First Light A Chicago Sunrise

‘Twas the morning before Christmas and all through Chicago, the lakefront was silent apart from the waves below. (I know, I know, I’m quite the gifted wordsmith.)

My eyes slowly opened to the alarm I instantly regretted setting just a few hours ago. It was Christmas Eve morning but the view outside of my window begged to differ. I hazily grabbed my camera bag and stumbled out of my apartment which was still enclosed in the shade of night. Like the every previous time I chased the sunrise, the first 10 minutes being awake I contemplated turning around to the dream of falling back into the comfort of my own bed but how many moments worth remembering started off like that? (rhetorical question…I’m sure many.) Shaking out the cobwebs, I pressed on to my favorite place to watch the sunrise on the lakefront.

It’s always that moment just before the sun rises above the horizon, where the warming hues spill its way through the sky that keeps me forever in awe. Seeing how beautiful the start of a day can be seemed like a fitting way to end off the year. It’s like they say what feels like an end is often a new beginning.

Where to can you watch the sunrise? Click Here to see my favorite Chicago Spots

If you like this, you will love 360 Chicago Sunrise

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

The Blackstone Hotel in Chicago

The Blackstone Hotel in Chicago

The Blackstone Hotel in the heart of downtown Chicago may be one of the most historic staples in the fabric of the city. Walking down Michigan Ave, you’re bound to notice a few of Chicago’s most architecturally significant buildings. From the Wrigley Building to the Tribune Tower to the John Hancock Center, but if you head a little bit south there is an unmistakable mansard roof peaking above the skyline.

I was fortunate to have been able to spend a night at the historic Blackstone Hotel last month. The home of the original “smoke filled room”, today it’s a mix of historical, modernism that you can not help but wonder about the stories that were written inside of these walls. Opening the door to my room I was immediately welcomed with sunlight reflecting off the marble floor as well as their signature KOVAL bourbon waiting to be poured. It was a luxurious room that I never wanted to leave. I found myself sketching behind a desk during the day, watching the city lights at night and waking up to the sunrise over Lake Michigan in the morning. Although my time here was only for a night, it was a wonderful experience that I would not trade for the world.

Chicago Fall Photography

Where is the Blackstone Hotel?

The Blackstone Hotel is located in downtown Chicago at 636 South Michigan Avenue. It is situated at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Balbo Drive in the center of the Michigan Boulevard Historic District. Just a few steps away Buckingham Fountain and across from Grant park, this may be one of the most beautifully located hotels in Chicago.

Where is the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago Map Grant Park Lollapalooza

The Historic Architecture

Inside the Blackstone Hotel

Inside of this architectural icon are stories from Chicago’s past and yet a contemporary and chic environment. This luxurious 335 room hotel is updated for all of your needs with modern amenities (not to mention the marble bathrooms, craft cocktails, stunning views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park) that you can’t help but feel like you are in a luxurious paradise. From your first steps into the lobby to the last steps into your breathtaking room, the Blackstone hotel is a stay I will never forget.

Outside of the Blackstone Hotel

Located in the heart of Chicago, on one of the most vibrant streets, you immediately feel like you have the whole city in the palm of your hands. Just looking out the window to the mind blowing view of Grant Park made me want to grab my camera and just go. And so I did.

The streets were alive, Grant Park was preparing itself for summer and the tulips scattered throughout Chicago sprang to life. I don’t live in Chicago, but I’m here quite often. I usually drive up here, park and either walk or take the CTA to get around the city.  But this time, I found myself walking for the entire day, never once worrying about what time it was or when I should leave. I was free to just enjoy the city… just me and my camera.  This was a convenience I never once thought I’d appreciate until my stay at the Blackstone.

This was simply an amazing opportunity that I’m for ever humble to have experienced. Below are a few of my favorite pictures I have ever taken and it is all due to everyone at Blackstone Hotel. A big thanks for letting me be apart of the heart that beats the city. This was one of the most relaxing days that I’ve ever had and now I have a new favorite hotel. Until next time, and trust me, there will be a next time.

Interesting Facts of the Day:

  • The Blackstone Hotel opened its doors on my birthday April 6th, 1910 (I wasn’t born in 1910)
  • It attracted everyone from Teddy Roosevelt, the Rockefellers, to Nat King Cole and Al Capone.
  • The Blackstone Hotel was declared a historic landmark in 1998.

If you like this, you might like 360 Chicago Sunrise

Sunrise at the Lakefront

Chicago Lakefront | Sunrise

Photography has led me down on an array of unpredictable paths thus far. It has sent my curiosity on adventures across the world, has kept my mind awake as I drove through the night across the country and has me constantly exploring every aspect of Chicago. This seed of curiosity has always existed, but photography has this uncanny ability to push and drive a person. In this case, the person is me.

