In Breakfast at Tiffany's, the Tiffany's clerk shows Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard a $6.75 sterling silver telephone dialer. With inflation, $6.75 in 1961 comes out to $53.30 in 2015.
Choosing the Right Path
Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of cold weather. But these Midwestern winters? From an aesthetic point of view, they're stunning. As for this photograph made inside Rock Cut State Park, what's really interesting about it is the metaphorical, diverging pathway. It almost feels like a Robert Frost poem come to life.
Le Ballon Bleu
This candid photograph was made on Michigan Avenue. Though not usually a fan of isolating colors, I felt it was the only way to produce a photograph that was representative of isolation, loneliness, and the ability to feel those things even when in a crowd.
(The title, Le Ballon Bleu, is French for The Blue Balloon. Because ennui is a very French trait, the title is meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek.)
Fly Away Home
Aldeen Golf Course is one of the most beautiful golf courses in Rockford, Illinois, so you can imagine how excited I was to photograph it after a heavy snowfall. Much to my surprise, there were geese on the frozen water hazard. My intention was to get closer to them, but once they heard me awkwardly making my way through the snow, they took off.
New Milford 4147
An older woman private messaged me out of the blue, asking if I had any photographs of barns. Seeing as how art galleries aren't exactly interested in photographs of barns, my first instinct was to ignore the woman. However, I quickly reminded myself that I'm in business for myself and don't have to follow anyone's rules, so, I messaged her back.
I politely suggested to the woman that she could go and photograph a barn for herself. I offered to give her the camera settings, help her edit the photograph, and prepare it for print. "No, I want one of your photographs," she fired back on Facebook. Confused, I asked why it mattered that I make the photograph. "I want to tell my friends you made it!" she quickly responded. Even as I write this, I'm still confused by her response. Regardless, I hopped in my car and went in search of a barn.
Seeing as there aren't many farmhouses in Rockford, I decided to drive out near the airport. First road I turned down was littered with old barns, but this particular one caught my attention. Seeing as how the windchill factor was -25, I decided to just roll down my window and shoot the barn from my car. Took one shot, looked at the camera's LCD screen to make sure it was good, then drove off.
As for the woman who wanted the photograph, I never heard back from her. It was a small request, and I'm happy I was able to oblige. Hopefully she'll swing back around sometime in the future and buy this print. Until then, it's all yours.
Admittedly, it was stupid of me to head into Rock Cut State Park during a blizzard warning, but it was the first time I'd seen snow in months and I couldn't help myself.
Shortly after this particular photograph was made, the road basically disappeared into a sea of white. The snow was coming down so hard that I decided to stop and text a friend to let them know where I was in case I got my car stuck. The fact that this road, as well as other roads inside Rock Cut State Park, were quickly vanishing helped me think of the perfect title for this beautiful winter photograph.
Magic in the Moonlight
This photograph is a favorite of mine because of how straightforward it is. I was at Adler Planetarium on a really cold morning in March because I hoped to make some cityscape photographs. Unfortunately, the sun was still twenty minutes from making its first appearance, but what happened while I was waiting was pure magic.
When I turned around to see where the moon was, I noticed these two shadows embracing on the stairs on Adler Planetarium. With the moon on the far right-hand side, the street lamp in the middle, and the couple on the left, I knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime photograph.
After I made the picture I quickly put my camera back on the tripod and waited for the sunrise to appear... but I kept turning around every so often to see if the couple were still there. Moments like the one this couple shared are few and far between. Hopefully this photograph inspires you to grab the person you love and hold them close. (If nothing else, give them a call and just say, "I love you.")
L Oh L
This photograph features CTA train conductor confused by my presence on the tracks. Was I actually standing on the tracks? Of course not. I was trying to insert a memory card into my camera when it popped out and onto the tracks. I got on my stomach, leaned over and grabbed it... and decided to make a photograph while doing so. There were no trains coming in the opposite direction and I wasn't in any danger, but the CTA still kicked me off the platform. I actually agreed with and respected their decision, but I was still pleased as punch to make such a unique photograph.
