Pentax ES II, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar
Kodak Ektar 100
Spring is here! And so I put a pack of Fujifilm FP-100C into my Polaroid Colorpack II and went looking for bright spring flowers. I found some in my front yard and some, like these tulips, on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
These daffodils are always the first sign of spring in my yard. The woman who first lived in my house planted them, and now I get to enjoy them.
The IMA probably has a huge staff to maintain the grounds and do things like plant the dozens of bulbs necessary to grow a patch of daffodils this big.
My mom planted these grape hyacinths in my front bed about five years ago. They’ve done really well.
I love tulips; they’re my favorite flower. I planted some yellow and purple tulip bulbs three years ago but got only one spring season’s worth of flowers from them. Either they died or the squirrels got them. So I got my tulip fix at the IMA this year.
I photographed all of these flowers from 3½ feet away, which is as close as the Colorpack II can focus. I was just delighted when I peeled away the first print and saw that soft background. I’m also extremely happy with the color I got back from the FP-100C. The color is even better on the actual prints; the flowers look almost candy-jewel-like. The sharpness is better on the prints, too, but that’s probably because the prints are far smaller than these scans.
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After a good night’s rest and a leisurely breakfast at the Palmer House, my son and I shouldered our backpacks and headed toward the train station, which is under Millenium Park. It had rained overnight, and the city was covered in fog.
I was fascinated by how the buildings disappeared into the fog above. My son was patient but unamused as I took photo after photo.
I’d only been to downtown Chicago twice, once in high school and once when I took my mother on a shopping trip for her birthday. I’d never been to Millenium Park, though.
We stopped to watch the faces in Crown Fountain. This is one of two opposing towers, and both show faces of everyday Chicagoans, more than 1,000 in all. The fountain hadn’t been turned on for the season yet, but when it is, every time one of the faces closes its eyes and purses its lips like this, water jets from the mouth onto the concrete below. We chuckled as the other face kept throwing an error; every time the lips pursed, one of the glass blocks in the display read “Fan Fail.” Ah, software. The message always displayed so briefly that I could never get a photo of it!
Around the way from the fountain stand a series of contemporary sculptures from China. Why China, we couldn’t figure out, but the sculpture’s details were engaging. Here are two of those details, both from a piece called Valiant Struggle.
These whimsical sculptures are slated to move on in October.
We saw tulips everywhere as we walked through downtown that weekend. Millenium Park was full of them, all purple, red, and yellow-orange. I love tulips; they were my favorite flower as a small boy and I still enjoy seeing them emerge every spring. (I was thrilled the first spring I lived in my house to find that the original owner had lined the front flower bed with tulip bulbs.) This bed had so many tulips that I easily filled my camera’s frame with them.
I had heard about the Bean, but not knowing Chicago very well I didn’t realize we’d come upon it in the park. It’s one of those things that makes you say, “Whoa!” when you see it.
I’d seen photographs of the Bean before – and really, it’s called Cloud Gate – but wasn’t prepared for just how big it is. It’s quite the marvel of design and construction, made of 168 welded and polished stainless steel plates. It’s 66 feet long, 42 feet deep, and 33 feet high, weighing in at a staggering 110 tons.
We lingered a little too long at the Bean and had to scoot to catch our train. Memo to Chicago: You might want to make the entrance to Millenium Station a little more obvious. Maps say it’s under the park, but don’t say that the entrance is not in the park but instead on the southwest corner of Michigan Ave. and Randolph St., across the street from the park’s northwest corner. We figured it out just in time.
This being my first spring in this house, I wondered what surprises the yard would bring as it came back to life. My neighbor tells me that the couple who built this house did some landscaping about ten years ago. After they both passed away, the property became a rental and was only minimally maintained. The grass is half weeds and bare spots.
The beds appeared to be in slightly better shape, at least until the dandelions started to fill them. A few weeks ago, green evidence of bulb plants started to push through the ground in the biggest bed, ten steps into the yard from my front door.
They started blooming last week, the narcissus first, white and then yellow. The tulips came next, the red a few days before the purple. I don’t recall ever having seen purple tulips before, but I haven’t historically been terribly observant of such things. I liked tulips as a young boy because they were easy to draw.
I will probably plant some annuals around the edges of this bed in a few weeks. But I sure love these bulb plants, an annual gift from my home’s original owner.
A lot of these little blue-violet flowers have come up in clumps in this bed, too. I like how their petals are all different lengths. I have no idea what these flowers are, so tell me if you know.
Click any of these photos to see them slightly larger.