Photo Time! Brookfield Zoo

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img_4646This weekend, I paid a visit to Chicagoland’s other zoo: Brookfield Zoo. About 4 times the size of Lincoln Park Zoo, it’s tucked away in the suburb of Brookfield, which is easily accessible, and when I say “easily accessible,” I mean you can get there, but you’re going to sit in traffic, even on a Saturday.

I got pictures, but none that seriously wowed me. I also learned that part of the issue I’ve had since getting my gorgeous new camera is that my SD card is too slow, so I’m not getting the full benefit of the burst. That will be remedied before I go on my trip, which I’ll be talking about later on in the week.

Though it was a lovely day, and the zoo not outrageously crowded, there was just something flatter to me about Brookfield Zoo. Sheds were faded with the paint peeling; the abundant gift shops felt halfhearted and uninspired. The light inside the animal houses was also pretty dim.

You might, if you read regularly, know my concerns about zoos, but I’ll say this: the animals all looked like they were plush versions of themselves, like a menagerie of children’s toys brought to life. Even the rhino seemed like he’d been plucked from the shelf.

Albeit a very large shelf.

Anyway, you’re not here for the words, you want to see some photos, so here we go!

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Condors. Huge doesn’t begin to describe them.

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This one knew what it was doing, and showed off its wingspan. ENORMOUS.

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People actually fed these small monkeys, who were not fenced off from us at all. Don’t feed the animals!

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Speaking of huge, this bison was shockingly large. And people are approaching them at Yellowstone?! UHHH…

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I mean don’t they look like you could have picked them up at the gift shop?

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Why yes, that IS a dead mouse these two American Bald Eagles are about to enjoy.

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I think this grizzly is soon to be featured in a shampoo commercial.

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Even the camel looked fluffy. Though she wasn’t named Alexander Camelton, like the new baby camel at Lincoln Park.

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Please go back to the mouse, eagle.

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There were two baby gorillas, but the mom of the little one did not like pictures.

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Photo Time! Lincoln Park Zoo (Again)

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Well, a change of plans and an extremely crowded Michigan Avenue — three parking garages attempted, three parking garages full — resulted in another trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This time I hung out with the small monkeys, as well as some of the great apes, but I didn’t get super awesome pictures of the great apes.

One came right to the glass of the outdoor enclosure, it was pretty incredible. But the glass was really reflective. I got an OK pic from the little camera, though, and I’ll post that.

Some of the monkeys seemed to get that they were in nicely-appointed prisons, and looked depressed. The lighting was low there, though, and I didn’t get any usable photos.

Others seemed to realize that a quiet life with food-on-demand and without predators isn’t so bad, and were as interested in us as we were in them. So here are some pictures!

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This is a pied tamarin, but I think it’s a bat-faced monkey who is half-bat-half-monkey created when a witch cursed a monkey. I’m sure it’s very nice, though.

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So the black monkey was sleeping on the branch, and the golden one clearly wanted the other one to wake up. No dice.

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I was taking a photo of the lemur on the right, and the other one was looking away. I SWEAR the one on the right nudged the one on the left, as if to say “Hey! Photo!” and the left one looked around until it found my camera. They stopped short of asking me to tag them.

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Mom and baby, proving that goofiness is, in fact, genetic.

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The underground viewing area for the seal/sea lion pool.

 

 

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Baby zebra!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now from the little camera:

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Super reflective. That’s me in the striped shirt, reflected twice.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time! Independence Grove Forest Preserve

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A reminder: I will be doing a Q&A tomorrow at noon Central U.S. time for Comedy Book Week on Facebook, of all places! Come hang out, ask questions, and take a stab at the fun contest, which will be live later today. I’ll update this post with the link. Here it is! Can you define the word I made up? Come play!

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Another day trip, another round of photos! I really got some beauties. It was a completely new place for me, the Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Lake County Illinois. It’s got a beach and a marina, and it’s just a lovely, lovely place. So much green!

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Photo Time: Chicago Botanic Garden or FLOWERS! FLOWERS! FLOWERS!

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IMG_1295A visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden on a gorgeous Saturday yielded some nice shots, and I got a chance to play with the little point-and-shoot in a natural environment. Though in past visits to the Garden, the birds were generously cooperative, they were less so this time.

I heard them, oh, did I hear them, but I couldn’t spot them. I don’t think I’d make a good birder.

Though I enjoy trying to find them. Except when I don’t. Find them, that is.

