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Monthly Archives: May 2012
Both of the family of flowers, the dark red “Ronaldo Triumph Tulip” and the orange “Temple’s Favorite Single Late Tulip” grow at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
For several years I’ve been covering the Chicago White Sox. I’ve worked my share of day games and night games at U.S. Cellular Field (or as I still call it: Comiskey), but always for somebody else. Last week, for something a little bit different, I bought a ticket and went as a fan.
Well, I didn’t really keep score and take in the game like a true fan, but I dragged my camera along and took a number of pictures I’ve wanted to take for quite some time.
It was a beautiful early summer evening and a breezy 81°F (27°C). The wind was howling in from right field so I didn’t think there would be many home runs. Apparently I was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Eight home runs were hit during the game (including a grand slam by Alejandro De Aza), but A. J. Pierzynski got things going in the second inning with a solo shot to right field. The White Sox would beat the Minnesota Twins 11 to 8 and I got a lot of pictures I was really happy with.
A Memorial Day weekend tradition in Chicago is when the city shuts down Lake Shore Drive to motor vehicle traffic and opens it up only for bicycles. It’s called “Bike the Drive” and it’s a fun event each year to mark the beginning of summer.
Having taken a few years off, my wife and I decided to register and peddle our way up and down one of Chicago’s most famous roadways. We ended up riding from end to end, about 30 miles, before getting back home just before the summer heat kicked in.
A lot of people were out, including families of all ages, and it’s nice to mosey down the lakefront on a bike, instead of the usual racing by in our cars. Going slower allows one the time to notice how beautiful Chicago can be.
In early May I made my way through downtown Chicago and walked along the beautiful Chicago River. (I used to really think the river was dirty, but then I traveled to India, Nepal and a few other countries and realized our river is just fine.)
The City of Chicago has done a spectacular job of making the Chicago River a marque location for tourists and locals. It’s a pleasant stroll along the river with various restaurants and cafes set up along the river walk for an afternoon snack.
And yes, if you follow along on Facebook, there is an Instagram’d image looking strikingly similar to this one. The two images were taken seconds apart.
One of my favorite areas to photograph is the Southwest corner of Wisconsin.
Being from Chicago and having ten million of my closest friends and family within an hour’s drive, getting four hours outside of the big city and life changes quite a bit. A traffic jam is nothing more than a tractor puttering along down a two-lane road. There are small stands set up along the road with farmers selling their extra corn, potatoes, tomatoes or whatever else.
The roads are fun to drive, too, as they’re old roads the milk trucks used to drive to get from farm to farm. Those roads have since been paved, but a lot of them haven’t been maintained much after they were paved. Driving down the roads is nice to do with a GPS, because I can get lost and look for random fun stuff without worrying about finding my way home. On one of those drives down various roads, I came upon this small church seemingly engulfed from the surrounding corn crop.
Ta Prohm, part of the Angkor temple complex, is one of the most popular temples with tourists. The temple was left mostly uncleared of trees and other signs of time, so the century old trees soar high into the sky and oftentimes took root right over and along various walls. (Most of the other temples were cleared of overgrown trees to allow easy access for tourists.)
The temples near Siem Reap, Cambodia are a history fan’s heaven, and as a result of leaving the trees alone to show their age, Ta Prohm may be the highlight of any trip to the Angkorian temples.
In April I was given an opportunity (and a photo pass) to shoot one of my favorite musical acts.
I still remember the first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela on the radio. I was driving to U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago to cover the White Sox game and a few blocks from my apartment the one song ended on the radio and then Tamacun came on. I nearly drove off the road listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela rock and roll with their guitars. It reminded me of the first time I heard the Rolling Stones.
It was my high school years and I was cleaning my portion of my parents’ basement. We had satellite TV at the time, and it was on the classic rock music channel as I cursed my way through the pile of my own debris. Suddenly I found myself focusing on a soft singing choir going on about “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” It’s probably one of the softer Rolling Stones hits, but the song introduced me to Mick Jagger and the gang.
