Sunday, February 01, 2009

Starved Rock - a field trip

As much as I enjoy my job and the interesting experiences it offers, it sure does cramp my style. Since moving to Chicago I've had the opportunity to shoot with a photography group a couple of times, but have had to miss several cool photowalks due to work. But yesterday I was free and able to join a group out at Starved Rock State Park near Utica, IL, about 90 min south-west of Chicago. While everyone else brought their big glass to shoot (in the photography sense, of course) the bald eagles that flock to the area in the coldest days of winter, I focused on the people and landscape instead, shooting solely in manual mode to work on my technical skills of exposure. Clear blue skies and warm temps (relatively speaking) in the upper 30's made it a wonderful day to be outside shooting with others who love to shoot. Although I enjoy going out on my own with no agenda, it's great fun to be with other photogs who talk shop, share tips and are willing subjects.

We got out of the city a little later than planned due to a dead battery. A taxi was kind enough to give us a jump (we gave him 5 bucks).
Little boys everywhere, watching the eagles and sharing information with their fellow Boy Scouts & "God Squad" members. This one shared his Skittles with me. This one had a mouth full of Starburst.
The walk through the woods was gorgeous. Fellow shooters bearing all their gear.
Quality telephoto lenses can cost minimum $6000 so several people rented them for the weekend ($75/weekend is much cheaper). Although I would've liked to snag an eagle shot, I just wasn't willing to risk the liability of renting one of those puppies and having something happen, not to mention the anxiety I'd have about carrying a ginormous lens around the ice and snow. Every now and again I'd turn around to find one of these (or several) staring at me.

Fellow shooters Marla, Kevin, Charlie, Ed, Gerard & Bill. (A group shot here. We laughed when realizing that despite the $40k+ in fancy camera gear among us, the group shot was taken with a good ol' point & shoot camera)

We drove around to several places trying to get close to the eagles in different settings, often as they swooped down to catch fish. Well, the others did that, I worked on getting my exposure right for the bright snow. Not an easy task, let me tell you!

On our way out of the park we passed an old abandoned barn that was worth the trek through the powdery snow to take a peek in.

You can see a selection of eagle photos by some of the others in the group here, here, here and here. So majestic and beautiful!


Abby... the Oregonian said...

did you ever think you would say, "temps in the high 30's, a wonderful day to be outside!?" love the pictures kelly and love your adventures. talk to you tom. a

Kellyry said...

Funny you should ask that Ab, because every time I say "It was warm today!" and say the temperature (when it's in the 20's & 30's) I have to laugh how quickly those temps DO feel warm compared to the sub-zero/crazy-wind-chill temps. I even ditched my coat at one point in the afternoon, I was actually sweating with it on. Crazy!

Molly W. said...

Uber cool post Kels. Love the shot of the little boy w/ the amazing blue eyes (of course the shot of the kid is the one I'm drawn too :)). I think the pic of everyone taking pics is super fun and cool looking too. Holy cow that lens is huge!! Glad you had a fun time, friend.

Michelle said...

I want to LIVE here!