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Moonlight Sonata, November 3, 2017

Did a very quick visit to the lakefront just south of Ohio St. Beach and Lakeshore Drive last Friday night. It was quick because it was damn cold. I kept on asking myself, why am I even doing this?

But it was a good way to end a very strange week.


Leone Beach, Rogers Park, October 27, 2017

Leone Beach on Touhy at Lake Michigan is one of Chicago’s largest beach, stretching for 8 blocks in Rogers Park, in the city’s far northside. The beach is just north to our beach in Edgewater. Nothing is happening much on the beach in the fall and when we went there a little more than a week ago to shoot the sunrise, the sunrise was nowhere to be seen.

But there are these pilings that jut out of the water surface that seemed to be remnants of a pier. They look very ethereal when photographed in long exposure.

Have a look!

Little Red School House Nature Center, October 21, 2017

About two weeks ago, we (frequent photo walk buddy, Mark Marshall and I) answered a call for a birding meet-up to be held at the Little Red School House Nature Center in Willow Springs, IL. It is one of the nature preserves that the Forest Preserves of Cook County maintains and one of the hidden gems of the county – there’s a several picture-perfect ponds with lots of water fowls, forest trails that are easy to walk and certainly, a lot of birds. But … more on this later.




Saganshkee Slough

We started at the nearby Saganashkee Slough to scope out location for future sunrise shoots and then from there, drove over to the Little Red School House to meet up with the guide. There were a few others who joined later. The regular guide however, was not able to make it, another employee who admitted that she was not a birder at all, took her place. Right there and then was the problem. But she was nice.

We didn’t see much birds (although we could hear them) as a few members, well, one particular member of the group, decided to socialize instead and proceeded to tell her life story in great excruciatingly vocal detail that surely scared the birds away. At the end of the walk, she had the audacity to say it’s a pity that we didn’t see much even though we were quiet (or maybe that was another member of the group). As soon as everybody left though, my photo buddy and I went around some more, this time, quietly, and sure enough, birds were suddenly around – from woodpeckers to kingfishers, robins, grackles, doves, etc. Nothing to write home about but they were there.

The fall colors were not there yet. Another week or so and this place would be absolutely gorgeous.



Riverwalk, October 28, 2017


Kind of oft beaten track instead of off the beaten track, but there is always something interesting happening on the walk. We were taking photos to submit for the October upside down challenge at Drink and Click. It was an impromptu walk as it was a last minute decision – our organizer, Lauri Novak, was away and could not organize a meet up. So Mark Marshall and I hastily thought of something just so the Chicago group could be represented in the challenge.

It was a difficult challenge to fulfill but we did what we had to do.



I was surprised to see a black-crowned night heron right on the river – this is supposed to be a relatively rare bird and endangered in Illinois, but here it was in the middle of the concrete jungle.

At the Navy Pier area of the river, we bumped into some Halloween revelers who graciously posed for us … and at the end of the walk, we were rewarded with a fireworks display! What a wonderful way to cap an almost 7 mile walk in the cold.



Apple Opening Unplugged – October 20, 2017

I have been an Apple user since 1994.



So naturally, I went to see the opening of their new store on Michigan Ave. The old store was on corner Huron and Michigan which opened back in 2003. I guess they’ve outgrown that location and built a remarkable structure on Pioneer Court right on the Chicago River just steps off the northeast end of the Michigan Ave bridge (DuSable Bridge). The all glass structure that rises off ground is transparent, so it blends in with the surroundings and doesn’t block the view of the river for the most part. Its roof is shaped like a laptop!

Inside and under the glass structure, going down the stairs, is a sprawling space – the store itself plus space for performance and seminars. There is also more space on the bank of the river and a terraced seating area outside on the Chicago bridge side.

Visitors at the opening were herded like cattle outside in Pioneer Court (really, they directed people to chutes just like livestock brought to slaughter) and then made to run through a gauntlet where they had Apple sales people and other employees applauding and high-fiving the arriving guests. It’s all a sham to me though as most of these young kids during regular store hours are arrogant and haughty. (I came back two days later to purchase a charger, and sure enough, a snotty kid unanswered my questions about compatibility issues, he was sort of in a hurry and I saw him sauntering off to tend to more beautiful people than a paying customer like me.)



