Author Archives: Kristopher Kettner

Ahu Togariki

Ahu Togariki

While in London to cover the Games of the XXX Olympiad, on an off-day I traveled to see Stonehenge with a guy I was covering the Olympics with. We met a woman along the way and the three of us misfit travelers had a grand time together.

We discussed the earth and its famous “old rocks,” from the ancient pyramids in Egypt to, obviously, Stonehenge. To thank us for letting her join us on our motley adventure, JC bought Alan and I pens exclaiming “Stonehenge Rocks.” I keep that pen in my travel bag, which holds my iPod, headphones, passport and a few other miscellanious travel items when flying someplace.

While in Easter Island, I took a picture of my pen in front of the famous moai and sent the photo, along with something along the lines of “More famous old rocks!” to the gang. That collection of famous old rocks is growing, apparently, as my wife and I recently booked flights to Machu Picchu.

We’re excited about our upcoming adventure and, while it is the tail-end of their rainy season, we are still stoked about going to explore someplace new. Travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer. Travel is like an investment in yourself. It makes you more interesting, more fun, and more understanding.

I studied the Inca culture in grade school and am excited to be able to learn more about their mysterious culture. Their ruins are fantastic, as is the mysterious history surrounding Machu Picchu. Not unlike the famed moai of Easter Island or the pyramids of Egypt, the ancient temples of Machu Picchu continue to inspire, amaze and make one wonder.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Lion Cub on the Prowl

Lion Cub on the Prowl

On safari in Kruger National Park, I could sit and watch the lion cubs for hours. They’d jump; they’d play; they’d hide in the bushes to attack one another. It was just like the movie The Lion King where the two cubs ran and played with each other. I follow our Private Game Reserve on Facebook and have watched the cubs grow into adult lions and set out on their own. I’m extremely happy to have been able to see and spend time with the lions when they’re that super-cute “cuddly wuddly” phase of young and adorable. A few months later and they would have been able to eat me in one bite.

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Posted in Nature Tagged , |

Frigid Cold Skyline

Frigid Cold Skyline

We’ve had a crazy winter this year. If it’s not cold we’ve had a non-stop pummeling snow. Some friends and I got into a discussion about what we’d rather have, the snow or the cold. I was surprised it was pretty split down the middle with what people liked.

I took the snow.

We can shovel the snow. We can sled in the snow. We can take pictures of the snow. We can eat the snow. We can play in the snow. If it’s cold, you can’t do much but hunker down in the house and hope pipes don’t freeze.

When we had the blast of cold temperatures earlier this year I did wander out to take pictures. I was too busy trying to keep pipes from freezing to get out during the coldest temps, but once things settled down I did make it out. This was one of the images from that endeavor. When it gets super-cold and the air temperature is colder than the water temperatures, Lake Michigan emits a faint steam.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Old Fashioned Blanket Making

Old Fashioned Blanket Making

As a nation, I feel like the United States has pulled away from making things with our hands. Sure, we talk about workers on the assembly lines all the time, and we seem to be extremely good with fancy desk jobs in high rise office buildings. Somewhere along the way, however, the idea of creating things — actual goods by hand — was mostly shipped overseas to the lowest bidder. It’s nice then to travel to places where a majority of the country’s goods are still created by hand.

While my wife and I were in Paro, Bhutan, we visited a small shop where blankets were hand sewn. The room contained about a six or seven contraptions (like the one pictured above) and had women of various ages hand-sewing. (At one sewing station, a baby was laying on a stack of blankets doing what babies do best — “googoo” and “gaga”.) The lights were only on in the back as the front of the room had plenty of natural light. It was refreshing to see, as the women were chatting away about all sorts of stuff and paid no attention to their guest with a camera.

As we made our way out the door, I recall thinking about how we just don’t have situations like this in the US anymore. Gone are the days with six or seven people sitting around sewing blankets by hand, and even if a place was like that, I’m sure some management-type would, because of my camera, escort me out of the area.

