Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Everything You Need to Know!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Walking

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Everything You Need to

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a 2,503-acre of beautiful open space in DuPage County of Illinois. It is named after it’s Rocky Glen waterfall and offers a comprehensive amount of hiking trails. 

This wonderful oasis contains rocky landscapes, with varying elevations including the well known Sawmill Creek bluff overlook. In addition, Waterfall Glen provides 11 miles of winding nature trails which are beloved by hikers, trail runners, cyclist, horseback riders. In the winter months, these extensive trails are popular with cross country skiers. Looking for a more relaxing activity? The forest preserve is also home to fishing and youth group campsite. Who would have though, that this open space of nature in Illinois is home to such a wide variety of outdoor activities.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve Scenic Overlook

Where is Waterfall Glen?

Waterfall Glen is located Darien &  Lemont, a south-western suburb of Chicago, Illinois. It is part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Running Trails

How to Get Here

Waterfall Glen is accessible at a plethora of locations, offering a variety of parking options. It is conveniently located off of the I-55 highway with the main entrance and trailhead being right off of Northgate Road. There are also parking lot options on Lemont Road by the intersection of 101st street as well as a parking lot at the intersection of Cass Avenue and Bluff Road.

waterfall glen rocky glen waterfall long exposure water photography

Where is the waterfall?

Rocky Glen waterfall which is the waterfall at Waterfall Glen is located towards the south east part of the forest preserve. The best and easiest way to get to the waterfall is at the Waterfall parking lot located at the intersection of Cass and Bluff Road. From there you can travel along the Rocky Glen trail for a little less than half a mile until you reach the infamous waterfall. From there I suggest traveling up south to view the scenic overlook. It only takes a few minutes but the view of the waterfall from above is absolutely worth it.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Entrance Trail

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve Trail Map

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Illinois Trail map 2020
Waterfall Glen Couple Engagement Portrait Photography in the Fall

Photography at Waterfall Fall Glen

This forest preserve is a nature and portrait photographer’s dream. From the beautiful lush trails to the picturesque scenery, the opportunities here are endless. This was one of the first places I explored when I first started photography and now it is one of my favorite locations for engagement photography. Grab your camera and get lost in the natural beautiful of Waterfall Glen!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Dirt Trails

Fun Facts:

  • Located in it’s ravine is the famous waterfall which is actually is a dam.
  • It completely surrounds Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is  2,503-acre.
  • You can actually swim in the waterfall area so bring the kids. (Well, wading is more suitable than swim.)
  • The Forest Preserve District bought its first 75 acres at Waterfall Glen in 1925.

The Best Places for Chicago Skyline Photography

Chicago Skyline Photography

The Chicago skyline may be one of the most iconic, recognizable and photographed cityscapes in the world. Embedded in the mountainous skyscrapers, is a juxtaposition of modern and historic Chicago architecture that when combined is an ode to present and past. This city is a home to a melting pot of people, ideas, arts, and lifestyles. It is not just a city – it is a feeling. It is no wonder why the Chicago skyline is the is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking views in the world!

Chicago Skyline labeled Architecture Buildings

See above for the Chicago skyline labeled

Chicago Skyline History and Architecture

Chicago is the largest city in the state of Illinois an among the largest in the United States of America. As we know, it is one of the third most famous cities in the U. S. Chicago is renowned for its bold architectural looks as well as the birthplace of skyscrapers.

In 1832 when the Black Hawk War ended, Chicago was developed as a town.  Afterward, in 1837, it became a city due to population growth. From 1848 it started development, and as such, it became the world’s largest grain port in 1854. Another important thing from its history is that from 1950 to 1960, Chicago’s people moved elsewhere due to the jobless environment.

Then afterward, in 2000, its population started increasing again. After a silence of many years, Chicago City has sanctioned 800 feet buildings with more jobs awaiting approval. Each day, the skyline changes Chicago design with newer layouts and innovative technology coming into the rescue of executing them from concept to completion.

Chicago Skyline Architecture at Sunset Drone Photography Over Lake Michigan and Soldier Field at Northerly Island Park

Where to See the Chicago Skyline?

There are many places where you can get perfect photographs and enjoy the views of the Chicago Skyline. As you go about exploring the great beautiful city of Chicago, don’t forget to view these iconic architectural marvels:

Rush University in Chicago Skyline at Night

SOURCE Rush University Medical Center

Rush University Parking Garage

Having studied at one of Chicago’s colleges or universities, it is not necessarily a place many would return to regularly after completing your degree. You may not be intending to move back to the university, but that should not keep you from visiting Rush University.

Surprisingly, Rush University’s parking garage includes one of the most stunning views of the Chicago skyline. It is an off-the-beaten tourist path, which means that you won’t need to struggle through crowds of men and women to capture the best image of the Chicago skyline.


