One of my personal commitments every year is to attend at least one day of the Chicago Blues Fest. I know what it’s like to photograph musicians at Festivals both as a member of the public and also with press clearance. In either case it’s tough to get good shots.
This year I decided not to photograph performers. Instead I’d look for visual opportunities to stress graphics, convert to black & white, and make photos look like sketches or etchings.
Wandering around to several stages at Millennium Park it wasn’t long before I found myself near “Cloud Gate,” the famous shiny sculpture by Anish Capoor, that we all refer to as “The Bean” because of its shape.
People can walk all around and under it. It is totally reflective. Shapes and perspectives constantly change. There’s quite a show of humanity always marveling at The Bean.
I shot some photos from different angles and really liked this one, partly because of the angle and partly because of the way people were positioned all around.
When processing began this image included the entire sculpture and interesting angles of several buildings behind it. Many more people were there too.
I converted to BW and started to apply filter effects to accentuate graphics. Added a crosshatch effect too. All looked good, but the total image didn’t achieve what I wanted.
The phrase, “What I wanted,” implies I knew what that was. In reality I was moving toward a not quite formed idea. BW and graphic were givens. It should imply the heat of the day too. And it should eliminate anything extra that took away from making the strongest possible picture.
Cut, cut. Crop, crop. Again? Yes. How much could I leave? How much could I get away with by cropping and still have a strong image?
I worked on this for days, thinking I was finished, then waking up realizing it still wasn’t quite right.
Finally, two weeks later, cropping and lighting adjustment ideas came to me late at night while driving home from a hearing music at a club. I worked on the image from about midnight until about 2. And there it was! And here it is.