I took today’s photo in Morton Grove, IL, behind the shopping center where the old Chernin’s Shoes was. It was an autumn day (see the leaves!) and I was there to take photos for my friends Gary and Lancy getting engaged.
I saw this upended tree and thought the spectacle of the exposed roots was worth a shot. Didn’t do anything special for settings. Just point and shoot with my Sony a700.
I’m certainly no nature expert so I’m not sure if this tree’s roots separating the soil was the result of natural erosion or if the stream is a man made thing but it was a thing to behold.
Just when you think you’ve seen every possible weather combination, Mother Nature delivers something new: a lightning blizzard.
Here in Chicago, the weather service warned about the impending weather pattern for 3 days. They said to expect 21 inches of snow in a day. I heard the rate would be somewhere around 3 inches per hour through the night. Of course, Chicagoans expect under-delivery on big weather predictions. 2 feet usually turns out to be 9 inches and 12 inches often becomes 5.
The Lightning Blizzard Arrives
Today though, mother nature made good on her promise. Right on the weatherman’s call, the winds started to swirl around 2pm. The gusts blew an ungodly amount of powder through the air without pause. Having walked through a mile of the storm back from work, I can attest that this was the most disruptive winter event I’ve seen. It’s not bitterly cold but the winds are incredibly high and are pushing more snow back up through the air than I can ever recall. I wore full coverage sunglasses for my entire walk and still had trouble looking up from the ground.
Don’t Fight It, Enjoy the View
So, I’m staying at home tonight. Considering the power and rarity of the event, I thought I’d snap a few photos from the safety of our 3rd floor apartment. I shot these around 10pm on Tuesday night.
In line with my previous advice, I tried to shoot as much as I could without firing a flash. Letting the stage lights illuminate the singer created a pleasant variety of moods. In these examples, it’s clear when the gels were in their various states of green, red and blue. On the white-lit shot, I fired a gridded flash to isolate the subject from the background.
Born in the USA
Well, the stage backdrop made for some interesting shots. The oversized American flag gave it a Ryan Adams / Toby Keith feel, which kind-of works with the denim working-man aesthetic Pete has. The Gibson J-2oo (one of my favorite strumming guitars of all time) also adds a nice visual touch to the photo. It may be petty, but only serious musicians will fork over $3,000 for a guitar that nice.
Even so, the flag is such a dominating icon that I didn’t want it in every picture. That’s why I took the profile shots as well. I really enjoy the way the retro neon signs light up the backdrop with a subtle fuzziness from the shallow depth of field. It’s got a dive-y low rent kind of charm that appeals to me.
As far as camera settings, I started with auto-exposure to see how it could handle the low light. Turns out, the camera wasn’t as fast as the auto setting thought. I ended up in Aperture Priority set to 1.7 in my 50mm Minolta prime lens. I started with a shutter speed of 1″ and stepped it up, one shot at a time, until I got to 1/30. The setting ended up being great. Auto-focus had no problems with the setting so I let it do it’s thing.