A few years ago my brother and his family moved to south western Michigan. It’s quite a distance from Utah where we were raised, but we try to visit when we’re able. They live in between many metro areas so there’s several airports nearby, but none that are particularly close. We recently were delighted to find some discounted airfare to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and just a week or so before our kids’ spring break. It seemed perfect!
My brother lives within a couple hours of Chicago so we knew we’d need a way to get from the airport to his area. We began to look at our options and settled on taking the subway to Union Station in downtown Chicago, where we’d catch an Amtrak train. While researching our trip I learned that Union Station is a beautiful old building with many intricate details and gorgeous lighting. I thought I would have time to take some photos, however, our train left too quickly once we reached the station. Luckily on our return a week later I had more than enough time to explore the building and find the compositions that inspired me.
My tool of choice was the Yashicamat 124G, a 6×6 medium format TLR built from the 1970s to the 1980s. I had purchased a model from eBay the year before but unfortunately it had stopped working. Luckily a photographer friend had one that he was willing to lend me for this trip.
For the film I used Kodak Ektar 100, one of my absolute favorite film stocks. For reasons unknown to me, Ektar seems to have a bit of a mixed reputation in the film community, with some treating it as the red-headed-stepchild of the Kodak family. As for myself, I love the rich colors and seemingly non-existent grain. Of course it’s not great for portraits, but for landscapes and architecture it makes the most beautiful photographs.
I loaded up the Yashicamat, put it on a tripod, and attached a shutter release cable. I don’t have a dedicated light meter so I just use an app that I have on my phone. However, I quickly discovered that my friend’s model had a working light meter! I compared it to the readings from my phone and found it to be accurate, so I eventually quit using the phone app and just metered from the camera itself. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed learning to use the matchstick needle to balance the exposure.
Carrying an old TLR into a public setting like Union Station was bound to garner some attention. I enjoyed the comments from curious passersby and even struck up a conversation with one gentleman who ended up recommending a great composition idea!
Overall I’m quite pleased with how well these shots turned out. The lighting is absolutely gorgeous and creates a golden glow around the edges of the ceiling. The American flag hanging at one end was very picturesque, but I also found many more compositions around the main hall. The columns, statues, and ceiling tiles have such great color and texture, and the shadows created from the natural light are also very pleasing.
As a comparison I also took a few shots on my digital mirrorless Fujifilm XT-3. They’re nice as well but the colors from the Ektar really make it no contest in my mind.
Thanks for reading!
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