The Britannica clock tower as seen through the arches of the Clark Street Bridge in downtown Chicago, Illinois. For a few weeks I was really into utilizing natural frames around Chicago, and this one just happened to fit my eye. (It was snowing pretty good when I made this, so you'll see a lot of snowflakes in the print.)
Nicholas at Dusk
This is one of the most popular images here at Comeback Charlie. It's a long exposure featuring Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford, Illinois, and it was made during blue hour on a cool summer evening.
Wide Open Spaces
This photographed of an abandoned barn in Southern Wisconsin was taken on the way home from Lake Geneva. Though I was driving into the sun, I could see this barn was worth photographing.
I couldn't take my eyes off the road, so I switched the camera to burst mode, held it as evenly as I could, and fired. Four pictures were made, but this was the only one that was both sharp and well composed.
This late-summer photograph features a canoe drifting across Pierce Lake at sunset. Not much to really say about this photograph. Using the tree branches as a natural frame, I attached a neutral density filter to my lens to make the colors a little bolder than they'd normally be and just waited for the canoe to drift into the middle of the scene.
This photograph features a serene alcove of waterfalls located inside Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois.
At the time this was made, I was just another amateur futzing around Rockford with his camera. The reason I mention this is because the camera I used for all the photographs on this site doesn't perform very well in tricky lighting conditions. This particular scene was difficult to shoot because of the camera's poor high-ISO capabilities. (If you're not familiar with ISO, think of it like this: the higher the ISO, the faster your shutter speed. Though your shutter speed increases, your image becomes grainier once the ISO gets too high.)
You wouldn't think you'd need to use a high ISO for an outdoor shot like this, but you'd be wrong. This scene, in real life, is pretty dark. When I stumbled upon it, I thought, "This is gorgeous, but I'll never be able to photograph it properly with my camera."
What you can't see in this photograph is the itty-bitty walking path I'm standing on. Because there were a ton of people behind me, and the gardens were getting ready to close, I had to be really quick.
I looked through my camera's viewfinder to take light measurements, but it said my shutter speed would need to be 1/15th of second to properly expose everything. For a handheld shot, 1/15th of a second was too slow so I decided to kick the ISO up higher than it should have been in order to get a shutter speed of at least 1/30th of a second. After I dialed in the settings, I waited for my turn to walk out onto the perfect section of the narrow path.
As soon as I got into position, I fired three shots in burst mode. If the photographs weren't sharp enough, there was nothing I could do about it except come back to the gardens when I had a better camera.
Luckily, the second photograph I made of this scene turned out to be sharp enough for me to attempt to edit it for print. Though you wouldn't be able to tell, this image took quite awhile to retouch. (I'm not big on using HDR or tone-mapping techniques to improve my images, so I have to get creative when it comes to retouching, and that can take awhile.)
Edge of Summer
This stunning sunrise photograph features a damp, picturesque field behind the 7th hole at Elliot Golf Course in Rockford, Illinois.
The image itself was originally made for instructional purposes, in order to help viewers (of the Comeback Charlie Facebook Page) understand composition. Though it wasn't received too well, I was pretty pleased with the fact that I was able to combine the Rule of Thirds with the golden ratio to create a beautifully balanced image of this late-summer sunrise.
Before the Rain
This photograph features Rock Cut State Park in Loves Park, Illinois. It was made a few moments before a light rainstorm and layer of fog engulfed the area. The bridge, which at the time was broken, leads out over a marsh which provides nature-lovers with a breathtaking view of Pierce Lake.
Golden Hills of Galena (Scenes from an Autumn Afternoon No. 2)
No. 1 and No. 2 in this series are scenes from the same countryside, about a mile apart. Unlike the first image in the series, my telephoto lens was maxed out for this one. When maxing out a telephoto lens, a weighted tripod is a must in order to ensure tack sharp images. My biggest concern, actually, was making certain visible heat waves didn't interfere with the image clarity. Because the sun was directly behind me and beating down hard, I knew it could happen. Fortunately, heat waves were a non-issue, and my image ended up being about as beautiful as I could possibly make it.
