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Canal Vignette Two

Tony Lopez, right, coils a rope while Steve Gray, left, rests against one of the winches on Illinois Marine Towing's "Albert C." fleet boat on 20 October 2010 in Lemont, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 25mm | Exposed 1/1250 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100

The second of two images I “rediscovered” while going through photographs for my master’s project.  One thing that I noticed throughout that day on the Albert C. was that my shutter speeds were remarkably high all day long–relatively large apertures (for limited depth of field) combined with the all-white ship resulted in a great deal of main and fill light all the time.  What was amazing about that was I only needed my flash a couple of times, and even then only inside the pilot house.

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Canal Vignette One

Logs on the Albert C.

Capt. Dan Egan goes through one of the logs on Illinois Marine Towing's "Albert C." fleet boat on 20 October 2010 in Lemont, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 70mm | Exposed 1/5000 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 200

In preparation for weaving together a narrative for my master’s on Asian carp, a river flowing the wrong way, and people’s livelihoods caught in the mix, I have been going back over some of my photos for the project, and in the process I have found a couple that I had not toned and ranked only “one star” in Lightroom.  This image, and the one I will post tomorrow, is now a three star image storytelling image and shaped up nicely with some simple white point, black point, and curve adjustments.

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Cal-Sag Canal Diptych

Cal-Sag Canal Diptych

Portrait diptych: Brett Witte, left, and Heather Calkins, right, on the bow of the US Fish & Wildlife Service's electro-shocking boat on Oct. 7, 2010 on the Cal-Sag Channel, south of Chicago, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 85mm f/1.2L II lens

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Vignettes from the Waterfront

Tourists and Chicago skyline

Tourists on Wendella Boats’ “Linnea” take in the view from Chicago’s outer harbor on Oct. 19, 2010. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 24mm | Exposed 1/1600 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100

I’ve been spending the better part of the week processing my photos for my master’s project.  The trips to Chicago were surprisingly productive.  And the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens that I’ve been borrowing from my dad–I briefly reviewed it here early this year–proved to be invaluable in the city.  Sure, the images aren’t as sharp as they would be with a 70-200 lens, but it’s a smaller, less “obvious” lens for street shooting: the black barrel doesn’t draw attention to itself.

As always, comments and criticism welcome!  And more photos after the jump!

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The “Green City”

Chicago and its eponymous river

The city's eponymous river, Chicago Riverfront, Chicago, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens @ 16mm | Exposed 1/1000 sec. @ f/4, ISO 250

Chicago and the river that bears the city’s name are a large part my project about Asian carp: the river is a conduit through which the fish are likely to find their way into Lake Michigan.  (In all fairness, they have already found alternative routes that take them into Lake Erie.)  Here, then, are a few more photos of this city that is the seat of so much controversy.

Corn Crib, IBM Building, and Trump Tower

"Corn Cribs," IBM Building, and Trump Tower, Chicago, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 24mm | Exposed 1/200 sec. @ f/8, ISO 250

Aqua skyscraper

Aqua, designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, is the largest skyscraper project awarded to an architectural firm headed by a woman. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens @ 240mm | Exposed 1/800 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 400

Window cleaning crew on 333 W. Wacker Drive

Window cleaning crew on 333 W. Wacker Drive | Canon 5D Mk. II and 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS lens @ 300mm | Exposed 1/400 sec. @ f/8, ISO 400

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Like living on a working river

Dan Egan portrait

Capt. Dan Egan minds the rear of the boat as Steve Gray stands on point at the bow of the empty barge while they push it up the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on Illinois Marine Towing's "Albert C." on October 20, 2010 near Lemont, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 38mm | Exposed 1/60 sec. @ f/10, ISO 100 (flash @ -1/3 EV)

A few more frames from my day on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with Illinois Marine Towing.  I wanted a little “more” both from the portrait of Dan Egan and the image below, with Steve Gray growing in proportion from one frame to the next.  As for the third image, I can’t help but be drawn to photos of flowing water, although usually I try to make it silky, I enjoyed the way that the faster shutter speed froze the large droplets.

