For the past six years, Chicago-based photographer Peter Tsai has been on a quest to document the Windy City’s famous skyline from above the clouds. His project, titled Cloud Chicago, paints a magical portrait of the metropolis blanketed in dense fog. Iconic skyscrapers like the Willis Tower (more commonly known as Sears Tower) and Chase Tower pierce through a sea of low clouds and mist, making for a spectacularly surreal sight.
Tsai faced numerous challenges on his journey to capture these shots, mainly “knowing when to be up at an observatory to see the fog, and having access to somewhere high up inside a great building,” as he shared on 500px ISO. He gained access to the Hancock Observatory and the Willis Tower Skydeck, allowing him to take contrasting photos from multiple perspectives. As for knowing when to get into position, Tsai says he watched the lake for signs of fog rolling in before rushing to get to higher elevation with his camera. He would often wait for hours at the top of the observatory to get the perfect shot, but it was worth it. The photographer told us in an email, “The clouds are so rare and wonderful as they isolate the skyscrapers that reach above them. It is wonderful watching the flow of fog moving by them, making it appear as if the world is moving around them.”
After years of work, Tsai has captured dozens of impressive shots for his Cloud Chicago series, but he shows no signs of stopping. “I feel like I have a fairly complete body of work now, with well over 50 images that I'm happy with,” he told us. “However, I'll keep building on the work as the rare opportunities present themselves.”
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Peter Tsai.