goldberg. At the time of the completion of the project it stood as the tallest residential complex ever built (65 stories) and included a five story elevator. It has been surpassed now by many buildings throughout the world (and Chicago) but the unique honeycomb/corncob shape still makes it one of the most fascinating buildings along the Chicago River.

Honeycomb Buildings – Chicago, IL

Marina City Chicago IL

I focused in on the details of the building and liked the contrast of the curved porches with the darker building across the street from it.

If you want to see what the buildings look like from afar – here is a good picture of them at by Kevin Cobos

Now that’s a Church!

Taking over five hundred years to build the Duomo in Milan (Milan Cathedral) is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever been in. If you’ve been on this site enough you’d get the sense that I love church interiors and I could have spent all day inside this place taking pictures of it. The great thing about it is that they actually allow it. As long as you pay the photography fee of five Euros they didn’t seem to mind all of my HDRing that at points took two or three minutes for each set of shots given how dark the interior was. Of course I didn’t try to take out my travel tripod but I did have the camera setup on a greenpod and also a GorillaPod but as long as I had my bracelet on showing I made my donation they weren’t opposed to me firing away.

Photo of the Day – Interior of Il Duomo – Milan, Italy

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The interior of the Milan Cathedral is expansive and their are fifty-two very large pillars (one for each week) supporting the massive ceiling above. Also notable in this picture is the red dot above the altar in the distance. This is the spot where (supposedly) one of the nails from Jesus crucifixion was placed when they were building it. Many Catholics make the pilgrimage to this church just to see this nail.

Chicago Skyline

Among the top in the world and one of the easiest to shoot because of the accessibility of a the lake front which juts out just south of the downtown area. This provides a nice viewing point for sunsets behind some of the world’s tallest buildings. Four of the seven tallest in America are in downtown Chicago (Three – Sears Tower, Trump Tower and the Aon Center) are in this picture. A little farther north – just out of the frame is the John Hancock Center.

Photo of the Day – The Skyline at Sunset

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Milan, Italy (Il Duomo)

I posted a picture I took at night of the Duomo a couple weeks back – this shot I took the following morning. The square was empty and I had the place to myself for what seemed like hours. It was quite a difference from the day before when the square had been packed with street vendors and other tourists. It really is a much different experience when you are able to walk around and view all the minute details without fear of bumping into someone else.

Photo of the Day – Statues of Il Duomo

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The Duomo has 135 spires and over 3200 statues similar to the ones seen in this image around the exterior. All are attached to the building by a chain (I imagine one fell at some point thus prompting the chains) and they represent varying images, people, events of the bible. Take a look at the detail in the each of the figures and imagine that there are thousands of those surrounding the church. I walked all around the church, slowly, taking them all in. Still later in the day on our walk back from breakfast I noticed things that I hadn’t seen before. It really is a tremendous sight.

It was an amazing experience and though I’m glad we only stayed one night in Milan that one night was well worth it.