360 Chicago skyline Sunrise Photography

360 Chicago Observatory Deck

If you want to enjoy the Chicago Skyline’s great view, go upward 94 floorings within the John Hancock building and see the 360 Chicago Observation Deck

Watch out on the town from all 360 degrees, then with interactive touch screens, click and find out about the history, structure, scenery, and culture of all these sights within your view. 

As you are there, make sure to have the delight of the’ Tilt’ and then see the city from an entirely new angle. This observatory has a few of the most incredible views of Willis Tower, Lake Point Tower, in addition to the Aon Center.

Make sure you arrive first thing in the afternoon to avoid the enormous lines and the massive audiences. Because in the evening, I am 100 percent sure that you will never get the view properly because there is a huge audience at that time.


Skydeck Chicago

Skydeck Chicago is the other point from where you can see a perfect view of the Chicago Skyline. For Chicago’s amazing views and a glimpse of up to four states, investigate the notorious Willis Tower Skydeck.

At present, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower up until 2009) is among Chicago’s most significant and greatest famous buildings. It was also the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until 2013, when the new One World Trade Center surpassed it.

Measure ‘The Ledge,’ that extends four feet out of this building, and take in the views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. The Skydeck is available 365 days throughout the year. Therefore regardless of what time of year you decide to see, you will always be at the top of Chicago’s world.


The Art Institute of Chicago

If you are thinking that you will skip the Art Institute of Chicago from your queue visiting places, keep in mind that without seeing the Art Institute of Chicago, it will feel that your trip is not complete.

While you are there, not only are you going to get mesmerized by fantastic artwork, but you will also see breathtaking views of the town. Be sure to visit the Modern Wing for an unbelievable view of Millennium Park, move up to the restaurant, and enjoy views of the city while eating a tasty meal.


Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

From rides museums, the Navy Pier is filled with amusement; you will not want to overlook it. So, make sure you take a ride on the Ferris Wheel. You will enjoy the ride, but you will also have the ability to observe a fantastic view of the town after you reach the very top.

Although the old Ferris Wheel has been replaced with a new and larger version, the same designer who designed the old one (Dutch Wheels) has also constructed the new one.


The Wit Hotel ROOFtop bar in Downtown Chicago

SOURCE theWit Hotel

The Roof On theWit

The Wit Hotel in Chicago rooftop lounge is a home to live music and musicians playing nearly every day. The pub is remarkably popular with the locals, particularly during the summertime.

Sip on a cocktail while sitting by the fireplace and appreciating the close views of the Marina Towers. We propose coming for Happy Hour and remaining long enough to see the sunset across town, a spectacular sight to see.


Chicago Skyline Fourth of July Free Fireworks at the Alder Planetarium Night Photography

From the Alder Planetarium

As I mentioned in the best places to watch the Chicago sunrise, the Alder Planetarium is a photographers dream. Located right off of Lake Michigan, you have countless opportunities to capture something spectacular. Wake up early to watch the city wake up or stay late to see the sunset behind the beautiful city skyline. In the summer months, the Alder Planetarium is the perfect place to lay out a blanket and enjoy the free firework display offered from the city.


The Golden Hour Sunset Overlooking the Bean in Millennium Park in Downtown Chicago

Millennium Park Chicago

The reflection of the Chicago skyline painted on the world famous Bean sculpture in downtown Millennium Park while watching ice skaters skating in the rink below is a wonder in its own. No matter where you walk, the city’s architecture surrounds you. Take a stroll along the Lurie Gardens and see if you can spot the John Hancock building or grab your camera and head down the BP Bridge to see catch a better glimpse of the beautiful architecture.

Have some little ones? Just head a short walk to the adjoining Maggie Daley Park. A fun little gem, that is sure to keep your kids entertained.


Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour Taxi photography

Chicago Boat Tours

See the Chicago skyline from a unique perspective from a boat!. Whether you are taking in the scenes winding down the Chicago River or enjoying a summer day on Lake Michigan, the non stop views will keep you from going overboard. One of my favorite ways to learn and see the city is through one of many Architecture Boat Tour.


hicago helicopter Experience Tour of the City Skyline during sunset photography

In a Helicopter

A helicopter tour is undoubtedly the very best way to observe the Chicago skyline together with an aerial perspective of the whole city. It is also the priciest, but it is well worth it to get an unforgettable experience.

We propose a sunset excursion since there’s nothing like watching the sunset across town. For all individuals on a budget, even a boat tour is a fantastic alternate.


Sweet Home Chicago

As mentioned above, the sites are not an exhaustive list of places to view Chicago’s skyline. They are just a few points where you can enjoy the stunning view of the beautifully architectural Chicago Skyline. You can enjoy the sunset views and get photographs to document these spots and make your trip memorable.

