Aug 9, 2010

Chicago, The Loop - Summer 1999 (Horseman SW612Pro)


The Loop seen from the South Side, IIT Campus in the foreground

Riding the train from O'Hare International Airport into the Windy City, we soon started to have the funny bitter feeling that maybe we made the wrong decision when, wanting to save some bucks, we left the expensive cabs behind us and rushed to the train station.

As the city got nearer and nearer, numerous strange and peculiar looking people seemed to feel a certain kind of special attraction for all the crazy bags and cases that we transported.

Who knows, maybe it was just simple curiosity?

I bet that all the gangsters in Chicago must have gotten scared of that two little funny creatures coming maybe from the outer space, carrying only-God knows what kind of secret weapons on their metallic cases...

Strange robot cops out of nowhere going to everywhere? Who dares to ask?

In fact, we are loaded with cases of precious photographic equipment: 4x5 inches Gandolfi Variant, Horseman SW612Pro (both of course with the necessary lenses), exposure meters, color meter, filters, roll film holders, tripods, film, and so on and so on.

Did I mention our wallets, credit cards, passport, money, clothes, sleeping bags and the like?

My son Jorge, by then in the beginning of his twenties, looks like asking if we will ever get out of there alive... I try to look calm and reply that he should pretend that we are at home, that we are just doing the most natural thing in the world, we are hardcore Chicagoans and no one can do us no harm, no matter which hellbound train we ride!

Truth is, we are for the first time in our lives walking on american soil...

Chicago Transit Authority was kind enough to offer us the very first cheap emotions!

Chicago, here we come!!!

As possibly some of you know, I was in Chicago on assignment, photographing the works of Mies van der Rohe for Editorial Blau. I have posted some material before, so people familiar with this blog should know what I am talking about.

This time around, the talk won't be about Mies, but about the "few times in between", the few times that I took the chance of photographing something else. Looking back, I understand that in a way it was a lost chance, as I realize that I should have made much more images than I did on my spare time.
Photographing for a book on Mies' architecture obliged us to be focused on our task, also losing countless hours on burocratic stuff like permissions and the like.

Chicago is a fantastic city and Lake Michigan is just unforgettable, you can find millions of motives to photograph and a lot of music to hear! Maybe I will be back one day shooting on my own, without pressures and obligations. I will then maybe find the peace of mind to do my own stuff at my own pace, with my own rhythm.

If chance happens, should I do it in Large Format? Leica? One lens, ten lenses?
Color, black and white? Sheet film, roll film? Square, panoramic?
I guess that I better do it all and then some more...

And I promise that I will try some other pizzas, not only Luigi's world famous (in IIT Common's... He invariably asked if we wanted one - paper - plate or two plates... You understood right, for both of us! Wanna get Luigi fucked up? Ask him for a napkin... And then maybe some salt... You better run soon!).
And I won't forget the world's best chicken wings, and the world's dearest donuts, and the world's funkiest McDonald's, and the world's best blues, and the world's nicest everything...

Yes, that is Chicago too!

All photographs made with Horseman SW612Pro + Rodenstock lenses
(Faraway view with Gandolfi Variant and Schneider lens)
All images shot on 120 film (6x12 and 6x9): Kodak E100S and E100VS

On this trip I had the chance of testing the then new Ektachrome E100VS. I found it a touch too saturated and with a little bit too much contrast.
I know that it is supposed to be saturated...
It just happens that I am an old dog, and old dogs not always like to change their food...

As I said before, my son Jorge was my assistant on this trip. God knows that I would have gone mad for sure without his help. Jorge happens to be a very nice guy, taking it easy... His patience and good nature made me do it with a smile, very often even with a loud laugh.

Once again "thank you, my son. In the end, we did have a really good time, didn't we?"!



  1. of course we did have a great time in our whole trip across the US and specially in Canada. I will never forget the scary faces of murderlooking capdrivers that would give us our ride back home at night to the IIT in the middle of Southside after various hiiiiiiiisssterical calls on their cab-radio "jlhsfhuhf fwfbhfh dshaiuhuh Southside huifahihf" and so on. I still laugh about it today...
    Unforgetable as well are the architectual Miracles we found in Chicago, the nicest landscapes in Connecticut and Vermont and the lovely canadians.
    For sure this will be the trip which I will tell my grand-sons about in the future.
    The best trip I had until today for several reasons. But most important are the personal reasons (feelings and emotions) that this trip povided us for a lifetime.
    Thanks DAD, It is such an honour to be part
    of these nice memories...
    Your son Jorge

  2. Thank you very, very much Jorge,
    You made me laugh again!
    Yes, and I cry a little too...
    Your father,