Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Weekend in Chicago: party and urban photography

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Sarah and I went to Chicago over the weekend for a party, a reunion of sorts of many of my college friends, most of whom Sarah had never met. It was great to catch up with some old friends and talk to a few people who went to Northwestern at the same time, but who I never got to know then.

The party was Saturday night, so Sarah and I took advantage of the day on Saturday to make a trip up to Northbrook to visit the church where my grandparents are buried and visit some of the places we frequented when we lived in the area. It was insanely cold, with a high of 8 degrees and very cold windchills.

I brought my “new” camera, a Yashica Lynx 5000 rangefinder I won on eBay last week, to give it a trial run. I had loaded it with slide film for cross-processing. The camera was untested and sold as-is, and I quickly realized the light meter didn’t work. At first I thought this was going to be a lost cause, but I decided to try shooting without a meter, using the “Sunny 16 rule” and making adjustments as I felt were necessary. The results were much better than I anticipated.

While we waited for the car to warm up, we took a few shots of the El tracks around my friends’ place.

The El

Under the tracks
The underside of the El tracks

After that, we had breakfast at the Deluxe Diner, where we used to go quite frequently. We noticed they’re not open 24 hours anymore … what a shame! Other than that, it was just how we remembered, with great food and mediocre service.

Deluxe Diner sign

Deluxe Diner


Hand in hand


Private parking
Cool wall on a neighboring building

I am astonished at how well these photos turned out, given that I was basically guessing the camera settings to get the proper exposure. It was also a completely different way of thinking about photography; instead of looking at the meter reading inside the camera, I found myself looking more closely at the subjects and light sources and making adjustments based on how much light I saw. It was really quite liberating. I definitely need to spend some time reading the Ultimate Exposure Computer to learn more about shooting this way, but I was surprised how well I did by simply using Sunny 16 as a guide.

Next, we went to Rogers Park to visit my old, ghetto neighborhood. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but did go by my old apartment and took a few shots in the alley.

Power lines
Power lines


My old building


After that, we went to Northbrook to visit the church where my grandparents are buried.

Village Church
The Village Church in Northbrook, IL

The path through the small cemetery

Me (taken by Sarah)

We headed down to Evanston next and took our film in for processing. We went to a few other places, picked up our photos, and then went to our old apartment in Evanston. At this point I switched to B&W film.

Looking up at our old apartment




Our old apartment building

Neighboring garage

Neighboring house

Finally, a few shots I took later.

The El going by (long exposure)



It was a great trip, and I’m very pleased with this camera, as well as my ability to use it without a functional light meter. The lens is nice and sharp, and has pleasant bokeh. I’m looking forward to shooting with it more, and improving my skills at shooting without an exposure meter.

7 Responses to “Weekend in Chicago: party and urban photography”

  1. Noah Says:

    I know that my dad’s trusty K-1000 can go through batteries like a son of a gun. Does this one use batteries? Possibly a dead battery or corrosion on the terminals? Just a thought. Regardless, kudos on your guesstimates. Those photos turned out great!

  2. Apertome Says:

    It’s funny you say that, I’ve had my K1000 for over 10 years and only replaced the battery once.

    This Yashica Lynx does take a battery, and it didn’t come with one, so I bought a new one. The terminals don’t seem to be corroded, so I’m assuming the light meter is dead. I was thinking of trying to find a way to fix it until I saw the results I got without it. Now I just want to hone my skills at this newfound meterless exposure. It’ll also come in handy for shooting with my old Kodak Retina camera, which completely lacks a light meter.

  3. Marty Says:

    Really great work with the slide film AND the black-and-white. I’m more a fan of the B&W in general, but both were cool to see. I also appreciate the two links you provided – great resources for me to use as a nature photographer (novice, obviously). Glad that you had a great trip.

    Oh, and was the picture of the diner near where County General (E.R.) is – it looked familiar (just kidding).

  4. Fairweather Zealot » Blog Archive » Links Bonanza! Says:

    […] I’d never heard of this photography rule for shooting in sun without a light meter until Michael posted something about it. Pretty simple and cool concept. And the link to the Ultimate Exposure […]

  5. Dan Says:

    I love the shot of your dog.

  6. Spoilsport T. Partypooper Says:

    Wow. What a awesome pictures.

  7. John Says:

    Good stuff. Looks cold too.

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