Category Archives: Scenic

Waves Crashing at Pemaquid Point

Located in Bristol, Maine, the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was first built in 1827. However, because the builder used salt water in his mortar mix, it didn’t survive the elements very well, and a new light was built in 1835 (this time, without the use of salt water).

Over a century later, more than 100,000 people visit the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse annually, and the light is featured on the state’s quarter.

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Beautiful Beach Seating

As my wife and I travel, we seem to “Go! Go! Go!” to explore and experience all we can. As a result, by accident, we found a new tradition in our travels that we’ve really come to love: Finishing at a beach.

Ending our three-week trip through Asia, we finished with the adventure with a three-night stay in Bali. It was beautiful temperatures and we got a nice, toasty sunburn before heading home.

After spending two weeks in India, Nepal and Bhutan, my wife and I stopped for a few nights in the United Arab Emirates. It was fantastic to spend a full day at the beach making every effort to avoid another sunburn for the trip home. (It didn’t work; I still got burned.)

As we plan our next two-week adventure for later this year, we’re exploring beaches in South America that we can wrap up our trip at.

Hopefully this time I really do avoid sunburn!

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John Hancock and Lakeshore Drive

One of the highlights from last year was going up in a helicopter to shoot some aerial images of Chicago. I’d been meaning to do it for a few years, but for one reason or another, I never got around to it.

During autumn of last year, I chartered a helicopter and spent an hour buzzing around one of the world’s greatest cities.

The way a place looks from above is dramatically different than the way it looks from ground level. Maybe that’s because, in my opinion, 50% of all good photography is showing people something they don’t normally see. If we all looked at Lakeshore Drive “over the shoulder” of the John Hancock Building, we’d be bored with the above image. However, because most of us see “Big John” from the ground up, this image has a little bit more “Oopf” to it.

I’ve already made plans to go up again this year. Perhaps I’ll aim for early morning sunrise, or more likely, some evening where the Cubs or Sox are playing at their respective ballparks to grab an image of the stadium with the skyline in the background at dusk.

No matter what, however, an hour in the air with a helicopter at one’s command is pretty awesome.

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Old Pier Supports

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with my website. I’ve done a handful of blog posts in the last couple of months, but the website as a whole, wasn’t working very well. I neglected to do an update so a lot of the images weren’t loading in the various galleries, which was a problem. Luckily, an hour of updating, downloading and clicking cleared everything up.

I’ve also been going through and cleaning up the blog posts. As I’ve written them over the last couple of years, there have been spelling and grammatical errors, not to mention the occasional broken links. It’s time consuming, but it’s also nice to comb through images again.

It has been quite some time since I’ve gone through images, and it seems like an even longer time since I’ve posted some online. Unfortunately, with the exception of attending some friends’ wedding in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I haven’t even picked up my camera.

All of that is about to change, however, as better weather is fast approaching and my busiest time of the year is now behind me. I look forward to getting out and capturing images again, and getting back into more regular photoblog posts (at least more frequent than one or two a month).

All of that being said, I picked today’s image because of the bright — really bright — colors. Last year I went up to Evanston, Illinois and waited for the sun to rise over an old, dilapidated pier. Turns out I was super-early for sunrise, but I didn’t mind because I captured one of my favorite images while I waited. I also scared the heck out of a family of raccoons, but they scared the heck out of me so it was an even trade.

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Columbia Yacht Club

As another one of the images taken from the day up in a helicopter, this has become one of the photographs I really, really like. I’m not really sure why, but perhaps it has to do with a fun view of the city of Chicago.

Taken with a the fish-eye lens, everything has a little bit of a curve to it, but the buildings still manage to stand tall and proud. Additionally, the boats in the harbor prevalent, as are the buildings of the beautiful skyline. Everything is a little bit more compressed.

I thought of posting this picture while I was working on various greeting cards last night. I hand-make cards and then sell them in local shops. (Shops which a very good friend of mine owns.) I was looking to upgrade my cards a bit this year, since Chicago cards seem to always sell the best, and thought I’d include this image.

