Category Archives: Nature

Pink Impression Tulip

These tulips are part of the Darwin Hybrid Tulip Family.  They are usually grow pretty tall, and they’re also the brightest colored flower in the tulip family.  It makes then popular with flower shops and such, because they’re colorful and easy to place in a vase.  The wind likes to knock them down, too.

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Curious Squirrel

The squirrels around our place are quite bold and when we’re picnicking in the backyard, they will come up pretty close to see what food they can get. We haven’t had enough courage to do try feeding them directly out of our hands because, at the end of the day, the squirrels are still wild animals. (Apparently, the woman who lived here before us would, twice a day, take a bucket of birdseed and throw it into the backyard.)

We also have a couple of structures around our place that the squirrels enjoy. One is the wide fence running along the one edge of our property, and other is the “plant station” the previous tenant had built.

This past summer I rigged my camera to an area the squirrels frequently traffic and used the remote trigger to fire it off.

With this picture, the squirrel jumped up onto the platform, and was mighty curious what the contraption at the other end was.  At the “snap” of the shutter, he jumped back, froze and after a moment, scampered off.

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One Bird’s Breakfast is Another Bird’s Demise

Last year around this time, I was eating breakfast in the kitchen when something caught my attention in the backyard. It turned out to be a hawk devouring a pigeon.

I ended up posting a picture of  it to my rarely-read and rather boring blog, and realized I liked having pictures instead of infrequent mumbling about whatever was on my mind.

And from all of this, my photography blog was born.

It’s been a year, and for the most part, it’s been awesome.  I like having an outlet for pictures that I’ve taken, but don’t serve any real directory on the galleries page.  Think of my photoblog as a “photographer’s junk drawer,” but with so much more.  I’ve found pictures that I’ve completely passed over when building galleries, and realized there was something more there, and posted them in their rightful place.

Doing an almost-daily photography blog post has sometimes been a challenge.  Some days I’m just note feeling it and can only find a sub-par image to post online.  Other days, I’ve viewed the same picture that I’ve seen before in a different light.  Also, the photography blog has definitely taken my image-making to the next level. I’ve gone out more to capture those moments in time, be it sunrise or life in a factory.  I also went along as a small business closed its doors for good.

All of it will eventually make it’s way online, and I’m really proud of that.  My website traffic has exploded from this time last year, I’m sitting down and writing more, and most enjoyably, I’m getting out and thinking about photography more.  All of those things I’m really, really happy with. In the coming months I’ll continue with six photography blog posts a week, I’ll be more active on Twitter, and I’ll even give HDR a try.

Thanks for joining me.

January 2010. (7657)

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Stream of French Canyon

Several of the canyons within Starved Rock State Park are very well known, and very photogenic.

The nice part, much like Yosemite and other parks before it, Starved Rock offers so many opportunity to create images without doing the often-photographed place.

Here, for example, is a small stream.  Around the corner, just out of view upstream, is the famous French Canyon.

October 2009. (3149)

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Driftless Pond

In the Southwest corner of Wisconsin is an area where the glaciers missed.

Instead of slowly grinding along and leveling everything in it’s path, this area was bypassed and, as a result, has a lot of rolling meadows and the famous midwest range of the Ohcooch Mountains.

June 2009. (3674)

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Snow Covered Branches

I like pictures like these, because they take me back to the calmness of that particular day in Anchorage, Alaska. The images aren’t anything spectacular, but to someone who has never touched or viewed snow, maybe they are.

November 2007. (1586)

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Snowy Alaskan Mountain Range

For today’s post, I was originally going to go with a picture of a pile of candy canes I took some time ago.  However, I realized it’s still a bit early to jump into Christmas.  Yes, it’s December 1st, and yes, my local stores have gone “all in” with their Christmas stuff a month ago, but I’m not ready yet.

So instead of candy canes, here’s a picture I took a few years ago of Alaska’s Chugach Mountain Range.

Being from the flat lands of Chicago, we get snow in January and February, but we don’t have pretty mountain ranges and tall pine trees to accent the landscape.  In Chicago, our snow hits the ground and looks pretty, but by the end of the day it’s trampled and dirty looking. By the end of the week, the snow is frozen solid because we’ve hit a daily high of nine degrees below zero.

On those days, the weatherman loves to mention Miami’s high temperature (87°F) and then point out it was warmer in Alaska.

