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Archive for April, 2010

Chicago Art Open Preview and Benefit Party

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Digital Painting To Be Anonymous
Digital Painting To Be Anonymous

I attended the Chicago Artist’s Coalition Chicago Art Open Preview and Benefit Tuesday night. The event was held at the River East Art Center. My reason for attending was that I responded to a Call for Entries for the Chicago Art Open so one of my pieces is in the show.

You can read more about the event and check out a few photographs that I took at Chicago Art Open Reception at River East Art Center.

You can view my art – To Be Anonymous – in the 2010 Chicago Art Open Photography Section. Unfortunately they miscategorized my art as photography and despite requests that it be moved to the "Works on Paper" category (and to correct their misspelling of the title) that has not happened yet.

The Illustration

The digital painting To Be Anonymous which is on view in the Chicago Art Open at the River East Art Center in Chicago.

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Photography at Navy Pier

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Windy schooner off Navy Pier
Windy schooner off Navy Pier

I took a photo excursion to Chicago’s Navy Pier last Thursday. It was a beautiful day for it and there were surprisingly few people there. I had brought along several model release forms just in case I happened upon a person that I wanted to photograph. However, no such opportunity presented itself.

One of my first stops was to take a ride on the ferris wheel. It cost $6.00 for the ride. The slow movement of the ferris wheel and partially open sides made possible some decent photos of the Chicago skyline. Unfortunately the backs and much of the sides were enclosed in plexiglass making photos at most angles impossible.

A while later the Windy, a 150 foot 4 masted schooner, came into dock which presented a nice photo op. I stopped by their ticket booth to get details. A one hour cruise was departing at 5:00pm which fit my schedule nicely. I came close to buying a ticket but one look to the east convinced me otherwise. It was a clear day and the Sun was about 35 degrees up in the sky. My principal purpose for taking the cruise was to get photos of the Chicago skyline from a different vantage point. However, given the clear sky and position of the Sun the pictures would not have turned out very good so I took a pass.

I continued to meander about taking photos, including a couple of the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. By the time I started heading back in from the end of the pier, the Windy was starting her next cruise. It didn’t take long before she had her sails up. Fortunately I had brought along my telephoto lens so even though she was some distance away when she raised her sails, I was still able to get some decent shots. I used one of those shots to illustrate this post.

I also headed up to Olive Park to get some photographs of the John Hancock Building and points north. The sun position was pretty bad by then being low in the sky but still clearing all but the tallest buildings. However from where I was, the Sun lined up nicely with Huron Street and created a nice reflection in that sliver of Lake Michigan that lies between Olive Park and Lake Shore Drive.

Afterwards, I went to Charlie’s Ale House for dinner but got tired of waiting for someone to show up and seat me. A couple waitresses at the end of the bar looked up a few times before returning to chatting. Given how empty the place was they certainly couldn’t attribute their lack of service to being too busy. Obviously they rake in enough cash to not be concerned about the loss of a customer. I headed over to Carnelli’s Deli and grabbed a sandwich and drink instead. They took my order and made my sandwich in far less time than I had spent waiting at Charlie’s. Plus they were a good deal cheaper.

After eating I wondered around the Crystal Gardens. I took a few photographs of plants and the few flowers there. It was then time to head over to the IMAX theater to meet my friends and take in the Hubble 3D movie. For more about that part of my excursion, read Hubble 3D IMAX Movie.

By the time we got out of the restaurant, Navy Pier had been closed for over 90 minutes. I only got to take a few pictures before being directed by security to leave. In total I took over 150 photographs. In the days of film, I would have been far more judicious in the number of photographs I took. But this is the age of digital photography so I shoot away.

For me, the hardest part of photography these days is not taking the photograph. Rather, it is going through all the photographs afterwards: deciding which to delete and what to do with those I keep.

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Hubble 3D IMAX Movie

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Hubble 3D IMAX movie
Hubble 3D IMAX movie

What a great IMAX movie. Thursday I visited Chicago’s Navy Pier to take some photographs and attend a screening of the latest IMAX movie – Hubble 3D. I had a number of free passes so I and several friends from the National Space Society met up to see the movie.

According to the theater Shuttle astronaut John Grunsfeld, who was in the movie and was one of the astronauts on the last Hubble servicing mission, was supposed to be there. However there was no John Grunsfeld. I never did ask anyone from the theater what happened.

