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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical Light

This week, Amy has chosen magical light as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. From sunrise to sunset and any time in-between there are opportunities for capturing a magical moment when the light seems just right.  I’m not usually out and about that early in the morning but on one or two occasions I’ve managed to get some fairly decent shots as the sun came up such as when we were on the road in Nebraska or spending a few days in Mackinaw City.

Even when the weather conditions are less than perfect, there is still a chance that the light will provide some interesting pictures. The first image was taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the second in Custer State Park in South Dakota.

I always enjoy seeing the effect of light shining through the trees or through an overhead canopy of autumn leaves, as seen here at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle and River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook, Illinois.

I rely heavily on luck more than judgement when taking pictures and it isn’t always easy to come up with suitable shots for these challenges which is why I had to reach way back in the archives for this shot taken at Navy Pier in Chicago.  The sunset image was taken from the shores of Lake Michigan in Mackinaw City


I rarely take night shots but on this occasion the moonlight tempted me outside to capture this image.  For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to #19: Magical Light.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Blending

This week, Ann-Christine asks if it’s better to blend in or stand out in a crowd. Frog and Toad evidently feel it’s a good idea to blend in with their surroundings. They know their lives may depend on it, the frog in a pond at Spring Valley Nature Center and the toad crouching on a dry river bed in Lafayette, Indiana.


The monarch butterfly, however, enjoys flaunting its gaudy patterns in the open and doesn’t seem too concerned about standing out in a crowd. These two, in downtown Chicago and at the Morton Arboretum couldn’t resist showing off their true colors.



So is it better to blend in or stand out? The next picture was taken in our garden and shows another creature who likes to remain inconspicuous among the leaves, a praying mantis, and its hapless victim, a monarch butterfly. So I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge go to Blending In – or Standing Out?

A Photo A Week – Reflections at Cantigny

The subject for Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge is Reflection and I seem to have captured one or two at Cantigny Park in Wheaton without even realizing it. Quite often, I’m not fully aware of everything that’s in the picture when I take the shot so sometimes it’s nice when something unexpected shows up, especially when I can use it for a photo challenge.


For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Reflection.

Pull Up A Seat – At The Chicago Botanic Garden

One of the great things about the Chicago Botanic Garden is that there is no shortage of places to sit. Whether you like basking in the sun on sitting in the shade, there is a perfect spot for you. Here are a few images in response to the Pull Up A Seat Photo Challenge over at Photo Challenge of places we sit…or might sit…or art about sitting.



Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Big Is Beautiful

This week, the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is big, really big!  Not only big but beautiful too, as Tina’s wonderful images show, here at BIG Can Be Beautiful Too!.  It’s a strange thing but despite my life-long fear of birds, I’ve discovered over the years that I am far less afraid of large birds than I am smaller ones.  This enabled me to get surprisingly close to a pair of sandhill cranes in Wausau, Wisconsin recently. They didn’t seem to be afraid of me either so things worked out very nicely.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Places People Visit

This week, Cee is looking for colorful pictures of places people visit for her Fun Foto Challenge, so yesterday I took a trip to my favorite place to visit, The Chicago Botanic Garden, to see what I could find. Last year, more than one million people visited the Garden which has 50,000 members, one of the largest memberships of any U.S. botanic garden.


Despite the cooler temperatures there were still a good number of visitors at the garden yesterday, all of us enjoying the sun and making the most of these last nice days before winter finally sets in.

With more than 380 acres to traverse, it would probably take most visitors an entire day, if not more, to see absolutely everything that the garden has to offer. There are, after all, more than 2.6 million living plants in the garden.



Here are a few more facts and figures that are worth bearing in mind while visiting the Garden. The Chicago Botanic Garden opened to the public just over 40 years ago. There are 27 separate gardens and 4 natural areas situated on or around nine islands with 6 miles of lake shoreline. There are 9 laboratories inside the Plant Conservation Science Center and the Garden is one of only 17 public gardens to be accredited by the American Association of Museums.



 

The Garden grounds are open from 8am to 5pm during the winter. There is a $25 parking fee on weekdays and $30 on weekends so if you live in the area and are likely to go there more than once a year I can strongly recommend purchasing a membership which gives you free parking.



For more information on The Chicago Botanic Garden visit their website at The Chicago Botanic Garden.  And for more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Places People Visit.

In Search of Trolls

It was a gloriously warm, sunny day at the end of summer when we went in search of Trolls at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. These trolls weren’t the nasty kind that invade the internet but the ones that hide in the woods. As you will see, we found six of them and saw some other interesting sights along the way.


It would appear that these trolls are not exactly friendly creatures as we soon realized when we came across this car crushed beneath a huge boulder. The perpetrator, a character named Rocky Bardur, was standing just a few yards away.


We came across a whole host of monarch butterflies among the flowers outside the visitor center after which we managed to creep up on troll number two, Sneaky Socks Alexa, who was waiting to spring a deadly trap.


Further along the path, a heron seemed to be pointing the way to Joe the Guardian who was standing on a hill overlooking the expressway.



I must say that going on this Troll Hunt encouraged us to take paths that we have never trodden before, giving us the opportunity to see familiar scenes from a different perspective.


I’m not sure if troll number four found us or we found her. Furry Ema certainly looked like she was up to no good.



Walking across Daffodil Glade, we saw a tree that looked as though a troll had breathed on it. And it wasn’t too long before we came across number five, Niels Bragger, lurking in the woods.

Little Arturs was easy to spot. He was taking a break in Bobolink Meadow. These 15 to 60 foot giants were created from recycled wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo, and he has done a fantastic job!  The Arboretum hopes to keep them on display through to 2019 depending on how they weather. It will be interesting to see how they stand up to a Chicago-style winter..