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What is ChicagoHenge?

 

ChicagoHenge is a term used to describe the phenomenon that occurs when the sun sets directly in line with the east-west streets of Chicago’s grid system, creating a spectacular display of light and shadow. This event occurs twice a year, around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes when the sun’s path aligns with the city’s street grid.

During ChicagoHenge, the sun appears to sit perfectly between the skyscrapers, casting long shadows and creating a breathtaking sight for residents and visitors alike. It is similar to the more well-known Manhattanhenge, which occurs in New York City.

To observe ChicagoHenge, you can stand on any of the east-west streets that run through the city’s grid system, such as Madison Street, Monroe Street, or Adams Street, and look westward as the sun sets. The best time to witness this phenomenon is a few days before and after the equinox when the sun is low on the horizon.

ChicagoHenge is not only a stunning visual display but also a reminder of the city’s unique urban planning and design, which was developed in the early 19th century and has since influenced many other cities around the world.

When to shoot ChicagoHenge?

 

Friday, September 22, 2023
Sunrise in Chicago, IL
⬆️☀️ 6:38 AM

Friday, September 22, 2023
Sunset in Chicago, IL
⬇️☀️ 6:48 PM

Monday, March 20, 2023
Sunrise in Chicago, IL
⬆️☀️ 6:54 AM

Monday, March 20, 2023
Sunset in Chicago, IL
⬇️☀️ 7:03 PM

Where can I shoot ChicagoHenge?

 

The best locations to shoot ChicagoHenge would be on the east-west streets that run through the city’s grid system, such as Madison Street, Monroe Street, or Adams Street. Here are a few specific locations that photographers may find particularly interesting:

  1. The intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street is a popular spot for photographers as it offers an unobstructed view of the sunset between the skyscrapers.
  2. The Chicago Riverwalk is another great location to capture the ChicagoHenge phenomenon. Photographers can get a unique perspective of the sunset reflecting off the river and the surrounding buildings.
  3. Millennium Park is also an excellent location to capture the sunset as it provides a beautiful backdrop of the city skyline and the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture.
  4. The John Hancock Center and Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) observation decks offer stunning aerial views of the city and the sunset. However, be aware that photography may be restricted in these areas.

Overall, any location along the east-west streets of Chicago’s grid system that provides a clear view of the horizon will be a great place to capture the ChicagoHenge phenomenon.

 

The duration of the ChicagoHenge phenomenon is relatively short, lasting only a few minutes around sunset. The exact duration of the event depends on several factors, including the date, location, and weather conditions.

Generally, the ChicagoHenge phenomenon occurs for a few days before and after the vernal and autumnal equinox, which is around March 20th and September 22nd, respectively. During this time, the sun’s path aligns with the east-west streets of Chicago’s grid system, creating a spectacular display of light and shadow.

The best time to observe and capture the ChicagoHenge phenomenon is during the actual equinox, although it’s essential to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot and set up your camera. The exact time of the sunset and the duration of the event will depend on your location and the specific date. It’s important to check the local weather and lighting conditions to ensure you get the best possible shots of this unique and stunning phenomenon.

How did I capture this photo?

 

Below you can my gear, all settings, and edits that will help you understand how I took this photo. There are a few more photos in this article but settings and edits will be similar as conditions were almost perfectly the same.

Gear

 

Camera: Sony a6600
Lens: Tamron 70-180mm, F/2.8

Settings

 

Aperture: F/15
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 200
White Balance: 5150
Focal length: 180mm

Location

 

Chicago, facing west on Monroe street next to Art Institute.

Editing

 

Here are the exact changes I made in Lightroom. I made very few edits to this photo as it looks stunning straight out of the camera.

Light

Exposure: +0.02
Highlights: -16
Shadows: +21
Whites: +54
Blacks: -32

Color

White Balance: 5150
Tint: +18
Vibrance: -6

Effects

Texture: +4
Clarity: +4

Raw vs. Edited

Chicagohenge
Chicagohenge
Chicagohenge

Let me know how did it go for you in the comments, check out more photography tips here.

Damian

Hi! My name is Damian, I live in Chicago since 2015, and I am a photographer, traveler, and coffee drinker.
You can learn more about interesting places in Chicago and around the world how to take good photos of them and find a decent cup of coffee on your way!

Honorable Mention Award from “MIFA” – Moscow International Foto Awards.

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