Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2008

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.

Slippery commute

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Our wet snow mostly melted yesterday, but with colder temperatures overnight, a lot of water and the bit of snow that remained became ice. It was about 15 degrees when I set out this morning. The roads were adequately salted and in pretty good shape, but the bike path was another story. I turned onto it to find patches of glare ice alternating with patches of rough ice. The snow and ice crunched beneath my wheels, an occasional sharp ice chunk grabbing my tires and making a “ping” sound as the rubber broke free from the sharp ice. I rode slowly and tried to keep my line as straight as possible.

I discovered my traction was better if I rode toward the edge of the path, rather than right down the middle where others had ridden and where there was only slick ice. The snow and leaves toward the edge of the path gave me a little extra traction. I was a little worried about the climb up toward the bypass, but it proved not to be a problem even though the path had a good layer of ice. Again I think the only reason I didn’t have trouble was that the ice had such a rough surface; otherwise I would have needed studded tires. The rest of my commute was uneventful.

I wish I had my camera this morning to get some good ice shots, but I left it at home. I’ll post a couple photos from yesterday instead.

One advantage to commuting by bicycle: not having to clear off the car

Bike path

7th Street

I got home last night just as the apartment office closed, which was unfortunate because I have a package waiting there. It should be a camera I won on eBay, an old Yashica Lynx 5000 compact rangefinder. I’ll take it to Chicago this weekend, though, and give it a shakedown run there. I would’ve preferred to run a test roll of film through it before then.

Wet snow

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

It snowed overnight, and with temperatures at exactly 32 degrees this morning, most of the roads were clear, but a few sections had snow and a few more had disgusting slush. It felt warm, compared to most of my recent commutes. I saw a cyclist on the bike path who had slick tires, and he was having a little bit of trouble. I let some air out of my knobby tires last night in anticipation of the snow, and I had great traction this morning. I definitely think that leaving the knobby tires on my old mountain bike for the winter has been the way to go.

Sarah and I are going to Chicago this weekend to party with some friends from Northwestern. We’ll also get to revisit some of our old haunts in Evanston and Chicago. It should be a good time, but that’ll mean no riding over the weekend. I need to get out soon and do some longer rides; my fitness level is really slipping.

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