Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicago's Buckingham Fountain at Night!

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is spectacularly lit up at night starting in spring until early fall. Much like Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain changes a series of colors after the sun sets. Tier by tier, it transitions from brilliant reds, purples, golds, oranges, greens, blues, and back again.

Since wednesdays are my late shift, I wanted to take some pictures of Buckingham Fountain after I got out of work. At night it's really something to see! Just magical!

Surprisingly, there were quite a number of couples watching the display. Holding one another, kissing their partner tenderly, whispering sweet nothings in the warm breeze. I almost felt like I was intruding on everyone's private moments.

The sound of all the fountains spraying, Michigan Avenue aglow as a backdrop, slight drizzle from the cloudy night sky. It was sooooo romantic and I could see why there were so many lovers out. And yet again I was all by myself! Ugh--the story of my life it seems. 

Before you knew it, the rain picked up and so did the nearby lightning. At ten o'clock sharp, I was just about to leave when all of a sudden music started blaring from the overhead speakers. I had heard about Buckingham Fountain's light and music show but didn't realize it started this early in the year. I had just stumbled upon it by sheer accident--what luck!

The light and music show is basically classical music played in time with Buckingham Fountain's many changes. As the music crescendoed, the color of the lights alternated as would the length and intensity of the fountains' spray. Essentially Buckingham Fountain was tuned to the music and acted accordingly.

Down below are some shots of the fountain getting more lively once the symphonic music started. (Notice the tall jet-spray shooting from the middle now).

Unfortunately just as the light and music show started the storm got much worse. I mean much worse!

Lightning sizzled overhead. Being out in the open, drenched, near all the trees in Grant Park, and surrounded by the metal railings of the fountain--not smart, Dean!

So I dashed towards the Loop. After all, you've never heard of anyone getting struck by lightning in the Chicago Loop, right? Right!? Well, that was my theory anyway.

But the storm was quite bad and I couldn't get to that area in time so I turned around, went back towards Buckingham Fountain, and hid under the roof of the small building to its left which housed the bathrooms.

Standing under the restrooms' awning, lightning and rain thundering down, I watched the rest of the light and music show which lasted about 20 minutes. After the show concluded the storm had calmed down just enough for me to quickly get to my train station.

Ah, the things I go through to capture beauty and share it with the rest of the world. A memorable night for sure!


Dolores said...

I, for one, am glad you stayed and took these pics. Thanks for braving the storm too. I wish my city had something like this.

Kathleen Coy said...

Dean, that is awesome! And there is nothing like being out in the middle of a storm, realizing you have to just stay put until it passes, and then being in the moment and experiencing it fully.

That happened to me out hiking once - lightning, hail and a huge downpour. I was in the woods overlooking a gorgeous meadow and sheltered under a stand of fir trees that actually kept me pretty dry, so I just sat there and enjoyed the show. :-)

Dean Grey said...


I'm glad I braved the storm too.

From the pictures you've shown of Canada I think you have some pretty impressive landmarks yourself!



Good call!

I guess I was forced to stop and take it all in.

Hmm....I don't know how you did it! Standing under fir trees for cover with lightning overhead would make me nervous!


Thank you ladies for the insightful comments!


Unknown said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing those beautiful images with us. I love water and adore fountains. How lucky you are to be so close to something as beautiful as this!

Carolina said...

Those 'daring' moments are the best...
I like your new picture, by the way... :)

Mona Diane Conner said...

gorgeous Dean, thanks so much for sharing this!

naturgesetz said...

An interesting series of photos. The second or third time through I noticed that some cloud formations are visible in the earlier one, but an evenly dark sky in the later ones. And the spray is more windblown toward the end.

Your profile picture is another good one, and I enjoyed reading about your fictional career in physics. See: somebody's reading.

Dean Grey said...


Yeah, I'm pretty lucky to get to see it on an almost daily basis.



I actually like my latest profile picture too!



You're quite welcome!



Good eye!

I took the photos of Buckingham Fountain from several different positions.

You'll see the Chicago skyline in some and nothing behind it at all for this reason (the lake is on one side, the Loop on the other).

Also, I had the hardest time photographing the fountain itself. I did not use the flash on my camera so you see clouds only when a lot of light got pulled into the lens. Make sense?

From farther away or from different angles where not a lot of light was present (the skyline) much of the details were lost.

Thanks for noticing the profile changes too! It's been several months now and I wanted to change things up a bit.


Thank all of you for your input!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Dean and your Buckingham fountain is more impressive and fun than our palace:) r

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos! Thanks for capturing their beauty for us!

artbyakiko said...

Dean, thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures. It reminds me of Bellagio in Las Vegas. They have a beautiful fountain that dances with music. I love watching that.

Dean Grey said...


Buckingham Fountain vs. Buckingham Palace?

Add some flashing lights and music and you win hands down!


Anna T.!

You're quite welcome!



How neat that Buckingham Fountain's light and music show reminds you of Las Vegas! I'll have to visit there one day!


Thanks to all three of you!


L.Holm said...

Wow, Dean, what an amazing display, and such great shots you got of it. Must have been quite an evening with all of the competing natural and man-made sound and light shows going on. Impressive.

Dean Grey said...

Thanks Liz (L.Holm)!

Quite an evening indeed!


Maggie said...

I was there only ten days after, and took some similar pictures.

Dean Grey said...


So did you see the light and music show as well or did you just get to see the changing of the lights?

What did you think of Buckingham Fountain and Chicago in general?

I'm curious now!