Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An evening with the Budweiser Clydesdales

Into the sunset. (No edits to this one -- yet! I may try playing with it in PhotoShop.)

The Budweiser Clydesdales are an American icon. If you ever get a chance to see them in person, do it. I was lucky enough to get to see them up close and personal Friday night at the Partners For Progress fundraiser at the Lake County Fairgrounds. I'm the social media chair on their board of directors, so most of these photos are also posted on their Facebook and Instagram pages. 

I couldn't have asked for better weather or a better time of day for the clydesdales to be out. The light was perfect. Here are a few of my favorite shots:


The long walk.

Getting ready.


Standing guard.

Nice ride.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hello, Fall

Fall is here, but you wouldn't know it by the weather here in Chicago.  Picture-perfect 70s and sunshine for the first week of fall.

Sign of the times

Perfect daylight
Sunset at the Morton Arboretum
New, longer blog post coming soon! The hard drive on my laptop crashed this weekend,  so I'm limited to tapping out posts on my phone for now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Exploring Chicago

These views never get old. I always see something new.

I love exploring Chicago. When I head to the city, I usually have a destination in mind or an Instagram photo walk to go to. This time, I didn't. It was going to be a gorgeous September day and I felt like getting out and exploring, so off I went. I ended up walking more than 5 miles throughout the Loop -- and that was with a trip on the Chicago Water Taxi

When I got downtown, I wandered through the River North neighborhood and over to Doughnut Vault for a doughnut and coffee. So good. (More on this delicious spot in an upcoming post!) 

Dollar coffee and a delicious treat inside the bag. 
After raising my blood sugar, I headed over to the Riverwalk and then Millennium Park.  

Looking up from the Vietnam Memorial at the Chicago Riverwalk
Traffic, the El, and pedestrians along Michigan Avenue

Millennium Monument (Peristyle) 

Jaume Plensa sculpture -- Look Into My Dreams, Awilda
Millennium Park
No visit to Millennium Park is complete without a selfie at The Bean!! 
The Chicago Water Taxi -- my favorite way to get around Chicago! 

Marina City (and a few kayakers) along the Chicago River.

Another view from the Riverwalk. I didn't notice the bird in the photo until just now! 

I need to go downtown more often. Who wants to go with me?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stone Arch Bridge

I found a path down to the river bank to snap this shot. Would have loved to stick around for a night shot! 

A quick visit to Minneapolis-St. Paul gave me a few spare hours to play tourist in the state I used to live in. My first stop was the Stone Arch Bridge in the historic Mill District of Minneapolis.

Built in 1882-1883, the limestone and granite bridge was originally a railroad crossing over the Mississippi & built by James J. Hill. It's the only arched stone bridge on the Mississippi River.

When I lived & worked in the Twin Cities area, I didn't spend much time here (it wasn't anywhere near as popular then as it is now!) and I wasn't very into photography. How things change in 14 years!

Peeking out from under one of the arches and out to Gold Medal Flour.

Looking back at the Minneapolis skyline at dusk. 

Admiring the golden hour view from on the bridge. 

The curve of the Stone Arch Bridge was unheard-of in the 1880s. It's withstood more than a century. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Enjoying Illinois

Last week, there was a gorgeous sunset in the Chicago area, and I was lucky enough to capture it in a little 4x4 square. It was one of those photos where you feel complete joy when you see you've framed a moment up just right. I love those kind of photos.  

This week, I felt even luckier because one of my photos was selected by the Enjoy Illinois Instagram feed as one of their featured photos: 

(Check out these Instagramers' feeds for more great photos. Photo credits: Top: @thecreatornd; Middle: @evanbrownphotography@writegirl,@thewandering_eye@zacheisenhauer; Bottom:@shirley319@relaxocat@kbucklandphoto,@old_school_artist
Enjoy Illinois is the official arm of the Illinois Office of Tourism, and they do a great job engaging Illinois fans across the state. Instagramers get a boost for their shots, and Enjoy Illinois gets to show everyone what kind of adventures you can have around the state. It's amazing to see what a great advertising vehicle Instagram has become.
In case you don't follow me on Instagram already, I'm @writegirl. Here's the original photo: 

August 20, 2014, sunset
I may (or may not -- I confess to nothing!) have climbed down somewhere a little off-limits and I'm pretty sure the people walking around the pond were wondering what in the world I was doing squatting on some rocks on the edge of a pond at twilight, but it was worth it. You can't tell from this shot, but there are two main roads beyond this pond, and I had to wait quite a while to get this shot without any car headlights in it. Patience -- and strong quads -- pays off! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Day at the Races

Somewhat captured at +100mph: Brad the Bullet
It's become a Labor Day (and Memorial Day) weekend tradition to spend the holiday weekend with my dad at the Springfield Mile. It's amazing how life can change in what seems like a blink of an eye. If you'd asked me 15 years ago what I was doing for Labor Day weekend, I would have told you I'd be showing horses at the Minnesota State Fair with my mom. But now? I'm at motorcycle races instead! I'm so lucky I've had the opportunity to share these experiences with each of my parents. 

Labor Day weekend has not always been kind to my family. Beginning 14 years ago, we went through a series of accidents that occurred over that holiday weekend over the span of several years. My mom had a terrible horseback riding accident that landed her in the hospital for several weeks. My dad had a motorcycle accident. My brother had a somewhat less-serious mishap that still involved a trek to the hospital. It's left me holding my breath until Labor Day weekend is finished and the regular work week begins again on Tuesday. 

But back to the track. It's fun to have pit access at the flat track races. Over the years, I've gotten familiar with a lot of the terminology, inadvertently learned a few things about motorcycle mechanics from watching the tuners in the pits and talking with my dad, witnessed some great races, and met some great people along the way. It's loud (I never have to worry about damaging my hearing, though!) but really a lot like horse shows -- a lot of hurry up and wait, standing around sweating in hot clothing, track grooming, and expensive equipment.

I'm sharing a few photos from this weekend. They're a departure from my regular photography. Most of the photos I took Sunday did not turn out as well as I hoped they would. My camera & lens combo are just not quite fast enough to capture quality images at over 100 mph! I'd love to have a better camera and lens to capture the bikes in action, but I've learned to make the most of the camera & settings I do have.   

My dad with the Harley Factory rider before his heat. 

Another view from the top of the H-D trailer. You can see around the whole Mile track from up there. 
The starting line for the GNC Main at the Springfield Mile

The leaders during one of the 25 laps of the Main. 

KC2 won the Springfield Mile -- way to go, Kenny!! 
I finally got to meet Stacey Markel Kelly! She's pictured here with Bart Markel's H-D motorcycle. Awesome piece of history.