From Idea to Execution – Not your usual way to plan a shot

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to be in Chicago for two days to attend an event for work. The event took place in a hotel close to McCormick Place so I decided to book the hotel for my overnight stays as well. I was hesitant because McCormick Place is quite “far” away from downtown Chicago. To give you an idea on the distance: One morning after shooting sunrise from north beach, I walked back to the hotel and it took me 1.5 hours. Clearly, there was no “get up and go shoot” right away but nevertheless, it made sense for me to stay there.

My photography plans were only spinning around shooting the sunrise both mornings from north beach with the city skyline as the subject anyways so I was okay with ubering back and forth.

When I got to the hotel I took a look out of the window of my room on the 37th floor and… I did see nothing because I was living in a cloud. The next day it cleared up so I took a good look out of the window again to piece together where the h*ck I’m looking at.

It took me some time to sort what I was seeing and then I discovered something that made the view unique…

…so I zoomed in with my phone camera and enjoyed a horribly pixalated view just to discover…

… what seems to be a drawbridge. The St. Charles Air Line Bridge to be more specific.

Considering where the bridge the city skyline are located, I thought this could be a pretty neat picture. With the direction I wanted to shoot to in mind, I took a look at Google Maps and located the drawbridge. Also, I looked across Google Maps satellite view where possible vantage points could be to photograph the drawbridge and the skyline. After nailing down the two possible locations, I switched to Google Street View and navigated myself in the Ping Tom Memorial Park close to the bridge that I wanted as a subject and I got excited because the shot kind of developed itself quickly but the proportions did not fit. The bridge was way too big compared to the skyline far behind so I went back to Google Maps and looked for a higher vantage point and saw the bridge on W18th street and once again I switched to Google’s Streetview.

After some “steps” into the middle of the bridge, the shot more and more aligned until I found the perfect spot for what I had in mind:

It literally all came down to me walking there and taking the shot I almost perfectly framed with Google Streetview before. Clearly the weather could’ve been better and I definitely will come back and retake the picture during more pleasing weather conditions but for now, this is what I came up with:

I guess what this article wants to tell you is to keep your eyes open with regards to your surroundings and utilize the apps and tools we all have at hand.