(Two more photos after the jump!) Continue reading

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More views from the Sanitary and Ship Canal

Reviewing the shift change

Tim Griest of Illinois Marine Towing goes over crew assignments with Josh Fox on the morning of their shift change on October 20, 2010 in Lemont, Ilinois. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 70mm | Exposed 1/1000 sec. @ f/4, ISO 200.

Before I even got onto the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, I found myself outside the office of Illinois Marine Towing in Lemont, Ill., talking to some of the deck hands who were scheduled to start work that morning, and would remain at work for three weeks.  Crews on the tugboats that push barges up and down the waterways live on the boats for three weeks at a time, sometimes four if they’d like to earn a bit more money, before coming home for a few weeks.  There are a lot of moving parts in the discussion about Asian carp and the Great Lakes, and these people who make their living working on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are a part of that debate, as is the cargo that they help to push up and down the waterways.

See the rest of the photos after the jump! Continue reading

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Scenes from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

portrait of Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez, a deck hand for Illinois Marine Towing, looks on as a barge loaded with components for gasoline passes by on October 20, 2010 on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lemont, Ill. Perez, who is in his sixth year in the industry, has already earned his steerage license and plans to make a career on the canal. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 51mm | Exposed 1/200 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 100.

Last Wednesday I had an opportunity to spend most of a day on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal with three men who make their living pushing cargo up and down the man-made waterway created 110 years ago.  Bill Russell at Illinois Marine Towing, a small barge company in Lemont, Illinois, granted me access to one of the fleet boats as it repositioned barges and other tug boats around the shipyard and up and down a stretch of the canal.  Capt. Dan Egan, Antonio Lopez, and Steve Gray were all very open to the idea, and basically allowed me great access to the work that they do, although there are some safety precautions that certainly limit how much of their job I could photograph from close range.  But I didn’t want to be the victim of a snapped line or fall into the water, either!  Be sure to see the rest of the images after the jump.  And there will be more to come!

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A Guided Tour to Chicago’s Shoreline

Mallory Green, a tour guide for Wendella Boats

Mallory Green, a tour guide for Wendella Boats, tells passengers about the famous Chicago skyline on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010. Tour companies like Wendella Boats would be hampered if the Chicago Harbor Lock was closed in an effort to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 40mm | Exposed 1/2500 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100.

I’m beginning to wrap the shooting for my master’s project.  One of my last days was spent playing tourist in a city I used to live in.  While barge companies would be adversely affected if the Thomas J. O’Brien lock on the Cal-Sag Channel was closed permentntly, closing the Chicago Harbor Lock would mean an end to boat traffic from Lake Michigan to the Chicago River, and hurt tour companies like Wendella Boats.

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More selects from the Cal-Sag Channel

Heather Calkins portrait

Heather Calkins looks back at the Cal-Sag Channel as the Fish & Wildlife Service electro-shocking boat heads towards the Thomas P. O'Brien Lock and Dam in Chicago, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 52mm | Exposed 1/2000 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 200.

As I go through my take from Thursday, I find a new image I like each sweep.  It’s interesting to me how different my editing process is with storytelling photographs than with my more traditional nature and architectural fare, where I am far more ruthless in the initial sweeps of the takes.  I suppose it’s part of learning…

Brett Witte sets up the electro-shocking probe

Brett Witte sets up the electro-shocking probes before setting them in the water ahead of the Fish & Wildlife Service boat in Lake Calumet, beyond the Thomas P. O'Brien Lock and Dam on the Cal-Sag Channel, Chicago, Ill. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens @ 24mm | Exposed 1/500 sec. @ f/4, ISO 100.

Hand sanitizer and ear protection

A bottle of hand sanitizer and ear-protective goggles rest on the plexiglass shield ahead of the pilot's position on the Fish & Wildlife Service electro-shocking boat. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 85mm f/1.2L II lens | Exposed 1/800 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100.