The most reflective sculpture in Chicago was always going to make for a good photographic challenge. After speaking with friends who had been (no pun intended) before I knew it was a popular spot for tourists. So much so that anytime of the day or evening Millennium Park was packed with people. Looking for a more abstract view of Cloud Gate, focusing on the refections of the skyscrapers around it, I got up before dawn to get the place to myself. This photograph was taken from the north side of the Bean to show reflections of the biggest buildings along Randolph Street.
This huge sculpture, unofficially known as the bean, was my main reason for visiting Chicago. I had been looking forward to a chance to capture this work of art for many years. My favourite image of the bean is without people around it. To get this I got up very early in the morning before anyone else. After reviewing my shots it does seem less real in a way without people. For anyone who has never had the chance to visit Chicago and see Cloud Gate it is difficult to give a true sense of scale. This is where people can work well in a photograph. Anytime after 7am to late into the evening there will be crowds of people here most days.
Here I wanted to make the Cloud Gate sculpture appear quite small in the frame. By using a wide angle lens and putting the camera (on tripod of course) low down has given me this perspective. The buildings here are some of my favourites as they are very tall but also have quite a unique older style of architecture. Only one or two have the ultra modern glass walls you see in many of the larger cities around the world. When I captured this photograph I was unsure about including the moon in my final edited version. In this ten second long exposure the bright white of the moon has become like a star, but so have all the orange street lights behind the sculpture. Even the lights reflected on the stainless steel have starred out in the same fashion which seem to have worked well in my opinion.
Cloud Gate, more commonly known as “The Bean” is a fun sculpture to photograph. The only issue with it that I found is how popular it is in the day and evening times. First thing in the morning I practically had the whole of the Millennium Park to myself so my only concern was not getting myself or the camera in the reflection. After getting a few wide angle photographs with interesting reflections and the city skyline behind it I moved in for some closer views. The stainless steel could have done with a clean but I think that the contrast between the tree on the left of the frame and the extremely distorted reflection of the buildings works really well.
There are two fantastic view points at the top of skyscrapers that are open to the public. The highest one (Skydeck Chicago) is from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower (formerly called the Sears Towers). After doing a bit of research on the subject and asking around friends pointed out that a better photograph might be taken from the Observatory at the John Handcock Center. On the left side of the frame, though it looks like the sea, this is the massive Lake Michigan. The tallest building on the right of the picture is the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the USA. This is a five second long exposure, using a table to support the camera. Sadly, even with a polarising filter there is still a problem with reflections on the glass window I was shooting through. These reflections on the glass are from the lights inside the room I was in.