Skate at Soldier Field

Yesterday I was one of the 2,500 people who got to ice skate at the free public skate on the rink set up in Soldier Field in anticipation of the Hockey City Classic coming up in a few weeks.  Here are some of the shots that I got from the event.

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Caught this great shot of the snow falling from the Waldron parking deck as I was leaving the skate event.

Caught this great shot of the snow falling from the Waldron parking deck as I was leaving the skate event.

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Fire-N-Ice

 
I made it through a few more of my photos of the southside warehouse fire. Hope you enjoy them.

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Ice Castle

On Tuesday night of last week, a 5 alarm fire broke out at a nearly 100-year-old abandoned Bridegport warehouse on the Southside of Chicago near Ashland and 37th. Smoke was initially spotted by a fire department battalion chief passing by the former Harris Marcus Group building at 3757 S. Ashland Ave. shortly after 9 p.m. and called it in. 

Extra alarms were quickly called as the fire spread throughout the 4 story warehouse causing the roof and three walls of the 200-foot by 200-foot structure to collapse as crews fought the flames. The fire was particularly difficult to battle in 10-degree temperatures as more than 170 firefighters, one-third of the Chicago Fire Department’s on-duty personnel,  contended with frozen hydrants, icy ladders and gear covered with frost and ice as they worked the scene. The fire was finally brought under control around 12:30 a.m.

After firefighters cleaned up the scene and continued searching for hot spots on Wednesday, the water from the fire hoses and the frigid temperatures created amazing ice formations on the brick walls of the warehouse, utility lines leading up to the building, street lights surrounding the exterior, vehicles abandoned in the parking lot, the bridge in front of the building and virtually anything else that came into contact with the overspray from the multiple lines used to fight the fire creating an “ice castle” appearance for the gutted warehouse and surrounding structures.  

The fire that smoldered for hours into Wednesday afternoon rekindled Thursday morning, almost a day and a half after prompting the largest fire department response in seven years. Firefighters had expected the fire to rekindle in areas where the roof and floors had collapsed.

The Fire Department also deployed a piece of equipment from the 1960s dubbed “Big Mo” that can shoot 2,000 to 3,000 gallons of water a minute from two turrets that can be fed by as many as 10 water lines.  This special deluge unit which doesn’t get much action these days helped the CFD get the fire back under control for the second time.

Due to growing concerns about the warehouse collapsing, demolition of the building in the 3700 block of South Ashland Avenue began Friday morning, though fires continued to burn inside. As the demolition crew removed sections of the outer walls, periodic flareups were seen as oxygen was introduced into the various void spaces where fire is still burning underneath the debris.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it out to the building during the fire or before the demolition crew had started to tear it down, but I still managed to make it there on Saturday to catch a few interesting shots of fire crews spraying water on the smoldering hot spots, the cool ice structures they created in the process and the removal of a box truck from the back of the building that was totally encased in ice.

I ended up taking hundreds of photos while I was there and I’m currently in the process of sorting through my favorites.  Since I have so many, I think this will require multiple days to post all the ones I like but here’s a few to get things kicked off.

Ice Castle

Facade

Water Tower

Stalactites

Refrigerated Truck

Hot Spot

Resources:

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Chicago Firefighter/Paramedic Memorial

Sadly, the city of Chicago lost another hero last night. Chicago Fire Department Captain Herbert Johnson passed away Friday night from injuries received in the line of duty while battling a fire on the south side of the city. It’s a sad reminder of how dangerous it is protecting and serving this city.

In memory of all the fallen Chicago firefighters and paramedics, the Gold Badge Society sponsored the installation of the Chicago Firefighter/Paramedic Memorial on Chicago’s lakefront. It’s a very peaceful and scenic park just south of McCormick Place that features bronze sculptures of firefighter’s helmets and boots as well as paver stones inscribed with the names of over 500 of Chicago’s bravest who lost their lives in the line of duty.

I’ve stopped to visit this memorial several times as I’ve ridden my bike up and down the lakefront path. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it so I wanted to post some photos I’ve taken of the sculptures just to showcase this great memorial in one of Chicago’s most beautiful locations. I strongly recommend checking it out one day to pay respect to the fallen.

Posted in A Fallen Hero, Chicago, Fire Department, Firefighters, HDR, Parks

Chicago Air and Water Show 2012

This past weekend was one of my favorite weekends of the year. It was the weekend of the Chicago Air & Water Show. I look forward to it every year and it keeps getting more enjoyable every summer.

Even if you don’t go to the beach to take it all in, you’re sure to see some aircraft circling the city all weekend. But as usual, I made the trip down to the lake front on Friday and Saturday to catch the show. And just an insider tip to anyone from out of town who wants to view the show without all the crowds, there is always a full practice the Friday before the official show. It’s the same show with the same performers but it’s during work hours so it’s great for beating the crowds.

I’ll be posting a few of my favorite shots this week. Today’s post is a photo of a headliner from the show. It’s one of the F-18’s from the Navy Blue Angels pulling out of a dive.