Early on in my card-selling endeavor, my mom cautioned I may be surprised at what sells and what doesn’t. Boy, was she right. Some of the cards I like the best sit on the shelf and never move. Other cards, which I’m almost embarrassed to have included, have flown off of the shelf. Chicago cards, no matter the subject, seem to always do well.

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Old Capitol Building

I spend a lot of time throughout the winter months covering the various college sports at the University of Iowa. Normally when I’m there it’s dark by 4PM and the temperature is cold. Very cold (it is Iowa, after all).

Earlier this year, however, I covered the Big Ten Conference gymnastics championships and got to see an entirely different side of the state — the warm and sunny side. It was like something I had never seen before.

Instead of being cold and grey, the temperature was pleasant and the kids were running around in shorts and T-shirts. The grass was green and the sky was blue. It was damn near magical.

In all fairness, the entire midwest (and all points North on the globe) are cold and colorless this time of year. That being said, it is nice to see an area I so often see as bleak be so bright and colorful once in awhile. It reminder that spring, summer and fall are worth the anguish of winter.

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Ice Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

We hit 69°F in Chicago yesterday. When I opened up my photo program to look for an image for today, I very quickly came upon this picture. For some reason, I felt like this would be a good photograph to post.

Yesterday would have been a fine day to ice skate in downtown Chicago, with one of the world’s greatest skylines as your backdrop. No need for big, thick, winter coats or toasty hand warmers, just strap on some ice skates and go!

One of the best parts of ice skating in downtown Chicago, aside from the view, is the ice skating is free of charge. There is only a fee to rent skates, and even then, it isn’t too expensive. Ice skating at the McCormick-Tribune Ice Rink is a fantastic opportunity for locals and tourists to enjoy a fun outing in a spectacular setting.

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Trump Tower, Navy Pier and the Hancock Building

I love me some Chicago.

Earlier this year I went out on one of the skyline tours of the city. It was $20 and the tour was brief, but informative.

My wife wanted to come along on the tour, but that I specifically went on that specific Friday when the boats did morning tours, so I could get the sun over my shoulder as I shot the skyline. Additionally, it was one of the few Friday’s where I could make the tour before heading to U.S. Cellular Field for a day at the ballpark.

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Rockport, Maine from Above

Autumn has come and gone here in Chicago, and it seems like it flew by (as it always does). I got up in a helicopter, but I had to go up a day or two earlier then I wanted because the weather was turning sour quickly. Cold mornings with howling winds don’t do well at keeping leaves on the trees, regardless of their color.

While going through pictures in various folders, I came upon this photograph, taken high up in Rockport, Maine’s Mt. Battie. I had gone to Maine at just the right time, right when fall colors were at their peak. Additionally, it had been an exceptionally wet late-summer, so scientifically speaking, trees tended to have more color than usual.

So as much as I can try to time out a helicopter shoot (booking it the day before), a lot of times photography is about luck and shooting the weather. This particular trip to Maine was booked several months out, when I had no idea of the weather conditions I’d be shooting in. Sometimes it is better to be more lucky than good.

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Sunset Lighting Up the Lighthouse

This was a picture taken on a day when I just wandered around Chicago looking for things to photograph. As the sun started to dip low in the sky, I found myself near Navy Pier watching the line of sunshine move across the earth. Eventually, it reached a point where the breakwater was completely shaded, but the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was brightly lit.

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Barges and Raised Bridges

Fairly early on in my aerial photography shoot, the pilot and I passed over the Grand Calumet River near East Chicago, Indiana. Looking down at the world passing by, I realized a bridge was raised and a barge and tugboat were about to pass underneath. For some reason, raised bridges and barges always captivate my attention, and it was fun to see that world from an entirely different perspective.

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Tour Boat on the Chicago River

I took this picture from a kayak on the Chicago River. Not one to put myself into danger, and without realizing, I had slowly drifted towards the middle of the river in the middle of boat traffic. I took only a few more pictures before I realized “Gotta go!” and I frantically rowed my craft back towards the side of the river.

It’s always fun to get a different view of the “same ‘ole” things, and being on a small craft on one of Chicago‘s most famous waterways was enjoyable. Just watch out for bigger boats.

