Sunday, December 31, 2006

Top 10 of 2006

As my last post of the year, I decided to select my Top 10 photos of the year. To quote Bluejake, "There are three major skills in photography: shooting, editing, and processing. Editing is by far the most difficult. " To determine which photos to select, I first sorted through the nearly 7000 shots I took this year, and uploaded over 600 of them on Flickr. (200+ new ones were added today. Phew.) Then I winnowed it down to a set called "Best of 2006", and deselected any photos I used in the 2007 calendar. That still left me with over 60 images, so I then made my choices for those which could best show the growth of my skills or my interests, or were once-in-a-lifetime shots. I also alternated the selections so half were urban and half were rural/nature. Interestingly, I had to rethink several choices in order to get some flower shots in there; in looking at the entire year's worth of photos, I realized I didn't have many flowers shots and the ones I did have weren't the standouts I'd hoped they'd be. Part of that is due to the fact I took a photography class in the late fall, and so I had a greater proportion of better photos later in the year, but I also think I simply took more pictures at the end of the year. I am still very interested in flower photography, but this year I definitely found some new areas to shoot.

I hope you enjoy the look back, and feel free to go to the Best of 2006 set and comment if you think I should have selected something else!

Show-and-Tell Zinnia

Killing Time

Sunrise at Natchez Trace

Metra station rush hour


Rushing by at Howard

Fishing in Sunrise

Under the Bean


Sunset in Blue

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Butterfly on Milkweed

Butterfly on Milkweed

One of the best parts of living in the Midwest is seeing all the prairie land come to life in the spring and summer. Between the various and multiple flowers blooming, one after the other, and the butterflies and birds coming to feed, no two days are the same. More prairie shots can be found in a set at Flickr.

Friday, December 29, 2006



Tomatillo growing in a garden, summer 2006.

After all the urban and landscape shots, I thought it was time to head back to nature. More summer flowers have been uploaded to Flickr in the Summer Set.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Flying home

Flying home

Between the clouds, between Hartford and Chicago, 6:51am Central, 12/28/06.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Connecticut River Bridge sights

Portland's Welcome Sign II

I love the optimism of the sign contrasted with the grittiness of the industrial area behind it.

But heckling their hometown bothers my parents (and rightly so, because it is a nice little town, really!) so here is a second PotD of the bridge that spans the Connecticut River between their town and Middletown.

The span above for drivers

There are more photos in the Connecticut River Bridge set on Flickr.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sunset in Blue

Sunset in Blue, originally uploaded by kudzuplanet.

I took yesterday off from the PotD, but today was a struggle too to find the right picture; most of what I have been shooting the past few days have been personal family photos, not suitable for public viewing.

This was taken from my parents' back porch, overlooking the Connecticut River Valley. I like that it includes both nighttime and the very end of the daylight.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

O'Hare at Sunset

Unlike Santa, we had to use a more pedestrian method of travel for our Christmas trip.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday El Train

Aerial view, originally uploaded by kudzuplanet.

An aerial view of the CTA's Holiday Train leaving the station.

The whole series of photos, including many of the train at rest and unblurry, are up at Flickr.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The El in Motion

I spent yesterday evening riding the CTA Holiday Train. While I am holding off on posting the Christmas-y photos until we are closer to the 25th, I did get some intriguing shots of other moments at the station.

Rushing by at Howard

Here it comes

More photos are available at Flickr in the El Train set.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Glenview Avenue at Christmas

Glenview Avenue at Christmas, originally uploaded by kudzuplanet.

Down the main street in my town, they go all out with the decorations at Christmastime. It's such a cheery sight when you turn the corner onto the street at night and suddenly it's ablaze with light.

I've also added a few more shots to Flickr of the Thanksgiving parade in Detroit and some other Christmas lights around the Chicago area. I'm planning on going to a couple of special holiday displays tonight so hopefully I will have some good shots from there to post tomorrow. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

African Daisies

I've always been fond of daisies, but African daisies are something else entirely. They start out looking like regular ones, albeit in a wider variety of colors than the simple white and yellow, and as they reach full bloom, their petals curl in the middle. Just gorgeous.

Before curling:
African Daisy

After Curling:
African Daisy white

There are more African Daisies and other spring flowers newly uploaded on the Flickr account.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Man on Street

Man on Street with Tulips, originally uploaded by kudzuplanet.

I had a version of this in black&white, but I didn't like losing the punch of color from the trolley and taxi in the background and from the tulips and greenery around the man.

I also added about a dozen new shots to Flickr.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ivy and Shade

Ivied Building in Shade, originally uploaded by kudzuplanet.

