Tag Archive | Chicago

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Polar Bears

The Chicago Bears may be a dismal disappointment (again) this year, but these Chicago bears are anything but.  A firm favorite with visitors to both Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos, the Polar bears are always a big attraction and never fail to please their fans which is why I picked them for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter P – Needs to have at least 5 letters and start with P


Weekly Photo Challenge – Scale

Sometimes when you take a photo it’s hard to get a feel for the actual scale of things.  It isn’t until you add something else to the picture that you get a better sense of just how large or how small that object really is.  Normally the vehicle seen in the lower half of the first image might seem quite large but, seen against the immensity of the mountains in Utah, it appears no bigger than an ant scurrying across the landscape.

The same could be said for the buffalo seen here on Antelope Island in Utah.

The cars in the lower decks of Marina City in Chicago look like nothing more than children’s toys.

You will have to look closely at the left of this picture to make out the parasailer, dwarfed by the mighty Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. He makes even the boat seem huge.

A close-up of these two window cleaners in downtown Chicago wouldn’t necessarily give you any idea of the height at which they were working which is why I pulled the camera back to give a better view of where they really were.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to Scale

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Letters K or L

Back to the alphabet for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge which this week features the letters K and L.  Many of the images that I’ve used for this challenge were taken some years ago and it’s been interesting for me to wander through the old photo files to see just what kind of things caught my eye back in the day.

A Komodo Dragon named Faust, on display at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago in 2006.

This picture of a kangaroo was taken so long ago I can’t remember where I saw it.  Possibly Brookfield Zoo.

A more recent picture, of a koi fish, was taken at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

The king of the jungle, a lion at Brookfield Zoo gazes out at an admiring crowd, sizing us up perhaps as a possible source of lunch.  He looks very lazy but I’m sure he was ready to leap into action if the need arose.

A lamb at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.

A rather alarming llama appearing to get somewhat confrontational at Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in South Barrington.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/04/06/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-k-or-l/

Weekly Photo Challenge – Local

For this week’s Photo Challenge on The Daily Post, Jen has asked us for something local (as in home.)  I have written several posts on one of my other blogs, Incidentally, at http://skfjrifnd.wordpress.com/ about the towns and villages in the Chicago area.  I wish I could think of here as home but that term will always be reserved for dear old England, so for now I will just share a few images of my favorite places to visit that are within an hour’s drive of our house.  I suppose they could be considered local.


The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe; one of the most worthwhile annual subscriptions that I’ve ever kept up has been to this place.


Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg; always a pleasant walk and a good opportunity to do some nature photography as well as visit the farm animals.


Millennium Park in downtown Chicago;  despite all the bad things that I read about Chicago these days, I still enjoy the occasional visit, especially to Millennium Park where there are so many good things to see.


Morton Arboretum in Lisle;  I have to visit this place at least twice a year, in the Spring to see the daffodils and in the Autumn for the fall color.


Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights; always a favorite venue during the summer months and a fun day out even if I don’t always pick the winner.


Brookfield Zoo;  We’ve been taking children and now grandchildren to the zoo for more than forty years. The big cats are always popular. “Here kitty.  Nice kitty.”


BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Bartlett; one of the most beautiful buildings in our area and such a peaceful place.


Lilacia Park in Lombard; I never miss the Lilac Festival. It was always one of my mother’s favorite parks.  For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/local/


Lurie Garden

While I was in downtown Chicago the other day, I stopped by the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park. This is a beautiful spot, located at the southern end of the park, close to the Art Institute.

Purple salvia ‘May Night’ seemed to be the predominant feature just then and, although you can’t really tell from some of these pictures, they were covered in a mass of tiny bees and various butterflies including monarchs, red admirals and painted ladies. (Sounds like the cast of a BBC costume drama!)

The gardens are enjoyed by tourists and residents alike, the tourist walking around taking photos and the resident just sitting in the sun, grabbing a much needed break or a hasty lunch before going back to work.

Lurie has a corps of volunteers who help maintain the flower beds and walkways and The Garden Guides lead informative tours on Sundays from May through September, providing information about the plants and the history of the garden.

