Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital

Winter wonderland in Rockford

Rockford, Illinois sure knows how to go all out for the holidays. While Chicago may get a lot of the national publicity being that it is a world-class city, Rockford puts on its own impressive showcase during the winter months. While Stroll on State is usually hailed as the major event, the light displays throughout the town last much longer and are a sight to see – oh and did we mentioned that they are completely FREE.

Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital
Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital

For this article, we’re concentrating solely on the light displays at the Nicholas Conservatory Gardens which sits on the Rock River just a couple miles north from the downtown area. Pulling into the parking lot you will see lots of lights and beautifully decorated trees but the real magic is behind the big glass building. On your way to the back is a path with lights arching above (pictured above) it and it sort of reminds us of those cartoon sketches where they go to a different universe through a portal covered by neon lights.

Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital
Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital

Once you make it through the portal path you will see the lagoon and the rest of the light displays. At this moment you are at a split and have to go either to the left or the right of the lagoon. Unfortunately, the path does not make a full circle (yet) around the lagoon but we hope this happens soon. We made our way to the right and captured the beautiful blue and violet colors, as seen in the picture above, reflecting on the frozen water. One section turned red right as we took the shot but we don’t mind it at all.

Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital
Holiday lights in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital

If you are to go to the left side (technically it’s more of a straight shot) the path leads you up the longer path alongside the lagoon. Again, beautiful colors follow the path as you make your way to the north side of the park. The picture above was taken at about a half way point and we did have to wait at least 10 minutes for the area to clear as hundreds of people were visiting that night.

So the only thing missing in this winter wonderland is the snow. Did you even notice that? However, we are definitely not complaining because being able to enjoy the beautiful displays without freezing temperatures definitely felt good. Also, we wouldn’t have gotten the amazing reflections off the frozen lagoon if it was covered with snow.

We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever been here or have we inspired you to visit it next year? Let us know in the comments below.

The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago by KB Digital

Chicago during the holidays

It’s always a fun trip to Chicago when everything is nice and decorated. The trees are lit up, the ice rink is full of skaters and The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) looks more shiny than ever. We’ve been to Chicago several times this past 2019 holiday season and our only complaint was the frigid breeze from the lake, however, that didn’t stop us from taking a few pictures while there.

Willis Tower overlooks the Christmas tree in Chicago.

One of the busiest attractions is definitely the huge Christmas tree that’s set up in Millennium Park. For the picture above, it was a very frigid night but that didn’t seem to slow down the crowd as we had a hard time even getting a shot because of so many people being there. Nonetheless, the tree looked amazing and the red and green antennas on top of Willis Tower (still Sears Tower to us) looked picture-perfect. Now this is for all the photographers out there, imagine trying to capture a 1-second long exposure shot with shivering hands and no tripod. It was a challenge!

Cloud Gate (the bean) in Chicago during a frigid winter night.

Next stop on our list was just a couple hundred feet from the Christmas tree and it was the ever so famous bean, or as the official name state, Cloud Gate. Again, with no tripod and very low light, we had to try to capture a hand-held long exposure shot. What made this shot even harder is that there was no barrier between us and other bystanders. So sometimes we would have a rush of people walk within a couple feet in front of our camera and then get very dark pictures. Out of the several that we took, we managed to get one that we decided was good enough. To our surprise, we even captured the American flag in there and the red and white stripes show up just perfect as the people walked by. Talk about perfect timing.

Ice rink at Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois.

Adjacent to The Bean is the ice rink right there on Michigan Avenue. We captured this shot more for fun than anything else. You have some people skating and doing double and triple spins while others are barely standing on their feet. Now if you’re not familiar with Chicago, all three of our pictures were taken within a couple hundred feet of each other. It is one of the many reason we love visiting the Windy City, besides the wind of course. Even though it’s only January, we’re already looking forward to beautiful, and much warmer, Spring weather!

Snow on Halloween in Rockford, IL

White Halloween in the Stateline

When’s the last time you went trick-or-treating through snow? For the Rockford region and the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin state line, that was just last week. While the snow might have spooked some trick-or-treat goers away (see what we did there) the majority of the crowd seemed to embrace this rare occasion.

Snow on Halloween in Rockford, IL
Snow covers Sinnissippi Park on Halloween in Rockford, IL.

Obviously, we wouldn’t have missed the chance to capture a few images of this amazing day. The scariest thing for us would have been not to go out and shoot some pictures. We grabbed our camera gear and headed out to a few local spots. Sinnissippi Park and its lagoon are always fun to shoot and we just loved the dark blue desaturated water with the white snow all around it. Even though the shot wasn’t a long exposure, the water still looks pretty still and a bit icy.

Snow on Halloween in Rockford, IL
Snow covers the trees at Rock Cut State Park on Halloween 2019.