Gardens are beautiful places, but they also have their mystery, with dark little corners, curious animals, spots for hiding. They can be a great source of writing inspiration, though for me, on this particular trip, no sparks were sparked. But there’s always the possibility of looking back at the photos and seeing something in them you didn’t see before.

 

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Oh formatting. Sorry, I can never get the photos to go where I want them.

And now for some of the pictures from the little camera. I played with the single color function again, and found the results really interesting.

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I used the “vivid” function or something to that effect, and it did increase the color saturation, I think.

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The miniaturization filter strikes again! I think it works, as long as there are some man-made elements.

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In case you couldn’t guess, I used the filter to emphasize the purple. It was the truest color of the color filters I tried; these petunias are definitely purple.

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These are the same begonias as the other ones, isolated for red.

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The begonias isolated for orange.

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I think the yellow is the most successful in this experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Shooting at the Shedd

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I swear this stingray was smiling for the camera. I think this may be my favorite picture ever.

I spent half of the Fourth of July being exquisitely lazy, and then the other half with an impromptu trip to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. And I have pictures!

Not of the lazy part, that would be pretty boring, I think.

My absolute favorite part of the day? When looking at a tank with sea horses and clown fish, a woman said “look, there’s Nemo!”

Her friend replied, “Where? I’ve been looking for Nemo all day!”

I couldn’t resist. I turned around and said, “So, technically, you’ve been spending the day Finding Nemo?”

Yep, I know, hypothetical reader. I’m a riot.

I wanted to see how the little point-and-shoot did with the fish underwater, and the answer to that was eh. But it definitely has some pluses, and hopefully it will do well when actually submerged in water, which is why I got it in the first place.

So most of the pictures will be from my real camera…there’s just no beating a DSLR and a good lens.

The Shedd opened in 1930, and like the Field Museum and Adler Planetarium on the same campus, the aquarium was, in essence, a gift to Chicago from one of its most successful citizens, John G. Shedd. Interestingly, Shedd started as a stock boy at Marshall Field’s and ended up running the company, and in 1924, donated $2 million to start the project.

You can still see some of the old-style exhibition halls, but now the Shedd has expanded to include an Oceanarium, a wild reef exhibit with sharks, and a 4D experience theater.

What’s that, hypothetical reader? Stop playing tour guide and show us some pictures already?

Oh yeah. Right.

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This bird in the Amazon Rainforest exhibit had the most enormous feet.

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I played with exposure with this one. At a larger size, the purple pops.

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And now for the ones with the little camera:

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The tank that inspired the Finding Nemo joke.

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This entire floor of the parking garage was closed. It wasn’t remotely creepy.

 

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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More Fun with the Point-and-Shoot

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So I spent some more time playing with the point-and-shoot camera. It absolutely won’t replace my DSLR anytime soon…that butterfly pic could have been amazing if I had what I call my “real camera,” versus OK with the little one. The landscape there with the lakefront isn’t as sharp as I would like. Overall there is a softness to the focus I don’t love, but it was a really reasonably-priced point-and-shoot, with the added bonus of being waterproof.

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But the filters absolutely make up for any shortcomings the little camera may have. You know how you all told me you thought the miniaturizing filter worked? Well, you were right! Especially, I learned, when I managed to get some height. I thought these were so fun.

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The effect is really pretty amazing.

I’m kind of thinking of the point-and-shoot as another lens that doesn’t need changing. It may not be my go-to lens, and it may not give me the best results under all conditions, but it’s still an awfully fun thing to have in my camera bag.

So that’s Monday! What’s that, hypothetical reader? You noticed I got through this entire post and didn’t mention writing once?

Really? You noticed that?

Hmm.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Celebrity Cars, Filters and Photography

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Ting! Used a sparkle filter for this picture of Greased Lightning from…well…Grease.

Pictures today! For Father’s Day (a belated happy one to all the dads out there!) I went with my parents to the Volo Auto Museum. About an hour outside of Chicago, it’s packed with all kinds of cars, from early ones to classics to props from movies. There’s also an antiques mall, with one building that is said to be haunted.

If you’re in the market for a classic car, there are rooms of them, gorgeously restored, for sale.

I went with my trusty SLR, and armed with a new small point-and-shoot I got because it can take underwater pictures.

I’ll need that for a trip I’ll be taking, but we’ll chat about that another day.

A blast was had with the point-and-shoot, as it offers a range of filters. It’s like on-board Photoshop. It has its limitations — as far as that type of camera goes, it wasn’t a really expensive one, and I’m not completely thrilled with the sharpness in the lighting conditions, but cars were the perfect subject matter to test some of the more playful features.

So here are the pictures from what I will call my little camera. (it is VERY little). And off we go!