 

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Upside Down

Here’s a new twist on a familiar skyline shot. I caught a reflection of the John Hancock Center in the lake water that had crashed up onto the concrete lake front path over the weekend. It kinda had a surreal, melting skyline vibe to it. As cool as it looked right side up it looks even more interesting upside down.

 

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Chicago’s Dynamic Skyline

I hate to keep posting storm photos over and over again but I think that the one thing I love shooting as much as I love shooting Chicago is the infinite ways that weather has an impact on the way the city looks.  From sunsets to snow to rain to clouds, the weather can totally change your perspective of the same old locations.  And to keep things interesting and different, I touched up these photos with some fun effects….as much as I hate to do it…and promise not to do it too often.

As I was driving home from work today, I had a line of storms following me down 290.  As I got into the city, I was able to look around and take in the views.  As I was going through Grant Park, I noticed a huge cloud formation building behind the Aon Center.  So at the first stoplight I got to, I whipped out the iPhone and caught a few shots of the familiar skyscraper dwarfed by clouds that must have topped out at 30,000 feet.

I made my way up Lake Shore Drive and couldn’t help but watch the storm rolling east over Lake Michigan.  I’m always amazed to see the bands of rain as they connect the lake to the clouds above.  With the dark gray sky above and a deep navy blue lake below, it was very easy to get distracted.

When I made it to my exit, I took a little detour to Montrose Harbor.  There were quite a few people along the lake that were just watching the clouds roll out over the skyline.  I was surprised to see several groups of small sailboats racing as they often do just to the south.  I’m not sure I would have been out there given how windy it was by the time I got there.  But regardless, it was a nice sight to see after a long day at work. 

I also had a chance to make some friends!  There were about 30 or so seagulls just hanging out panhandling for scraps of food from the folks hangin by the lake.  Some of the more brave birds even decided get up close and pose for…or photobomb… a few shots.

One of the questions I get most often when I tell people I live in Chicago but work in the western suburbs is “Oh wow.  How do you put up with that commute?  Is it really worth it?”  And I will always say yes.  For reasons just like this.  Because after a long crappy day of sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer, I get to see things like this.  I get to take in the awesome skyline, drive past a beautiful lake and I can pull up to the harbor on the way home for 20 minutes to help me forget about everything that happened over the past 8-10 hours.  You just can’t do that outside of the city.

 

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Storm Front

I wanted to post some photos to celebrate the much needed rain and temporary cool down that hit Chicago last night!!!

 

I actually couldn’t get any photos of last night’s storm since it rolled through my neighborhood around 10:00pm so I decided to show some photos I took a couple weeks ago using my phone.  I was actually at work in Oak Brook when this particular storm front rolled though.  A coworker came running over as I was sitting at my desk and told me I needed to go take some pictures of the clouds because they looked so ominous and eerie.  After seeing what all the commotion was about, I ran outside into the parking lot with my iPhone and fired off a few shots.  I touched them up slightly with a little HDR treatment to make the clouds pop a little bit more.  The quality isn’t that great but it was the best I could do without my DSLR.

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Chicago Open Pro Beach Volleyball

With the sun bazing and hardly a cloud in the sky, it was a perfect Sunday in Chicago to get out and hit the beach. So after driving down Lake Shore Drive all week and watching the progression of crews building an elaborate bleacher setup at Oak Street Beach for what I assumed was a volleyball tournament, I decided to take the camera, jump on my bike and check out the action.

I was greeted by an impressive turnout of volleyball fans and other folks looking to enjoy the nice day. The entire beach had been converted into an interactive play land heavily sponsored by Jose Cuervo. Among the many cool attractions was a giant rock climbing wall that pelted you with a spray of water as your climbed closer to the top. And then there was the mechanical lime. Yes, I said mechanical lime…like a mechanical bull…but a lime. See it’s that clever tie-in to Jose Cuervo that catches your eye. Sometimes Marketing folks can have some pretty good ideas.

There were also various vendors selling food and event gear, giving out free swag and for some weird reason, giving haircuts at the mobile Paul Mitchell salon set up on the beach. So after getting my tips frosted, my tan sprayed-on and my eyebrows artistically waxed to fit in with some of the folks in attendance, I made my way on over to the main event.

I grabbed some sand court-side and watched the battle of Jenny Kropp and Whitney Pavlik versus Priscilla Lima and Tyra Turner in the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series Chicago Open. I have to say, not being a huge volleyball fan, I didn’t really expect much out of the afternoon’s entertainment. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the tight competition. In the end, Kropp and Pavlik came from behind to beat Lima and Turner.

It was a great match and I couldn’t imagine a better place to watch some high quality professional volleyball than to be sitting in the shadows of the skyscrapers with my toes in the sand.

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L.A.T.E Ride Sunrise

I participated in the L.A.T.E. Ride today and got this shot of the sunrise.

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