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Silently Playing the Flute

This isn’t a creepy picture at all.

In Chicago‘s Graceland Cemetery (which is said to be haunted via a number of sources), this sculpture of a young boy plays the flute for eternity. I tried to do some research on the origins of the sculpture, but instead I just came up with a number of websites talking about various hauntings in and around the Chicago area.

The haunting stories are interesting to read, but even the most skeptical person can get goosebumps when reading at one o’clock in the morning on Halloween.

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Fishing on the Mekong Delta

Sandwiching a trip to Vietnam between Thailand and Cambodia, my wife and I didn’t have much time to explore the country. First off, we had to make a decision of regions (North or South), and then decide where to go from there.

Landing in Ho Chi Minh City, we called a local guide service to inquire about getting a Mekong Delta tour for the next day. It was a lot of driving, but completely worth it.

Spending a day on the water is a fantastic way to enjoy the scenery, and being able to motor back into the remote regions was enjoyable. Throughout the day, we saw a number of people fishing; from diving underwater (sans mask or other gear) to throwing nets off the bow of a boat.

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Sunset at Jimbaran Bay

Aside from my wife, my friend Mitch is my best friend. At my wedding last year, he was my best man, and this weekend, I had the honor of being his best man.

Mitch has always complained that he doesn’t have a blog post devoted to him. With as many things as I write about, surely I could find time to write about him.

So that being said, today’s blog entry is about Mitch Nakhshin.

He and I met back in college. We met through a mutual friend, but we didn’t actually start hanging out until after graduation. One of the things that struck me early on with Mitch was his ability to whip up a good time. He does know how to bring the party.

For example, one night I was having a few people over to play poker and Mitch showed up early with a case of beer. As we waited for others to arrive, one by one the texts and phone calls came in from my people not being able to make it. It ended up being only Mitch and I, so he called a few friends and we went back to his apartment. I don’t think I’ve seen that many guys come together on such short notice, without the promise of women. We all played cards late into the evening, and I learned early on that Mitch wasn’t just any other guy.

As time would march on, Mitch and I would both get crazy jobs with weird hours. It wasn’t unusual for us to do things like road trip to the Makers Mark distillery in Kentucky for a few days, or more simply, grab lunch on a random weekday. Many of those lunches would end up lasting late into the evening. Each time, however, Mitch and I would make new friends or, at least, walk away with some great stories.

Along the way I met my wife. Her and I hit it off great from the beginning, but she knew that I’d leave on a cold winter’s night if Mitch called. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. Somewhere in here, on the rare occasion that I’d walk into the bar with somebody other than Mitch, there was a resounding “Hey! … where’s Mitch!?” Even if I was going to the pub with my parents, people wanted to know where Mitch was and how he was doing.

That’s the kind of guy Mitch is. His quality of character is extraordinary.

So I had some concerns about Mitch finding a girlfriend. It wasn’t that I thought he’d be single the rest of his life, but I was more concerned about him finding the right girl.

Along comes Danielle.

My wife and Danielle knew each other from grad school, and after a few times of seeing each other at various sporting events, backyard BBQs or whatever else, something clicked inside the two of them and they started dating. Again, in the back of my mind, I just wanted to make sure Mitch found the right girl. A girl who understands he falls asleep within a second of hitting the bed and then you can’t move him. A girl who understands that hockey holds a very special place in Mitch’s heart. A girl who understands that  he is terrified of other people’s bare feet. A girl who could keep up with him.

So one night, on a Saturday early in their relationship, a bunch of us go out to get some drinks, and we end up getting hammered. Mitch. Danielle. Myself. My wife. The bartenders. Whoever else. (Our cab driver probably got drunk just from our breath.) The next morning I woke up in severe pain. My wife and I both hurt so badly. I called Mitch to see how he was doing.

I could barely hear him it was so loud in the background.

Turns out, he and Danielle were sharing a bucket of beers at a bar watching the Patriots game (Danielle is from New England). I wasn’t sure I had a pulse, and here he was, with Danielle, right back at it.

When I hung up, my wife asked how Mitch was. I turned to her and said, “He’ll be just fine.” It was then I realized Mitch found a girl who could not only keep up, but probably give him a run for his money.

