Friday, December 23, 2011

Amen

To some people, its a shame there is no snow for Christmas this year.  To me, I say Amen.  I know its coming, but after the last few years, let it come late.  A large church in Chicago shrouded in fog that I came across the other day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Some of you might remember my post awhile back(January 2011) that showed my name in lights on a sign for "Zelly's Gyros Beef and Burgers".  While it scared me for a moment, thinking that it might be a sign of things to come, that was nothing until I came across this one today.  Why do I keep hearing a voice saying "Come towards the light.  Come towards the light."  YIKES!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hard day at the Christmas Light Factory

Actually, a hard day at the Zelazoski household in preparing for Christmas.  It's getting to be crunch time and we're all working hard to make our home festive.  This shot was just me experimenting and goofing around.  My loyal subject was fine for awhile, but there came a point where it wasn't fun anymore.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Ears

I'm sure all of you have heard of the penguin movie, Happy Feet.  In our house, we have our version, Happy Ears.  My kids each got nice warm hats from their grandmother in Wisconsin as early Christmas gifts.  Tonights shot is my son coming out of school and is being posted for two reasons.  1. I think its a nice pic of him and 2.  To make sure grandma knows he wears and loves his monkey hat.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mill at sunset

Two good things about an earlier sunset time at this time of year. One, is the colors that show in the sunset sky.  Two, I don't have to miss dinner to catch them.  Here is a grain mill in the area that I caught at sunset last week.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

...And now for something completely different.....

 

The title above, from my favorite guys, Monty Python, is to explain, I am not a videographer. I am a photographer.  But, tonight's post doesn't have much value unless in video form.  So sit back, turn up the volume and listen/watch the monstrosity/Christmas Light Show that is created every year at this time.  Always a few additions, a few subtractions, and usually something new.  Unfortunately, no snow yet this year.  And if anyone wants to join me on the roof come January to take down frozen strands of lights and my Christmas bear on the chimney, let me know. It's always alot more fun on the roof then with all the snow and ice we'll have by then.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tradition

As most all of us wrap up one tradition, overstuffing ourselves with turkey and pie, I decided to show some pics from the vault of another tradition that is, perhaps, not as widespread, more localized,  and is almost as important to Wisconsinites as Thanksgiving.  And I'm not talking about Black Friday.  It is the annual 9 day deer hunting season that started last Saturday and runs through this coming Sunday.  I won't get into the pros and cons of the event except to say for those partaking it is the biggest event of the year. It is 9 days of family and friends spending lots and lots of time together.  9 days of telling stories around a campfire.  9 days of fathers and sons, and sometimes daughters and wives and mothers, connecting differently than they would at any other time.  9 days of eating some of the best food ever cooked over a campfire.  9 days of remembering anecdotes of years past hunts.  9 days of breathing clean fresh air.  At least, that's what the hunting season means to me.  My father and I have been part of the same hunting group going on 25 years now.  Cousins and uncles that we didn't know well when we first joined up are now our closest friends.  Many of us were pretty young when we first started hunting with our fathers.  Now, many of us are fathers ourselves and teaching our young ones how to be good, responsible stewards of nature.  This was the first year my daughter and my son both said they want to go hunting next year.  This was, unfortunately, brought up in front of their mother, so we decided to leave the discussion for another time.  And for those of you worried about the deer, don't worry.  They were pretty safe around us this year.  Here's a few pics of camp life:


Monday, November 21, 2011

Roll on

Unfortunately, no more rolling for this guy.  I found him in an overgrown front yard of a place that I don't think has been lived in for years.  I think he was retired at the same time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Arc of a Diver