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Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Carousels and Ferris Wheels

Carousels and Ferris Wheels

This image, of the ferris wheel and carousel of Navy Pier in Chicago, is very much an “Instagram picture” to me. Pictures as wide, expansive scenics don’t seem to pop up on the photo-sharing site much, but close-up pictures of food, a city in all its glory, or detailed images like that above seem to dominate my feed. (I follow about 100 people on Instagram, from friends and their personal images to professionals and their current projects.)

I’ll be curious in the years to ahead where photography goes. In the past ten years film photography has all-but-died. Now Nikon and Canon — the two big players in the industry — are pushing bigger, sexier cameras. Their iconic cameras run for a couple of thousand dollars, as does the lenses that go with them.

As society evolves and cameras get easier to operate and smaller to carry around (nearly everyone’s phone has a camera now, and that they carry in their pockets each day), will more people shy away from spending $2,000 for a camera, when a $300 will do just fine? Will only a few old timers carry the big, bulky cameras and their cumbersome lenses, while the kids have the quick and fast pocket cameras? At one point do those kids become “old timers” and still use the small, inexpensive cameras?

While the legacy camera manufactures make fancier gear (36 megapixels, anyone?), will they ever get into a situation like film has become, where no one is buying their product because it’s easier and cheaper to get something dramatically smaller and lighter? Will Nikon and Canon adapt, or will they go the way of Kodak?

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Elephant’s Trunk

Elephant's Trunk

As big as elephants can be, some of my favorite pictures from our South African safari are the close-up pictures of them. In the South Africa section of the Galleries is a picture of an elephant’s eye and skin details. As I was scanning through images looking for something to post as today’s picture, I stumbled upon this photograph. I’ve seen this image before, obviously, but I really like the close-up of the elephant’s trunk as he grazes some food.

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Posted in Nature Tagged , |

Duct Tape

Duct Tape

More often than not, when I’m out running around and I see something I want to come back and take pictures of, for one reason or another, it doesn’t work out.

It can be the colors of leaves during autumn and later that same day wind or rain comes through and wipes them out, or maybe a colorful sunset which disappears in seconds. Like I said, more often than not, it doesn’t work out to come back (which is why it would be good if I started carrying my camera around with me more often).

So all of that being said, the above picture and all of the small pieces of duct tape on a wall was one of the few things where it did work out. Driving through the Chinatown neighborhood in Chicago, I saw the duct tape covering a wall as I was driving through an intersection. For obvious reason I couldn’t stop at the time, but a couple of days later I made it back and got the shot I was looking for.

I’m not sure of the origins of the tape or even the purpose, but I think they’re certainly interesting enough to grab a picture of.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Window Frost

Window Frost

Last week we received over a foot of snow in Chicago (fourteen inches of snow at our house). It was nice to have the time at home with my wife, whereas the last time we were pummeled I was out of town. While I’m a fan of the seasons and its varied temperatures, I could do without the arctic blast we get on occasion. Several years ago Chicago had a high of nine degrees below zero. Since I had a really, really old car at the time, I took the opportunity to run some errands and keep the engine warm (to avoid it freezing up).

This time, with the temperature being twelve degrees below zero outside, I have no problems staying in the house bundled up warm and cozy. My wife or I may open the door on occasion to let the dog out, but even with these temps, puppy has no desire to go outside either.

Given the weather being what it currently is, I wanted to take pictures but didn’t want to venture outside (one part lazy and part safety, I guess). So I compromised. From inside the garage looking out, the above picture is a close up of the frost which formed on the window. Puttering around the house and garage with my camera is a good way to keep cabin fever at bay without freezing my butt off.

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Posted in Nature Tagged |

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

After last week’s Christmas Skyline image, I wasn’t planning on doing another post until after the New Year. Christmas got the better of me, so I’m posting this simple picture. Wherever you are and whatever you believe, have a wonderful day. And year. Give the people you love a hug and let them know they matter.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Christmas Skyline

Christmas Skyline

The city of Chicago’s skyline is decorated for Christmas.