But I don’t go to the store to pay attention to their sales people. I go to the store to buy Apple products. As I said in the beginning of the piece, I have been an Apple user since 1994.


White – t-shirt from the 2003 opening; black – t-shirt from the 2017 opening

And of course, I went to the opening hoping for a free t-shirt which they had. Good on you, Apple!

Open House Chicago Day 1, October 14, 2017

Open House Chicago is the annual event organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in which over 200 buildings in various neighborhoods and communities of Chicago are opened to the public for free. In most cases, the “behind-the-scenes” activities of many tenants in the buildings are open for the public to see. We started with three buildings on Randolph St., then two on Michigan Ave., then two in the La Salle Canyon in the Loop and ended up in the Chicago Temple, also in the Loop.




Frequent photowalk buddy, Mark Marshall and I were at the Aon Center first (we were the first one to show up there, they were not even ready for the deluge). We planned to shoot the sunrise first before hitting the Open House, but it turned out to be an overcast day, so we arrived about twenty minutes before opening. Just like the previous years, they opened the 71st floor with a commanding view of Millennium and Grant Parks, albeit blanketed with low lying clouds.

From the Aon Center, we headed next door to the BCBS building. The view is the same as in the Aon but from a lower floor – the 30th floor and clearer because it was below the cloud cover. From there, we ended the Randolph Street leg of the walk on the deck of the One Prudential Plaza.

We then headed to anything open on Michigan Ave. On the avenue, we hit the Pritzker Military Library and Museum and then the Cliff Dwellers, a private club with a restaurant overlooking Michigan Ave.



Then on to lunch. At this time, it was pouring and I was very wet despite the plastic poncho I was wearing.

But we planned to see more buildings in the loop so we headed out there, first to the Wintrust Bank where they opened the no longer used bank vault in the basement. We were about to end our walk, but since we were there, and the Federal Bank of Chicago was just across the street, we decided to see what’s in the offing. I am glad that we went – they opened the money museum and got to see how much a million bucks look like!

We heard from people that the River Walk was flooded and we wanted to see that -. We started to walk from the La Salle Canyon to the river but somehow on our way there, we decided to just skip it and go home. So heading back to the Aon Center where Mark’s truck was parked, we passed by the Chicago Temple on Washington and Clark – and decided to check it out. It wasn’t that much. We climbed up 178 steps to the chapel in the sky, supposedly the highest place of worship, at least in North America, but didn’t stay long as it was too stuffy up there.

After that, we called it a day.



Chicago Botanic Garden, October 7, 2017

Mark Marshall, a fellow photographer and I went for a short visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glenview, IL two weekends ago to view the changing colors of the leaves … but not many leaves had turned colors yet. Fall colors have been soooo slow arriving this season, it seems.




But we were treated to … not only one but two elegant Great Blue Herons in the garden!

Throwback Quebec City 2008


Quebec City countryside

Nine years ago, we were in Quebec City to witness its 400th year celebrations. It is such a wonderful vibrant city. I can’t wait to go back.



Chicago Marathon 2017


Elites

Scenes from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, 10/9/2017 at the Magnificent Mile (Grand Ave. under Michigan Ave.) and Lincoln Park (Stockton and Webster area).



Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Indiana Dunes hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is one of the most diverse biomes in the United States and indeed in this part of the world. It consists of 11 types of ecosystems (from wetland to oak savanna to prairie) and has a very very interesting history. Back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, Many of Chicago’s industrialists didn’t want to have the ugliness of industrial landscape in the city, so they built their money making industries (steel and shipping especially) on the shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Indiana.



This stretch of Lake Michigan used to be so polluted that some parts were deemed biologically dead BUT eventually, with community, industry, government and other stakeholders working together, parts of the lakeshore have been restored to their full glory. The restoration is still on going and the success of this movement has served as a model for many other conservation efforts around the world. There is a great documentary called Shifting Sands that chronicles the conservation and sustainability of this region.