TRIP REPORT: Exploring parts of Chicago with a smartphone camera


Sweet home Chicago
Explore parts of Chicago with a smartphone camera

There are many types of photography that I love – but the smartphone opens up so many possibilities compared to a big scary black camera that can scare people off.

With the rise of computational photography (where multiple shots are taken and combined by an algorithm to create a high dynamic range image), there are sometimes real reasons to leave the camera at home or in the bedroom. of hotel.

In my words, on my first night in Chicago, I tend to leave the DSLR behind (normally because the SD card is busy copying files to a laptop), but more importantly, it’s a lighter thing to carry after lifting weights through the airport. squares and hotel corridors). The rest of the time the smartphone is in my pocket or in my hand ready to pull out and shoot (although I’ll be honest, the SLR isn’t normally far behind, slung over my shoulder.

Both suit my style of urban photography – the burst style. After all, like it or not, we are all on stopwatches. While some can spend hours and minutes contemplating shots, I’m much more opportunistic in my style – capturing pieces of life

The camera

Throughout this section, everything was shot on an Apple iPhone 12 Pro. While the 13 Pro is the latest and greatest, the 12 Pro is still a very efficient device.

Mainly original – Ok, I had the screen replaced once.

And also – it’s great to get off the upgrade carousel and make electronics last these days. And I can say that – 35mm because I have a Canon EOS 6D which is still used in live shooting even though it is now 9 years old. While it’s not as pretty or as light as my EOS R, having a spare tank like this is never a bad thing.

It’s the same with smartphones – progress slows on high-end devices to the point where buying a new device every year is no longer necessary, instead you get the device with the feature set. which you need.

Likewise, developments in smartphone photography are reducing reliance on the image sensor and lens (although they are important parts of the mix) and forcing your System-On-A-Chip to work hard instead. Since the software changes are more important, the hardware sometimes matters a little less.

The only thing it lacks is a more capable telephoto lens – 2X is hardly what I would call “long” in telephoto terms (equivalent to 52mm on a 35mm frame – I would call that a portrait lens, more than a telephoto lens).

I tend to stick with the default camera app – there are plenty of alternatives (ProCam is the one I use occasionally), but sometimes I need simplicity when taking photos – and although the Camera app is basic as anything, it works for my use case.

On the photos

I’m not going to dive into camera lenses, specs, settings or anything here – I’ll just add a little commentary as I type.

But do you meet?

Awesome. Primark has arrived in Chicago. Hello, cheap fashion – goodbye to any semblance of fast shopping.

Marshal Fields and Sons and the Chicago Theatre.

The iPhone treatment of lights can be interesting – and especially too bright sometimes if you look at the background (whereas in the real world it was a bit darker than that).

The action is always difficult in the evening. Here the iPhone has nailed the image.

For those who prefer the dynamic look, the iPhone handles that image of a train on the overhead railroad speeding away with the dynamic look I want, rather than freezing it in time.

Made in Seattle and South Carolina, with headquarters in Chicago (there’s a decent store there, too – but check hours of operation…if it drags).

The cities and the river.

Ah. The Tower of the “Testaments”.

I must admit that the L fascinates me, both from a traveler’s point of view and from a photographer’s point of view.


No visit to Chicago would be complete without seeing Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate. Although some may argue, it’s still an interesting piece of public art.

Even if you can go under his navel.

Millennium Park is also one of my favorite Chicago City photo spots. I love the lines in this photo – with the life around it and the passing train.

Going a bit down North Michigan Avenue there is a bit of soul destroying.

There are also famous buildings in northern Michigan, such as the Tribune Tower

As well as views of the Chicago River (not that I’ve used that for many travel report headers…in the last few years).

There’s a Saturday Night Live sketch somewhere…

Every day is different when shooting. Sometimes you have gray and snow. Other days…

Blue skies near the John Hancock Building.

Even the locals need a walk once in a while.

I suspect it’s not the season (opposite the old Apple store which has been empty for years now).

A city of skyscrapers

When I was there, it was approaching St. Patrick’s Day, it seems like it was time to dye the Chicago River green. Because…reasons as many as I can find.

Although I like this image of Marina town and the river.

I don’t like the state of those stairs though…

I have cheated a lot in the past and used the Brown Line to cross the Chicago River. It’s always a good idea – but check the calendar. This line has become less reliable than some deep pizzas.

Next: Back to O’Hare, the British Airways Terraces Lounge and Beyond Meat Burger…

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