This that magical time of year where I take a couple of weeks off from photoblogging. Well, I don’t take time off, really, I just do other things. For example, the week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally slow for myself as far as image-making. Every year, as a result of the “down time,” I fill out the appropriate form and ship pictures off to the U.S. Copyright office. The process of copyrighting takes maybe an hour from start to finish, but it’s well worth the time and energy later on if something comes up.

The first year I sent pictures in for copyright, I feel like the process took forever. That’s mostly because I had no clue what I was doing. Now, several years later, I have an extremely streamlined process and I’m done before I know it.

If you’re interested: I use Form VA each year and it costs $65. I’ll go into Adobe Lightroom and export all of my pictures taken in any given year to a folder on my desktop. The file size doesn’t have to be spectacular; just enough to show your picture is indeed your picture. That folder is then copied to a CD-ROM and sent via UPS overnight to the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington D.C. Yes, I am well aware there is a cheaper method available ($35) and it involves simply uploading images via their secure server, but there is also a 60-minute window where you can upload as much as you can upload, and that’s it. If you go past that 60-minute window you’re out another $35. For me, it’s easier to just ship the images out on a CD-ROM and be done with it, plus I receive confirmation that it was received and signed for (the government is VERY slow to cash checks) and I also make an exact duplicate of everything I send in.

One additional note is the first year I used a couple of DVD-Rs to send my images in for copyright. One of the nice things about using the mail-in method is I sent in a boatload of images spread across several disks. In my labeling, all I needed to do was “Kettner 1 of 3,” “Kettner 2 of 3,” and “Kettner 3 of 3” all for the one price of $65. If copyrighting music, movies, paintings or pictures, it is nice to have the flexibility of more than one hour and more than a 11.3MB file.

So while I do plan on getting out and taking a few more pictures before the holiday, I also plan on getting my images copy-written. One of the pictures I plan on taking is similar to the image above.

Shortly before Christmas a few years back, some of Chicago‘s buildings were decorated for the holidays. I remember it being one of the coldest nights thus far as I tromped around in the snow. This image was captured well after sunset, and I’d like to take it again, but this time with a little brighter-sky.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Sidewalk Cricket

Sidewalk Cricket

While wandering around India, my wife and I realized just how popular cricket is there. Sure, I’ve heard many stories of cricket frenzied fans but never realized how frenzied it really was.

On our way back to the hotel, we were walking along the street and passed a park with droves of kids playing cricket. Some were in jeans and T-shirts, some were in tattered clothes, and some were in traditional religious wear. It was fascinating to watch, but after a short while, they boys took quite an interest in my wife.

Everywhere in India we went my wife was quite popular. We weren’t sure of the exact reasoning, and it was further complicated when a older gentleman briefly chatted with us and mentioned she looks eerily similar to a famous Bollywood actress.

While we were watching the boys play cricket, one eventually came over with his camera phone to snap a picture of us. (And by “us,” I mean he motioned for me to slide out of the picture.)

Since turnabout is fair play, we continued to watch the boys play cricket, but before we left I took a few photos of them.

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Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Two Branches Meet

Two Branches Meet

This is Wolf Point in Chicago.

Since I’ve taken this picture in 2010, the spot in which I stood has been completely reworked and the railroad company is building something fancy. Also, as I was taking this picture, over my left shoulder are a number of high-rise condos with a spectacular view down the Chicago River. At Wolf Point (the tiny tree-filled knoll on the waters edge, to the left of the image), a development company has decided to pull out its parking lot and build another high rise condo — thus blocking the view those over my shoulder have. Everyone has decided to go to court and sue to slow things down (or kill projects all together), but I’m glad I was able to sit and spend an evening watching the sun set down the river.