Been a slow week for pics as you can tell by my lack of posts.  It's that time of year where the landscape is not that exciting and I've been pretty busy with other stuff.  But, last weekend my daughter, son, and I made time to make a trip to Madison Wisconsin to support my niece in her pursuit of the State Diving Championship. It's an event my daughter and I have attended before since this is the third trip to state, I believe, my niece, Kelsey, has made during her high school run.  She is a senior so she'll be doing her diving for a collegiate program somewhere after this.  While she didn't take home the gold, she did place higher than she ever had previously- 10th.  That's the 10th best diver in the state.  Pretty cool accomplishment that I know she has worked hard for.  I know for years I've heard her talk about having to be at the pool like 5:30 in the morning since that is the time setup for the team to practice.  Crazy.  But it's things like this that create a winner, which she is.  If I ever end up with a chest of gold medals, she will definitely get one.  Not just for being a great diver, but for being a great kid.
Tonight's ist shot is a composite of several shots of one of her dives.  Unfortunately, to create it, I used Photoshop and I am pretty much self teaching myself on the capabilities of Photoshop so it's not perfect.  If I waited for that, it would probably never get posted.  The second is her getting ready to dive with the judges looking on.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Past its prime

As fast as peak color comes into the area, it's gone.  But, the late fall winds and placement of the sun can create some stunning landscape shots throughout the day instead of just morning and evening.  Here's a couple from the last couple weeks. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bottoms Up

One last shot of one of the many bridges crossing over the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh Deer

O.k., so they're not deer.  They're elk.  I would have had to think too hard to get something in the title about elk.  This shot was taken at an elk farm in Minnesota.  Not the best shot composition wise, due to the elk not happy that I was hanging out.  Pretty skittish creatures.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the Mooo-ve

Maybe it's where I'm from or something(Wisconsin), I don't know.  But, It doesn't look like I'll ever be able to sneak up on a cow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I told you I had another

Here's another shot of the trains at the abandoned train yard I came across on my trip. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unabridged

A lot of my photos are taken on the fly.  I try to be like the guys I read about i.e, they scout a location, check it out in morning light, check it out at sunset, get to know every nuance of the location, think about what settings to put my camera on, setup a tripod, hook up a remote so as to not have any vibration show up from pushing the shutter button, etc. And that's what I did with this shot for the most part.  I was there for about 20 minutes getting setup.  Not a single walker or bike rider came through at that time which I wanted to capture crossing the bridge.  I step away from my camera for 2 seconds, yes, 2 seconds to grab a sip of coffee, and, of course, that is when two power bike riders come shooting across the bridge. The remnants of their ride can be seen by the leaves falling off the bridge on the left hand side.  No time to properly frame and get my hands on my remote.  Didn't even catch the back wheel of the last bike.  I waited another 10 minutes thinking there would be more, but, of course not.  Back to shooting on the fly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Each year my son Derek and I try to add something to our front porch area during the Halloween season to help scare off any soliciting trick or treaters.  This, of course, means more candy left in the candy bowl when the night ends. It worked good last year(insert wicked laugh).  This year we've added a fog machine with the hope that the kids hear all the spooky sounds and can't see where or what they are coming from and they turn away and head to the next house.  But, we all agree that we must move to this location by the 2012 Halloween.  No way would I head down this road to get a miniature Snickers Bar. Kind of makes me want to grab my fog machine and just sit at the end of the driveway Monday night.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What's in a name

The name on the barn tells the story.  Here's a guy who really hopes and dreams of having his own large scale ranch, but, at the same time knows exactly  where he's at in achieving that goal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Common Midwestern Scene

You see alot of fields like this, but I always have to stop and get a shot when the sun and the clouds above are just right.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The eagle eye

You gotta love roadkill. Well, you don't, but if you're an eagle you are definitely attracted to it.  While driving through some of the bluffs on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi, I saw plenty of eagles.  And, not surprisingly, if they were in the middle of dinner, they weren't in a hurry to move.  I came upon an eagle feasting right in the middle of the road and swerved to avoid him.  He did fly up and away, but I decided to turn around and sit and wait.  I parked about 50 yards away and sure enough he came back for more chow. Several more cars came through and it was the same routine each time.  Each time he would fly off, I was able to follow him to where he would land and wait till the coast was clear.  This happened probably about 6 or 7 times.  It wasn't until the last time I noticed he wasn't alone.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A different point of view

After a daily shot of the Mississippi area I decided it's time for a break, so tonight's post is a shot taken just before I left.  Don't know exactly what my son was doing.  Maybe just taking a different point of view on life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trail of dreams

