Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Photo taken at Christkindlmarket Chicago, December 2014. 

The quote is widely attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt; however when I researched it to verify its authenticity, I found out it's derived from a Chinese proverb. It is attributed to Roosevelt so often because Adlai Stevenson said, in a tribute to the late First Lady in 1962, "She would rather light a candle than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Christmastime in Chicago

The Christkindlmarket tree, with the First United Methodist Church towering above.
Christmas in Chicago is full of tradition. Now that I've lived here for three years, I'm creating my own. Two of my Chicago favorites so far: the Christmas window displays at Macy's and Christkindlmarket. 
The Macy's Christmas trumpets line State Street every year.
Since 1897, window shopping has taken on a new meaning on the block of State Street occupied by Marshall Fields (now Macy's). The animated displays are designed and constructed anew each year. This year's theme is "The journey of a Christmas wish" and, as usual, the details are incredible. It's really fun to walk along the sidewalk, take in the display and watch the faces of kids (and kids at heart) as they check out the windows. 

The first of the Macys animated holiday windows

Love the details. Even the dog has a letter for Santa.

So much mail!

Santa's workshop

One of my favorites. I wanted to capture the silhouette of a kid looking in the window (without being a creeper!), but there were so many people around, it was hard.

Full view of the "global" window & Santa's sleigh.
Macy's on State is also home to a 45-foot Christmas tree. I'm not sure why I didn't go inside to see it -- I've never been inside the Walnut Room where it's housed. I'll have to make a point of seeing the Walnut Room and the Great Tree the next time I go downtown.

My second destination on this visit downtown was Christkindlmarket, just a few blocks away in Pioneer Square. I had the "mandatory" gluhwein (German mulled wine) in a souvenir mug as part of the festivities, although I skipped the selfie in front of the Christmas tree in favor of prettier photos!

Yes, it really is that crowded!

THE tree!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Lights of Lisle

Prairie Walk Pond, Lisle, Illinois
Even though we don't have any snow on the ground, it's starting to look a lot like Christmas around here. The Christmas season is in full swing, and the Village of Lisle held its festival over the weekend. I skipped the parade in favor of watching the sun set at Prairie Walk Pond, which was lined with luminarias. Most of my photos were of the blue hour, which I haven't taken many photos of. It was a fun shoot -- I need to do that more often (preferably when it's not freezing outside).

 The village also had a tree-lighting ceremony that evening, and the historic Museums at Lisle Station Park area was open to the public.


Lisle Depot Museum
Wood-turning (I'm working on my portrait skills & thought this one turned out great!)

Heating up the metal in the forge

Blacksmith working the metal on the anvil. I wish I'd had my zoom lens with me to get some closeups of the red-hot metal! Next time! 
If you ever get a chance to visit the museums at Lisle Station Park, do it. The historical buildings are in great shape and you'll feel like you stepped back in history. I learn something new every time I visit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Thanksgiving Festivities

My Thanksgiving weekend was quiet. I went for a Thanksgiving morning run and did a little Black Friday shopping. Friday night, the roommate and I went and checked out a food truck (Toasty Cheese) and brewery in Naperville. It was delicious -- both the food and the beer -- once we found the brewery!  

Solemn Oath Brewery is tucked away in a warehouse area just off Ogden Avenue and you would not know it was there unless you were looking for it. And that's the way they like it! It's a spot for serious beer lovers, but we agreed that if a guy was taking one of us here on a first (or second!) date, we would probably be a little nervous about where our date was taking us. There aren't any signs directing you to the brewery, the streets are deserted, and it feels like you're going down a dark, deserted street to nowhere until --  boom -- you reach a parking lot packed with cars.