A year or two later  went back for sunrise hoping to get an image of the sun blazing down the river, but my calculations were wrong and the sun perked up between some buildings. I never made it back to try the picture again, and if I don’t go soon, my chance may be lost forever. As long as I avoid the ongoing railroad construction, of course.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Mt. Everest

Mt. Everest

I’ve been slowly posting images for sale to the website Fine Art America. I like them because, I feel, their markup is minimal, but more importantly they offer a bunch of different options from fancy mental printing to small, custom greeting cards. I make no secret that I like producing images but don’t like sitting in front of a computer editing, and I especially don’t like the business end of it. That’s where Fine Art America comes in. If someone wants a photograph, there are seemingly countless options available. Instead of myself and an interested person e-mailing back and forth about size, mattes, frames, shipping, etc., Fine Art America takes care of everything — and shows the customer what they’re getting in real-time.

The reason I bring this up, is with the holidays around the corner, I have received a few e-mails from people looking to buy prints off of my blog. That makes me happy for a couple of reasons. The first is the obvious selling of images, but also because people are seeing my images and liking them enough to shoot an e-mail about buying them. It’s been a nice couple of weeks, and while I’m not about to retire or buy a new camera with my spike in sales, it’s a nice “self high-five” along the way.

Now, the image above has nothing to do with selling pictures, Fine Art America, or even the upcoming holidays. It’s just a picture of Mount Everest, towering 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) above the Earth’s surface. Flying from India to Bhutan our plane flight right alongside the mountain. Somebody up above was smiling down on us because we had the best window seats ever on the correct side of the plane for both flights to and from Bhutan.

As we were soaring high above the mountains, I looked out the window occasionally at all of the mountain peaks standing tall as far as the eye could see. One peak in particular caught my eye. I told my wife, “For some reason, I wonder if that is Mount Everest.” I recalled Everest having a double-peak, and for whatever reason it looked vaguely familiar to some of the pictures I remembered seeing. No sooner did we finish our discussion then the pilot click on his microphone and told everyone that Mount Everest was out the plane’s left side. To this day, I’m still damn proud of myself for recognizing Everest randomly along the way.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged |

Waveland and Wilton

This isn’t the picture I was going for this night, but I found myself a block from Wrigley Field as the sun was setting.  Seeing the sky slowly turn pink was impressive, so I set up the tripod and waited for a train to fly by.

As it turns out, this is one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken of Wrigley Field.  I think the ballpark is a photographic field day any time of day, but most pictures I’ve viewed are of the front of the building during the day.  Having an iconic part of Chicago (the CTA train) whiz by as the sun sets behind Wrigley is even more delicious.

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Posted in Sports Tagged , , |

Beans for Sale

Beans for Sale

Our plan on Saturday morning was to head towards “downtown” Siracusa, Sicily and rent a couple of scooters. There was a beach far enough from town that walking was out of the question. As we approached the scooter rental facility, it looked 100% seedy with barely a sign of “Scooter Rentals” anywhere. My wife and I chose to keep walking because surely this couldn’t be the scooter rental we were looking for.

As we aimlessly wandered through town, we noticed everyone seemed to be coming and going from a partilcular street, and naturally we decided to investigate.

Walking through the small-town market of Sicarusa, Sicily still stands as one of my most enjoyable travel experiences. My wife and I slowly walked through the market in awe at the various items sold. Fresh fish. Fresh pasta. Fresh spices. Fresh vegetables. Everywhere we looked there was deliciousness ready to be purchased.

As we took our time in loading up on spices and olive oil, my wife and I turned to head back toward our bed and breakfast. Halfway back through the market an older woman, who was walking next to me, looked over and said “Bella, eh?”

While I glaringly stood out as a tourist and this woman recognized it, she also knew this was a pretty spectacular sight and wanted to acknowledge it with the random stranger next to her.

Bella  indeed.