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Here’s that star effect again…TING!

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This filter makes everything black & white but one color.

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The filter here intensifies the colors…I love the lurid car poster feel.

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This one is supposed to make it look as though it’s a miniature. What do you think?

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Same filter as the red, but with yellow.

 

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I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts!

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As you can see, the Flux Capacitor is in full-working condition.

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And from my “real” camera:

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I found this locomotive…ON WHEELS…just as the museum was closing.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Random Photos for Tuesday

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Though he looks like an ox,this guy is a goat. A very, very large goat.

IMG_0117As I’m waiting for the miracle of coffee to kick in, I’m sitting here, window open, a slightly damp light breeze coming through. I think it’s going to rain.

This morning is quiet, no banging from the units beyond, no horns or sirens from the streets. Just the quiet drone of cars, and the occasional roar of a motorcycle.

Why do motorcycles have to roar?

Anyway, I’m trying to get my brain out of first gear, but the clutch is stuck. So let’s do some random photos instead!

Some of the zoo pictures I never posted, other pictures, whatever catches my eye from my very deep hard drive. We’ll find out which pictures those are together!

Sorry for any weird formatting of the photos, they’re not cooperating. So they’re not in any particular order.

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This one was sitting right by the glass inside. But when the building closed he came outside where the people were.

This one was sitting right by the glass inside. But when the building closed he came outside where the people were.

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This gorilla made me sad. The zoo gorillas often make me sad.

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Playing Hooky by the Rules: Photographic Evidence

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The rules of hooky are simple: avoid all tasks on the to-do list. Enjoy day. Repeat as needed.

So yesterday I ditched everything I should have been doing, and went for Ethiopian food at Chicago’s Ethiopian Diamond restaurant. The pics right there are from their website, which isn’t totally functioning, so I’m not linking, but it gives you an idea of what the food is like.

I was so excited to dig in, I completely forgot to take a picture for everyone. We didn’t do dessert — I actually came home with a to-go box that must have weighed six pounds (it doesn’t anymore!) — but you can see how the food comes on one giant patter, resting on a base of Ethiopian bread, which is called injera.

The injera is soft and spongy, and is tangily-sour. It’s adds a layer of flavor as you use it as a utensil to grab the fragrant stewy food.

My favorites are the vegetarian dishes, though I’m not a vegetarian. But the meats are also wonderful. While the end results can appear similar, every dish has a distinct flavor, but the spices never overwhelm the ingredients. Some can be very spicy, so watch it if you’re not into heat!

After lunch I headed over to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I broke out my trusty camera. I have mixed feelings about zoos, as I understand their purpose in terms of conservation, but some of the animals just seem so depressed.

Lincoln Park Zoo is just north of downtown Chicago, and it’s free. It opened in 1868, and some of the structures still have that look of animal jails, with the tiny exhibition spaces. But with extensive remodeling in recent years, animals are getting bigger and more natural habitats.

It’s still a zoo, though.

Sometime between 1897-1924. I think that bear is considering whether it can clear that jump.

We focused (ha!) mostly on birds this trip, and they, at least, seemed pretty contented with their lots in life. There was one open room of tropical birds, and they seemed to enjoy the interaction with visitors.

In fact, I’d swear they took turns making sure they had their pictures taken.

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A family! Not sure what they are…

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Wasn’t sorry there was a fence between me and this vulture.

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This little green guy looked like a cartoon character.

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Check out those skinny, skinny , skinny legs and that skinny, skinny beak!

 

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Just love this guy’s swagger.

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This bird had the most amazing scarlet under its wings.

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I’m convinced the snowy owl was the inspiration for the dragon’s face in The Never Ending Story.

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These flamingos made me giggle. There’s such humor in the angle of their beaks.

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In contrast to this ostrich, who had had. E. Nough.

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This bird was such a friendly cutie, it let an 18-month old get super close before finally flying away.

We’ll save the other animals for another day. I hope you enjoyed your vicarious zoo visit!
Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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L is Little Today. And Lake. Mostly Little Though.

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So for L I’m doing a little post. As in little text, since here in the middle of the alphabet I’m getting a little fatigued from blogging and you’re probably getting a little fatigued from reading. And I’ll throw in some of my pictures of the lake, which is anything but little! IMG_8132

I mean, could the lake be more gorgeous? You are correct. No it could not.

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So ready for summer to come back.

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Sometimes it’s difficult to believe if you just turn around, there’s a huge city right there. Can’t use “little” to describe Chicago! Or can you? Probably not. But let me know if you can think of something.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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