With the inspiration of Chris’ beautiful photos and the historical perspective of Wendy Bright’s article, I decided to try my hand at photographing the magnificent rooms of the Chicago Cultural Center. I am new to architectural and HDR photography. I consider myself a nature photographer and I particularly enjoy capturing the small details and beauty of nature through macro photography. I met Chris a year ago when I joined the Garden Photographic Society, a camera club that meets at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Seeing Chris’ work and following his website has given me the impetus to break out of my comfort zone and try something new. The sparkling mosaics and colorful Tiffany glass of the Cultural Center seemed the perfect place to start my journey.
I have lived in Chicago for 37 years and had only been to a few exhibits in the Cultural Center, but I had never explored the hidden jewels that lie within. Part of my passion for photography lies in learning about what I am shooting, whether it is the history of a building or the anatomy of a flower. It was so much more meaningful to photograph these grand rooms having read Wendy’s article. It’s easy to be transferred back in time and imagine checking out a library book under the Tiffany dome of Bradley Preston Hall or attending a ceremony of uniformed Civil War vets in the G.A.R. Rotunda. During this visit I concentrated on the “big picture,” trying to capture the grandeur of the rooms and domes. I was fortunate to have a good 4 hours to shoot, so I could take my time, check my composition and see that everything was in line and level, which gets a bit tricky in venues like this. I experimented with 5, 7, 9 and even 13 exposures for some of my images. I processed my images in Photomatix, with some additional tweaks with curves, saturation or dodge/burn layers in Photoshop. I have found Chris’ daily posts particularly helpful in learning HDR processing. I am looking forward to a return visit to the Cultural Center, macro lens in hand, so that I may capture the details of the mosaics, woodwork and beautiful marble. Thank you, Wendy and Chris, for starting me on a fun new journey in photography!
You can check out my nature photography and read my blog, which is largely dedicated to my passion for the Chicago Botanic Garden, at annebelmont.zenfolio.com