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Posted in Lifestyle Tagged , |

Tribune Towers Over Regeneration

Tribune Towers Over Regeneration

On the Michigan Avenue bridge spanning the Chicago River, there are four sculptures on each of the four bridge houses. One represents discovery, one represents the pioneers early to the midwest, one represents defense in the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn, and on the Southeast corner, Regeneration depicts life in Chicago as the city rebuilds following the fire of 1871.

One of the fun footnotes of this bridge is the Southwest bridgehouse has been converted into a museum, which allows people to learn the history of the Chicago River and its bridge houses. Somewhat nifty is one can climb to the top to see the size of the workspace and down to the bottom to view the gear room.

During the spring and fall, when the bridges are raised to allow boats to travel up and down the river, tourists can also sit in the gear room to watch everything work as the bridge does its thing.

I’ve been in the museum and it is a fun-yet-quiet history lesson of Chicago in the middle of one of its most crowded areas.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Magnificent Mile at Night

Magnificent Mile at Night

Every-now-and-then I like to head into the city of Chicago and shoot some images. Sometimes I’ll get out and shoot at sunrise, other times at sunset.  I like taking the train around when I do this because I can wander the streets and head home when I’m exhausted, and not have to somehow make it back to my car (once I remember where I parked it).  The downside of this, is I carry nearly a ton of gear with me, since I’m not sure if I’m what I’m going to need whenever I end up where I end up.  That’s always good for the back, I’m sure.

Anyway, with this particular picture, I’m in the median underneath a traffic light shooting north up Michigan Avenue.  I always feel odd doing shots like this because people sit and stare at you while they’re waiting for the traffic light to turn green. One of these days I’m going to wear a gorilla mask while I’m taking pictures just to really give people something to stare at.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Blasting Waves and Setting Sun

Blasting Waves and Setting Sun

A few weeks ago I traveled to Northern Michigan to explore the area and make images of the autumn colors. It was right around the “peak” time where the leaves of trees offer the best they have to offer. Amusingly, one of my favorite pictures from that journey isn’t of trees or leaves.

Arriving at the Point Betsie Lighthouse near Frankfort, Michigan, a storm was rolling across Lake Michigan several miles away from shore. As the massive storm cloud blew itself North, the setting sun was revealed behind it. Since the thunderstorm had kicked up the waves, it made for quite an unique experience of a bright sun setting below the clouds, but still these harsh waves slamming against the shoreline.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged |

Candy Corn

Candy Corn

Candy corn. About twenty million pieces of this stuff are sold annually.

It was first marketed as a year-round candy except the ads started running in newspapers the first week of October, so people began to equate candy corn with Halloween. Even though there has been a push to develop Christmas and Valentine’s Day candy corn, nothing sells like the original “Halloween edition.”

I had a different image picked out for today’s blog post, but figured since today was Halloween, why not go with something fun? In Chicago rain is forecast all day and night, which will put a damper of festivities, but hopefully the kids will be out in full force.

If not, I’ll need some helping eating all of this candy.

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Posted in Lifestyle

Sunshine, Dog Walking and Chicago Skyline

Sunshine, Dog Walking and Chicago Skyline

The temperature has plummeted here in Chicago. When we first got our dog it was late-June and the temperature was damn-near perfect. Throughout summer it was easy to take her for a walk, as my biggest decision came with deciding between wearing a baseball cap or not. Now, with winter temperatures blasting in, the morning walks with the dog are slightly more complex.

My wife and I picked up one of those jacket puppy can wear, not to mention I had to find some gloves and hats for myself, as well. The first day puppy and I went for our morning walk in the 30-degree temperatures, I’m pretty sure she didn’t like the frozen blades of grass. So there we were walking along the sidewalk; puppy was in her jacket and I’m dressed up like “Nanook of the North.” It made me think back to the above picture of two women walking a dog along the shores of Lake Michigan. The skyline is slightly obscured because there is so much haze in the air. I don’t recall the exact temperature, but I do remember it being super-hot on the day I took this picture.

After a couple of cold morning walks, that super-hot summer day seemed so long ago.

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