My First Time…

The first time I have ever felt this push was on an early Sunday morning. It felt like yesterday (This is definitely the first sign of me sounding old right? Next I’ll be saying “Back in my day we had to listen to music on compact discs…) that I woke up to my 5 am alarm. A difficult feat for a person that usually falls asleep at 2 am, but nonetheless I was determined to see my first ever Chicago sunrise. Still in a daze, I grabbed my camera, tripod and made my way to Dunkin Donuts because well yeah. Once I was able to think again, I made my way to Chicago.

Being my first sunrise, I did not have a clue on where I should go nor did I think of simply googling “where to see the sunrise”. As I was brainstorming possible locations, I found myself on autopilot to a little stretch of the lake shore in Lincoln Park. The Fullerton Beach has always a favorite spot of mine during the day. It had it all; a skyline view, a beach, an endless view of Lake Michigan and my personal favorite, a rocky coast. At around 6:30 am, a warm glow began to spill over the horizon. I was completely alone on this little oasis outside of the city and had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. It was surreal. Ever since that day, photography pushes me to not only wake up, but to continually chase, see and soak in more of these beautiful displays. Although, these pictures are not from this story, I come back to this spot often and think about this day every time I watch a sunrise here. (they updated this location from when I first came here but you can still see the remnants of the rocky coast that I so much enjoyed)

A sunrise is the most honest moment I have ever seen.

I think we all have that place where you can sit without any of the worry and noise of your life, and just… be. This little strip of the lakefront is mine.

Want to see a photo from this story? See my first Chicago Sunrise Here >


If you like this, you might like Natural Moments in Chicago >

 

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A Road Trip Through Scotland II

Scotland

I feel like I should ramble some more about a trip that I took a some weeks ago. If you haven’t seen my last post, you can read it (or just look at the pictures) here at A Road Trip Through Scotland. But I’ll just give you a brief in-depth summary now. Went to Scotland. Enjoyed Glasgow. Rented a car. Saw pretty things and now I’m here. Ok, I hope I didn’t lose you yet. I’ll start off like I started off last time, the reason why I first wanted to see Scotland was because of Neist Point. The little sea cliff that I loved so much I had to go back the next morning.

The Isles of Skye

The Isles of Skye (from the old Norse sky-a, meaning ‘cloud island’) was filled with remarkable natural sights. The Isles’ rugged sea cliffs, and mountainous scenary sparked with life at every turn. The dark jagged basalt appeared to be breaking through the ground, forming the natural landscape of this island. It’s the home to some of the most beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to experience such as Neist Point, the Quiraing, Fairy Glen, the Old Man of Storr and much more. I spent about two and half days here but could have easily spent a lot longer. Pictures just do not do the Isles of Skye justice, but hey I tried.

A map, a car, a camera and the road

Its the not the Destination, It’s the journey.’ Yes, very cliché I know. A phrase that I have heard so many times that I tend to forget it’s true value.

When I began planning for Scotland, I did what most people tend to do. I googled places to see in Scotland. And of course, I find plethora of beautiful photographs of castles, waterfalls, landscapes, cities and honestly thats great. I made it a point to see a lot of these places but some of my most memorable moments and favorite photographs are of those that you can not find on google or Pinterest. I believe it’s because these are my personal experiences. These are the places that I choose to stop at because they incited my curiosity. We all have our own stories and the ones who have experienced these well known places, share the same sort of paragraph in their story (If that makes any sense). But those places in between are what makes everyones story unique and different. And that’s a beautiful thing. Here are a few paragraphs from my story.

From Edinburgh to Glasgow

Other than Scotland’s natural beauty, it is home to a rich history. I felt like everywhere I turned, I was surrounded by stories of the past. From castles to cobble stone roads to cathedrals and cemeteries, exploring these places made me feel like a kid again. Honestly, all I could do was try to soak in as much information that I could, and I am still trying to process everything that I saw. Edinburgh and Glasgow, although somewhat opposite, will remain very close to my heart. These are cities that I saw the sun disappear in and shedding light the next. I felt at home here. This was truly an unbelievable experience, that I would not have changed one moment of. Until next time Scotland and thank you for your hospitality but most importantly, thank you for changing my life for the better.

Food For Thought

I’ve been asked by a few people how traveling alone was so I thought I’d share my experience of it. When I first thought about traveling alone, in all honestly I was terrified of. I mean the very idea of not knowing where you are let alone, anyone you know is quite frightening. I was clouded with ideas of everything that could go wrong but I’ve always dreamed of someday of taking an prolong road trip and just traveling. If I ever wanted to do this I knew at some point that I would have to be comfortable traveling alone. So I took a chance, sucked it up, swallowed my fears and decided to go to Scotland solo.

Preparing for this involved in constant researching on other’s experiences as well and a few solo overnight trips to dip my toes into. I learned a lot from South Dakota and the Upper Peninsula, such as what were my necessities and what I could do without i.e less is more. But most importantly I learned how to be comfortable being by myself (which was a little hard because I could be very talkative to myself).

