My first night photography session at Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

As is typical with winter in the Midwest, the clouds and overall dismal conditions are starting to settle in. I knew I had got lucky with the bright sunshine on my session at O’Hare a week prior, but the weather was dull yesterday and I had a hankerin’ for some aviation photography. Those kinds of conditions are perfect for nighttime in-terminal shooting, and I had never done any night photography at ORD before, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity.

Of course with the new security rules in full effect (no ticketed passengers beyond the checkpoints) I had to buy the cheapest fully-refundable ticket I could find in order to get access to the gate areas. I’m still very poor, so doing something like that isn’t as casual as I am making it sound now. It really hurt to buy an expensive thing like that, even if I was going to get all my money back! Being young and single, these kinds of things are high priority to me (haha) – I wasted no time in purchasing the ticket and driving two hours west towards Chicago.

I arrived just as the daylight had disappeared, the clouds still glowing a soft blue from the remaining light of the day. Parking was very difficult for a Saturday afternoon, and oddly enough, the long walk to the terminals was more memorable than the actual photography session itself. It was a long and cold trek, and I wasn’t really sure if I would ever be able to find my car again. Each level of the O’Hare parking garages are coded with the name of a local sports team, and I happened to be parked on the “Blackhawks” deck. I thought for sure I would forget that in an instant…

Overall, it was a pretty good evening session taking pictures from around the terminals at ORD. There was plenty to get pictures of, along with plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and take a break whenever I needed one. That’s one really great thing about terminal-crawling – at large airports like Chicago O’Hare, I can easily make an entire day of it and I am never really exhausted at the end of the session. Comfortable facilities made all the difference in the world, and it makes terminal photography much more enjoyable for me than being outside in the elements beside a runway with no access to food or a bathroom.

The Tails of American Airlines

Delta Airlines MD-88

Iberia A340-300

United Airlines A320

United Express CRJ-200

I ended up walking around the entire airport for about three hours before deciding to call it a wrap and make the 2 hour drive home. In that time, I didn’t really get pictures of anything exotic or special – but night conditions can make any aircraft look good. The only thing I’m sort of bummed about is the fact that I couldn’t get a decent picture of the Iberia A340 as it was pushing back from the gate – there just weren’t enough lights on the ramp to light it up appropriately. Oh well. I did end up finding my car without a problem, and I drove home happy with the pics I got.

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