November 2007. (1551)

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Casey

I like to tell the story of my first visit to my parent’s farm after they picked up their new golden retriever, Casey.

Some time back I was scheduled to work a Chicago Bulls game on a Friday evening.  Additionally, I received a phone call to work a softball game in Iowa City the morning after said Bulls game and, mathematically, the hours in the car would make it a long drive with minimal sleep.  So, I turned the job down.

A day or two later, the phone rang again. “I really need you for softball,” said my contact.  So I agreed.

As the weekend grew closer, I found myself dreading my decision more and more.  However, I had made my bed so I must sleep in it, so to speak.  On Friday night after the Bulls game (about 11PM), I jumped in the car and made the four-hour trip to Iowa City.  After arriving at the hotel in the wee hours of the morning, I jumped into bed for a quick two hour nap before heading to work.

Work was work, but after we were finished, severe thunderstorms were going to be rolling in, with a strong potential for tornadoes.  Not being a fan of tornadoes, I decided I’d rather spend my final night alive at my parent’s house then die in a hotel room in Iowa City. Therefore, on two hours of sleep, I made the decision to head to my parent’s farm, which was about three hours away.

I pulled into the driveway exhausted and was greeted by the smallest, most adorable puppy I’d ever laid eyes on.  His name was Casey and as he ran up to me with his high-pitched bark, his ears where so big that he proceeded to trip over them. Again and again, as a matter of fact.

Casey was so young that he didn’t know how his body worked, and promptly tripped and stumbled over his own paws, or more adorably, his own ears.  We played in the yard for a long time, before I finally fell asleep for an extremely long time.  It happened to be Easter weekend, so while finishing touches were being made on a fantastic brunch, I played with the puppy some more.

That dog is one of the luckiest dogs in the world as he has nearly 50 acres to run around and call his own.  He’ll chase birds, cars, thrown balls and sticks, or just fall asleep at your feet while you watch the sun set.

In the above picture, Casey buried himself down in the shrubs and waited for my dad to throw a stick into the river. Leaping off the banks of the river and swimming out to get sticks is one of Casey’s favorite activities.

July 2007.  (0571)

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Bali Sunset

This was an interesting sunset to watch because the bright colors of the sky were heavily muted by the large, ominous clouds.  I recall it was slightly chilly on this night, too.

Regardless of the temperature, it was here Alisha and I noticed all of the boats fishing on the horizon, and hatched our plan to get up at sunrise and watch them push out to sea.  We were staying right on the beach, and a few hundred yards from us is where the fishermen kept their boats on shore.

Walking along the shoreline that morning became one of my favorite parts of Bali, because everyone was out with the entire family collecting shells, fishing for dinner (and perhaps something extra to sell at the market), or just playing in the sand.

October 2010. (6322)

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Porcupine Deer

Early in our dating life, Alisha and I took a couple of days and headed up to the Porcupine State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  A week or so prior the autumn colors were at their prime, so we arrived when the winter fog started to roll in.  My sunrise pictures are nothin’ but fog, but it was still enjoyable since it was a week day and we had no one else around.

Because it was so quiet, the local wildlife were freely and happily roaming around the park.  The deer seemed to be enjoying the peacefulness, and paid no real care to the guy stumbling around with his camera.

November 2005. (1111)

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Changing Leaves

Autumn seems to have come and gone very quickly this year.  For being my favorite time of year, I didn’t get as much photography in as I would have liked.

Like any fan of the Chicago Cubs, “there’s always next year.”

October 2009. (3063)

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Triumph Tulip

When I first started shooting pictures at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was very dutiful in also taking a pictures of the flowers’ name for general record-keeping.

That lasted about ten minutes.

It wasn’t intentional, except I’m such a child so I’d take picture or two, walk to another flower and say to myself, “Oh my, those are so pretty!” and snap away.  Then, I’d look to my left and say “Oh my, those are so pretty too!” and run to the next flower. So I had good intentions, it just didn’t work out the way I hoped.

These, however, were early enough that I noted their name.  They’re “Rem’s Favorite Triumph Tulip,” part of the lily family, apparently.  You could call them “klsdghjlkwehsq wjafb” and I’d still think they are pretty.

Difficult to pronounce, but pretty.

May 2011. (9508)

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Desert Weeds

Today’s entry comes to us from the Sossusvlei region of Namibia.  There are towering sand dunes all through the area, but not everything of note has to be a 1,300-foot sand dune. This is just a bunch of weeds growing in the hot, dry, desert.  I like the weeds and their shadow up against the orange sands of the desert.