Many years later when I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela, it was the second time I had ever stopped what I was doing to focus on the music. I was driving at the time and was lucky to get stopped by a red light, but after purchasing several albums and seeing them perform live, Rodrigo y Gabriela throw quite a show and I was honored to be invited to photograph it.
Last week I posted an Instagram’d image onto my Facebook page of the same location as picture above. I had gone out to scout for some early-morning sunrise locations, and I’ve found it’s much easier to explore when the sun is up than when it’s not.
So, just North of the Grosse Point Lighthouse is this small pier that has fallen on hard times. Currently the pier is just a collection of weather-beaten posts sticking out of the water, but it can still make for an interesting foreground.
This image was taken about forty-five minutes before the sun peaked over the horizon. It was supposed to be partly cloudy on this morning, so I was hoping for more colors from the sun reflecting on clouds in the sky, but it obviously didn’t work out that way.
However, I still very much enjoy the image, and the tranquility it offers.
Soaring high above Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the Burj Khalifa. Its the tallest building in the world.
The trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck is made up of a variety of long hallways with graphics and videos of the building’s construction process. After the observation deck, there are more twists and turns down hallways showing the original design and how it was adjusted along the way. It’s a quick and interesting tour for someone like myself, who is easily bored by tours, but I’m sure an absolutely riveting tour for someone who is into architecture (complete with various wind tunnel models).
Small museum pieces aside, however, and the view from the top of the Burj Khalifa is worth the price of admission. Taking a page from the John Hancock Building in Chicago, one of the highlights from Dubai’s tallest structure is an outdoor observation deck, complete with large openings to get an accurate idea of the wind and to, most notably, look down. (The John Hancock Building’s outdoor area is completely fenced in.)
The only downside of the visit is the amount of desert sand blowing in the wind. Instead of watching the United Arab Emirates fade off into the distance, the view is eventually obscured by sand.
For quite awhile, St. Louis, Missouri has been on my list of places to drive down and do a “photo safari” through, for something like 24 hours. It wouldn’t take much time or money, but if I set out and really went full-throttle, it’d be fun to do. The Arch, Busch Stadium, that whole downtown night-life area, the Mississippi River are a few of places I’d like to hit.
As a kid, my family took a weekend trip to St. Louis and saw a show on one of the boats and went high up in The Arch. More recently, some buddies and I went down for a weekend and watched our beloved Blackhawks play the St. Louis Blues. It was a fun weekend with the guys, but it’d be nice to do something 100% photography driven.
This is Nottens. She’s a female leopard and we stumbled upon her while she was out in search of dinner on our game drive in South Africa.
Rumbling through the African bush, we spooked a small animal that Nottens was getting in position to pounce on for dinner. The small animal darted away, and Nottens set out in search another meal. Our guide, Trevor, knew a clearing ahead, which Nottens was most likely headed to, and we raced ahead to see what would unfold.
In front of us, the leopard slowly crept towards a group of idle impalas (the deer-like animal, not the car) and waited for her chance. As the impalas began to move, some headed straight into the waiting ambush. In what seemed like a fraction of a second, Nottens had brought down an impala with a single swipe of her paw.
It was finally time for her dinner.
Maine is a beautiful place, especially around autumn.
Even busy places, like a pier used as a headquarter lobster fishing is a beautiful and relaxing place when it’s not during the chaos of boats coming and going, fishermen loading and offloading.
A few years back I sat for an evening and just watched boats quietly glide up and down the Chicago River. It was extremely peaceful, but a super-hot night as well. I spent most of my time waiting for a boat to come through, so I had more time to think about how hot I was than actually take pictures.
When we travel, if there is a “monkey temple” nearby, we’ll make our way to it. So hearing of one near Jaipur, India, my wife and I hired a car and took off in an attempt to explore the ancient temple before the sun set too low.
The journey to Galta Temple involved a lot of twists-and-turns on the narrow roadway, then our driver stopping and motioning for us to walk the rest of the way. We hiked through the small temples in the (what I can only describe as) tiny village. The village reminded me a lot of Petra, Jordan with it’s high pink rock walls and two story buildings built right up against the cliffs (in Petra, however, the temples are built *into* the rock wall).
