Margaret and I made our usual December trip to Chicago the weekend before last Christmas. We like to visit Christkindlmarkt and finish our Christmas shopping on State Street and Michigan Avenue. But we spend most of our time walking around with our cameras.
I normally bring a very sturdy camera, something built to work in adverse conditions like below-freezing temperatures, such as my Nikon F3. But this year I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a camera that heavy. I brought my compact Pentax IQZoom 170SL instead. It always delivers great image quality, yet slips into my pocket and weighs next to nothing. I felt sure that this camera would stop working if it became too cold, but I figured it would stay warm enough in my coat’s outer pocket between shots.
I had recently been fortunate to find Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 at the drug store. It was expensive at about 10 bucks a roll, but I bought some anyway because ISO 400 color film is darned useful during gray Indiana (and Illinois) winters. I shot two rolls in the Pentax on this trip.
Cloud Gate, the large, chromed, bean-like structure in Millenium Park, is always a fun subject. It’s also a good spot to photograph people — so many other have their phones out making images that a fellow with a regular camera doesn’t stand out. Here I tried making a wide mirror selfie that brought in the city context.
Just one more shot of Cloud Gate, and then I’ll move on.
We visited Central Camera, as we usually do. They’re back in their original location, after a couple years in a temporary location next door while their space was being rebuilt after its destruction in the riots in 2020. I bought some film while I was there, some Arista.EDU 100 in 120 to test cameras with, some CineStill 400D in 35mm to satisfy my curiosity about this new film, and a roll of Kodak Ektar hand-cut and -rolled into 127 format to use in my Kodak Brownie Starmatic on an upcoming 127 Day.
Christkindlmarkt was the star of the show for us. We visited it on that Friday, and I’m very happy we did, as we walked right in. On Saturday people lined up for more than an hour to get in. Apparently they limit the crowd inside the Markt.
The market sets up every year in Daley Plaza, on Randolph Street, near City Hall. Warm Glühwein flows freely. I’m not a fan, so I usually buy a good German beer. It’s …not awesome to drink cold beer on a freezing day, but daggone it, I want the full Christkindlmarkt experience!
My son Damion drove up to spend the day at Christkindlmarkt with us. This was quite a time commitment for him, as he lives more than an hour south of us, and we live almost three hours away from downtown Chicago. This image suffers from a little shake, unfortunately, but it succeeds in capturing the memory.
Back in Millennium Park, we watched the ice skaters glide by. I haven’t ice skated in 30 years, and I like it that way.
This little boy was using the penguin to try to stay upright as he skated, but he kept falling down anyway. Poor guy. But he kept getting right back up and trying again.
Cloud Gate is elevated over the skating rink, and provides a different photography vantage point. I zoomed way in and tried panning the camera to see if I could freeze skaters and get a smeary background. The camera chose fast enough shutter speeds that it didn’t work out
A huge Christmas tree is erected and decorated in Millennium Park each holiday season. It’s a better subject at night.
Crown Fountain is also a reliable subject. Twin 50-foot towers show slightly animated faces of Chicagoans. When the fountain is turned on, water occasionally “spits” from the faces mouths.
No Christmastime Chicago trip is complete for us without a visit to Macy’s on State Street. This was the flagship store of Marshall Field until Macy’s took over. I miss Marshall Field’s.
I tried making a few photos inside Macy’s. This is the only one that turned out; the rest suffered from shake. The Pentax must have chosen a moderate aperture and slow shutter speed, and I didn’t hold the camera steady enough for that.
Shooting inside a store carries some risk, as many stores don’t appreciate it. A buddy of mine was escorted out of one store for making photos inside. I move fast when I do it to keep from attracting unwanted attention.
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