Everyone loves a sunset or sunrise don’t they? It’s probably one of the most photographed of genres in photography, and with the rise in the quality of camera phones it’s certainly one of the most uploaded photography themes on the internet too. Throughout history humans have been drawn to the sun, moon and stars so it’s no surprise really that we take, upload and gravitate towards these images. Recently on my travels I have tried several times to drag myself out of bed, go to some remote spot and capture that rising sun. I even did it in Chicago on the edge of Lake Michigan shortly after the Polar Vortex while it was -17, but every time it has yielded less than satisfactory results. Personally, I love taking sunset photos. I prefer the light, the long shadows and the sleep in in the morning! We all have our strengths and weaknesses and pre 5am is my weakness!
Chicago is a great city (even in the cold), it’s beautiful, sits beside a spectacular lake and hosts an abundance of some of the most impressive architecture you will find. The City Pass is a “tour” voucher system allowing you into various museums and sights for a reduced price and in amongst the choices is the Willis Tower and the Hancock Observatory. The Willis Tower is considered “the best” as it is the tallest building in America, 108 floors and 1,451-foot high, It also hosts a sky deck with 360 degree views of the city on the 99th floor. However for me, its “rival” the Hancock Observatory wins on the views, it stands tall at the top of the “Magnificent Mile” and casts it’s Darth Vader/stealthy shadow over all below it, while offering nicer views of Lake Michigan. On the 94th floor is the observatory boasting an open air skywalk (soon to be a tipping platform!) and views of the Magnificent Mile and beyond. It also has the highest coffee shop in Chicago!
I had a rough idea that a sunset should look pretty spectacular from the Hancock, but had no idea it would look quite this amazing. I arrived a few hours before hand and checked out where the best spots would be. While waiting for the sunset I shot the views to the East over the frozen Lake Michigan as the sun cast long shadows of the building over the snow and ice.
After that I then set the camera up on the West side, sat back with a coke and waited. In an ideal world, you would use a tripod for these kind of shots, however many buildings do not allow the use of tripods so improvisation is often key. On this occasion there is a small ledge that ran around the bottom of the floor, so I propped the camera up, connected the cable release (to avoid any shakes), pressed the lens flat against the glass to avoid any light reflections from inside the room and fired off some test shots. From there, the rest is history.
James Tarry is a professional London based Interior/Architectural and travel photographer. A digital user but favours the purity of Film, he also blogs, Instagrams and Tweets (a lot) too. His portfolio/blog can be found on www.jamestarryphotography.com, Twitter: @JT__Photography and Instagram: @JT___Photography