As we walked through the village and approached the temple, I took the above picture of the first little monkey we saw. He was enjoying a couple of bananas, presumably leftover from a previous tourist.
Recently, for no particular reason, I posted this image on my Facebook page. I liked it more than I thought I would, so I figured I’d make it an official blog post out of it.
A few weeks back a friend called to ask if I could shoot some images of his bar’s “open microphone night” for his website. It was a last minute phone call, but as it turns out, the timing was perfect and I could make it.
The idea of the shoot was to take a bunch of pictures of the various lights in use and capture the general look and feel of the open mic night. I was a lot of fun to shoot, and turned out to be better than expected because I shot a concert at the Chicago Theatre a few nights later.
Anyway, during the course of the evening, I moved around to a variety of locations trying to capture the show from different locations. During one of the last songs of the night, I made my way towards the back of the room and noticed the girl recording her friends’ performing on stage with an iPhone. It was a nice change from all the other images I took, and turned out to be one of my favorites of the night.
Yesterday I made it out of the house for my first “Photo Safari” of the year. After shooting a bunch of images in other countries and states, it was nice to get out and explore my own city again.
I forget how much I love Chicago, and how much there is to see and do. Even for a 70 degree weekday, there was still a good number of people out exploring The Bean, Michigan Avenue and everything else Chicago has to offer.
Yesterday I chose to walk along the Chicago River and see what I could find. This image has nothing to do with the Chicago River, nor can you even see the river in the picture, but it was the first picture I took after getting off of the train to start my journey.
Wandering around the backyard with my camera, I was shooting super close-up images of random things: grass, dirt, flowers, etc. It was interesting to me because the lens I was using allows me to get closer to things than I normally would be able to with an ordinary lens.
As I was sitting over this flower being in awe of the small little world I was looking at, a fly buzzed up and started nosing around. It was fascinating to watch him wander around the flower collecting pollen, and I happily shot away.
Located in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the Burj Al Arab hotel. The hotel boasts its rating as the only “seven star hotel in the world,” but since hotel ratings only go up to five, it’s just a self-proclaimed title. What you need to know is it’s a fancy place. Reeeeeally fancy place.
The Burj Al Arab hotel sits on reclaimed land in the ocean and has a private bridge connecting the property to the mainland. At the start of the private bridge, security is heavily controlled and only those with reservations may enter. Knowing this, Alisha found we could still enter by making “afternoon tea” or “cocktail hour” reservations. (Those, too, are pricey, but far cheaper than the $2,000 per night for a room.)
We decided to show up a bit earlier than our afternoon tea reservation so we could wander around the hotel to see what opulence looks like. For as nice as the staff was, as clean as the facility was and as comfortable as the hotel is, I can understand the four-digit price-tag per night. I just can’t afford the four-digit price-tag per night.
So today’s picture is looking directly up from the second floor of the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel. Out of context it’s a crazy looking tunnel that reminds of something I’d see in a space movie (in the Middle East Gallery is a black and white version that’s really space movie-like). Having been there and viewed things first hand, it’s no space movie set, it’s sheer opulence.
I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes work on my website lately. Because of this, I’ve been scanning through a lot of images from past adventures, and for some reason, this image caught my eye as I scrolled through pictures from Vietnam.
Alisha and I spent some time exploring Vietnam, from Ho Chi Minh City south to the Mekong Delta. The history and way of life in Vietnam is fascinating, and no better example is the vast Mekong Delta.
Life moves at a slower place in these parts, and it’s a nice change from the hustle and bustle of big cities. (One of my favorite images can be found in the Asia Travel Gallery with the man and woman motoring to market, while a gentleman washes his hair in the background.)
While spending time in San Francisco, I was transfixed with the cable cars.
The city is full of hills and the cable cars steadily chug up and down them, bringing tourists on an delightful journey.
Strangely, for as enamored with the cable cars as I was, I never rode one. I had a rental car and used that instead, racing to various spots around the city looking for scenic vantage points.
With this particular picture, I drove by the street and noticed the scene just as it was about out of view. I circled the block the next chance I had (no easy task with one way streets) and circled for a bit to look for parking.