Tag Archives: Illinois

Bee Pollinating

Springtime is always fun with the brightly-colored flowers popping up all over the place. Even when they are small and don’t have a lot of color, the flowers attract bees for pollination. There is the old phrase about stopping to smell the flowers once in awhile, but it’s also fun to stop and watch the flowers on occasion. There is a tiny ecosystem in operation along with the scent that can be quickly passed over if one is too busy to look around and enjoy.

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Posted in Nature Also tagged |

Evening Fisheye of Buckingham Fountain

One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Chicago, Illinois was completed in 1927. From that time through 1980 the water was manually operated by two engineers located on site working 12-hour shifts. A computer system was eventually brought in to automate the water flow, but the fountain still operates it’s every-hour-on-the-hour twenty minute sound and light show while the fountain is in operation (8am through 11pm daily, weather permitting).

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Tight Corner

As a kid I would always use my Legos to build racetracks and would then spend days racing my Matchbox cars around on them. Sometimes I’d use the road plates from my Legos as a racing circuit and other times I’d use the Lego blocks as hay bales to make an off road course. Either way, my small little self would spend hours racing small cars and trucks around on a small track. I never really grew out of that phase, apparently, so last night I hauled down to Joliet, Illinois for the TRAXXAS TORC Off-Road Series race at the Route 66 Raceway.

For three hours various classes of cars and trucks raced around the dirt track launching off of jumps, bouncing off of each other and battling it out for trophies, points and cash prizes. Travis Pastrana (the U.S.-born racing phenom) flew in to give his driving skills a test and, not-surprisingly, finished second in his race.

It was a fun night with good, hard racing (as Mark Jenkins (25) and Scott Douglas (7), pictured above, can attest). My seven year-old self would be proud that I’m still making my way to occasional off-road races, even as a thirty-two year-old.

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Posted in Sports Also tagged |

Not Your Father’s Gas Station Stop

This weekend the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. This picture was taken last year during the Sprint Cup race in September when rain postponed the event until Monday. I had a fun time wandering around the track shooting my first auto race, and had a great vantage point to cover all of the action in the pits. In the above image, Kyle Busch received service from his pit crew during the Geico 400.

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Posted in Sports Also tagged |

French Canyon Black and White

This past weekend my wife was out of town and I had great plans of living the life of a bachelor. However, Friday’s baseball game involved a nearly-four hour rain delay and Saturday I fell asleep on the couch before I could make it out to a friend’s birthday party.

So, I ended up doing a lot of nothing.

Something I did before I fell asleep was go through a lot of my “saved” websites within my internet browser. Basically, over the years, I’ve been bookmarking photographers I like with the intention of going back to their site to see what they’ve been up to. Turns out I forgot about most of them. With the advent of Facebook, I looked up each of them to see who had pages and who didn’t. I liked whoever had a Facebook “photography” page where I can, hopefully, keep up better with what they’re doing.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with the above picture from Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois.

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Posted in Nature Also tagged , |

Bricks and Ivy of Wrigley Field

In the day and age of player safety, the fact that Major League Baseball lets the Chicago Cubs have a completely padless wall in their outfield is fascinating to me.

Tradition? Yes. Crazy? Quite possibly.

The outfield wall of Wrigley Field is great because it’s old brick covered with nearly a century of ivy. Throw in some bright yellow paint and a random baseball stuck in the vegetation and it’s fun to sit and stare at the wall.

Every time I am fortunate enough to be able to stand close enough to touch it, I always look hard for a baseball. I’ve been at games where one ball falls into the ivy and two balls fall out. I’m curious, at the end of the season, how many baseballs (and other objects) are found lodged in the ivy of the friendly confines.

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Posted in Sports Also tagged , |

The Cold Blast of Summer Fun

I’m on Instagram and periodically post an image or two (you’ll find me on the site as @kjkettnerphoto). Like Facebook, Twitter and every other social network site, you can follow people just like they can follow you. One of the people I follow on Instagram is the Chicago Tribune.

Occasionally the Tribune will post a photo challenge ranging from “show us your best food pics” to “what does the month of June mean to you?” Simple stuff, really, but it’s a nice opportunity to get the creative juices flowing and get a loose theme for image-making.

Since the weather was going to be right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, the Tribune wanted to see “hot weather photos” throughout the day. So, at the height of the scorching heat, I jumped into my car and took off to find an image of summer heat that has always been ingrained in my memory.

A few years back I was covering a Chicago White Sox game and on my lunch break (two hours before the game) stumbled upon a bunch of kids playing in the water of an open fire hydrant. So, my goal was to head towards the same neighborhood and maybe find some more kids playing in a the water of an open hydrant.

Once I got off the expressway, it took all of ten minutes to find what I was looking for, and amusingly, it was a mere block and a half from where I last saw it two or three years ago.

