Archive for April, 2012

Garfield Park

Garfield Park is one of those fantastic public spaces that is all but forgotten by anyone but the local residents.  It covers several acres, has a couple fishing ponds, a really cool field house and even a band shell.  The grass is over grown and over run by the dandelions and there is even a statue of the young Abe Lincoln with no beard.


It even has torii, with no obvious purpose other than to look interesting (so far as I can tell).


The best part is since even on a nice day the park is fairly empty, you can get a shot like this with out people hanging around.


The band shell is probably the most interesting place, if only because they’ve tried to hide it behind trees.


I love the little fountains all around it.


Alas, another slice of Chicago let to crumble, lost and forgotten.

Uncooperative Birds- Part the Last

After wandering the Montrose Bird Sanctuary for 2 hours and only being teased by the lovely song of the American Goldfinch (you can  listen here) I was starting to wonder if I would ever see one.  It is like a camera is a magical bird-you-want-to-see repelling device.

Then Lo!  Behold!  A flicker of yellow out the corner of my eye.  I see something dart by across the meadow into the copse of trees next to me.  Could it be?  Indeed I hear a Goldfinch break into song very close to me so I freeze (thankfully I was already holding my camera close to my face since silly me left the tripod at home.)  A moment later a bright yellow dart zipped out of the trees to perch about 20 feet away on a brush branch right on the edge of the meadow.  I was so struck by his beauty for a moment all I could was stand there with a silly grin on my face and enjoy his bright, cheerful song.

Then I realized, he was facing away from me.


But I will not be denied!  I crept a little closer, making sure that I didn’t face him directly but only watching him out of the corner of my eye.

He let loose another barrage of song, and I clicked away with abandon.

Then he noticed me….

“Hey lady, whatcha doin’?”

He kindly gave me another couple of rounds of song…..

And yet another saucy (even if slightly-out-of-focus) look.

And then he was gone with a quick flitter of wings.

I was so very, stupidly happy.  Not that they are rare or uncommon birds, but they can be hard to spot given their tiny stature and quick movements.  As a child they were among the first birds I learned to identify and I have always adored their song.

I spent another hour just wandering the area to see what other sights it has to offer and was not disappointed, but I felt I was more or less done for the day.   More and more birders and photographers were pouring into what is already a small area causing my people-phobia to kick in and I had not only spotted but photographed my target for the day.  Happy and somewhat tired I trudged back to the bus stop for my hour long ride home, all the while planning my next trip.

Uncooperative Birds- Part the Next

So I think that I may have come to terms with the fact the I might indeed be a photographer of grackles, when it comes to the bird world.  Yet I still wanted to catch a picture of a goldfinch and thus spent yet another hour or so wandering around Montrose Bird Sanctuary attempting to follow the Song of the Finch.

Oh yes, that is right, I could hear at least two Goldfinch singing, but couldn’t spot the little buggers to save my life.  After getting an awesome shot of a male cardinal with his face totally obscured by a tree branch I started feeling a little desperate.  I changed locations and parked my self in the shade of a little copse near an open field and decided that what ever may come, I WILL photograph it.

Then my favorite bird, a red winged black bird, showed up.  Glee!

You know he wasn’t going to make it easy on me though.


Oh yeah, that is right!  Keep that head turned away from my camera.  Work it birdie!



Yes, full all out mating display, while hiding behind a branch!  This little guy really knows how to make a photographer cry.



Bird, now you’re just being coy and messing with my head, aren’t you?  GAH!  But at least he is showing off his pretty red epaulets for me.  Actually, I kind of like this shot, it is like he has a secret and is gloating over it (though really he just has an itch).

Finally he turned to face me!



Just as the light shifted of course.  AHhhHhHHHhhhhHHHH!!!!!!!  BIRDS!


– To Be Continued


You may wonder what the effect on my poor, already broken psyche all this being mocked by animals who have no comprehension that they are mocking me may be having.  I want to do it again.  This time, I want to go and catch the sun rise with the little beasties.


Uncooperative Birds- Part the First

It was an overcast and chilly morning, but undeterred I grabbed the camera and headed out for Montrose Bird Sanctuary  located right on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I’ve been lazy about my photography for a year now, and am endeavoring to do better so I figured, “Crappy light?  Oh well!  I’ll learn how to use it!” (Yay unrealistically positive me!)  As I was heading for a Bird Sanctuary, I’m sure you already figured out this meant I was planning on taking photos of birds.

I’ve never been adverse to bird photos before, but most of the ones I’ve taken have been easy targets, a goose on the lawn (feckin’ geese are EVERYWHERE!) or birds in the zoo.  Today was different, I wasn’t just going to capture a shot of a grackle or a gull around the city, I was going to their territory, their natural habitat, and damn if I wasn’t going to find a bird more interesting than a grackle.  (I must apologize to the grackles for that, I love them, but they are as common as muck though a damn sight prettier.)  My goal was to find an American Goldfinch, tiny, swift and brightly colored, they are hard targets for people like me with a second-hand 75-300mm telephoto lens (read that as I still have to damn close to get a decent shot).   Aim for the heavens!

