Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

August is flying by with indecent haste, bringing thoughts of the colors of fall, even though green is still rich and abundant.  However, it’s the third Monday of the month, meaning we eschew color for a trip back into the time of black and white photography.  So simple now to play not only with color/monotone, but to edit, undo, redo, do more and different things.  I’m hearkening back to earlier this year when I took the train into “the city”, Chicago proper, and while waiting for the Art Institute to open, enjoyed a distorted view of the city and my fellow humans courtesy of The Bean.

In photos of the outside of The Bean, the city appears to bend and curve, but when shot from underneath, The Bean hints strongly at Escher and his contemporaries.  It also translates easily into monotone showcasing that distorted, other-worldly, impossible world.






A day spent walking around downtown Chicago is bound to turn up a few oddball photos.  Oddballs may defy categorization, may be shots of odd things, or just don’t fit any other challenge.

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

Although the day I visited, the city was full of light and color, the Windy City struts its stuff in black and white as well.  Come, get your kicks.

© janet m. webb 2016


I’ve taken you on the train from Naperville into “the city”, AKA Chicago. We’ve seen the urban canyonlands and a few items from the Art Institute of Chicago.  Last week, I shared photos of the Bean from around the outside.  The reflections of the sky, buildings, and people are amazing.  But get under the Bean and everything looks different.  From a quirky distortion of its surroundings you’re taken into the land of M.C. Escher (or into section of the circus fun house with the funky mirrors.)

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

From our Chicago suburb, the preferred method of visiting the city, at least for me, is to take the Metra train into Union Station, then walk to my destination.  That’s the easy part.  Parking is the difficult part.  People who commute regularly compete for passes to park at the station.  Outside of that, parking anywhere nearby is limited to between 2-4 hours, not nearly enough to get into the city, do something, and get back.  If you arrive at the right time (after the morning rush), there are a number of $2-for-the-day spots.  I prefer having my husband drop me off and, as this sign shows, during these hours, that’s what works.  I enjoy the humor of the sign.  The shot was taken out the window as we went by, hence the fuzziness.  But it IS an oddball photo, so…

© janet m. webb 2016

Taking a photo of another train passing our train resulted in a rather cool oddball as well.

© janet m. webb 2016

In 2004, sculptor Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” was unveiled in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago..  The initial mocking sobriquet of “The Electric Kidney Bean” was eventually lovingly shortened to “The Bean” and Chicago and its visitors embraced this marvel. 80% of it reflects the sky and twice a year it gets washed with 40 gallons of liquid Tide, the better to reflect both the city and its enthralled visitors.

When first spotted, the resemblance to a space ship is strong.  On this warm, sunny spring day, it’s a stunning sight and up close, it’s even more intriguing.

© janet m. web 2016

The edge seems to flow seamlessly into the sky and the city takes on a whole new beautiful look as it bends and reflects.

© janet m. webb 2016

With a little vintage riff, you get an old picture postcard look.

© janet m. webb 2016

I had a good time taking photos of people taking family or group photos so they could all get in the shot.  In return, someone offered to take one of me, doing my part to keep the Bean in place.

© janet m. webb 2016

Under the Bean, though, things change from a distorted yet charming reflection of the city to a definite Escher-like look. But that’s a picture story for another time.

I hadn’t been into “the city” (Chicago) for many months, but as the Art Institute was showing the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibit and I had a free pass, I decided to make the trip.  Fortunately, we live in a suburb with a metra train line that goes right to Union Station and my husband, now working mostly from home, could drop me off, as parking near the station is difficult.

I chose to leave early, even though I’d arrive in the city with several hours in hand. If I went later, instead of a half hour trip, I’d be on the milk run train, stopping in every suburb between here and Chicago and consuming one and a half hours.  I’d already scoped out a bakery/coffee shop that sounded good and was more or less along the mile or so walk between station and Art Institute, so I went early, Kindle and camera in my bag.

Walking slowly in the crowd of disembarked commuters, I was brought to internal laughter by the irony of bright, cheerful ads for Colorado.  We were in the semi-gloom of a station in the midst of the third most populated city in the US and there were the pristine mountains and streams of the West.  I filled my soul with numerous looks as everyone trudged for the doorway.

The final irony was this decorated set of stairs leading up and out into the canyonlands of not Colorado, but Chicago.

© janet m. webb 2016

Dwarfed in the urban canyons.

© janet m. webb 2016

© janet m. webb 2016

Today, I’m in the eastern urban canyons of Philadelphia.  Enjoy your weekend!


In the heart of the metropolitan Chicago area, in Naperville, a city of close to 146,00, lies Greene Valley Forest Preserve, covering over 1,400 acres in area.  Eleven miles of trails traverse a variety of habitats: woodland, wetland, grassland, prairie, waterways, lakes, and ponds.

Dupage County contains over a million people in a number of cities and villages.  According to Wikipedia:

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County owns and manages 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. More than 4 million visitors each year enjoy 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, and five education centers.

Greene Valley is part of this system. On a lovely October Saturday afternoon, we walked some of the trail, then headed up a road that wound up a retired landfill.  We were passed by a number of cars going a great deal over the speed limit, but made it to the top under foot power.  Again, according to Wikipedia:

The 190-foot-tall scenic overlook offers a bird’s-eye view of DuPage County and the Chicago skyline and is a great place to picnic, look for migrating birds or participate in regularly scheduled District programs. A road leads from the base of the hill to a parking lot at the top. In addition to great views, this retired landfill provides energy for thousands of area homes from the methane it produces.

Just as in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, in the land of the prairie, a landfill can be a mountain.  At the top, we had an amazing view of the colors of the fall leaves.  There was a bird-watching station set up with a chart detailing the birds that had been spotted.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any peregrine falcons, hawks, or other birds.  But we did get a rare view of the Chicago Illinois-us, a large bird many miles away, seen only from the tops of mountains.

copyright janet m. webb 2015


This is the last day of the Black and White Challenge, again in downtown Chicago.  I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I hope you have, too.


Finally, I nominate Allan G. Smorra, blogging at Ohm Sweet Ohm.  Allan used to work on the Golden Gate Bridge and has many astounding photos from his time there as well as many non-bridge-related shots.

I rarely combine challenges, but this photo, taken in downtown Chicago last summer, seemed to work well for both Day 3 of the Black and White Challenge and for the 4th Monday of the month Phoneography Challenge, Challenger’s Choice.  The black and white really makes the details show up and there are lots of details!


Today I’d like to invite Nicole at Third Eye Mom to participate in the 5-Day Black and White challenge.  She has the most marvelous, colorful photos from all over the world, but I know she can do a great job in B&W as well.  But you’ll find much more than photos on her blog.  I’m not going to give anything away.  Just visit.  I assure you you won’t regret it.