Sundown on County Road Z (Scenes from an Autumn Afternoon No. 3)
This photograph, and the rest of the images in the "Scenes from an Autumn Afternoon," were created in the same, hurried afternoon on a trip to Galena, Illinois. Sinsinawa Mound is not only home to an order of Dominican Sisters, it's a non-demonational home for prayer.
They also sell awesome homemade cinnamon bread in their gift shop and it was calling my name. I had no choice but to take a detour to the Mound. It was absolutely worth it, but it caused me to run behind schedule.
Worried I wouldn't make it to Dubuque, Iowa before sunset, I quickly exited the Mound and took off down an isolated country road. Not forty seconds away from the Mound and I see the most gorgeous, pastoral scene ever out my window. I couldn't believe my good fortune.
The side-lit, sun-kissed grass? Gorgeous. The tree that looks like it was painted into the landscape? Unique. The stream leading out of frame? Peaceful. The cows grazing on the hillside? Awesome. It was the perfect Midwestern landscape.
This photograph features a man fishing at sunrise on Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State Park. Though I wasn't making any noise, the man, as well as his friends, were visibly annoyed with my presence. Not wanting to ruin their morning, I quickly aligned everything in the viewfinder and fired before they had a chance to say anything. As you can see, the photograph turned out pretty well.
This photograph of downtown Rockford was made from the Morgan Street Bridge just as the sun was setting.
The reason I went down to the Morgan Street Bridge was because it's fairly new and I'd never seen what the city looked like from that location. As luck would have it, birds were flying over downtown and into the sun on this particularly stunning Autumn evening.
This photograph features a street-level view of the Chicago River, Marina City towers, and host of bridges late at night.
Unlike many of my night photographs, this one wasn't planned in advance. I was interested in making street photographs, but there weren't many people out at this time of night so I decided to make some cityscape shots.
For this particular one, I simply lined Marina Towers up according to the golden ratio and tripped the shutter. After I got the image home and plugged it into my post-production software, I just sharpened it and added a little clarity to make this gorgeous nighttime scene really pop.
Unveiled in 1978, "Symbol" is a sculpture by artist Alexander Liberman. Its first home was at the intersection of State and Wyman in downtown Rockford, but due to poor public reaction, it was moved to Sinninnissippi Park in 1984.
I chose to position my camera on the Auburn Street Bridge and use a 100mm f/2.8 lens in order to make "Symbol" the cynosure of the photograph. The reason I chose to display this image, as opposed to making a new one, is because this was made the night before it was given in a new paint job. (It's now a completely different shade of orange.)
The Long Goodbye
After 90 years in business, Maria's Italian Cafe closed its doors on January 1st, 2014. This is a photograph of Maria's longtime bartender taking one last look up at the sign shortly before the restaurant closed its doors on New Year's Eve. It should be noted that, like all my street photographs, I don't intervene in any way. I'm a human first and a photographer second. To ask him to pose for the camera would have ruined his personal moment. As for the restaurant itself, it was my favorite. To be able to say I captured one of the last images of the restaurant before it officially closed its doors meant a lot to me.
Sunrise at Midway Village
This charming landscape photograph of the Amos W. Woodward Millhouse at Midway Village was made the morning after a heavy snowfall. Luckily, the sun was shining, the snow was fresh, and I knew the Millhouse would be the perfect location to make a gorgeous landscape photograph.
My first time photographing a fireworks display was beyond frustrating because I didn't have a telephoto lens with me and the bombshells were a long ways away.
Though I didn't have a telephoto lens with me, I did have a 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens and Canon T2i in my bag. Because the T2i has a crop factor of 1.6x, a 100mm lens acts like a 162mm lens, giving me the reach I needed to photograph these bursts.
It was a beautiful July evening in downtown Rockford and the fireworks display was amazing. I think. I was so focused on capturing the fireworks on the Rock River that I forgot to pay attention to the actual display. Luckily, I have this photograph and a few others to remind me of the Fourth of July.