Chicago Union Station

I’m a fan of Chicago’s gorgeous Union Station. I wish they still built buildings like this! On our recent trip, our plans took us by, so we went in.

Chicago Union Station

I had loaded my last roll of film, Kodak T-Max 400, into my Olympus XA. I think T-Max 400 is my favorite black-and-white film. I love its smooth look, and I enjoy the rich range of tones it delivers. I also enjoy being able to shoot inside handheld, as I did here, as it’s a fairly fast film. T-Max 400 never disappoints me.

Chicago Union Station

We didn’t stay long, as we had places to be. But in the fifteen minutes or so we were inside, I made all of these images. On the one below, I was trying to bring in as many details in as I could. I can see now that its not the most coherent composition.

Chicago Union Station

But I made up for it, I think, on all of the other images. There’s a great deal of symmetry to play with inside Union Station, and I deeply enjoy symmetry. The XA’s viewfinder is accurate enough to frame that symmetry and mostly get it on the finished scan.

Chicago Union Station

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30 responses to “Chicago’s Union Station on Kodak T-Max 400”

  1. J P Avatar

    We once took a family vacation to Chicago by train. There are a lot worse ways to do Chicago than to have Union Station be the first and last things you see in the city. It is indeed a beautiful place.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’d love to take a train vacation someday. Sure seems like a romantic way to travel.

  2. Mike Connealy Avatar

    An XA loaded with TMAX seems like an ideal combination for big city shooting. Your results makes me think I should give my little Olympus more opportunities to show its stuff.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was very easy to carry compared to the Nikon F3 I used earlier on the trip – and still plenty capable. I find myself using this camera more and more on trips.

  3. P Avatar

    These are all beautiful photos, Jim. You gotta love that T-MAX 400. Interestingly, the image you think isn’t the “most coherent composition” is in my opinion the strongest image of the bunch. It’s very, very well balanced. Compositionally, it’s actually divided nicely into thirds on multiple fronts and each is in a truly unique manner. And the tonality is exceptional. The XA clearly nailed the exposure and put the focus exactly where it needed to be to really set this image apart. I think you’re cutting yourself way short with this one, Jim, because it’s a phenomenal shot. I mean that.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re not the first person to say so. Someone who follows me on Flickr praised this one too. I still don’t see it but I love getting your perspective as it helps me see my work differently!

      1. P Avatar

        Maybe when you come back to evaluate this image after a few weeks, months, or years you’ll be able to see it in a new light. I hope so. It’s a wonderful photo.

    2. fishyfisharcade Avatar

      I agree with P. For me it’s the strongest of the lot. It’s interesting and pleasing to the eye.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Well I’m just going to reverse my position on this photograph then. If all of you like it, it must be good! :-)

  4. Michael McNeill Avatar

    The XA is a great little camera – perfect to carry around. Nice images – B&W works well in Union Station.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That it does! B/w lends grace and gravity to the subject. I do like my little XA. I hope it lasts for years yet.

  5. DougD Avatar

    Nice station. I read a Peter Egan quote somewhere that the line between prewar and postwar architecture is easy to see. Back then we cared, now we don’t.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s pretty much a fact. And a shame.

  6. Rob B Avatar

    Beautiful shots, Jim. I found a XA at my local Kenmore Camera for $99, far less than KEH or eBay, so I snagged it.

    Sadly, I haven’t gotten around to shooting it yet, but your post has inspired me to get it out for a stroll.

    I love TMax 400, but it has been in short supply here in Seattle. I did buy a brick of Tri-X in December before the price went up, so that will have to do.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I got my XA before prices went nuts – I paid less than $50 for it. It has been a fine performer for me! T-Max 400 is the b/w I shoot most often.

  7. Olli Thomson Avatar
    Olli Thomson

    Lovely shots and a grand building. I’ve never tried T-Max 400, but I assume it is similar Delta 400 which I have used and like.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve only shot one roll of Delta 400 so I can’t say for sure. But I believe the Delta line and the T-Max line are cut from similar cloth.

  8. dionyb Avatar

    You’re making me want to visit Chicago again but the soonest I can get there is in December. My son will be graduating from college at that time and some time in the Windy City is part of the plan.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My wife and I love Chicago in December! It’s our favorite time to be there.

  9. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    One of my favorite places. Those are all very nice pics, but I like the staircase the best.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Those columns are so strong. I photograph that scene every time I go in.

  10. brandib1977 Avatar

    Agreed. I also wish they still built buildings like this! Wonderful images of a gorgeous place!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you! It’s worth a visit every time we pass.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Isn’t it wonderful having those places you can revisit and always enjoy?

  11. Ward Fogelsanger Avatar
    Ward Fogelsanger

    On my last airline layover in downtown Chicago I explored Union Station and also what had been Dearborn Street station. When I was a little kid we occasionally rode the C&EI from Terre Haute to Chicago..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What fun it must have been to take the train to Chicago! I wish there were a train from Indy to Chicago — our frequent trips would be so much nicer not having to deal with our car.

  12. Sam Avatar

    I miss Chi-Town. Nice shots! Gotta go back some day, hopefully when all this coronavirus madness subsides.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love going up there for photography!

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  14. […] Berlin, Germany– @yasurou90: Ibaraki, Japan– Down the Road: Union Station, Chicago, United States (SO GOOD)– Fine Film Days: Manila, Philippines – Vortilogue: Gdańsk, Poland (found while […]

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