With a vast surfeit of attractions—the Art Institute, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, the Magnificent Mile, da Bulls, world-famous comedy (Second City), and world-famous theater (Steppenwolf, Goodman), not to forget the blues—“Sweet home Chicago” is an American city second to none.

10 Best Places for Engagement Photos in Chicago

millennium park Bean chicago engagement photography location in winter photoshoot ideas

10 Best Places for Engagement Photos in Chicago

It has finally happened, you are choosing engagement photo locations in Chicago. You and your fiancé are engaged and it is time to commemorate this memorable occasion with romantic engagement photos. The question is, where fo you begin? While scouring the internet for Chicago engagement photos, I am sure that you have come across some amazing photo locations. You have found countless couple poses and maybe a few cheesy photoshoots along the way. This can easily come as a challenge especially when you are searching for engagement photos that are truly yours. Thankfully, I compiled a list of the best places for engagement photos in Chicago.

Amy and Kyle Couple Engagement Photography Session at the BP Bridge in Millennium Park

Where to take Engagement Photos in Chicago?

Location. Location. Location. Whether you and your significant other are avid Chicago explorers, or enjoy a night of Netflix and chill, Chicago has everything you need for making your engagement photos unique. Here are some things you should take into consideration when choosing your photoshoot location.

Chicago Engagement Photography Locations Uptown Theatre Neighborhood

Your Favorite Chicago Spot

Do you have a favorite brewery where you meet for trivia night, a go-to-coffee shop that you visit so often, you should probably just work there, or your must have Chicago pizza parlor which you will argue as being the best place in the city for a slice of za? Personal spots like these are my favorite places to draw inspiration at. These are not only intimate places for a beautiful photoshoot but they are a unique locations that have a special place in your heart.

Where was Your First Date?

Relive the magic that first brought you two together. This location can be an amazing place to start. Whether it is just for a few photos for yourself, you can’t help but to feel all of the feels here.

BP Bridge millennium park chicago engagement photography

What is Your Lifestyle

Lifestyle photography is just how it sounds. What makes it so beautiful is that it is your life. My favorite engagement photo locations in Chicago are those that reflect you and your partner’s personal life. Whether you two love to sit and listen to music, dance the night away, go hiking in the woods, or enjoy taking in the city views as you walk your puppy throughout Chicago, lifestyle photos are the best ways to make your engagement pictures truly yours.

Best Chicago Locations

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for I created a list of the top 10 Best free places to take engagement photos in Chicago. Drum roll please…

millennium park Jay Pritzker Music Pavilionchicago engagement photography

Millennium Park

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602 Designed by Frank Gehry
If you are familiar with downtown Chicago, then you know what an beautiful place Millennium Park is for engagement pictures.  Everywhere you look there is an amazing photo opportunity. With the gorgeous Lurie Gardens, unique Crown Fountain, the iconic Chicago Bean reflecting the city skyline and lovely Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, Millennium Park will offer an unforgettable engagement photoshoot experience. Just incase you wanted a little bit more, take a stroll across the BP Pedestrian Bridge and make your way over to Maggie Daley Park. This location has it all.

Chicago CTA Couple Engagement Photography

CTA Station

The Chicago CTA is a staple in this city. It is a part of everyone’s life and is the glue that connects the plethora of neighborhoods together. This may not be on every couple’s engagement location list but it offers a wonderful chance for those personal, everyday photos. From waiting for a train with your partner or snuggling up with each other inside of the train, the CTA is a perfect place to capture those small moments together.

Chicago Theatre Sign Engagement Photography

Chicago Theatre Sign

175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
Designed in 1921 on the historic State Street, the Chicago Theatre sign is one of the only locations in the city that can be said to truly define Chicago. If you are taking engagement pictures at the Riverwalk, Millennium Park or any where in the city Loop, this photo spot is a must do destination for your photoshoot. 

Beautiful Couple Starting to Kiss Romantic The Art Institute of Chicago South Garden Engagement Picture Locations and White Clothing

Art Institute South Gardens

111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Just a block away from Millennium park sits the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. It is a beautiful classical Beaux-Arts building which is guarded by 2 large green lions, and carries the fond memory of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But what makes the Art Institute of Chicago such a great engagement location is the south garden designed by Dan Kiley. This hidden oasis, which key features include rows of trees, ivy grown walls and a large fountain makes this location a beautifully intimate spot for your engagement photos.

Chicago Skyline Backdrop at Fullerton Beach Engagement Pictures Best Locations for Your Photography Photoshoot

Fullerton Beach

With over 18 miles of Lakefront, there’s no wonder why Chicago has some of the best beaches in the country. Fullerton Beach has always had a special place in my heart as it is the location that I saw my first sunrise in Chicago. Located just east of Lincoln Park Zoo, it has a beautiful stretch of beach front for your photos as well as an amazing view of the skyline making this a must do location for your engagement photos.