This is tough to admit, but even though this is one of my favorite shots from my trip, I can't for the life of me remember where I took it.  I don't think I walked the steps, but I remember liking the look of the fresh fallen leaves on them.  I need to start carrying a pocket notebook.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home in the hills

One of the fun parts of a trip like I just did is seeing the different lives people live in a different environment.  I'm not saying everyone lived in a house like this, but there sure were alot of them up in the bluffs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Houston, Tranquility Base here. The eagle has landed

Two eagles to be exact.  Of course, the title above is Neil Armstrong's famous quote when he landed on the moon.  These were the first words in my head after seeing an eagle land in a tree about 75 yards in front of me.  It's a feeling that can only be beat when a second eagle lands right next to him. (Sorry, I know of no quotes regarding two eagles). The first one landed on this tree off to the side of a boat landing. It was a nice sunny morning and the sun felt pretty hot on the skin/feathers so I think he was catching some rays.  I grabbed some shots of him and about 4 minutes later the second one showed up.  The first was none too happy about it at first and made his displeasure know by lunging at the second and opening his beak as wide as he could.  Eventually, he settled down and both just sat there for about 5 minutes of tanning before they decided to head on out.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Planes, Trains, and .....Barges

I live in the Chicago area so I definitely know the importance of planes, cars, buses, and trains in the transportation world.  On my trip, I didn't see many planes, but I did see trains, both sides of the river, running hourly if not more often, and barges.  Lots of barges.  And they are big. Huge.  I never realized how much the Mississippi River is still used to transport materials and equipment, but it must still be a vital means of transportation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exception-al

Remember the other day when I said it was hard to find good fall color along the river.  There were exceptions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ghost Train

One of the best things about a trip like the one I just went on is that since there is a very loose plan or itinerary, you end up taking alot of wrong turns.  But, in reality they aren't really wrong turns since there wasn't a right turn in the first place.  Anyway, my point is you find cool stuff when you are just wandering.  I happened to find this shot in a yard where it appears old trains go to rust away for eternity.  A railroad graveyard if you will.  There must have been around 300 railway cars there and it looked like they had been there quite awhile.  Windows broke out, any wooden doors rotted away, etc. Here's a shot of a number of them still connected and sitting on the tracks as if they had a run to make in any moment.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Good idea

Not too far into my journey, in Iowa actually, I'm driving along a country road.  Midwestern farmland to the hilt.  I'm seeing the lush fall colors in the distance and then all of a sudden, I see in the foreground one lone cow looking at the same thing I was.  It definitely was a nice scene and probably one of the most colorful shots I got on the whole trip.  I kind of expected and was told and then confirmed it myself that I shouldn't expect the same autumnal colors I see on my trip to the U.P.  There is a different mix of trees in this part of the world, definitely a different mix along the river.  But, right here was the exception.  Don't get me wrong, I saw plenty of color; just not the same as up north. Once I saw this shot on my computer, my first thought was I wish someone was behind me taking a shot of me AND the cow checking out the fall hues.  That would have been a good one.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I just got back from my annual insanity trip that I do each fall.  For those who don't know, each fall I try to do a mini trip(3 nights/4 days) just to recharge the batteries, escape reality, and test my camera memory cards.  2 years ago I escaped to the eastern part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, last year the Western portion of the U.P. and this year I traveled to Iowa and followed the Mississippi north on the Minnesota side until I figured I best start heading South towards home, and I followed the Mississipi River South on the Wisconsin side until Southern Wisconsin where I headed East to home.  I accomplished the above goals and managed to shoot 20 Gigabytes of pics while testing those memory cards.  Yikes!!!  That is alot of pics to sort through.  The scenery was beautiful, the weather was the best anyone could ask for during the month of October, and I visited a few places that I hadn't been to since my college days(dare I say almost 25 years ago).  I even got to meet and visit with a follower of my blog and if you want to know more about this person, I list his blog on this page to the right.  I always get a kick out of it.  Needless to say, I'm a little worn out so tonight will not be a picture posting night.  Those will come throughout the next week, or three, but tonight I decided to post the route I took on my trip.  No, I wasn't drunk when I made this.  The route that's created when exploring and with no particular place to go can be a little crooked.  Here's a look at the 1208 miles I put on.  The red is the trip North, and the blue is the trip South.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