Inside, the taproom shares space with the brewery. Fair warning: the chairs are bolted to the floor, so don't try moving them!
I tried the Butterfly Flashmob (not because of the name, I swear!) and HalfQuad. Loved 'em both. Going back to try others -- hopefully soon!
Two flights of Solemn Oath beer (sadly, neither one is mine). I may have to try one of these next time I visit.
We were treated to a spectacular sunset for Saturday night's friendsgiving (aka t(H)anksgiving).
On Sunday it was supposed to be in the 50s, and I decided to go on a hike with Baxter -- probably the last warm-weather one for a few months. I packed up and headed out to Blackwell Forest Preserve while the temps were still in the high 40s. I'm so glad I packed extra layers, because the temps plummeted into the low 30s and a misty fog rolled in while we were out there! It was still a nice hike, and I still plan on doing some more exploring this winter. It will be even prettier when we have some snow on the ground.

It IS as chilly as it looks.

This guy is such a ham. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Photo @ Morton Arboretum spruce plot, November 2014. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hello, winter

We got our first measurable snowfall this week. Barely enough to cover the ground, but it was enough to make everything pretty. The Minnesotan in me is looking forward to more snow, snowshoeing,  winter photo explorations and other adventures. 

Photo taken at the Spruce Grove at the Morton Arboretum 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Continuing (inadvertently!) this week's black & white theme. Photo @ Wilson's Creek in northern California, July 2014.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Black & White Challenge

If you've followed my photography for a while, you know I love color, and I tend to avoid having people in my shots. I'm a patient shooter -- I've waited on paths until people are out of the frame just so I can get a "clean" shot. Maybe it's my inner introvert, or maybe it's because I don't like being photographed myself, but there's just something serene about photos of nature without any people in them. 

Last week, however, I was challenged to not only post five photos in black and white but also to include people in the shots. Oh, the humanity! I took a trip to the Morton Arboretum and got in a couple photos with people in them, and also dug through my files to find a few more. The challenge was a good exercise for me. Black and white photography can be really fun -- it tends to bring out details you may miss when the photo is in full color, and you can play with the shadows and light a bit more. 

As for including people in my photos? It's something I need to do more often. At first, I felt like a stalker, photographing people out minding their own business. Capturing candid moments. Going up to strangers and asking them if I can take their photograph? Way out of my beloved comfort zone. Which is exactly why I need to do it more often. 

Watch for more black & white -- and people -- in my photos now and then! 

My favorite of the five! The shadow + light turned out perfect. @ Meadow Lake (Morton Arboretum)

Jump! Action shot @ the Chicago Botanic Garden (back when it was warm out!). (The levitating guy on the right is the one who set me up for the B&W challenge. Thanks, Myk!)

Reflections. @ Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.

Springfield Mile. Kenny, Bryan and Jake at 120+mph. Shot with DSLR.

Another favorite -- caught this pair in a stride-by at the Morton Arboretum.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Chicago Cultural Center

This weekend's adventures took me to the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall. I've been to the Cultural Center a handful of times, but somehow had never been in this side of the building! I'd been to the Healy Millet dome on the north side of the building plenty of times, but had no idea the Cultural Center was also home to the world's largest stained glass Tiffany Dome. I should probably be embarrassed to admit that, but I'm not. It's really fun to make discoveries like this. There's so much to see and do in Chicago that it's impossible to know -- and do -- everything. Discovering it is the fun part!

The room the dome is in was closed for a private party when we were there, so I couldn't explore the room or take photos directly underneath the dome. My photos from this visit didn't turn out all that great, and they don't do the dome justice. I was playing with the manual camera settings and messed up. I ended up editing these photos in HDR to try and salvage them. I plan to go back and take more photos and figure out what I'm doing wrong with the camera, as well as enjoy the beauty of the space. It's a gorgeous location.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Fullersburg Woods

The fall colors are fading, but the weather is still (mostly) pleasant, so Baxter and I headed out for a short hike this weekend. I wanted to go to Starved Rock State Park but I logged a 4.5 mile run Saturday and my legs didn't feel up to doing a long hike, so I decided to stick closer to home and do something short and easy. In the spirit of exploring new places, we went to Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook.

Baxter had a great time, as usual -- even though he was outfitted in a doggy backpack. (He got a lot of smiles on the trail.) Anytime he gets to go out with me is a good day!

Such a poser. (He's always alert for squirrels & other dogs on the trail.)

Monday, November 3, 2014


This is something to keep in mind as we head into the busy holiday season.