Chicago Street Murals Engagement Photography

Chicago Street Murals

Chicago is not only an architecture mecca, it is the home of some of the best mural and street artists in the world. From Eduardo Kobra to Sentrock to JC Rivera to Hebru Brantley, the streets of Chicago has some of the most inspiring and jaw dropping pieces of art on it’s walls. No matter what neighborhood you find yourself taking your engagement photos in, there will be a unique and colorful backdrop that will make your pictures truly stand out.

Best Chicago Engagement Photo Locations Lincoln Park Pavilion by Studio Gang Architects Beautiful City Skyline for your Couple Photoshoot Photography

Lincoln Park Zoo Pavilion

2121 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
The Lincoln Park Pavilion is one of my favorite photo locations in Chicago. I might be biased since I am an architecture buff, but this intricate wooden pavilion located just south of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo offers a perfect frame of the city’s skyline. Designed by Studio Gang architects, you have countless opportunities to capture some fantastic engagement photos here.

Engagement Places for your Photoshoot Chicago Skyline at Sunset Couple Photography at the Lakefront of the Alder Planetarium photoshoot

The Alder Planetarium

1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
If you are taking engagement pictures in Chicago, then a skyline shot is a must. There is place better than the lakefront outside of the Alder Planetarium to capture the whole Chicago skyline. My favorite time to capture these shots would be an hour or so before the sunset which will give you some of the most magical shots of the city.

Chicago Engagement Photography

Chicago Riverwalk

If you live in Chicago or even just visited there’s a high chance that you have walked along the river on the Chicago Riverwalk. Over the years it has been transformed and renovated, making it a beautiful location for not only your engagement photos but to relax and enjoy a drink with your significant other. There are a lot of unique photo spots along the riverwalk, so I would just have fun and enjoy the views. 

Engagement Spots for your Pictures Chicago North Coast Skyline Couple Photography at the Lakefront of the Milton Lee Olive Park Overlook photoshoot

Milton Lee Olive Park Waterfront

E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611
This is one of my favorite hidden gems in Chicago. Just north of Navy Pier and East of Ohio Street Beach sits a little strip of land that offers some of the best views of the Chicago’s North coast skyline. There is a lot of opportunity here, from capturing lifestyle walking photos to getting beautiful couple photographs at the overlook, Milton Lee Olive Park is a perfect place for your engagement photos.

Amy and Kyle Couple Engagement Photography Session at a Chicago Pizza Parlor Location

Just Be Yourself

Chicago is a photographer’s playground. No matter where you choose for your engagement pictures, you can not go wrong with any place on this list. My advice is to not overthink it. Find a location that means something to the both of you. The key to great engagement photography is for the couple to feel comfortable in being themselves. This is a magical point of time in both of your lives and you have to enjoy it. 

Looking for a Chicago engagement photographer? Let’s work together!  Contact me here

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

And just like that, with one click of the mouse, I’m traveling to Indonesia for 2 weeks. The first question is most likely, why Indonesia? Honestly, there was not one thing that I could say that would truthfully answer that question. Of course Bali, with it’s endless beaches and countless waterfalls could be a suitable reason. Or Nusa Penida with it’s turquoise water and rugged landscape could be another. And I mean who would not want to visit Komodo Island and look into the eyes of the largest lizards in the world, the Komodo dragons. All viable explanations of why Indonesia. But I would be lying to say that these were the reasons I clicked ‘book it’.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience traveling to the world’s largest island country that is Indonesia.

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Yogyakarta the Soul of Java

Our journey started Yogyakarta. A traditional city located on the Indonesian island of Java. It was the first day and that was all it took for me to realize that I will not dare to try and drive here. It was hypnotizing seeing scooters dodge and weave their way through traffic like they were swimming through the sea. We were dropped off at our airbnb, which was a beautiful guest house that was hidden in an oasis of trees and water. Our time was limited but our priorities were straight. First indulge in street food, second explore the soul of Yogyakarta.


Prambanan Temple at Sunset Indonesia Travel

Sunset at Prambanan Temple

We only had one day in Yogyakarta and we were eager to make the best of it. Our first evening of soul searching was spent watching the sunset at Prambanan Temple. It was a immense field of ancient ruins. Watching each step, I carefully made my way through the stone remains. I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the 9th century. Walking up the steps, and overlooking the 244 Hindu temples scattered throughout the landscape as the day slowly fades away. I snapped back to reality as child screamed with laughter, running through the most beautiful architectural grave site I’ve stepped foot in.


