Groundhog by KB Digital

Groundhog Day with a photographer

Groundhog by KB Digital

How to shoot groundhogs

Okay, before everyone starts panicking, we do not mean shoot as in kill but instead shoot it with a camera. You know, take a picture. Sorry for the confusion, but that’s just photography slang. Alright, now let’s get into it. First thing you’re going to need is a long lens, preferably a zoom lens so it gives you a little flexibility as the groundhog could move closer to you at any given point in time. Another reason is, well, you kind of might want to keep your distance from them. Now, we’re no animal experts but it’s safe to say that wild animals can be… wild.

Groundhog by KB Digital

What you’ll need

Well, obviously a camera! Also, depending on the distance your shooting and your lens length as well as your stability, you might want to bring a monopod. If you’re thinking “I don’t have one, I’ll just bring my tripod”, don’t! Groundhogs are very active and you’ll need to be mobile if you want to get some good photographs. In that case, just increase your shutter speed to cancel out as much motion blur as possible. Another important thing you’ll need is patience. Lots of it! As mentioned, they are very active creatures but they also like to hide, especially when they sense people. So be kind and just keep you finger on the shutter button at all times. One thing we suggest, and this all depends where you live and what time of the year you go, is to bring something long sleeve to wear. This is just personal preference but usually there’s bugs out and you don’t want them annoying you and it could also serve as an added protective layer if somehow the groundhog gets close enough to you or even worse, attacks you.

Groundhog by KB Digital

Did you get it?

We’re not just talking about the instructions here either. Did you really shoot a groundhog? What do we mean by that? Well, groundhogs are often confused with beavers and vice-versa. They both look very similar to each other and act the same as well but there’s one sure way to tell what it is. The tail! Groundhogs have short, fluffy tails while beavers on the other hand have wide, flat tails. Also, if it’s in the water it’s most likely a beaver since they love to build dams. This is another reason why groundhogs are sometimes refereed to as “land beavers”.

Groundhog by KB Digital

What you won’t see

This is really simple. You most likely won’t see Bill Murray or Punxsutawney Phil. If you’ve never seen Groundhog Day the movie… this would be the time. Also, Punxsutawney is a little town in the state of Pennsylvania but the movie itself was filmed in another tiny town, just a few hundred miles west called Woodstock, Illinois.

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.

Fall For Rockford 2019 by KB Digital

Fall For Rockford 2019

And just like that we wrap up another year, the second annual to be exact, of Fall For Rockford.

Muscadine Bloodline performs at Fall For Rockford 2019.
Muscadine Bloodline performs at Fall For Rockford 2019.

Okay so maybe it wasn’t the best weather and that drastically affected the number of people who came out but we still think it was fun. However, the low attendance did give us a challenge when it came to getting some good shots. Obviously, as a photographer/videographer, you want to make it look like there was a huge crowd to portray the event as a fun one. So what did we do? Well we’re still working on the video so you’ll have to come back to see that in a few days, but as you’ll see in the pictures, we played with the angles and compressed a lot of them

Faren Rachels on stage at Fall For Rockford 2019.
Faren Rachels on stage at Fall For Rockford 2019.

Not only did the rain scare away the huge audience, but it made shooting footage almost impossible at times. We spent a lot of time on stage with the band, getting side shots and close-ups. By the way, these types of shots look much looker with a huge crowd in front of the band (see last years pictures). However, we didn’t want our pictures to all be from the same few angles. So we ended up running out into the rain to get some shots from the front with the crowd in the forefront of the composition, and then running back and wiping our camera and lens. Now this is risky, we could’ve easily damaged our gear but we took the risk to the deliver quality photo and video to our client, the River District Association.

Scruffy Pearls lead singer at Fall For Rockford 2019.
Scruffy Pearls lead singer at Fall For Rockford 2019.

All in all, we had fun shooting the event and think we got some amazing footage. Again, we thank the RDA for trusting us to capture their event and deliver quality work. Also, we’d like to congratulate all the bands for amazing performances and for being so cool to share the stage with. Find them online and listen to their music. And last but not least, make sure to check out the full gallery of pictures on our photos page.