Notice how the ivy on the smaller building is a rough match to the shade on the larger building. Makes you understand how the ivy was able to grow as thickly as it has, doesn't it?

You may also notice I am posting this with a picture stored at Flickr. I have opened an account there, and you can click over to see all the photos I've posted online. I've arranged them into various sets and series so you don't have to plow through random pictures in no order. I will be adding more there as time goes on, and all my pictures posted here will also be posted there from now on. Enjoy browsing through them!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Not Your Expected Holiday Shots

But these are red and green!

That's a red zinnia and a green lotus. I think.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Art vs. Commercialism

Such a thin line between the two sometimes, don't you agree?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yellow Trees in the Sun

In the autumn and winter months, the position of the sun in the sky means that light has to fight to make its way between the high and close skyscrapers of downtown. This leaves the streets darker than the time of day would suggest, but it also allows for moments when the light hits something unexpected and illuminates it in a startling way. I love how the trees almost look like lighted matches because of this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Focus on baseball

We lucked out this summer and got front-row seats to a Tigers-Cubs game at Wrigley Field. While I was able to get several nice at-bat action shots, I also got a couple of more wistful ones. I like the contrast in focus of these two; I think the emphasis on or off the fence gives each one different meaning, more than just from an artistic standpoint. Or maybe I'm just reading more into it. :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Summer Field

I passed by this field of prairie wildflowers every morning while I trained for my triathlon this summer. I couldn't help but be cheered on by the daisies and chicory and various types of coneflowers. It was such a sunny sight, even on cloudy days! Now that our first snowstorm has turned into crushed lawns and dirty piles of shrunken snow, I thought this PotD might be a healthy reminder of warmer days to come.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Little Whimsy

My two favorite signs of 2006.

Taken up in McHenry County, summer 2006. Just a hour outside of Chicago, this is serious farm country. Great corn in the area, too.

Taken on a hike in Natchez Trace State Park, Tennessee, October 2006. I swear we did not pose this shot! Heh.

Monday, December 11, 2006

4 views of the Chicago Bean

Also known as Cloud Gate, the "Chicago Bean" is one of the newest interactive art pieces in downtown Chicago. Its mirrored surface and striking coffee-bean shape provide countless photo opportunities for tourists and professionals alike. Here are 4 moments I captured in late fall this year.

Posing at sunset.

A rare lonely moment in the early morning.

Two sets of tourists having fun with their reflections.

From underneath.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Beardtongue, early June 2006. Chicago Botanic Garden. I love the secrecy inherent in this flower; it grows very low to the ground, so to passersby all that can be seen is the white "dust" on top. It wasn't until I leaned down to look at it at eye-level that I could see the sweet little blooms along the rim. (Click to see the details more clearly.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Silvery Bog

Taken at Volo Bog, November 1st, 8:15am. This is a full-color version, not converted after the fact to black-and-white. It was a month before we had our first snowfall, but there was already ice on the water. I had gone there to shoot early morning scenes while the light was good, but the sun stayed behind the clouds the whole time, burning a white space like it is here but unable to force its way through fully.

Friday, December 08, 2006

2 Flower Close-ups

Two PotDs today -- a couple of my favorite flower shots of the year. The first is a fiery zinnia called a "Show and Tell", and the second is inside a lisianthus. They were taken in late August at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I love the contrast between the two; the coolness versus the heat, the circle patterns versus the flowing tendrils, the pale green versus the zesty orange.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stonecrop, in spring and in bloom

Stonecrop is a small succulant that grows very low to the ground in generally overlooked rock gardens. The Chicago Botanic Garden has a lovely section devoted to it in the Landscape Gardens.

This is what one type of stonecrop looks like for most of the year.

This is what it looks like in bloom.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Welcoming post

Click to enlarge

Welcome to my blog! I've been dithering for a while about how I wanted to start this up, which picture to use in my inaugural post, what I would say, etc. Finally I just decided to leap in and start posting, lest it never begin.

What you can expect here is a new photo every day, aka the PotD. I generally take wildlife and nature photos, but during the winter season when all the glorious flowers are gone, I also shoot urban landscapes and buildings.

I live in a northern suburb of Chicago, and I'm a member of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Expect to see lots of shots from there -- like this one. It's from Friday December 1st, the day we had our first snowstorm of the season. The angle is through a window hole in the English Walled Garden.

I also travel around to many other state parks in the area and elsewhere, plus I'm an early riser so I like to get sunrise pictures when I can. This month I intend to post photos I've taken all throughout the year, sort of a Best Of... retrospective so you can see what I've done. And maybe I'll even get around to explaining how a Midwestern photographer ended up with a website and blog called Kudzu Planet! Heh.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back every morning to see the new PotD!