Sunsets & Sunrises 2022
Updated for September ‘22
By: Nick Sinnott
5 Minutes that’s all the time you’ll get the photograph Chicagohenge, so you better be prepared! Chicagohenge is a phenomenon when the Sun is rising and setting between the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. Since the streets in the Loop are plotted directly East-West, this phenomenon occurs twice a year, the Spring Equinox (March 20, 2022) and the Autumnal Equinox (September 22, 2022). If you can’t capture on those dates, no worries, you’ll have about +/- 3 days surrounding the equinox to witness and photograph the event.
While we cannot control the weather, we can at least be prepared to photograph the event. The first item to decide is where to photograph from. You’ll witness the event from any East/West street in the Loop but here are some of my favorite locations and why.
Location Ideas for Sunsets
Millennium Park – Washington Street – Sunset, Sept 22nd (6:47 PM)
At the top of the stairs in the park, there is an elevated platform that you can photograph from. Be warned…get there early, this area fills up quickly with other photographers. Washington Street is one-way heading East so the vehicles headlights will be towards you, which can add to the effect.
Millennium Park – Madison Street – Sunset, Sept 22nd (6:47PM)
Similar to Washington Street, but vehicles will be heading west. Again, plan on being there early to get the position you want, as there will be many photographers there as well.
Nichols Bridgeway – Monroe Street – Sunset, BEFORE Sept 22nd
This is the elevated pedestrian bridge connecting Lurie Garden to the Art Institute. No Tripods allowed and security may not let you stay for too long. Because Monroe Street jogs a bit…this location is best prior to the Equinox.
Lake Street – Sunset, Sept 22nd
You can set up your tripod on the sidewalk right in front of the Aon Building. Lake Street dead-ends into the skyscraper and gives you an elevated view above the El Tracks. Great view but get there early…lots of photographers at this spot…and for good reason!
Washington/Wabash El Stop Platform – Sunset, Sept 22nd
Another great elevated position. Be aware you’ll need your Ventra Card and you won’t be able to use a tripod.
Adams/Wabash CTA Stop Platform – Sunset, Sept 22nd
You’ll need your Ventra Card and you won’t be able to use a tripod.
Milton Lee Olive Park – Sunset, Sept. 22nd
Different location and away from the crowds but can still get a memorable image. This spring I visited the park for the spring henge and photographed the sun setting on the south side of the 680 N Lakeshore building (Previous Playboy Corporate Headquarters….Now my wife’s office). A couple was in the perfect position to capture their silhouette as the sun set.
Location Ideas for Sunrise
Chicago Ave – BEFORE September 22nd (Sunrise 6:38 AM)
There are several areas on Chicago Ave to capture the rising sun between the buildings. At the intersection of Hudson Ave. and Chicago Ave., there is a median in the middle of the street allowing for safer shooting.
Oak Street – September 22nd (Sunrise 6:38 AM)
Another morning fun shot including the church for foreground interest.
Millennium Park – Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) – Sunrise, BEFORE September 22nd
Not sure if they’ll open the area since this area has been closed due to COVID-19 and security…if it is open…Setting up on the west side of the Bean, facing East, once the sun gets above Maggie Daley Park, you’ll be presented with a warm glow on the underside of the Bean.
Washington Street – Sunrise – BEFORE Sept 22nd (Probably 19th – 21st)
You’ll want a long lens for this shot (200mm+). You can get the sun rising over Pritzker Pavilion between the buildings.
Ashland/Lake CTA Platform – Sunrise – BEFORE Sept 22nd (Approx. Sept 18 – 21st)
Great spot to get away from the crowds during the equinox. The El Tracks above Lake Street light up creating a leading line into the city. CTA Platform, so you’ll need Ventra Card and no tripods allowed.
Morgan/Lake CTA Platform – Sunrise – BEFORE Sept 22nd (Approx. Sept 20th – 22nd)
Outstanding spot to catch the sunrise, especially if you get a train at the right time. Could get EXTREMELY crowded.
At each of the above locations, you’ll only have 5 minutes (at most) to photograph the sun between the buildings. You’ll want your settings locked in and ready to go. Hopefully the following baseline settings will get you close. A lot will depend on atmospheric conditions…hazy, clouds, humidity, etc. so adjustments may be necessary.
Mode – Manual Mode
ISO – 100. Suggest you start with your camera’s base ISO and move up from there if needed.
Aperture – f/16 – f/22 – in many of my shots, I want to get a “sunburst”, so I use a narrow aperture.
Speed – Typically around 1/20 as you can see from the photos within this blog but vary the shutter speed to either show or stop motion. Make sure that you have stabilization enabled if handheld or have camera on a tripod (stabilization turned off).
Make those 5 minutes count! Have fun and enjoy the other photographers surrounding you. We have a spectacular photographic community in Chicago…let’s keep it going!
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