Above Chicago Calendar Cover

The 2016 Above Chicago Calendar

I put together a 12-month calendar full of my rooftop & aerial photographs from Above Chicago for 2016. If you bought one, or received one as a gift, and you’re here to learn more about the photos – thanks for stopping by! If you’re just visiting the blog and you still need a calendar THIS is where you can get them.

Admittedly, when we were laying out the calendar we didn’t always choose photos that were taken in the months they represent. I doubt there are written rules for photo calendars, but if there are, I broke them. Below are short stories about when, where, and how the photos were taken.

P.S. This calendar is just a little prelude to the Above Chicago photo book I’m launching in the spring of 2016 – Stay tuned!

About the photos…

JANUARY: This photo was taken on an absolutely frigid day in February – but it looks so January! As cold and dreary as Chicago’s winter months can be, I think it’s safe to say that it can be absolutely breathtaking at times. Literally. The temperatures were in the low teens and despite flying with the doors on (save for a small window that opened for me to shoot out) the helicopter’s cabin was quite frosty. Sometimes when we would bank and the cold air would pour in, it was hard to catch your breath.



FEBRUARY: I snapped this shot from the roof of Marina City – in February actually. I was invited up to the roof by a resident who enjoyed my work. Despite the cold, we were treated to a beautiful sunset. This shot features 77 West Wacker with a faux tilt-shift treatment.



MARCH: What’s good about freezing winters? The colder-than-normal lake water helps produce fog in the spring and early summer when warm east winds blow across it. This shot, taken in early June via helicopter, shows a plume of fog rolling off the lake and into Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood trying to give the John Hancock a cool, misty hug.



APRIL: I used to be afraid of heights, but exploring rooftops has helped quell it quite a bit. I took this shot from Cerise, the rooftop bar at Virgin Hotel a few days before it opened to the public. My wife, Amy, snapped a pretty good photo of me reaching my tripod out over the edge to get this image.



MAY: Brand new for 2015 – Maggie Daley Park! I suspect there will be a lot of cool images coming out of this public space as the foliage fills in over the years. I snapped this shot from a helicopter in May.



JUNE: I love catching a good summer storm. It’s even more amazing when I’m high above the city at 360 Chicago. Surprisingly, this shot was taken in early April. A strong line of storms was moving in from the West, but fell apart when it approached the city. At the same time, a stronger line of storms was moving through Northern Illinois. Patience paid off as we were able to watch some good cloud to ground lightning strike the far North side of Chicago. Check out Kyle Buckland’s time-lapse on Instagram. This photo is a composite of 4 separate frames.



JULY: How can you have a calendar without fireworks in July? Funny part is, this photo was snapped form Trump Tower’s 16th floor terrace during the 2014 Chicago Fire Festival – in October. I was up there with timelpaser Eric Hines with special permission from Trump Tower. We couldn’t understand why the was terrace was closed to the public, until we realized how close these pyrotechnics were to hitting us.



AUGUST: The Chicago Air & Water Show is my favorite event of the year. This past August I had a front-row seat for Friday’s practice day from 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center. In this shot, one of the Blue Angel solo pilots tightly banks his F/A-18 Hornet back towards show center.



SEPTEMBER: There’s something magical about fog. More specifically, when Chicago’s buildings pierce through a low layer of it. It’s even better when you’re above that layer. This shot, taken in June from the Skydeck Observatory, is one of my all-time favorites. The density and altitude of the fog was perfect. Not only did many buildings pop through, but the city light were lighting it from beneath. And that sunset! If you look close, you can also see Wrigley Field’s lights illuminating the cloud deck near the horizon in the middle-left portion of the frame.

P.S. The cover photo was taken from the same visit



OCTOBER: This photo was taken in October during a helicopter flight, which was the first time I had the chance to shoot during blue hour. I thought this was a good fit for October for two reasons. One, it was taken in the month it represents (success!). Two, the end of October usually marks the end of any semblance of pleasant weather in Chicago – so in a way, this photo represent autumn’s twilight.



NOVEMBER: I actually took this shot during a helicopter flight over the Chicago Blackhawk’s 2015 Stanley Cup Parade – in June. It illustrates, rather graphically, Frank Gehry’s BP Bridge at Millennium Park. This black & white treatment reminded me of the season’s first snow – only inverted. Just enough snow to cover the grass, but not enough to stick to the pavement.



DECEMBER: Closing 2016 with a sweeping view of the skyline from the roof of the newly completed Wolf Point West. This is a 5-frame panoramic stitch.


Cheers to 2016!!