This summer, I have searched for some local photo-friendly spots that I can use to test out lenses and other gear. There are local parks, trails, and the like in North Chicago, but little to nothing that compares to the sprawling metropolis/park areas I saw on the daily in Japan. Some of the smaller areas and bike trails are great for getting out for an afternoon of fresh air, but they don’t offer much in the way of a bonafide picturesque and scenic location. Thankfully, I did not have to search too far to come across the excellent Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. Housing 27 separate gardens and four nature areas on 385 acres of land, the “living museum” has so many great places to make some great photographs. As it should be no surprise to some of my readers, I’m very excited they house an extensive bonsai collection as well as a well-manicured Japanese-style garden (that I plan to visit on my next trip!). In a summer filled with Navy Weeks and other projects, here’s a few photos made during a day trip to help keep my photographic chops sharp.
Immediately past the main entrance, a visitors center and restaurant overlooks a still waterway. From there, visitors can wander around in multiple directions to whatever they care to see.
The trip gave me another chance to work around the massive perspective distortion my Laowa 15mm exhibits in the field, an optical effect visible on all super-wideangle lenses. At times it can enlarge tiny trees to look like lumbering giants, stretch a hallway into multiple leading lines, or even give macro images an interesting angle.
The few nature trails in the area contained some wildlife as well, so depending on how I can make it fit in a rear bike bag, I may take my 400mm f/2.8 to this area for some test shots. My last attempt at birding was way back in 2014 in Nashville, IN, so I’m curious how my technique has changed over the years. If anything, I hope to still be able to crop in without much image degradation. The lens on a NEX-7 “worked”, but I ran into a lot of diffraction issues with the tiny pixels at f/2.8. The pixels in my A7MkIII are about 50% larger than the NEX-7 (and a6500, for that matter), so it stands to reason the pixel-level image quality will be a bit cleaner.
Testing that out will be for another day, of course. That’s all for this Botanic Garden update, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! Your support of my website is always appreciated, and as always, have a great day. 🙂