Mitch’s now-wife is a saint. He’s a quirky little fellow, but he’s also a lot of fun. Mitch and Danielle make a fantastic match and support and love each other in so many ways. I love them both and am I’m truly, truly happy for them.

Here’s to a long lifetime of love and happiness, hockey, and buckets of beer together.

Cheers, Mitch. You finally got a blog post about you.

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Dilapidated Pier at Sunrise

Earlier this year I made my way to Evanston, Illinois and to shoot the sun rising behind an old, dilapidated pier along the shore of Lake Michigan.

When I arrived it was pitch-black outside, which made stumbling on a family of raccoons far more exciting than it should have been. I gave the raccoons plenty of room to decide what to do as I slowly set up my tripod. Eventually the furry family scampered away, and I moved around looking for the best position to shoot the sunrise.

After some time of sitting around and shooting a few pictures, waiting a couple of minutes for the light to change, and then shooting some more pictures, the sun started to peak above the horizon.

I like the way this picture turned out, with the bright sun breaking up the image. The dark, old pier is split by the sun’s reflection, and the bright blue sky gives the photograph some additional cover.

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Vine-Covered Barn

Exploring southwest Wisconsin is always a treat, because behind every bend seems to offer another photographic opportunity.

Months prior to taking the above picture, I was driving near Viola, Wisconsin and passed this barn. For a couple of reasons I couldn’t stop to take a picture, but recently coming home I made a point to swing by it. While, originally, the barn caught my eye because of it’s old state and the various vines growing on it, the most recent visit was even better with the autumn color changes.

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Farming in Fond du Lac

In the last ten years, the farm fields near where I grew up have blossomed into a new type of farming industry.

Wind farming.

The business of wind farming has polarized some neighbors against each other, and been a financial windfall for others. Even when I was parked on the side of the road taking this picture, a young upper-20s gentleman drove by in his Jeep and then turned around to offer me his opinion.

Like politics, religion and music, everyone seems to have a passioned opinion of windmills. I’m curious how much money each windmill brings into the land owner, and how many people got shut-out because their neighbor put up a windmill and now it’d be too close if they did it.

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Milan’s Little Venice

This is, apparently, where a lot of the better restaurants are located in Milan, Italy. The district is referred to as “Little Venice,” because all of the restaurants lining the canal. While my wife and I slowly wandered up and down the waterway scouting restaurants, I realized it wasn’t full of tourists, as so many of these types of places can be.

It made for a beautiful evening of dining and people watching.

We ended up getting dinner near the footbridge farther down. The entire night I watched (out of the corner of my eye) a man try to sell “rubber band helicopters” to the passing tourists. One man bought one and promptly launched it onto the roof of a nearby house. A bit later, even the man selling them fired one into the canal.

It is dinners like these where I really, really enjoy travel; being able to sit and watch society stroll by is a wonderful thing. Being able to sit and watch society stroll by with a fine glass of wine is an even more wonderful thing.

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St. Mary’s Challenger and Chicago Skyline

Up in the helicopter shooting aerials, the pilot and I were on our way back to the airport flying south along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Passing over East Chicago, a large shipping vessel was making its way inland, so we quickly flew out and over the ship so I could snap a few pictures. I had no idea what I was going to do with the pictures, but up in the air everything looks a little bit more fun.

Once on the ground and after importing pictures into my computer, I zoomed in to see the name of the boat. I was curious what it was and what I could find out about it online. I did the same with pictures taken while at the Panama Canal, but none of the ships we saw had anything posted online about them. This wasn’t the case with the above picture.

As timing and luck would have it, the ship I took pictures of was the St. Mary’s Challenger. Launched February 6th, 1906 as the William P. Snyder, and eventually renamed the St. Mary’s Challenger (after a few other names through the years), it is the oldest operating freighter on the Great Lakes. As of now, the ship is 106 six year old and it’s endured its bit of history; among other things, the ship has run aground, rescued boaters from the water and been hit by a water spout. In a century of service the ship continues to forge on, reliably running cement throughout the Great Lakes.

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