Then I remembered why I don’t often try to photographs birds.  They don’t cooperate.  At all.

Remember what I said about grackles?  They’re everywhere!  And this one saw fit to give me his back.  When he did finally turn around he made sure that there would be a branch between us as well.  Brat.

Did I mention he made sure he was in the shade on a partly overcast day?  It is like he was out to thwart me!  BIRDS!

So I went on.  Surely I’ll find more interesting birds right?  Half an hour later I’ve spotted a titmouse, a yellow bellied sap sucker, honest to goodness American house sparrows (but oddly no English ones), innumerable gulls, crows, red wing black birds and robins yet all I have to show for it is some photos of branches and sky.  I need to change my plan.

So I pick a likely spot and just wait.  10 minutes go by, as do a pair of thrushes (I think) and some kind of huge woodpecker.  No joy.  I wait longer.  And then HE shows up to pose on a branch just perfectly for me.

A grackle.

They are such handsome birds….  Oh dear lord, I am a grackle photographer!

(The Birding Adventure continues tomorrow.)


I’ve been taking the time to sort through some of my old photographs with the express purpose of dumping the really bad ones.  For the longest time I’ve avoided the photos from 2008, the year I acquired a really crappy digital point-n-shoot and started going all camera nutty.

A large part of me avoiding these photos was I realized most of all them were crap but I was I attached to them as they signaled a new period in my life.  Tonight I sorted the Gary pictures and found 2 that still spoke something to me.  So I salvaged them the only way I know how to, I made them black and white.

First I give you a moment in time that I wish I could go back and recapture, but alas the remaining frame was ripped out by our next visit so I must consider myself lucky enough to have caught it in even a mediocre capture.

Now I know how I *should* shoot this, but the opportunity will never be there again.


Second I give you the view of the old post office from the back room.  That little sapling you can hardly see is now a fairly decently sized sapling.  I am saddened that one day the floor will no longer be able to hold it and it will end up in the basement.  I’ve tried a few times to re-capture this view, but haven’t had the same light.  Now that I have the ability to shoot for HDR I’m thinking I will be able to improve it, provided it isn’t a really windy day.


While Gary, Indiana is getting to be old hat for me, I still want to visit once a year and document the progress of time on these buildings.  They have been standing empty for nigh on 40 years, and many of them are reaching that critical point where they are falling in on themselves.


On the Bridge

So while on a wander through Millennium Park the other day another awesome fog bank came rolling through.  I just happened to be on the foot bridge when it enveloped us.

Of course, I would have preferred  some sunlight on the bridge when I was shooting but you just take what you get.  There is usually tomorrow.

Like some giant serpent swimming through the park, over the street.

Of course, when you have something like this, it kind of screams “Play on me!”  most people follow the unspoken rules and don’t but every now and again you find someone who just goes for it.

Or two someones.

They just wanted to see if they could run up the side of the bridge, first attempt failed but they were undeterred!  Like all good adventurers they went again, and failed.  Another attempt finally got them to the top.  But once you have conquered the mountain what is left?

Take a ride down the side!

It was so much fun their friends had to join.

As one passerby put it, “It looks like a lot of fun, until the cop writes a ticket for a 75 dollar fine.”

However all is well that ends well, and no officers of the law were present, the bridge was undamaged and everyone had a good laugh.  As it should be.


Welcome to the Thompson Center, one of those interesting buildings where it seems like a really good idea until you build it.



You do not want to see the heating bill.  However, very cool building to stand inside so I always make it a point to use the DMV there when I need to renew my driver’s license.



Honestly, I’ve been trying to post for days now!  WP and I have been having some disagreements over uploading photos so things have been a bit dicey.

Actually, I blame my internet connection.  Either way at long last I have achieved upload of rust and fire crackled paint.  I’m not happy about the formatting, but should have gone to bed over an hour ago if I want to be in any shape for work tomorrow.


Come to think of it, I’m feeling a little damaged too….




No Entry

Forgotten Places



Grackle in a hackberry tree.

Roller Derby

So I went and caught my first ever Roller Derby bout, it was between the Windy City Rollers and Naptown, all I can say is, “I’m addicted”.  I so have to go back, a lot.

These women are amazing, and as a sport is quirky, fast paced and fun to watch.

It took me a little bit to figure it out, but thanks to the assistance of Mimi Furst explaining everything to me I quickly learned where to point my camera.

Now I just need to learn how to use my editing software to remove the annoying photographer from the background of almost every good shot I have…



Holy Mother of dirty laundry, Batman!

Pilsen is one of those neighborhoods that no matter where you go, the Virgin Mary follows you.  Even to the laundromat  (or Lavanderia as you would say in Spanish)  This might be one of the creepier Marys we spotted, there is just something …. wrong….. with her face.



Caught the Jellies exhibit at Shedd Aquarium during the last week, seriously glad I made it there.


Harlequin Gobi at the Shedd Aquarium.