Creative Spotlight: Level Construction

I received a call from Mitesh Patel, the Managing Partner who heads up the Chicago office of Level Construction.  He needed some shots of an old hotel that they had recently remodeled.  It was the Holiday Inn located in the Central Loop here in Chicago.  Built in 1964, the hotel displaces more that 65,000 square feet.  The building needed serious updates and improvements and no one is better at this than Level.  For those familiar with the hotel, the transformation is tremendous.

The new space, which is centrally located in the heart of the Chicago financial district, now stands out as a polished gem among the other buildings.  Below are a few highlights.


Great Lenses: Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50mm f2

I really enjoy using vintage lenses and this one might just be my favorite.   Vintage lenses truly have character to them.   They give your images a look that is very appealing especially when shooting portraits.  There is no question they are not as sharp as a modern lens, but that is really okay.  They weren’t meant to be.  

These lenses were made by true craftsman, often times poured, ground and polished by hand.
   This particular lens was manufactured during the beginning of World War Two.  The barrel appears to be made from nickel instead of brass, but the build quality is still first rate.  Everything works perfectly and is very smooth.  I almost always shoot this one wide open.  


The serial number places its build date to 1939.  To think that just a few years later the Zeiss works tooling and inventory along with most of the Zeiss craftsman would be shipped off to Russia where they would begin building cameras and lenses for the Russian market under the Juniper brand name.


At one time, these could be had for just a few dollars, but original Zeiss lenses are now gaining in popularity, causing their prices to inflate.


My example appears to have never been serviced.  The screws, mounts and retaining rings look as though they have never been touched.  The glass is clear, the blades are clean and it is a joy to use.  I have used this on my Lecia CL, Leica M6, Bessa R with great success.


Below are a couple shots of my daughter from 2008.

Shot on Film: Petit bateau cassé (Broken little boat)

In the spring of 2003, I was in East Texas on the bank of the Lake O’ Pines near my father in laws home when I spotted this neglected little boat that appears to have been abandoned for years.  You can’t see it from this image, but someone had deliberately punctured the hull from inside the boat, ensuring its demise.  And so when the water is low as in this photo the boat is exposed for all to see.  When the spring rains comes it and the lake water levels, it will be submersed.   It is still tied up to this day, spending most of the time under water.

This was shot using a Voightlander Bessa R camera fitted with a wartime era Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50mm f2 lens using Fuji Astia 100F color reversal film.  The slide was scanned using a Minotla DiMage 5400 film scanner full frame.  No adjustments were made.

Creative Spotlight: Benvenuit & Stein

We had the opportunity to shoot a condo remodel in the city for Geno Benvenuti.  The space featured contemporary custom built-ins with the fit and finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a Steinway.  The space included a home office, also equipped with custom cabinetry and transparent glass walls, which allowed the homeowner to enjoy the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline, and Lake Michigan when at work.   If you're looking for unmatched craftsmanship for your next project, call Geno Benvenuti.  You'll be happy you did.

Below are just a few highlights.

Creative Spotlight: Lauren Coburn - Architectural Interior Designer

The world seems to be filled with interior designers.  They are by far my favorite clients to work with.  With that said, there are only a select few who consistently ‘knock it out of the park’ with their design work.   Lauren is one of them.

We had the opportunity to work with Lauren and her team a few weeks back and we had a blast!  Lauren always knows exactly what compositions she wants, and stages scenes perfectly.  Her support team headed up by Suzie Chavez is top drawer.  I know that when Lauren books a shoot, it’s a matter of showing up and shooting the project.  Everything is ready the minute I arrive.  I really appreciate that.


Below are a few of my favorites from the photoshoot.  If you’re in the market for an exquisite interior designer, give Lauren a call.