Double Exposure Surreal Self Portrait Photography

Surreal Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Surreal Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Surreal self portrait photography is a great way to explore your photo skills. I personally have learned so much from over the past years from lighting to staging to editing and posing, which I use in all aspects in photography. Taking self portraits and compositing those into different scenarios gives you so much freedom when it comes to expressing yourself and your ideas. Here are some of my tips I’ve found super useful with my own work, but first let’s get a little background in this type of photography.

Surreal self portrait photography of book and book pages creative photo ideas

What is Surreal Self Portrait Photography?

This is a type of self portrait photography with a mix of surrealism, which can be added through photo editing or creatively done in your shot. One of my favorite surreal portraits is of Salvidor Dali by Phillip Halsman. The beauty in this picture is that everything is done in camera, meaning that there was no post production in order to manipulate the final image. This just shows that creativity is more important than software no how (although both is quite a weapon).

surreal self portrait photography idea of being trapped in the woods

Seeing Double

Who does not want to see two, three, 10, 100 of you and your pretty self? Adding multiple ‘yous’ in a scene is one of the first surreal self portraits I did. This is a fun project. For this pretty much all you need is a camera, a tripod, a space and well you! A simple idea to get you started with is to just start to mess around with different poses. Set up your tripod and begin to take pictures of you in different poses. Once you have a few that you like, stack them into your photo editing software and cut your self out of each image. The final image will give you a surreal self portrait.

For this image I walked into my woods and took two photos, one where I was hugging a tree and one where I felt like I was being squeezed. I used the above technique of cutting myself out and overlapped them into one final image.

Surreal Music Self Portrait Ideas for Beginner Photographers

Explore Your Interests

When in doubt explore themes that you already love. I have always had a passion for music (listening and playing) and when brainstorming possible photography ideas, I decided to mess around with pieces in my room that I already had. This may be one of the easiest and satisfying ways to explore surreal self portrait photography. Take a second and look around your room, house, your garage, and find a few pieces that mean something to you. Now think about how they make you feel, how one may use it, or how one should not use it. Above is an example of a surreal music photography photo that I took with objects in my room.

Double Exposure Self Portraits

Double exposure self portraits is one of my favorite types of portrait photography. It is probably the easiest of them all as well. The double exposure or multiple exposure technique is one of the oldest effect that was used in photography. Basically it is exactly what it sounds like. A double exposure is combining two images (exposures) on a single image. In film cameras, one would take a photograph, in most cases a portrait. Then you would rewind the film and take another image, of a landscape, nature or cityscape which would be taken on top of the original image.

For digital images like the piece below, I overlaid a self portrait and a landscape photo I took in photoshop. I then played with the opacity & blend mode in order to obtain a final image I love.

Useful Tips

  • Sketch out some ideas first. Brainstorming is an extremely helpful way to think outside of the box.
  • Tripods are extremely helpful with creating a photo stack along with a remote timer. (You can also use the 10 second shutter that is already on your camera as well)
  • Try different poses, different objects, and different backdrops. (I often find that the idea I first imagined in my head is now how the final image ended up)
  • There is no right or wrong way. Have fun and keep pushing yourself to new ways of thinking and expressing yourself.

I would love to see some of your favorite creative self portraits! Post them with a link below!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Darien Illinois Walking

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.
Chicago Skyline Sunrise Reflection Photography Location from the Adler Planetarium

5 Best Places to See the Chicago Sunrise

5 Best Places to See the Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise

Seeing the Chicago sunrise over Lake Michigan is truly a magical experience but I do not think that it gets the appreciation that it deserves. I know, there is so much to do and not enough time. I get it, with over 77 communities, on over 234 square miles of land, Chicago is the third largest city in the America. It’s big and there is a lot to see but there are a few reasons that you should try and fit the sunrise into your next visit.