July 2011. (3487)

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Nottens

On our first safari in South Africa we were motoring around in the Range Rover, looking for whatever wildlife we could find.  As we were rumbling along on some trails, we scared a small deer-like animal from the underbrush and it fled in terror of our vehicle.  As we approached the area where the small animal was hiding in the brush, we saw a leopard who had been lying in wait.

Apparently we interrupted its dinner plans.

So, an adult female leopard (named Nottens) gave up her hiding place and set out in search of other potential food. We followed her through the brush, and our guide recognized she was heading towards and opening where a large group of impalas (more deer-like animals) were milling about.

Nottens crouched low in the grass and waited for her chance.

About this time the impalas split into two groups. A few went a direction away from the hiding leopard, while the majority blindly wandered directly into the leopard’s vicinity.  With lightning speed the leopard jumped into action, scattering the impalas.  With one of it’s giant paws, the leopard grabbed a fleeing impala from mid-air and dragged it to the ground.  Dinner time.

The above picture is of Nottens, as she moved from her original hiding spot to her new location near the impalas.

August 2011. (3808)

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Single Tree

In their collection, it seems like every photographer has a picture of a lone tree in a field.  This is my “lone tree in a field” picture, taken just outside of Rockport, Maine.

October 2009. (0324)

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Frechman’s Canyon at Starved Rock

Autumn is fast approaching.  Well, according to the calendar I think it’s technically here, but I mean Autumn-as-in-colors-are-changing-on-the-trees is fast approaching.  I’ve been using weather.com’s fall foliage map to keep tabs on the current state of the changing colors.

A few years back I spent an Autumn day at Starved Rock (IL) State Park and snapped a bunch of images and this is one of them, from Frechman’s Canyon (one of the parks more photographed locations).

October 2009. (3188)

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Looking Up To Flowers

The last couple of days I’ve posted black and white images, so as a color-filled change, here is another flower picture from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Next spring I’ll head back there for more pictures since they have such a variety and colors are always changing.  Plus, going on a random week day means you avoid the throngs of tourists piling in by the truckloads on weekends.

May 2011. (9574)

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Cheetah Spots

This is Joseph, he’s a ten year-old cheetah in South Africa.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animal reaching 0-50mph in just three seconds (by comparison, it took Ferrari up until 1999 to get that fast that quick — cheetah’s have been doing it for 3-5 million years).  At full speed, a cheetah’s stride is about 23 feet, which helps them attain their top speed of 75 mph. Adult cheetahs have over 2,000 spots, and the fur texture varies with the color.

And they purr like kittens when you pet them.

In Cape Town we had the opportunity to pet a cheetah.  South African cheetahs decimate farmers’ livestock, so farmers are trapping and killing the endangered animals.  Cheetah Outreach is an organization which raises Anatolian Shepherd dogs side-by-side cheetahs, so the dogs are then placed with livestock and look after them — all the while keeping the cheetahs away.

Slowly the cheetah population is coming back, and the farmers’ livestock are now endangered by other things — like the farmers.

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Blue-footed Booby

Blue-footed Booby

In the Galapagos Island, this may be one of the more famous birds. It has a variety of reasons for its notoriety. Its name, for starters, contains every man’s friend. The other note about their name is it comes from the Spanish word for “bobo,” which means, well, “dumb.”

The birds are, however, fairly intelligent animals. They have tremendous vision and are fantastic shallow water divers. The boobies mating dance could get them made fun of, though.

The males flaunt their blue feet, dancing to impress the female boobies; they’ll spread their wings, stomp their feet and squawk. If she likes him, the mating process will take less then five seconds. Together mom and dad watch the eggs, keeping them warm by holding their webbed-feet over them. After nearly nine months of incubation, the eggs will hatch and the parents will walk around with the chicks on their feet getting around.

And they’re cute birds, too!

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Lion Cubs

I posted pictures online from our safari in South Africa.  You can click your way over to them in the Travel Photography section by clicking here. The albums are cut up into two sections; Namibia and South Africa.

During out stay, we really enjoyed the lion cubs.  There were many times I put the camera down just to watch the cubs tackle and play with each other.  At one point, we watched a lion cub hide behind a tree and jump out to playfully “attack” it’s mother.

Lion cubs are so damn cute.

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