Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sweet Home, Chicago - Dan Style

Happy Stupor-Bowl Sunday everyone! I mean Super Bowl Sunday. What was I thinking?! Scott here with the latest WW Wednesday post winner, coming at you live from Chicago with Big Dan, another tried and true friend of 3C1D. Dan has posted before and we're thrilled he's back once more. Here's his shot in his own words:

5:00 A.M.
I wake up to take my wife to work, grab a cup of coffee and immediately snatch my laptop to see what I need to before going out to shoot. As Wordless Wednesday's winner, it's my turn to post.
That Scott is a smarty. Sure, he hits the pink from the previous post. I had already thought of that yesterday and had a great shot of a pink stool that was used to keep dibs on a shoveled out parking space on Chicago's crowded streets. But no, Scot had to do some reading and came up with the idea of shooting through his window to use color and texture to create one of his typical great shots. Great... just great.

Driving through the empty streets toward Rush in yet another snowstorm, the flakes kept melting on my window. Ah, Scot... I have the answer! I drive home like a maniac to get my camera because I know that I have about 20 minutes before the street lights that highlight the water droplets start turning off. My goal? Jim's.

Nikon D3000
VR 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G
Manual Focus
1/10 s
ISO 1600

Jim's is one of the original hot dog stands from Maxwell Street. It originally drew working class immigrants from the city's Near West Side with cheap, tasty food. During the sixties, it became the go to lunch spot for people looking to buy back their stolen hub caps on sale in the Maxwell Street Flea Market just steps away. When I worked nights at Rush, it became my 3 AM lunch break, complete with "salesmen" walking up to me selling porn videos, white gym sox, and designer watches. Yes, I did see huge rats running around. But the rats were always outnumbered by the people, especially on a hot summer's night.

Urban renewal and the southward expansion of the University of Illinois brought the demolition of Maxwell Street and the corner stands that brought joy to so many hot dog lovers. Jim's and one other hot dog stand moved a block east and 3 blocks north and rebuilt. It's not quite the same, but people still line up 24 hours a day to get their fix. You can see it as you drive south on the Dan Ryan, just south of Roosevelt Street. And, if the wind is blowing just right, I can still smell the hot dogs and fried onions as I step out of the doors at Rush, a mile and a half away.

My tie in from Scot's picture? The technique of shooting through something to give texture to the subject. There is kind of a soft focus for both the foreground and subject that is intentional. If I were to frame this picture, it would be small and set in a large frame. I don't want people focusing in on details. I wanted to give the picture a feeling, rather than a clear shot of a Chicago icon. If there is beauty in the city, I think it lies in the memories of the millions of places that become part of the one's life. This picture is not really about Jim's. It's about 3 AM in the heart of Chicago.

Thanks Dan for sharing. And I couldn't agree more about the feeling you've captured. It really does have a 3am in Chicago feel. Excellent work once again!


  1. Uh... Ummm... Oh, man... I guess I spelled Scott wrong more than a few times...

    Sorry, buddy!

  2. I like this shot! I tried playing with the water on my car window as well to see what I could do but my pics did not come out anywhere near as good as yours did. Very nice.

  3. I had to position the car to get the light to reflect in the drops. This was taken with the car angled toward the curb. I kept worrying that a cop car would drive by and interrupt the shoot. I think it also helped to have the sky dark and the stand as a "beacon" of light.

  4. Great... Now I want a hot dog. But seriously, I love the "through the windowpane" concept. You guys just keep raising the bar!