In the Lincoln Park Zoo there is a great spot to capture a view of Chicago’s skyline. On the bridge that stretches over the little lake where visitors often paddle around in Swan boats, if you stop halfway across you can see the skyscrappers that make up one of the most iconic of America’s skylines. Standing tall in the distance their images reflect off of the lake you are standing above. I was recently at this spot with my family, my wife and our 8 month old daugher. It was warmer than usual out in Chicago for this time of year so we thought it was a great opportunity to to introduce our little one to Lincoln Park Zoo for the first time. We stopped at the bridge to take some selfies of ourselves so my wife had something to share on Facebook, and even though I had my larger camera with me, I chose instead to take a photo of the view with my iPhone, thinking it would be an interesting Instagram shot.
I edited the image later at home into something I was happy with, a pretty decent black and white skyline photo. While I liked the photo I felt it needed something more than just the normal black and white treatment. Later the next day as I was driving in my car I got what I thought was a really good idea, they always seem to come while driving don’t they? I had this idea in my head that the photo would look really interesting as a color photo with a section done in black and white. What I was picturing was a color image that looked like someone had ripped a portion of it off, revealing underneath a black and white portion of the photo ( I hope that makes sense, I’m not always good at explaining what I see in my head in words, hence why I’m a photographer and not a writer). I tried a few versions of this….it did not turn out nearly like I pictured it, so I kept playing around with different ideas. For the hell of it I inverted the colors into a negative view. This turned the black Chicago skyline white and made it pop against the now black sky. The immediatly reminded me of the term The White City, which has a history in Chicago going back to the old World’s Fair. I made some tweaks with levels and adjustments until I was happy with the final outcome. Sometimes in making photographs you don’t need to have a clear endpoint in mind. Sometimes you stumble across things that work, happy accidents, as my art professor used to say.
Prints of The White City can be purchased here