Chicago In Black And White: Art Institute Of Chicago

Here is the third installment in my series of Chicago In Black And White, which highlights images captured exclusively on B&W film. Chicago is a big city with many interesting buildings and people and I think it makes a great environment for film photography.

Time For Some Culture

Chicago is a city with a lot of cultural amenities. It seems that everywhere you go there is something arts-related to see. Among them is The Art Institute Of Chicago, one of the world's great museums and definitely a must-see when visiting the city. The Institute sits right along Michigan Avenue and has a massive entrance that  is flanked by two large Lions. This seemed like a "no brainer" subject for my Rolleicord loaded with Black & White film:

Two Lions Flank The Entrance of The Art Institute Of Chicago

Motivation And Information

While making a photograph of the Lions at the entrance of The Art Institute seemed like a "no brainer", how was the best way to do it? Do I focus entirely on the Lions at the expense of everything else or do I include as much of the city as possible? Well, after walking around the front of the building looking through the Rolleicord I settled on a composition that split the difference, emphasizing one of the Lions but also including a few buildings and some willing people. It seemed like a good compromise and once again the square format of the medium format negative was an advantage.

Once I decided on the general composition I had to find a good spot to set up the shot. The sidewalk was pretty busy as it was around the Noon hour so all the normal touristy types were joined by a bunch of office workers out and about enjoying the nice Summer day. I ended up standing at the South end of the entrance near the edge of the sidewalk. That position kept me out of the main flow of people but also accommodated the fixed focal length of the Rolleicord. There was a slight breeze so the flags on the building were fluttering around a bit. I took a quick meter-reading using the light meter app on my phone and settled in on an exposure at f/8 at 1/250th of a second. I tried to square up the camera to the scene and focused on the Lion. Then I waited......and waited...and waited for the crowd of people to ebb and flow until I got what I thought was a good group of people in the right part of the frame. This was a totally random event, of course, but the scene you see was the best view I came across in about 3 minutes of waiting on the sidewalk. I like how the area immediately in front of the Lion (between the Lion and the camera) is clear but there are some people next to the Lion, which gives it some scale. In addition to the Lion and the Art Institute building I got a couple of Chicago's many big buildings in the frame. The sky also cooperated with a few puffy clouds in the scene.

Overall I'm pretty happy with this image. I think it represents The Art Institite of Chicago and how it fits into the overall city landscape. I got a decent exposure and the composition of the image came out pretty much as I envisioned it. This will serve as a nice memory of our trip to Chicago.

I hope you enjoy it as well!