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Focal Points Photography

Focal Points: Archived

From 2010-2011, I published a photoblog on the Chicago Tribune’s blog network ChicagoNow. Entitled ‘Focal Points,’ the purpose of the blog was to showcase the beauty of Chicago by traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood and publishing photo sets of each. 

The idea may, at some point, be resurrected and reworked, but for now, you can find a full archive of the blog and its photos here under the Focal Points category.

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Chicago Focal Points Photography

Want to see Chicago like never before? Come on the Journey of a lifetime.

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Okay, cheesy headline I know.

But seriously, there is one event I look forward to more than any other every year.

It’s not the Superbowl, it’s not the World Series, or even the announcement of a new iPhone, it’s Journey To the End of the Night.

If you’ve read this blog before you may remember last year I wrote about the event in a two part entry detailing my experience and spoke about it on ChicagoNow radio.

If not, you’re probably asking, “What is Journey To the End of the Night”

Well dear reader, Journey To the End of the Night is a race crossed with elements of children’s games like Tag and Manhunt. Your playground? The city itself.

At 7pm this Saturday hundreds of people will descend on Welles Park. They will be given arm bands and a map with checkpoints. Once the race officially starts they will all be runners and will have to avoid being caught by a chaser. If they are caught they too become a chaser. The object? Get to all the checkpoints on the map, by foot, without getting caught. Much harder than it sounds.

You will find yourself creeping through alleyways, hopping fences, running your heart out and seeing your city in a way you never have before.

If this sounds like fun. Feel free to join us at 7pm and prepare to run for (the time of) your life. It’s completely free!

For more info: http://chicag0.org/ or RSVP and invite others on Facebook.

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Chicago Focal Points Photography

Last minute holiday shopping? Hit the Christkindlmarket!

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One of my favorite Chicago traditions is the annual German Christmas market that is that is set up in Daley Plaza every year. Every year the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings together crowds of tourists, local immigrants and those looking to just get into the holiday spirit with amazing ethnic foods and hand crafted goods.

Literally translated from “The Christ Child Market,” Christkindlmarket runs annually from Nov 24th to December 24th. Founded in 1996 the market was originally set up in Pioneer Court however the following year the office of Mayor Daley invited the event to relocated to Daley plaza where it has run every year since. The market is the largest open air Christmas market in Chicago as well as the largest German Christmas market in the United States. The market draws it’s inspiration from Nuremberg, Germany’s own Christkindlesmarkt which began in 1545 and still runs to this day.

Over the weekend my friend Bradley and I met up to take some photographs and finish up my last minute shopping. I also managed to buy some amazing strudel and hot chocolate.

If you need a last minute gift the market is open through Christmas eve and promises not to disappoint.

If not, sit back, relax and take in some pictures of what is my favorite local holiday tradition.

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Focal Points Photography

The Photographer’s Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Friends, Black Friday is upon us and if you’re like me you would prefer to avoid the stores altogether and shop online. With that in mind I thought I’d give you some ideas for hot holiday gifts for the photographers in your life, be they hobbyist or pro. Many of these I own myself and use nearly every day but if I didn’t have these I’d likely be asking for them myself.

Canon 50mm f1.8 Lens
To start with we have the “nifty 50” a great lens at a great price. The Canon 50mm f1.8 Lens is a phenomenal prime lines for less than $100. This is the #1 lens I recommend to people who are looking to be a photographer and really want to learn how to use their camera. It’s what we call a prime lens. Which means it doesn’t zoom. It has a very shallow depth of field making it great for beginner portraits and amazing in low light. You can see some shots using this lens on Flickr.

If you want to spend a little bit more ($300ish) you can step up to the Canon 50mm f1.4 Lens which is not only faster, but made of metal (instead of plastic) making it quieter and more durable than the 1.8. I’ve owned both of these lenses and cannot speak highly enough about them.

Nikon shooters can find comparable lenses for around the same prices. Here is the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 and their Nikkor 50mm f1.4. I’m not a Nikon shooter but I hear great things about them.

Eye-Fi Pro X2 8gb
Flash memory is a must have for every shooter. With that in mind the coolest memory cards on the market right now have got to be the Eye-Fi Pro X2. Fro around $100 it’s an 8gb memory card that will mark the location all of your photos as you shoot them and show them to you on a map on both Mac and PC. Not just that it allows you to wirelessly upload your photos to many different sites and your computer! I use an older model of this myself for my day to day shooting and it’s amazing.

Thing is about the Eye-Fi is they only come in the SD Card format but that’s okay, there is a company called Digigear who make a SD to Compact Flash adaptor so that you can use this in professional level cameras as well. Best part? It’s only $16. I have not tried this myself however it’s reviews say it works great with the Eye-Fi.

Panasonic Lumix GF1
In the market for a new camera? The Panasonic Lumix GF1 is my personal best-buy. With interchangeable lenses a 12mp sensor and the ability to shoot beautiful HD video you can’t go wrong. I shoot with this myself here on Focal Points and it’s probably my favorite camera I have ever owned.

It should be noted that Panasonic has just announced the Lumix GF2 which is smaller and shoots “True HD” however it gives up the traditional dials in favor of an integrated touch screen. No American release date has been announced yet. That said I still recommend the GF1 as the announcement of the GF2 has caused it to dramatically drop in price (from around $900 to around $600) and it really offers better control despite the advancements of the GF2.

Gorillapod SLR-Zoom
Next up we have the GorillaPod SLR-Zoom by Joby. For a little more than $30 this little tripod is extremely flexible and can go with you just about anywhere and work in any environment. Seriously, I’ve attached my camera to signs and fences with it. It’s amazing.

Lastly we have my favorite toy and an accessory for it.

iPad Camera Connection Kit
The Apple iPad has caused me and Oprah to agree on something for the first time in a while. This is absolutely my favorite thing ever. The battery life is amazing and with the abundance of apps available I find myself using this now than I do my laptop. Combine it with the iPad Camera Connection kit and it’s the perfect tool for the photographer in your life.

Good luck everyone and enjoy your turkey sandwiches!

Categories
Chicago Focal Points Photography

Football at Wrigley Field?

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As any good Chicagoan would be aware, on Saturday Wrigley Field was host to it’s first college Football game since 1938. The “Friendly Confines” were converted to host a special Northwestern vs Illinois game with the Illini eventually winning the day.

I took some time on Saturday to bike over to the Stadium and check out what was going on around it. When I got there I found that Wrigleyville was hustling and bustling like it is on a good summer day. There was a feeling of excitement in the air as I walked by person after person wearing either Northwestern Purple or Illinois Orange. Sure enough, Clark and Addison was alive. If it weren’t for the big winter coats and hats (and the fact you could see your breathe) you’d think the Baseball season were still in full swing.

I hope you enjoy the photos.