Another favorite stop of ours is Rock Cut State Park. While we enjoyed the views of the lake and the different picnic areas, we really liked how the road swiveled through the snow-covered trees. The green pines stood out in the white snow and created such a relaxing atmosphere. It just reminded us of a commercial or movie scene. (Elsa wouldn’t have been able to ‘let it go’)

Snow on Halloween in Rockford, Illinois.
Snow on Halloween at the river dam in Belvidere, Illinois.

We also made our way out to Belvidere, Illinois and stopped at the park right by the Belvidere Dam on the Kishwaukee River. It was beautiful to see how the snow just glazed the ground while the trees remained in color. The white water coming off the dam complemented the snow surrounding the river and just created a postcard look. Once again, we didn’t have our tripod with us to do a long exposure here but we were pretty happy with the hand-held shot that we were able to get that day.

None-the-less, we’re quite excited to see what kind of beauty this winter gives us. Now, we’re definitely not looking forward to the frigid cold temperatures…. but that’s a whole other topic. Depending on road conditions, we would love to get some pretty pictures of a snowy Chicago and maybe even head up north to Lake Geneva and Milwaukee. Though, we just might have to escape somewhere warm if it get’s too cold for us and our gear. 🙂

Colorful trees at Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, Illinois.

Autumn at Rock Cut State Park

It has been a colorful season here in the stateline area. While our fall season has been quite a short one, we did manage to get a few shots of all the beauty that mother nature has to offer.

Fall in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital
Red, green and blue colors at Rock Cut. (KB Digital)

Living in northern Illinois has its perks when it comes to nature and photography. While we usually complain about the weather (mostly the cold) we do get blessed with some beautiful views. KB Digital has spent a lot of time wandering around our local parks and forest preserves during this summer-to-winter transition and we were lucky enough to capture some amazing images. While we’re not fully ready to brace the upcoming winter season, we’re definitely making the most of the current situation.

Fall in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital
Fall in Rockford, Illinois by KB Digital

We set out on a Sunday to get some fall pictures and we weren’t disappointed. Our first stop was Rock Cut State Park in northern Illinois, just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border. Driving through the woods we had a good feeling about the shots we were about to get. We arrived about 30 minutes before the sun set and started walking around the park. Immediately, beautiful fall colors starting to grab our attention and the camera was brought up.

Colorful trees at Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, Illinois.
Colorful trees at Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, Illinois.

One of our favorite shots is the gradient-colored trees right above, where the three trees go from red to orange to yellow. That right there just screamed “mother-nature” to us. Our journey took us through the woods and next to the lake, and we we’re pretty happy with the results. We’ve been quite a bit busy so we haven’t posted in a while (sorry about that) but we are getting back on the horse, with our camera strapped to us. We did just have a white Halloween (it was snowing for Halloween) and we managed to get some shots of that as well so stay tuned for our next article showcasing those images.

Nature photography at Rock Cut

What’s better than beautiful weather on a Sunday? Yesterday we spent almost four hours at Rock Cut State Park in northern Illinois just walking around and enjoying all that mother nature has to offer. Of course, our cameras go wherever we go so we were able to capture some amazing shots, some which even surprised us.

Yellow bird sits on dead, colorless flower. Photo by Miralem Botic of KB Digital.

The day started out gloomy in the morning so we figured it would be perfect for a hike, with the nice breeze keeping us cool. Well that quickly changed! By mid noon, the sun was out in full force and the humidity started to kick in. While photographers usually try to avoid the sun for portrait sessions, nature looks much better with the bright colors and high contrast that the sun provides. For this reason, we stuck to capturing just nature and the environments around us – which there was plenty of. One shot that we captured and that absolutely blew us away was a bee pollinating a plant and you can actually see the yellow pollen shoot out of the flower. We tried looking up images online and even looked through National Geographic and could not find anything like this. In photography, timing is everything!

Bee pollinating a flower. Photo by Miralem Botic of KB Digital.

One thing all these photos have in common is the color palette. Green, yellow and white seems to cover mother nature during the summer days (even though it’s September, it’s still technically summer). Before we took these pictures, we did not intend for all these pictures to fit the same color blocks but that’s just how things worked out. One very ironic fact is we are terrified of bees, but managed to get not one but two extreme close-ups of them. Once again the green and the yellow colors pop so much in these photos, we love it.

Bee sits on a bright yellow flower. Photo by Miralem Botic of KB Digital.

While there was a lot of butterflies flying around, one of them caught our attention. A pure white one, almost metallic looking, landed on the grass right in front of us. Now this might not be the most interesting photo, we still decided to share it just because it makes us happy.

All white butterfly on yellow flower. Photo by Miralem Botic of KB Digital.

This summer has been a very humid and sticky one so we haven’t been out as much as we wanted to at the beginning of the season. But then again, we’ve been quite busy with projects so we haven’t had as much free time. Fall is just around the corner and we are beyond excited to start doing fall shoots including nature and portraits.

Thank you to tagging along with us for our nature outing. We hope you enjoyed these few pictures… and feel free to contact us to book you fall portrait sessions.