Firstly, nothing is open so you really the only thing you have to choose between is either catching a few some more z’s or catching that morning light. That may actually be a hardest decision here but trust me after seeing a few  of my sunrise photography, you won’t regret it. Next is that you can enjoy most of the places if not all without the daytime crowd. It sounds a bit cheesy but there is a sense of serenity when you are all by your self, watching the darkness turn to light, as the city slowly wakes up. And lastly, it’s free! (for the most part)

Are you ready to set your morning alarm and get out there yet? From seeing the morning rays 1000 feet high to sitting on the natural rocks off of the shore, it is truly a beautiful experience. Here are my top 5 best places to watch the sunrise in Chicago.

Chicago Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at Fullerton Beach

The sunrise at Fullerton Beach off of Lake Michigan in Chicago will always have a special place in my heart. This location was the spot in which I photographed my very first morning in the city. I have seen this lookout evolve from a rugged natural piece of the lake shore to a well manicured park, where families and friends stay to hang out.

What makes Fullerton Beach such an amazing spot to catch the sunrise is that it not only gives you a some of the most beautiful views of Lake Michigan but a unique photography shot of the Chicago skyline. The beach is located right off the Fullerton Exit on Lake Shore Dive, which is on the east side of Lincoln Park Zoo and just north of North Avenue Beach. It is quite an accessible location in which you can find free parking all along Cannon Drive. 

See the full collection here at sunrise at the lakefront

Chicago Skyline Reflection Sunrise Photography

North Avenue Beach Sunrise

North Avenue Beach lies just south of Fullerton Beach but it contains a completely different scale to Chicago’s sunrise. This is the most popular beach in the city. During the summer months it is alive with sunbathers, volleyball games and basically any activity that involves fun. In the morning, this beach is quiet and a beautiful place to watch the sunrise. Since it is located closer to the skyline, it gives you a completely different scale compared to Fullerton Beach. I also love the different opportunities for photography here. You can capture interesting photos of the famous wooden nautical boat, play with images from the adjoining bridge, or use lifeguard tower and other beach subjects to create a beautiful early morning scene.

The Chicago Sunrise at Northwestern University's Painted Rocks Lakeshore Path

Northwestern University Lakefront Path

Northwestern University is not as close to Chicago as the other spots on this list but the sunrise view is hard to beat. Located north of the city in Evanston, Northwestern University lies right off of Lake Michigan. There’s a beautiful lakefront path scattered with colorful rocks painted by the students of the university making this such a colorful spot. This is one of my favorite hidden gems for photographing the sunrise, mainly because of the unique landscape as well as the quietness of this place. You can find free parking in the surrounding neighborhoods if you don’t mind the short walk to the lake. If you are planning on visiting, bring a hammock and relax with one of the most beautiful views of Chicago.

Chicago Skyline Sunrise Photography Location at the Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium Sunrise

The Adler Planetarium is by far the best place to see the famous Chicago skyline.  Located right off of Lake Michigan, this spot gives you panorama views of the city from the Shed Aquarium to the Sears tower to Navy Pier. The best part about this spot is seeing the reflection of the city’s architecture mirrored in the lake. Add in the warm glow of the beautiful architecture of the city skyline and you have the recipe of the of the perfect Chicago sunrise. You can park all along Solidarity Dr. It is paid parking but you can get some good shots before the meter starts to charge you.

360 Chicago Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at 360 Chicago

Watching the sunrise from 360 Chicago, is that sort of experience that is truly unforgettable. This is the least accessible of the previous locations on the list, mainly because it is 1000 feet above Michigan Ave in the world renowned John Hancock building off on State street. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to a few sunrise photography meets at this observatory deck and wow. With 360 degree views of the Chicago skyline , the sunrise photo possibilities are endless.

See the Full collection at 360 Chicago Sunrise

360 Chicago Sunrise Photography

Where to Watch the Chicago Sunrise?

Every place on this list offers their own unique Chicago sunrise experience. Pick out one or honestly none of these but all that I ask is that you go and see one for yourself. I promise you that you will not regret it. It’s the little joys like this that makes life so incredibly beautiful. Seeing the morning light rising above Lake Michigan, the sky filled with colors of bright orange, yellow, and red hues reflecting on the crashing waves will always be one of my favorite moments in life. If you have any suggestions or would like to share your sunrise experience, comment below. I’d love to hear about it!