Borobudur Temple Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at Borobudur Temple

It was 4:30 am and I was rubbing the last bit of yesterday from my eyes. I gathered my things, opened the bedroom door and walked into the darkness of the morning to meet our Grab driver. He drove us through winding roads showing us the plethora of markets that were already full of life. The car started to slow and we came to a stop at Manohara hotel. This is the only ‘official’ way to enter the world’s largest Buddhist temple Borobudur and since I did not feel like getting arrested this trip, I thought this would be our safest bet.

We walked through the entrance, paid our fee and they handed us our flashlights. We turned them on and started walking towards the soft chatters of our fellow sunrise chasers. We found the stairs and started the trek up. It was still picth black but with the faint light of the flashlights I quickly felt the immensity of this sacred site.

I waited patiently, feeling like the lights just dimmed in the theatre and you knew instantly that the show was about to begin. The rays of light broke through the horizon first as the sun quickly followed. The scene turned from pitch black to the warm colors of the morning, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I really wish that my photography did justice to this wonder of the world that is Bororbudur Temple but below is my attempt.


Bali Sunrise Indonesia Travel Photography

Bali

Bali seems to be forefront when speaking about Indonesia. It has become a consistent tourist destination for good reason. It honestly has everything for everyone. From walking along white sand beaches to swinging over a stretch of rice fields to drinking a cup of koi luwak coffee in the middle of a forest after hiking to a waterfall, it was more of a playground for me. 

Truth to be told, I could have spent a month here and still have much more to explore. With 99% less than a month in our schedule, we booked an Airbnb Tour to see as much as we could. It was worth it. Walking up to the Gate of Heaven in person, overlooking Agung, the biggest volcano in Bali, was an image I’ve seen all over instagram and blogs and now I know why. Experience. The air you soak up at Tegalalang terrace, feeling the water hitting against your face under the Tukad Cepung waterfall, or smelling the mixture of scents filling the air at a coffee plantation, makes these places you see behind a screen real. Visit Bali just once and you’ll understand this.


Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

I woke up to unfamiliar sounds on my balcony. I rolled over to see the source and to my surprise, a monkey was making itself comfortable. Then another and another joined and the next thing I knew, my friends shoe was over the edge. This was going to be a good day.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, also known as the Ubud Monkey Forest, is home to over 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. You are the visitor as you walk through this forest sanctuary that is their home. From a mother feeding their child to a group sitting watching as children performed a balinese dance, there was a humanist quality to them. It was quite captivating in a mysterious way. Although one of the warnings were not to look at them in their eye, I caught a few glances. Here are a few photographs from a stroll in their habitat.


Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is the largest of the Nusa Islands sitting just south east of Bali. If there was an image that influenced my choice to going to Indonesia it was this island. Kelingking, also known as the t-rex arm, fittingly appeared like it was preserved from the Cretaceous Period. It was lush, rugged and like a scene from a movie, enclosed a beautiful secluded beach. The hike down was somewhat challenging and some places a little sketchy, but once your feet hits the sand, surrounded by cliffs, and seeing the crystal blue water, those thoughts are quickly washed away. 

Wild and free. This was how the whole island felt. Exploring through rough terrain, sitting along endless cliffs and unwinding in the warm tropical water, all to fall asleep under a blanket of stars, that is what Nusa Penida was for me. Diamonds scattered throughout this pebble in the world, just waiting to be found.


Padar Island Flores Indonesia Travel Photography

Traveling to Komodo

Komodo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Islands in East Nusa Tenggara. It’s also known for, drumroll please, Komodo Dragons. Yes I know shocker! But these islands are the only place in the world to see them so as they say, when in Indonesia! So we hopped on a plane from Bali and headed straight to the closest town which is Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores.

Like Bali, we were extremely limited on time and so we booked an all day excursion with Bintang Komodo Tours to experience as much as we could. It did not disappoint. Starting in the early morning, a few of us set sail as the sun began to rise and arrived at the first stop which was Padar Island. The view from the top of this hike was worth everything and more. A panorama view of the landscape that looked like it was crawling out to sea. We then stopped by the famous pink sand beach (pink due to it’s Corals) and an small banana shaped island/ sand bar to snorkel and finally made our way to see the legendary lizards.


Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography

Komodo National Park

There has been a lot of talk about Komodo National Park. Mainly about tourism. It was said that they would close off the park to tourist in 2020 and just recently rumored that it will be open but at a premium cost of $1000. We were fortunate enough to make it before any drastic changes were made. Upon arriving, we were given a tour guide, explained to us the risks, and ended on a somber note of the good possibility of not seeing any dragons at all. Optimistic though, we set out and within 5 minutes, stumbled upon 6 Dragons, 3 adults and 3 babies, all in one communal area! It was a surreal moment for sure, that I will not take with a grain of salt. Encountering the worlds largest and quite deadly lizards, with saliva and remnants of blood on their face is a memory  I will hold onto.

Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography


Snorkeling with Manta Rays in Indonesia

Snorkeling in Indonesia

With over 17,000 islands comprising of Indonesia, snorkeling is a rights of passage when visiting. I have never snorkeled in my life, like really snorkeled. There may have been a few incidents when I’ve placed a snorkel mask on my face and swam around the pool looking for pennies at the bottom. But trust me nothing like this.

I still can’t quite comprehend what I saw. One day we hopped on a boat in Gilli Island and the next I was circling around an underwater sculpture, watching the array of tropical fish swimming along not taking notice or more not caring that a stranger was hovering around their neighborhood. The next time we jumped on a boat in Nusa Penida, I did the Shaka shake for my GoPro as I spilled over the side of the boat and all of a sudden an 11 ft Manta Ray came gliding above me. Lastly, on our excursion in and around Komodo Island, felt more like a grand finale. From beautiful coral, to nibbling tropical fish to sea turtles and chasing down a giant manta ray, it was quite the underwater adventure. I think I did good for my first time, if I say so myself. 


Tegalalang Rice Portrait Terrace Indonesia Travel Photography

Faces from Indonesia

You meet a lot of interesting people when you travel. From literally all ends of the world. Some faces you see for a moment and they pass, others stay with you. This trip was this trip because of people. From my friend Tyler who stuck out every second of this hectic ride, to all of the drivers, tour guides and hosts that did everything they could to make our trip the best it could be to the little girl who tried her best to teach me a little bit of the Indonesian language and laughed at my American pronunciation. this is what traveling is. This is why I love it. These are some of the faces from Indonesia.


Reflection

The main reason, the true reason that I started traveling was to wander away from my comfort zone. The first time I ventured from North America was to Iceland. That trip opened up my eyes to the beautiful possibilities the world has in stored. I was curious about the unknown but frankly I yearned to know what was beyond that hill, those houses or across that ocean. So I went. Just me. I look at myself a little bit differently after traveling solo to Scotland. You learn quite a lot about yourself when you’re alone.

But being a travel photographer persuaded many of these adventures. I chose places in which the landscapes pulled me in. I already had glimpses of myself stepping at the edge of Trolltunga in Norway or walking up the Seceda Ridge in the Dolomites of Northern Italy. I found myself in an uncharacteristic comfort zone. I got caught up with these photographic pilgrimages and I wanted to step away for one. 

I went to Indonesia to see more with my eyes and less from behind the camera. 11 flights, 10 islands and 7 boat rides later. I choose right.

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devils Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

If you mentioned rock climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park a year ago, I would look at you with a blank stare. I have previously ventured up to Wisconsin to photograph this picturesque state park but it was not until about 8 months ago that I would have known the hidden gems embedded in the nature of this park. In early of September of 2018 I got introduced to the world of rock climbing. I’ve always been intrigued in the simplicity of climbing. Watching professional climbers such as Adam Ondra or Sasha DiGiulian naturally scale up the face of a mountain is poetry in motion. Needless to say, I was quickly hooked.

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The midwest is not widely known for a mecca of outdoor climbing. In fact, if you are from Chicago and want to climb outdoors, you will most likely find yourself 3 hours away at Devils Lake State Park which is not only the largest state park in Wisconsin but also offers some of the best bouldering and climbing in the midwest. With over 1600 routes, beautiful hiking trails and quartzite rock cliffs overlooking the lake, it only seems natural that I start my exploration of rock climbing and photography here.

Camping at Mirror Lake State Park

The best part of bouldering at Devils Lake, is camping under the stars at Mirror Lake State Park and of course ordering Pizza Pub. We actually found this campsite by mere coincidence. On the first trip to climb, the Devils Lake Camp grounds were completely booked and this was recommended by park ranger. The moment we set up camp, I already knew that this is where I will be falling asleep whenever I come back up here. On a clear night, the stars light up the sky over the lake and at that moment the name Mirror Lake becomes clear. This is the perfect remedy after a hard day of climbing.

A Passion Found in Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is something else. I fell into this world unknowingly. I didn’t ask to be here but here I am and I absolutely love it. I went from not knowing what a rock climbing gym was to joining one and climbing in it 5 times a week. I remember only being able to climb for 30 minutes because the skin on my fingers were shredded to being able to climb for hours with ease. It’s therapeutic in that way. My mind shuts down all of those lingering thoughts in the back of my head and I become fully present. Climbing has shown me that growth only exists when you push yourself out of your comfort zone and welcome the unknown.

It’s a beautiful thing.

A Road Trip Through the Cities of Italy

A Road Trip Through Italy: Italian Cities

Lake Karersee Italy Travel Photography

Back from the Italian Alps

Still in a daze from the scenes the first half of my road trip through Italy in Northern Italy, we continue traveling on the open road. Living out the words to Chuck Berry’s No Particular Place to Go, we find ourselves in a flux of mountains and age-old cities of Italy. Arco, a small town north of Lake Garda with its ancient hilltop castle and mountainous backdrop was the stunning welcoming that we needed. Without thinking, we pulled over. From the second I pulled the door handle, my eyes were jumping from one scene to the next. This was the start of a new adventure.

