Film Photography, Travel

The Chicago skyline on Kodak T-Max P3200

“I want to get a good view of the Chicago skyline at dusk,” my wife said. “I’d like to photograph it.”

Instantly I thought of Navy Pier and its Ferris wheel. I’d ridden it before, years ago, and remembered its commanding view of the city. So we made our way over. The view was as commanding as I remembered.

Chicago as night falls

It was only about 5:30 pm, but it was already dark on this early January day. Interestingly, the Kodak T-Max P3200 saw through the night right to the overcast sky, and that’s what it rendered.

Chicago as night falls

The Ferris wheel cars are enclosed and heated, making it comfortable to make these photographs on a 25-degree evening. However, the glass is tinted, which robbed me of a stop or two of exposure. I shot these with my Nikon F3 and 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens wide open, which gave me shutter speeds of 1/15 and 1/30 sec. I’m glad I have a steady hand.

Chicago as night falls

This is the same Nikon F3 that has developed a light leak thanks to a failed light seal. But at night, there’s too little light to sneak past that seal and leave streaks on the film. So this whole roll turned out fine.

Chicago as night falls

The ride moved slowly and went around several times, giving us plenty of time to make these photographs. I arranged them here as if I made them in one pass, but in reality I shot one or two photos on each pass.

Chicago as night falls

I forgot one key thing: my wife’s tendency to motion sickness. She found the gently swaying car to be a little challenging. But she got some fun shots with her DSLR, in color.

Navy Pier Ferris wheel

I bought this roll of P3200 that morning, at Chicago’s famous Central Camera. I stepped in the front door and there behind the counter was Johnny Sisson, of the Classic Lenses Podcast. He looks just like the photo he uses in social media, so he was easy to spot. I introduced myself and we chatted for a couple minutes. Affable fellow.

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18 thoughts on “The Chicago skyline on Kodak T-Max P3200

  1. Beautiful images and determined searching for “The” best viewpoint. Thanks for encouraging me to try a black and white film again – haven’t used any since I was fifteen (1961).
    Fancy an F3 leaking light – I thought that was only with lesser breeds like Pentax!

  2. P says:

    Very nice photos, Jim. Ever since you uploaded these to Flickr I’ve been wondering when you were going to write a blog post about them. Nighttime Chicago in B&W on P3200 sure does look pretty.

    • Thank you! Lately I’ve been way ahead on my blog, so new photos on Flickr are taking 2-3 weeks to show up here. You will know I’m behind on blogging when photos new on Flickr yesterday show up here today.

    • There’s this film-photo postcard exchange that I’ve sometimes participated in. It’s great fun. It comes around once a month. You put your name and address in, you get someone else’s name and address, someone else gets yours, everyone sends a postcard to their match. I’ve gotten some lovely images that way!

  3. Dan Cluley says:

    Very nice. High speed film and Chicago winter’s make a great combo.

    Another good spot is the little peninsula by aquarium and the planetarium. Like Navy Pier it lets you get back a little from the buildings, and you can get reflections in the lake.

      • Victor Villaseñor says:

        Came here to say that, the walk around the Aquarium will get you “closer” skyline views, the Planetarium will be a little further away, but you can get most of the northern skyline plus the Aquarium in the left edge of the frame if you want that. Both locations are tripod friendly.

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