A few months ago while working at a client's office downtown, I used to go for walks at lunch to explore the neighborhood and one day stumbled across Mary Bartelme Park. Located just west of the loop it's a wonderful park with a playground, dog play area, and on the west end, a very interesting piece of art. A series of five steel or aluminum archways at various angles stand about 12 ft square, and are equipped with nozzles that spray a fine mist of water to cool off patrons during the hot Chicago summers. While there I snapped a few photos with my iPhone and told myself to come back at some point to shoot with my SLR. A few nights ago I finally got the chance.

As I always say preparation goes a long way so I wanted to get there before sundown to set everything up and make sure I had my composition locked in. I wanted to shoot very low to exaggerate the angles of the arches, so I set my Manfrotto as low as it would go with the neck flipped at a 90 degree angle, the bottom of the camera only a few inches off the pavement.

Preparation is key

As the sun finally settled below the horizon and the lights came up, the sky faded to a beautiful purple blue hue with a touch of pink to the south. The ideal lighting was only around for about fifteen to twenty minutes so I knew I had to get something relatively quickly. I loved the colors of the shots I was taking, but it was really lacking something. I had expected the water to be misting from the arches, however when anyone tried to turn it on nothing happened. I'm not sure where the idea came from, but I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try some light painting - problem was I don't carry a flashlight in my day pack. Undeterred, I set the camera to a 10 second timer, turned on my iPhone flashlight, and proceeded to walk back and forth waiving it with the flashlight towards the camera. My first exposure was just arcs headed from back to front - not as dramatic as I was hoping for, but the light was showing up crystal clear. I fired off another ten exposures or so, wildly waving my arm and running back and forth each time (what a workout). I eventually got exactly what I wanted - windmilling the phone like Pete Townshend while slowly walking towards the camera created this weeks photo. Probably the most unique and fun photo I have ever taken.

Archways30s, f/8, ISO200