Chicago Sunrise Reflection Photography Location from the Adler Planetarium

What Time is the Sunrise in Chicago?

Check below for sunrise and sunset times


Surreal Photography of a Cloud Hot Air Balloon Flying in the Sky

Imagination Photography: Realization of Ideas

Imagination Photography

Imagination photography has played an import role in my life as a person as well as an artist. We are all born with the ability to be creative and imaginative. Some wilder than others. Some keep exercising this trait while others store it in the recess of their mind forgotten but not gone. I have been the victim of the latter. It seems as I grow older, the world takes on a more concrete impression. A chair is a chair and a tree is a tree. Photography has threw me a rope and pulled me out of that quick sand that was constantly pulling me down. I began to see the world a little bit different each day. My mind started to turn the gears of creativity and it has positively effected my mood & thinking. Imagination photography is not a specific genre, but a way of thinking.

Realization of Ideas

Last night I stood up late into the night drinking wine, woking on a photo idea. The idea I was trying to realize was of a man in a hot air balloon riding through the sky. But here’s the twist. Instead of a balloon, he ’s floating with the aid of a cloud. 

An idea of shedding the weight that we constantly walk around with, and just letting go. An idea of taking your hands off the steering wheel, sitting back and enjoying the ride. An idea of exploring what actually excites your curiosity instead of what you feel like you should be doing. A play off of Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” intertwined with Emerson’s “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I don’t know if it was the cheap bottle of wine but I really enjoyed creating this but mostly just thinking about this.

Listen to Your Mind

This past month, or so I had more free time to listen to my mind. I feel like it’s quite loud for the quietness of my appearance. I am an introvert. I enjoy my alone time and living in my own little bubble. But I realize that I have to sift through the stream of everyday thoughts that are constantly flowing through my head. While sifting, I recently uncovered an exercise that I really acting on. It is the realization of ideas. Taking a thought and seeing it with my eyes through photography and digital editing.

Surreal photography manipulation has always been a passion of mine. Creating something out of nothing is a powerful feeling. It’s a freeing, satisfying experience to personally be able to bring to life what you pictured in your mind. I’m thankful for that. I want to try and incorporate this in more aspects of my life other than photography. Imagination is often a road less traveled, which is a wonderful situation for an introvert like myself.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

― Albert Einstein

Surreal Photography of a Cloud Hot Air Balloon Flying in the Sky

Dream Often Graphic Writing at the Lincoln Park Conservatory Chicago Photography

A Walk in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory

Photographing the ancient ferns at the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago Illinois

A Walk in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory

Sometimes you just need to go for a walk and think. I did. I surrounded myself with the wildness of the Lincoln Park Conservatory in Chicago, a small nature filled arena encapsulated in a city of architecture and density. Walking through the doors, I was quickly hit with a wave of humidity. Quite the contrast to the winter weather outside, my lens instinctively began to fog up. I began wiping the sweat off of my lens but to hardly any prevail. Nonetheless, the mixture of light and a thin layer of cloudiness gave a magical effect that I didn’t find out until I got home. Stay wild.

These photographs and words below coincide with each other. Although they may be diverse visually and linguistically, they are all tied together by the same string.


Not everyday is created equal.

There are days you cannot be stopped
And days which require more strength to get through.

There are days that are filled with brightness which cast a light
those that are engulfed in darkness.

Not everyday is created equal.

I enjoy the days where I’m all alone in the middle of I don’t know where
as much as I relish the ones where I’m surrounded by a school strangers in
Millennium Park on a Sunday afternoon.

I find peace in those deep breathes in.
And cannot live without those days that leave you breathless.

Not everyday is created equal.

There’s apprehension that builds up with a lost of control
And a beauty rises in being lost.

Soak in the highs
And understand the lows

Appreciate not knowing.

because

Not everyday is created equal.

Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

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 Devils Lake State Park

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.

Manarola Italy Travel Photography

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 Garfield Park Conservatory

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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Chicago Sunrise Photography

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