Riding the L: Let’s call it the Construction Line

Chicago construction from the Green Line train.

Chicago construction from the Green Line train.

Right now, Chicago Green-Line commuters have the best seats in the house (it’s a BIG house, too) for watching our many construction projects. Within 2 stops on either side of The Loop, riders can get up close and personal with five major building sites, and one L-station rehab:

150 North Riverside – South of the train on the west shore of the Chicago River

River Point – North of the train, on the west shore of the Chicago River (at 444 West Lake Street)

Wolf Point West – north of the train as you cross the river

171 North Halsted – Just west of the river on looking south from the train

1001 South State Street – in the South Loop on the west side of the train

Soon, you’ll be able to see a small portion of the Chicago Riverwalk construction as well, once it crawls toward Lake Street.


Instagram Finally Addresses #Hashtag Abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Today, Instagram made a giant change in the way hashtagged photos are displayed, and in doing so took a huge bite out of users’ hashtag abuse. Previously, a user could (and many did) add hashtags to their photos hours, days, even months after a photo was originally posted. This allowed for an entire new round of “likes” from people searching a hashtag and clicking on the photos most recently tagged. Now, you can still add all the hashtags you want after posting your image, but your photos will no longer appear at the top of the search. That means adding 25 fresh hashtags, 3 weeks after you posted your photo, won’t show up unless the searcher is willing to scroll through 3 weeks’ worth of images bearing that particular hashtag.

I’ve talked about Instagram and hashtags before. Yes, hashtags have their place. But after seeing so many users game the system by continuously deleting, then adding, new rounds of hashtags, it’s nice to see Instagram taking steps toward rendering this tactic useless.

Replacing The Chicago River Barge


This gallery contains 9 photos.

When a good friend moves away, leaving you with no forwarding address, no means of contact, and no promise of so much as a post card, it’s hard not to wander back to the scene and relive those precious memories. Continue reading

Stalking Aqua: My Year in Photos

Stalking Aqua

You’ve seen them, right? The Instagram videos showing the 5 most-liked photos you posted over the past year? Well, you didn’t see one from me for 2014. Why? Because all five were the same subject: Aqua.

It comes as no surprise to me. I, along with the rest of Chicago, love that building, and I can’t walk by without snapping photos like a tourist on a 3-hour layover. This marvelous brainchild of Chicago Architect Jeanne Gang (not this one; this one’s a monstrosity), with its unique wavy balconies and window “lakes,” is most appealing on sunny days, when those pools of glass reflect the blue skies. As with most photos I share, I’ve whittled my collection of Aqua shots down to a reasonable few for you to see. You’ll notice just how different this beauty looks from each angle and perspective.

What’s missing? Photos from inside Aqua, looking out over Chicago. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to go up there someday soon.


Framing the Grand Canyon

The Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Washington State

The Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Washington State

It started with this Instagram photo. A reflection of the Sears Tower in a building, and the thought that it lent itself well as a frame. I revisited this natural framing concept again on a trip to Washington, and this lighthouse photo became one of my favorite shots.

Fast forward to the first vacation of 2015 and my first trip to the Grand Canyon. As forewarned, I wasn’t ready for the scale of magnificence. Nor was I ready for the imminent danger of visiting the Grand Canyon. While I hadn’t given much thought, if any, to safety precautions for tourists, I was surprised at how close we were to the canyon’s edges. Sure, there are railings at the overhangs and main lookout points. But there are also a multitude of wide-open accesses to shear drops and gorge openings.

I, admittedly, have a paralyzing fear of heights. Or, “unprotected heights” as I like to call them. I’m fine in skyscrapers where I know a window won’t give way if I lean on it. But put me on a ladder, or the edge of a 1000-foot drop, and my knees weaken and stomach churns. Add in treacherous footing from the snow and ice of winter in the Arizona mountains, and it was even harder for me to stand close to the unprotected edges of the canyon. Further exacerbate the problem with the absolute certainty, in my mind at least, that I’ll drop my camera(phone) if I so much as consider holding it out over the railing, even if one exists, and I’m admiring the sky behind me instead of enjoying the spectacular beauty in front of me.

Which leads me, eventually, to the following photo gallery. Framing the Grand Canyon was just my way of not having to get too close to the edge. And certain death. Standing back from the canyon’s edge, I took several photos using trees and limbs as framing, with canyon walls in the background. I got brave a few times and managed to get shots down into the canyon too. But many of these “framed” shots are my favorites from the trip.

Looking Up: My Year in Photos

I bumped into a lot of strangers this year. I probably passed by a fortune in dropped change, too. Not because I stare at my phone sending text messages when I walk, but because this was the year I learned looking up was the best way to walk through Chicago. Skyscrapers are wonderful beings, but to fully enjoy them, they must be seen from the base, not just by admiring the skyline.

My Instagram hashtag #UpChicago never took off the way I’d hoped, but I’m over it. I still have fun capturing images of Chicago’s high points from street level. Here are a few of my favorite Looking Up photos:

I had a REALLY difficult time deciding what to include here. Sorry, there are a lot of pictures. I hope you’ll take the time to scroll through them all.