A Cold Icee with Cherries

Berries©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Christmas Eve was a bit busy, so I didn’t have a chance to post this photo from a shoot at Meigs Field, er…Northerly Island. There was a very cool display of ice covering vegetation everywhere you looked, a few images of which you can see in a Trib online photo gallery. In the end I chose this one to post because of the eye-popping red, but also because I keep getting the thought that if trees were able to grow chocolate-covered berries, this scene would make for an interesting picture, but an even better dessert. Some really stunning winter pictures, especially of a tree bent over by ice, can be seen at this Chicago winter classics gallery.

A Head in the Clouds


©2009 Alex Garcia

“You know, there’s ZERO visibility up there”….”Zero visibility, you know that sir”…”Zero visibility today. Can’t see anything. Nothing”. By the time I got past the three different employees who warned me that there was nothing to see at the top of the Willis Tower on a foggy day, you begin to feel that your public persona is either that of a fool, or of a person on a suspicious mission.  I just wanted to see whether there was any possibility of photographing building tops through the shifting cloudbanks. As it turned out, I had some company up there – a smattering of visitors from around the world, who probably had one afternoon to see the Willis Tower and this was it. Some of them may have realized this, but if you can get beyond the fears of being that high up, enveloped in a cloud that obscures the vision much like darkness, it can turn a sightseeing attraction into a contemplative moment.

Olympic Hopefuls

OlympicPortraits©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

On a previous post you saw the scene where I photographed quickie portraits of Olympic hopefuls in Chicago at the Palmer House in a room crowded with athletes and other photographers. These were some of the more interesting photos from the bunch. I shot all of them in a vertical format with a tilt-shift lens while using a ringflash. Just a little cumbersome, especially when you only have a couple minutes of shooting time. I also wanted to create a cyan-bluish tone to the images, to create a sense of winter cold. To do so, I used a cyan colored background. The reason it appears white in the photos is because I overexposed it. The white then dissolved into a cyan as the light fell off the subjects – creating a cold edge.  It’s a slight effect. You can see that more in the images of athletes wearing dark colors, or in the duo at bottom. All in all, I enjoyed the process. I was really struck at how the personas of the athletes tended to come out in their pictures, especially among those who have participated in previous Olympics.  I also could see how those personas might possibly outlive their Olympic experiences and endear them to millions around the world.

Kevin Smith’s Potty Brainstorm

kevin-smith©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

Actor-director-filmmaker Kevin Smith is back in the news with a new book, so I thought his fans might appreciate this portrait of him from a couple years ago that never made it into our family newspaper. If you know his work, you might say “That’s him alright”!:-)  When it was time for a photo after his hotel interview was completed, it was Smith who suggested sitting on the toilet with his pants down for a picture. I didn’t even know what to say except, “uh..great!” I was tickled at the chance to do something different, and laughed at his improvisations. As a photographer shooting visiting celebrities, it’s challenging to make a celebrity portrait look like it wasn’t taken in a hotel room with a 2 minute timer ticking.  In all my brainstorms, I can honestly say I hadn’t ever thought of asking a celebrity to “drop trou”. It was a veerrry unusual moment.

Career Day at a Pumpkin Farm


©2009 Alex Garcia

Oh, I didn’t let the fun and games at the pumpkin farm fool me. Yes, there was a smorgasbord of wholesome fun to be had this weekend, including an inflatable trampoline, a petting zoo, hay bales galore and all the wonderful non-scary fun of Midwest Americana. But when my little-big-boy got on board that tractor, it was clear he was getting down to business in choosing a career. As far as I can tell, it will involve wheels – big wheels. I’m guessing either pumpkin farmer, race car driver, monster truck driver, or even Hot Wheels brand manager.  I don’t believe I steered him towards his interest in loud, noisy, powerful engines, but if you consider his sources of inspiration around our house, “Roary the Racing Car”, toy construction trucks, and Lightning McQueen, it seems that he’s got enough positive reinforcement to last him until he graduates to rocket boosters…

A Person of Towering Influence

CT Flyover14

©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

In this photoblog’s attempt to help you appear informed and city-wise at any cocktail party, I submit to you the perfect name to be casually dropped in conversation:  Adrian Smith.  His influence at helping make Chicago a great city far outweighs his name recognition. He’s the architect for the renovation of State Street, the basic outlines of Millennium Park, the NBC and AT&T buildings and the soon-to-be-completed Trump International Hotel & Tower, at right. He also designed the plans for the world’s tallest building building in Dubai, which will be the tallest in all four categories in which buildings are measured.  When I met him in his office at left, he had a cornucopia of imaginative models for buildings, which took a while to light to get the right reflection in the tall model at left. The reflection at right came from a much bigger light:-)  Architects like Smith help make the city of Chicago  known not only as the “City of Broad Shoulders” but also the “City of Broad Imaginations”…