I spent just over a half-an-hour taking pictures of the kids running and playing in the water. I didn’t waste much time before I pleasantly stood in the water myself to take pictures. At the hottest part of the day, the water was cool and refreshing.

By the way, it is never recommended to open up a fire hydrant. As a matter of fact, I think it’s against the law for unauthorized people to do so. Watching the news last night, viewers were encouraged to call the police if they see someone opening a hydrant. Good to know now, I guess.

Also, there are a few additional pictures posted on my Facebook page.  Feel free to wander over and click around for a bit. Perhaps while you’re there, give the page a “Like,” won’t you?

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Posted in Lifestyle Also tagged |

John Hancock Standing Tall

This so wasn’t the blog image I was planning on posting today.

This week’s self-impose theme was to take a random image and write up the story behind it. From slowly rowing across the Yamuna River to stumbling across a car accident, my goal was to really go into deep detail about an image that may not be too impressive.

However, as I was writing the blog post for today’s image, it ended up becoming quite the long batch of text. Similar to last time, I pulled the photoblog in hopes of selling it to a travel magazine. (You can read the blog post from the last time it happened on the Vagabundo Magazine website by clicking here.) So, in a few months, hopefully I’ll post the link to an article on the aforementioned website about traveling through the mountains of Bhutan.

In the meantime, very much not the Himalayas, today’s blog post is an image of one of the greatest skylines in the world.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Motoring Down the Chicago River at Sunrise

The caption for this picture is “A boat motors down the Chicago River shortly after sunrise in Chicago, Illinois.” That’s is the short version. The long version is after taking this picture I continued my way South, walked down the sketchy looking staircase to ground level and moseyed along the river for a bit. It was a beautiful September morning and I was just wandering around the Chicago River to see what I could find photographically.

There is a stairwell at Columbus Drive going up a couple of street levels. The first level is Lower Wacker Drive and up another level is Upper Wacker Drive. As I climbed the steps to Upper Wacker Drive, I heard an extremely loud sound.

You know the sound of a dump truck unloading gravel? That sound of gravel scraping followed by a loud “thud” of the back door swinging closed on the truck’s bed? Basically a “scraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaape, THUD.” I heard exactly the opposite of that sound near the top of the steps.



Arriving a street level I was immediately surprised to not see whatever dump or garbage truck made the noise. Perhaps the mystery truck hit a pot-hole and the bed of the truck bounced? (Plausible as we do have some ferocious pot-holes in Chicago.)

Oh wait. There is a car upside down 50 feet beyond another car with the front end sheered off.

The sound I heard was that of the two cars connecting and the overturned car scraping along the roadway. The flipped car eventually came to rest against a large concrete abutment.

The driver of the overturned car quickly got out of her car screaming “OhmyGod!OhmyGod!OhmyGod!OhmyGod!…” while the driver of the other car wasn’t really getting out of his car. I went over to him while the others attended to the screaming woman.

After helping the gentleman from the car missing its front-end, the man called his wife and simply told her “to call the insurance company.” His chest hurt (hopefully from the blast of the airbag), but I was happy he was standing outside of his car under his own power talking.

Within minutes the Chicago Fire Department rolled up and a large fire truck stopped in the middle of the intersection. The firefighters got out and looked at the man and I standing in the road next to the destroyed car. The first firefighter said “How we doing?”

“His chest hurts and she has some other issues,” pointing to the overturned car.

“Oh [expletive]!” said the firefighter and off he and a few others went.

I didn’t stay much longer at the scene. I took off once the firefighters had arrived and everyone received the appropriate attention. It kind of rattles you, however, when you’re walking along and everything is going well, and then, not-so-much. Luckily everyone was okay, but it still made me want to go home and hug my wife.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Tour Boat Under the Chicago Skyline

For the past few weeks I had been plotting to go out on a boat and shoot some images of the Chicago skyline. Last week I did one of the boat tours launching from Navy Pier, but I had to specifically do it Friday because of the boat’s schedule, my schedule, and the sun’s location in the sky.

I ended up walking away with a bunch of pictures I really, really like, but with as busy as this weekend has been, I haven’t been able to make my way through the images.

This is the first picture I landed on while I was importing the photographs to my computer.  I like the brightness of everything in the picture and am looking forward to going through all of the images.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Brightly Colored Tulips

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.

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Posted in Nature Also tagged |

Pierzynski Puts the Sox on Top

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.

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Posted in Sports Also tagged , |

Bike The Drive

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.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Water Taxi on the Chicago River

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.

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Posted in Travel Also tagged |

Rodrigo y Gabriela

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.

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Posted in Lifestyle Also tagged |

Old Pier Near Evanston, Illinois

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.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Quiet Chicago River at Night

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.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Open Mic Night

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.

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Posted in Lifestyle Also tagged |

CTA Trains and Soaring Trump Tower

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.

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Posted in Scenic Also tagged |

Pollen-Happy Housefly

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.

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Posted in Nature Also tagged |