Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express

The mini Chicago display.
The 2014 Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express is going on right now till January 4 2015. It showcases model trains going around a model of downtown Chicago and parts of Evanston and Glencoe Illinois.

The houses in Chicago.
The event is filled with handmade landscapes from plant material. Pretty much most of the building are created by putting twigs together. The landscapes are breathtaking especially if you have experienced scale modeling.

Glencoe Metra Station.
Every year I have always brought my trusty 6D with my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM. For sceneries like this especially if you need to reach hard to reach areas, you need the most reach that you can get. 200mm, is perfect. And instead of bringing a wide angle lens for wide shots, I instead brought my Canon G15 with me. The ability to shoot raw in low light sceneries like this combined with a maximum f-stop of 1.8, the G15 is priceless.


The display is great, especially for kids. The night that we were there, the kids outnumbered the adults. Kids love displays like these. There's a sheet that you get at the beginning of the exhibit and you'd have to find the little penguins that are scattered around the area. You'd find them standing in front of the buildings, and you mark your sheet where you find them. Kids have a good time doing that.

The famous Bell tower at Chicago Botanic Garden.

One of my favorite displays is the Evanston/Glencoe area where they have the dioramas for the Evanston National Hospital that has some trivia in the information next to it. It also has the Glencoe station near the Ravinia festival. Of course, the Chicago Botanic Garden display is detailed down to the entrance up to the Bell Tower.

Lighthouse on Lake Michigan.
There were trains going around everywhere. Some of them even go above your head. The cool thing about them is that the operators are walking around everywhere ready to give you information about a particular area that you want to know about.

The 4th Presbyterian Church.

The event does provide cookies and hot chocolate to the visitors. So if you are feeling hungry make sure to stop over to keep yourself full and warm.

Rockefeller Chapel.

One of the little penguins you find at the exhibit.

One of the trains.

The Field Museum.

Wrigley Building Clock Tower.

Train going around the Loop.

The old Evanston Hospital.

A bird watcher at the bridge by the Japanese Garden.

The Chicago Botanic Garden Entrance.

Bird watcher.

A tribute to Nik Wallendas tightrope stunt.

Thomas the train.

Every year the Chicago Botanic Wonderland Express is one of the events that we make sure we never miss. Tons of great photo opportunity or just go there to enjoy the displays!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Morton Arboretum Illumination Experience

One of the light shows in the garden.
Morton Arboretum in Lisle Illinois has the Illumination event during the holidays. They feature holiday lights on the entire path walk of the garden. It is a delight to see the lights from start to finish.

The trees along the pathway are decorated with different types of lights in awesome colors. Some of the lights do interact with people walking along the pathway. There's an area where the lights change when you hug the tree, some lights change when you speak in a microphone along the pathway. Some do have rotary switches that you turn and they change colors.

The lights change colors when you hug the tree.
There's an area where lights are projected into the trees and tells a story of the four seasons. It's really mesmerizing. There's an area where the lights interact with the classical music that is playing in the background.

Same thing with this. It changes color.
For this trip I brought along my 6D equipped with my Canon 17-40mm f/4L. The 6D as I have reviewed on this site is EXCELLENT in low light. I suppose that the 5D MKIII is better but the 6D is so far my go to camera for low light, I don't have a 5D MKIII, but I know it has the same capabilities as the 6D in lowlight...probably better.

The lights change into the four seasons.

The chandelier display in the middle of the forest is great.

The lights change with the music.

These things aim light from the trees into the sky.

I highly recommend going to this event before it's over. It's only a once a year light experience and it's an awesome exhibit. Go check it out.

Near the entrance. Great light display.