Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lost on Michigan Avenue

The Michigan Avenue Bridge carries Michigan Avenue across the Chicago River. Michigan Avenue is home to famous landmarks such as the Chicago Water Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile.

Since moving to the Midwest from Southern California, I have visited the city that Frank Sinatra sang as "My Kind of Town," numerous times. The first time I visited Chicago I took this same photo with my old Canon Powershot camera that didn't have image stabilization so it came out a little blurry. I always had the notion in the back of my mind to return to take that same photo. So over this past President's Day weekend I took the three hour drive from my home in Appleton, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois.

One quirky thing about photography is that sometimes a little gadget, rather than a new camera body or lens, can make a huge difference in your image quality. A couple of years ago I was photographing Bodie Ghost Town in the Eastern Sierras of California and I met a fellow photographer who had this strange square device on his hot shoe.

"What's that strange thing you have on your camera?" I asked.

"It's a bubble spirit level. You serious don't know what this is and you call yourself a landscape photographer?" he replied incredulously.

Okay I thought to after returning from that trip I ordered a bubble spirit level online and my photography has vastly improved along with less time fooling around with Photoshop in trying to straighten out my crooked images. What is a bubble spirit level? It's a little square that you put on your hot shoe that ensures your camera is perfectly level whether shooting in horizontal or vertical position.

What does this have to do with this photograph?

As I walked out of my hotel I put the bubble spirit level on my Canon 50D camera hot shoe. When I got to this location and put my camera on my tripod I noticed the bubble spirit level was missing! I didn't have time to retrace my steps to look for it since I would miss the "blue hour," so I did without it and continued to take a couple of frames for the next ten minutes before my 50D completely froze up! The wicked Chicago cold melted down my 50D! On the LCD my menu screen was on, but I couldn't navigate out of it in addition to my shutter button not working at all.

So once again I turned to my backup camera, the always reliable and phenomenal Canon G9! I am constantly amazed of the incredible image quality that comes from this compact camera (The photograph you see here was taken with the G9). Since I lost my bubble spirit level, I used the G9's grid view to ensure the horizon was level. After freezing in the cold and cursing at myself, I retraced my steps to my hotel looking for my bubble spirit level but to no avail.

So somewhere on Michigan Avenue is my lost bubble spirit level. Somebody probably found it and asked the question, "What is this strange square looking thing?"

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography