I was really looking forward to the afternoon shoot. It was a cold day in Chicago and my sister offered to give me access to her office building’s patio, located on the 23rd floor. I arrived at 3:30 pm, plenty of time to set up my gear and get situated. My sister and I rode the elevator to the 23rd floor and alas, the patio door was locked, even though the sign clearly indicated it is open every day until 8 pm. I needed to improvise; the view overlooking Millennium Park, Cloud Gate (The Bean), the ice rink, Michigan Avenue and the city Christmas tree was too good to pass up.

We scouted locations throughout the building and the dark exercise room seemed the best location. I set up my gear and my plan was to take pictures before sunset, during Golden hour and during Blue hour. I am glad I started early as I encountered a few issues.

* As Golden hour passed to Blue hour, reflections began to creep into my photos. I tried blocking light by draping a microfiber cloth above my lens, however reflections poured in underneath. Look for the dumbbell handles on the dumbbell rack to the left of the park lighting.

* While no one was in the exercise room when I started, it became very busy around 4:30 pm as people started end-of-day exercising. People doing Jumping Jacks, running on the treadmill, dropping dumbbells on the floor or returning them to the rack caused camera vibration in several long exposures.

* The windows were dirty, which cause a problem. My original intention was to shoot near F22 around ISO 100 with 6 second shutter speeds so I could create light trails from the car headlights and tail lights. However, the small aperture picked up the dirt on the windows, which increasingly caused noise in every picture as darkness set in.

In the end, I was lucky that I took over 100 pictures beginning with full daylight through Blue hour, because the pictures at sunset were the only ones worthwhile. Check out the dumbbell reflections above the green and red columns / left of the lights and the noise created by the dirty windows. Out of the 100 or so pictures, I am happy with the one gem I was able to get.

I guess my next camera investment is a Lenskirt to block ambient light / window reflections. That would fix the reflection, but not the dirt on the outside of the window.