What I took out of this experience was an indescribable experience. Some may think that it will be lonely, but this was far from that case. Photography and the mystery of being somewhere new, preoccupied my mind to the point that I did not even grasp the idea that I was alone. There are moments where your initial fear resurfaces but it’s quickly put to rest once you recognize where you are, and that the world is not as scary as you imaged. The most exciting part about traveling alone is that your flying first hand outside of your comfort zone, igniting that flame of curiosity and wonder. And you realize how exciting life can be again.

I feel like every trip that I take I always end it by saying that I learned a lot about myself and so on. And Scotland was no different. Everything thing that I have learned in the past, I have applied to the present which only opens another door of lessons to face. Life is a learning experience that everyone is trying to master. But the beauty lies in each person’s pursuit of it.

Get Adventurous at my Print Shop Here

A Road Trip Through Scotland

Scotland

A few weeks ago I embarked on an 8 day adventure to the most northerly part of the United Kingdom. Scotland. My interest was first sparked by a little light house carving it’s way out towards the sea. After finding out that this place truly does exist, I knew I had to see it. So I went. The first few days were filled with awe while wandering from Glasgow north towards the Isle of Skye. It still feels like I wandered into someone else’s dream. Here’s are a few snippets of that adventure in no particular order at all.

Neist Point

Neist Point Lighthouse sits on a rocky cliff-top in the most westerly part of the Isles of Skye. Being the reason for visiting Scotland, I think I unknowingly built up such a high expectation that I feared that I may be disappointed. But those thoughts quickly faded the second I heard the waves crashing against the shore. I never thought in my wildest of dreams that I would find myself traveling solo, 3,500+ miles from home, watching the sun set at a place like this. At Neist Point.

A map, a car, a camera and the road.

Scotland awaits. But first I have to get used to this whole driving on the opposite side of the road thing. After one mistake, I quickly became a natural. When planning this trip, I had this crazy idea. What if I drove around with no particular place to go and just enjoy the country. (I know, it was a pretty intricate plan) There were a few places I wanted to see but I basically wanted to enjoy everything that was in between. Scotland is a magical place. It’s a place where you often find yourself lost in the moment. But I’ll stop now before I start sounding like a Disney sponsored post.

Glasgow

This was my first time traveling solo and Glasgow was the place that would first greet me to Scotland. It was a warm welcome indeed. It’s a beautifully, eclectic city. A mixture of stories and those waiting to be told. I was quickly immersed in the city but could not help but notice familiar scenes. Joggers running along the river. Kids playing int the park, Streets filled with people going on with their day. Stopping to listen to a musician that I heard passing by. It reminded me of home. Walking through Kelvingrove Park I had a moment where I saw myself living here. Who knows this may be one of those stories waiting to be told.

 

Food For Thought

  • Your curiosity outweighs your fear.
  • Don’t buy a can of soup when you don’t have a can opener.
  • A saved digital map can help you plan the next day.
  • Buy more than bread and cereal just incase you lose your credit card the first night. (This may be a tip just for me)
  • The internet isn’t all that important.
  • How to open up a can of soup with a box cutter.

 


Get Adventurous at my Print Shop Here

Road Trip to the Black Hills

Badlands Road Trip

Chicago Sunrise

Chicago Sunrise

There’s nothing like seeing the sun rise over Lake Michigan. The sun slowly shedding light over Chicago as the city begins to wake up. The Fullerton Avenue Beach has always been one my favorite places to not only see the sunrise but the views it offers of the city are simply stunning. It used to be quite rugged & natural and I think that is why I liked it so much. It disassociated itself from Chicago. I would see the rocky lakefront and completely forget where I was. There are still remnants of these urban boulders breaking through the water reminding me of when I first came here. Now concrete slabs cover the ground where rocks once laid but the sun still shines the same way.

Niagara Falls Travel

Niagara Falls Travel Photography

Niagara Falls. Three powerful waterfalls that are the very seam that separates the United States and Canada. I remember stories of people plunging over the waterfall in nothing but a barrel. Stories that built a reputation of a sort wonder of the world. I mean it’s Niagara Falls. Sometimes there’s places that I’ve seen countless pictures of and then when I get there, it’s like I’ve never seen it until I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I will never forget my first visit to Niagara Falls; my first spontaneous trip. It was the first time I decided to just get in my car and drive and it was the match that sparked my desire to travel & adventure. Like the first, we drove throughout the night arriving as day broke. Walking towards the falls I could already feel it in the air; the mere power that pushes it’s mist, spreading, meeting me up at the end of the street.  And then I see it and it’s as if I’ve never seen it before. I notice these small moments that I have never seen in photographs. The moment when the water returns to the Niagara River as if the the waterfall was a mere pebble in the road. Seagulls quietly float through the air just to dance in front of the waterfall.

These are the moments that is Niagara Falls for me.

 

See more Niagara Falls Travel Photography Here >