Exploring the Italian Coast

Although, the objective is to head down the Italian Coast and make a loop back to Venice, this trip was not ruled by an agenda. We took each road, each turn, each place as it is. This is the only way I can imagine traveling for myself. It’s cliché to even type “Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.” But that is what traveling, adventure and memories are. I can share pictures of beautiful Italian destinations but what I can’t share are the laughs, the long rides, the happiness that simple conversations with strangers bear. I try to convey as much as I can through photography while at the same time, I enjoy keeping some of the most important moments to myself. Moments that I will look back on in my own time and just smile. I did that, I was there, and I will never forget this.

Lost in Italian Cities

The cities of Italy is alive through their stories, through their past. From Venice to Milan to Florence, you could close your eyes and imagine with ease walking in a time that’s not yours. A hurried Filippo Brunelleschi drifting through the streets of Florence or a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci as he adds the final brush stroke to The Last Supper in Milan. It’s hard not to get lost in your surroundings, to get soaked up in the architecture, art, nature and landscape of this beautiful land. I have never stepped on a street that felt so catalytic in the importance of history than the streets of Italy. It’s hard not to fall in love in a country like this.

Serendipity: The City of Siena

The chants of a faceless crowd finds its way through the winding, cobblestone streets of Siena, Italy. Moments later the crowd with their Contrade’s emblem banners raised in hand, marched their way around the corner. This was the celebration of the The Palio horse race. A passionate event with its origin tracing back to the 6th century. This was how Italian cities felt. Frozen in time while the rest of the world marched on.

What was important about this, was that this was never planned. We didn’t know about this city nor of this celebration that only happens twice a year. Sunset was quickly approaching and our original destination was out of reach. By chance we entered the city of Siena for the night. This was probably one of the most memorable moments of any trip that I have ever had. It wasn’t scripted, it was living in the present. It was discovering a love for a place that was waiting to be found.

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Italy

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory is an oasis tucked in the urban sheets of the city. After a pretty grueling winter, walking through the front doors you will quickly understand why this conservatory is described as “landscape art under glass”. The air seemed a little bit fresher, the light beamed a tad brighter and my mind was happier. It was my first trip here this year, and it seemed like time stood still since my last. I curiously move through each of the 8 landscape gardens, eyes moving from one exotic species of plants to another. From beautiful flowers, to towering palm trees to tropical ponds and waterfalls, the Garfield Park Conservatory is 12 acres of nature that is filled with life in Chicago.

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Macro Photography

Macro photography, or photos in general, has never been my first intention in coming here but I have always found sort or therapeutic. I see, react and just allow myself to lose myself in it. But more importantly, it forces me to enjoy each moment; The way a petal is slowly curved up, the way the rays of the sun passes through the leaves, or the way the light accentuates the colors in flowers, photography forces me to focus on the simpleness of life.

Fun Facts

  • 2.1 k plant species in growing in 8 indoor show houses and 10 outdoor acres
  • 245, 242 visitors enjoyed the conservatory in 2018
  • 28 exhibits and displays open to the public
  • It’s free
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A Road Trip Through Italy: Part 1

A Road Trip Through Italy

Traveling to Italy is simply a dream. I honestly do not even know where to begin. It’s been about a month since getting back from Italy but the winding roads, the running canals, Italian cities lost in history and the picturesque backdrops are still fresh in my mind. Ever since seeing a picture of the slopes of Seceda in the Italian Dolomites, I knew that I would be walking on that very grass to witness it for myself. With no plan in mind except to go, I booked my ticket. There’s no turning back now. This is my road trip through Italy.

Italy Travel Photography

The Floating City

Every adventure starts somewhere, and mine began in Venice, Italy. An agglomerate of land carved out by canals running through it like veins in a body. Truly the most romantic city that I have ever seen. Without a single road, you experience every twist and turn right under your feet, seeing fragments of history at every step. From San Marco Square to the Grand Canal to the singing of the gondoliers as the sun touches down, Venice was a masterpiece that surpass every expectation that I ever thought I had about it. A dream city floating on water and this was only the start.

The Pale Mountains

Located a short few hours from Venice, sits one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Dolomites are a mountain range that crowns northern Italy. A place of wild mystery and now a friend & I are about to make our way through it. The very first time seeing just a hint of the jutting rock of the Dolomites my eyes were transfixed. The jagged mountains shooting up into the sky, surrounded by rolling green hills and mirrored lakes, this was a paradise that could have only been dreamt up in fairytales.