As to the movie, the main themes were the training for the Hubble servicing mission, the actual servicing mission itself, and simulated 3D views of some of Hubble’s better known observations. The blend of shuttle launches, astronaut training, the Hubble servicing missions, and the simulated trips through the Orion Nebula and M87 kept the movie well paced.

The 3D, which relies on polarized light rather than the red/blue anaglyph, really made the movie spectacular. When the astronauts were in the Space Shuttle’s payload bay servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, it was like being there with them. One particularly effective shot was a close in view of astronaut Megan McArthur suited up prior to boarding the Space Shuttle for the STS-125 mission. She was seated and it was like she was seated only a few feet in front of me. I felt like I could reach out and give her a high-five. Megan was a mission specialist on STS-125, the 5th and final Hubble servicing mission, and worked the remote manipulator system (RMS) used to grab the Hubble Space Telescope and bring it into the Shuttle’s payload bay.

Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is arguably the best known and most photographed astronomical feature. Astronomically, the highlight of the movie was the simulated trip to and through the Orion Nebula, which is a stellar nursery. I’ve had an interest in the Orion Nebula, also known as Messier 42 or M42, for a long time and have in the past considered putting together a presentation on the subject. If you want to know a lot more about the Orion Nebula, I recommend the book The Orion Nebula: Where Stars Are Born.


There were some slow moments during the show that relied on non-3d visuals. These were primarily news reports associated with Hubble’s initial optical problems (recall that the primary mirror was ground a fraction of the width of a human hair out of shape).

I would have liked to have seen more of the movie devoted to astronomy. There were some beautiful 3D stills, like that of the Helix Nebula, and the simulated trip to the galaxy known as M87, a giant elliptical galaxy with a super massive black hole at its center. And there was more – just not enough for me.

Bottom Line

If you are at all interested in space exploration or astronomy, then this is a movie you’ll enjoy. The 3D views are amazing and the script provides a great educational opportunity. And did I mention that the 3D views are amazing.


After the movie we headed to Bubba Gump’s for food and drink. Bubba Gump’s wasn’t our first choice but other than Harry Caray’s, it was the only place still open. For the next hour and a half we talked some about the movie but mostly about the National Space Society and the upcoming International Space Development Conference (ISDC) – which all of us have an involvement in. For my part, I am the ISDC webmaster and am the point of contact for the Call for Papers. The ISDC is being held in Chicago this year over Memorial Day weekend and is the best space exploration conference for the general public. Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and many other space luminaries, will be attending. For more about the ISDC, check out the International Space Development Conference web site.

The Hubble 3D IMAX Web Site

The IMAX folks have a web site for the Hubble 3D movie. There is background about the shuttle missions, the astronauts, and a few movie wallpapers available. Be forewarned – the web site is heavy. If you don’t have a high speed internet connection the site will take some time to load. And if you don’t have a newer computer – well let’s just say that the site will put a strain on your browser. So for more about the movie, visit

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Art Show + New Art + Art Open

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Microscopic Metropolis
Cropped Microscopic Metropolis

Art Show

Monday I took down my art exhibit at the Advocate Good Shepard Hospital (more info here) and set up a new art exhibit at the Rolling Meadows Public Library. The new show features 11 digital paintings. The art is displayed on the library’s second floor. More information to follow.

New Art

I just added new art to my web site. Microscopic Metropolis, cropped version shown above, was inspired by the visual similarities between cities as seen from Earth orbit and the veins of a leaf as seen under a microscope and is yet another illustration of the fractal nature of the universe.

Art Open

My art submission to the juried Chicago Art Open Exhibition made it into the show. The show will be held at the River East Art Center in Chicago. The public opening of the show is Saturday, April 24th at 12 noon. To kick off the exhibition there will be a Preview, Benefit and 35th Anniversary Party on Tuesday, April 20th from 6:00 to 9:00pm. There will be hors d’oeuvres, wine, music, a silent auction, and over 300 works of art for sale. For more info and to purchase tickets for admission to the preview and benefit, see PREVIEW BENEFIT PARTY – Chicago Artists Coalition

So until next time I leave you with the words of George Bernard Shaw:

Imagination is the beginning of creation.
You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.

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