The plants consist entirely of perennials, bulbs and grasses and do not have any labeling system although there is a detailed plan of the contents of the beds on the Lurie Garden website. http://luriegarden.org/node/803

A Rose By Any Other Name…….Is Worth Photographing

Experimental psychologist Dr. Gustav Fechner first advocated it in 1848. Famed American horticulturist Luther Burbank endorsed the idea many years later. Prince Charles does it and what’s good enough for him is good enough for me.

People may think I’m talking to myself out there in the garden but I’m not. I’m talking to the flowers. And why not? They don’t answer back, give me any lip, and best of all, seem to thrive on a few well-chosen words of encouragement.

“Good job, peonies! Nice try, delphiniums! Better luck next year, hydrangeas!” (Sounds a bit like the Cubs, doesn’t it.)

I’ve always loved gardening and taking photos is, for me at least, part of the process. Just as taking shots of our girls in their pretty prom dresses was a given, so snapping pictures of the roses, irises and poppies in full bloom every year is a must.

“Beautiful! Just look this way, daffodils! Say cheese, lupines! Show us what you’ve got, foxgloves!”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nature is a wonderful thing. It provides the most exuberant colors, intricate shapes and fascinating textures, all of which can be captured on film and pored over during the long winter evenings when every living thing outside lies beneath a blanket of snow, keeping our hopes and dreams for the next growing season alive until the first snowdrop valiantly pushes its way through into the sunlight.

Photos of hollyhocks, chrysanthemums and daylilies stand right alongside portraits of Grandma and Great Uncle Arthur in our albums. Some of the perennials in our garden have been with us so long they are just like part of the family now, and one can’t help feeling a certain amount of parental pride when, having carefully sown zinnia and cosmos seeds in the spring and tenderly nurtured them through flood, drought and rabbit attack, they finally burst into flower.

But like all children they are bound to get into trouble now and then. I was once accosted by an irate neighbor who launched into a diatribe aimed at “THOSE BLOODY MARIGOLDS!” (They had a tendency to spread themselves around and invade his garden periodically.) I remember drawing my breath in sharply and it was all I could do to stop myself from running and putting my hands over their ears. Or at least, I would have done if they’d had any.
There are many places in the Chicago area where you can take some very nice pictures of flowers. The Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe is the first that springs to mind but there are other, less obvious locations.

Cantigny Park in Wheaton has some beautiful gardens which is in itself rather ironic when you consider that a large part of the grounds is given over to the commemoration of World War I, which was anything but a bed of roses.

The Shakespeare Garden, established in 1915 by The Garden Club of Evanston, is a picturesque and secluded spot on Northwestern’s Evanston Campus which proved to be so secluded that it would have been quicker for me to find and dig up Shakespeare himself, but the search was well worth the effort. A note of interest; all the plants and flowers growing here are mentioned in one or another of The Bard of Avon’s works.

Lurie Garden, located at the southern end of Chicago’s Millennium Park is certainly good for a picture or two. The garden is named after Ann Lurie whose $10 million endowment helps to pay for  maintainence and upkeep.  That’s a lot of lettuce in anyone’s parlance.

Of course, there are certain advantages to taking photos in your own back yard. You can do a little judicious pruning; get rid of a stray leaf or odd stalk that just doesn’t belong in the picture. Try doing that at the Botanic Gardens and you’d quickly be shown the exit; go in there armed with a pair of secateurs and a trowel and you’d probably find your mug-shot up on the wall with the ten most invasive weeds.

If you are planning on doing a spot of home garden photography, here are a few tips that might just be of some help.
There’s nothing like going out first thing in the morning and taking a picture of a rose petal covered in dew; but failing that, you can always take the spray bottle with you and give things a quick squirt. Just make sure that it’s water in there and not the leftovers from the color job you gave your hair the night before.

Try to avoid photographing flowers on a windy day. I’ve taken too many shots where the breeze has blown just at the crucial moment and produced a tantalizingly blurred image or worse still, blasted the subject out of the picture altogether. I have, on occasion, tried to pass some of these blurred results off in competition as artistic or experimental photography but the judges never seem to fall for it.

Don’t be afraid to scream if an earwig drops inside your shirt. The neighbors will merely think it’s creative genius at work.   And above all, remember, in order to get the best results, get to know your flowers; have a friendly chat. You’d be surprised what a quiet conversation with a carnation can do.