State of Diffusion

We've been blessed with some mornings of heavy fog around here this September.  Here's a shot of a big sun rising over the field with heavy, heavy fog.  The sunlight burning through the fog is incredibly diffused makes what normally would be strong hard glaring light into a very soft, creamy light.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Point and shoot

Since I might upset the few Chicago Bear fans that read my blog with actual pics of the game Sunday, tonight's post is one no one can get upset with.  I brought my daughter's point and shoot Canon with me to the game and got some nice shots of the game, but on the way to purchase a beverage I snapped off a couple of shots of the city skyline from up high in Soldier field.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's that time of year again!!

Go Pack Go.  Big day.  About to head down to Soldier Field to watch the Bears and Packers do their thing to each other.  Here's a shot to get everyone in the mood.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why is corn on the cob so expensive?

Quick post tonight of some midwestern flavor. In my farmland travels, it is amazing how much corn is grown in this part of Illinois.  With all the fields around here, you would think we would be overloaded with corn and it would be like a dollar a bushel. Yet, when we go food shopping, sometimes we find ourselves checking out the corn on the cob and when its 6 ears for a buck, we're in.  But, if its something like 5 ears for two dollars?  No way, Jose.  That's robbery.  Someone's really trying to stick it to us.  And we leave the store with no corn.  It;s only when we're sitting at the table eating canned cream style corn and one of the kids says, "Why no corn on the cob?" that it hits you how crazy your thinking is. I mean, come on. Pinching pennies is not a bad thing, but......Really?  No corn on the cob due to an extra buck?  The sad thing about it is, I remember as a kid my mom and dad screaming about how a head of lettuce was going for something like 50 cents a head instead of the usual 40 cents.  Us kids would laugh and snicker about their thought process.  It must be in the genes.  Oh well, I just hope I don't end up in the headlines of The Daily Herald, "Crazy Old Guy  Caught Stealing Corn from Corn Field in the Middle of the Night."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good night for fishing

The best thing about fall is the softer light of the sun, especially around 5 or 6 pm.  Evidently, a good time for fishing, too.  Although, the water is a bit cooler.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack

Last night was a special night.  Many of you know I am a Cubs fan.  I get the opportunity to go the games several times a year and my daughter, Ashley, often asks to go, too.  But, unfortunately, when I go I am usually the guest of someone else.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to make it happen and got us some tickets and got a couple more for Ashley's uncle Tommy and his fiance Darcy since they live close to Wrigley and we thought it would be a good night to do something together.  The trick here of course is 1. Be able to get tickets since they are usually sold out, 2. Find a night we can all go, and 3.  Find a night to go before it starts to snow.  I know, that last point sounds funny, but when you get into September and you are down by the lakefront in Chicago, I think it has happened.  Last year, I went to a September game and it was literally, outside of a Bears game in January, one of the coldest sporting events I've attended.  We found a night that worked for all of us and I was able to snag tickets for the grand price of $5.00 a piece on StubHub(I know Cubs tickets are usually sold out, but when you are 22 games out of the running for a playoff spot and its September,remember the cold comment above, things change).  As it turned out, we had a rather balmy September evening at Wrigley field.  My daughter got to see her first Cubs game and true to tradition, they lost.  She got to see future Hall of Famer Starlin Castro slam one out of the park for the lone Cubbie run. And we enjoyed a nice evening out with Uncle Tommy and future Aunt Darcy.  Its all good.
Note:  The pics below are the sequence of Castro's homerun.  I found the one of him running the bases getting congratulations along the way an interesting shot when you look up at the pitcher who gave up the run.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sick of Green

It's at that point of the year where summer is over, but true autumn is not quite here yet.  I'm starting to get antsy for the color change that is about to happen.  I am truly tired of so much green.  So tonight's shot is one I grabbed the other day.  It is of an area of the Fox River.  I like the composition of the log in the water, but the original with all its green hues surrounding the water just didn't do it for me.  I decided to convert it to black and white and then bring some of the color back in.  Still has green, but toned down.  Besides, there'll be alot of green scoring touchdowns when the Packers play the Panthers tomorrow.  I'll root for the color green at that time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011