Chicago Alleys

The Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day I woke up super early to go to the Chicago loop to take photos. No, I wasn’t shooting the parade or the dying of the Chicago River. I went to the loop to take photos of Alleys.

I signed up for the Chicago Street Photography group on Meetup and Facebook a couple months prior but had not yet been to an event. Now that the weather is getting all nice and warm out (and by warm I mean, slightly above freezing), I figured it was time to get out of my house and take some city photos. Besides, cold weather provides for nice, sharp images, making things extra perfect for interesting architectural photos.

Chicago Alley Walk

I met up with the group at Argo Tea downtown and our leader Chuck Jines proceeded to lead us to some of his favorite Alleys to photograph in the loop. I’ve worked in the loop for over a year so I’m familiar with the downtown area, but walking through it via the alleys gave it a whole new feel. The loop feels clean and fast-paced with tons of people and tourists. Seeing it from the view of the alleys, on the other hand, gave it a distinctly backwards feel, with lots of dumpsters and standing water, but you could still see the throngs of people walking by on the main streets just at the edge.

Chicago Alley Walk

With all the interesting buildings and architecture around, I decided to focus on perspective photos. Sometimes all I had to do was look up:

Chicago Alley Walk

Or, conversely, get really close to the ground:

Chicago Alley Walk

Lots of people are familiar with the loop, but shooting it from interesting perspectives can make it seem new and interesting.

Chicago Alley Walk

Things I did well: Going the extra lengths to get photographs, like lying on the rather dirty Chicago ground or climbing a fence, ended up being totally worth it for the interesting perspective shots I got. I’ve never been particularly good at shooting architecture, so I was rather proud with the outcomes from the alleys.

Things I could improve on: I need to get out my damn manual and find the fucking iso button, I mean seriously. The iso was way to high and every time I tried to lower it (since I was outside in the sun!) the auto-iso kicked back in. I hate that my photos have so much grain. I need to figure out how to override the auto-iso on my Nikon before I go out shooting again.

My favorite part: At one point a construction worker came up to us and very nicely asked if we were lost and looking for the parade. We explained to him that no, we weren’t lost and actually meant to be in the alleys. He was a bit confused but accepted the explanation.

By the end of the alley walk my fingers and toes were completely frozen so while the other photographers did go on to photograph the parade and river dying, I headed back home and instead watched the 1992 Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade in The Fugitive. I was warm and comfy.

My favorite photo: 

Chicago Alley Walk

You can see all my photos from the Alley walk at the Flickr Album or in the slideshow.