Lago Di Braies

This was the first night in the albino rhino (which I secretly called our white Jeep). We just spent the day on the road winding our way through the Dolomites heading north toward Pragser Wildsee for the night. Arriving in a small town well past 9pm, we found the only place that was open for a meal. It was a small Hotel/ Restaurante that I wouldn’t ever have known existed if it wasn’t for our late arrival; it was posted at the end of numerous switchbacks overlooking the small, flickering city below. It was a hidden gem that was home to some of the most welcoming people but also offered one of the best meals on this trip. These are the moments that I will always stay with me.

After eating, we found our way to a small parking lot to call home for the night.  Not being a stranger to sleeping in a car I quickly got as comfortable as I could to call it a night. I laid there listening to a few passing cars but my mind was still racing with excitement. Although I could feel my body physically tired, these swimming thoughts of what was in stored for the next day won the battle for the first few hours but eventually faded.

We woke up at first light to the brisk mountain air and made our way to this little lake in the Prags valley. Lago di Braies is one of those places that I have/ you may have seen many pictures of but nothing could have prepared me for seeing this place in person. The water was still and blue, the light was just waking up and slowly finding it’s way through the surrounding mountains. There were few people up, making it beautifully quiet. This was the first time (but not the last) where these far away places that I grew up seeing pictures of weren’t so far away anymore.

The Seceda

Every oversea trip that I have ever been on has been based on one single image. Kirkjufell in Iceland, Trolltunga in Norway, Neist Point in Scotland and for Italy it was the Seceda.  These are the places that restore the childlike mentally of how simple life can truly be. These are the places that swim over you like a breath of fresh air, that revives that sense of curiosity and adventure. These are the places, that makes me believe how beautiful the world really is. I really wish I could talk more about it, but I don’t have the words. I mean the Seceda ridge line was the catalyst of this whole trip and when I first laid eyes on it, I just sat, and laughed in disbelief. A place like this actually exists.

The first leg of this trip was the most important part to me since it was the whole reason why I pushed the confirm button at checkout for my flight. I have been fortunate enough to have seen some beautiful places in my life but experiencing the Dolomites was something else. It left me speechless with a feeling that I really can’t explain. You just have to go and experience it for yourself. It’s such a beautiful place that many people do not associate when talking about Italy and maybe that’s one of the beauties of it. With every turn was a moment filled with anticipation as I could never have predicted what I would see next. Northern Italy makes you feel small and unimportant in the best possible way, washing away egos and selfishness and shines light on the world around you. Now off to the next adventure.

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through the Cities of Italy

You had me at Colorado

You had me at Colorado.

When you have Chicago in your backyard, you hike through dense city streets, breathing in the heavy air, while the sweet sounds of a car honks and everyday conversations fill your ears. You look up through the shadows and your surround by architectural mountains; while I suppose some refer to them as skyscrapers… nonetheless this is the urban landscape that I am oh so familiar with. On the other hand, it cultivated this allurement to nature, hiking, camping, traveling etc. and I find myself constantly seeking these momentary escapes in the world’s more natural landscapes.

When asked by two friends if I would be interested in shooting their engagement photos, I happily accepted. But when expressed that they would like the backdrop to be Colorado, all I could think of is ‘yes, yes and yes. I have personally never been to Colorado, well of which I could remember (I may have driven through Colorado riding in the backseat as a child at some point, but those years of my life are a little hazy.) however I have seen and heard various anecdotes of just how beautiful it is. The seed was planted and the anticipation grew instantly. Let the adventure begin.

With an average 243 sunny days a year, it’s a sort of unwritten law that you should be outside. From the beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater to the copious hiking trails to watching the sunrise above the clouds, Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise. I did not quite know what to expect but it was everything and more. It’s a place where you can get lost in yet at that exact moment feel like you were meant to be here. Oh Colorado, you are quite beautiful. Until we meet again.

When I first picked up a camera, I never knew, well how to use it but moreover, what I would do with it or where it would take me. It has allowed me to meet some amazing people, rekindle old friendships, and to see places that I never thought I’d ever step foot in. When I look back at pictures like these, I can’t help but be humble at the remarkable people and opportunities that I was given. I am sure I say this a lot but it is an important notion to recognize. I can not thank enough, these two wonderful people I’m lucky enough to call friends, for not only showing me around but letting me be apart of this special time in their lives.

 

If you like this, you will love A Road Trip Through Scotland

Day and Night

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

Day and night… bump bump… This being a product of my insomnia at 3am. A little symbolic too, days and nights become synonymous with each other. Some days I can fall right asleep at a ‘normal’ hour while other nights I toss & turn until the sun comes up. On those nights I find myself working on pictures like this to calm the mind. A day. A night. The rhythm of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.

Walt Disney Concert Hall California

If you like this, you might like my Surreal Photography