Woodstock Illinois: Opera House, Courthouse in Autumn Plus “Groundhog Day” Winter Scene

The classic 1993 film “Groundhog Day” allegedly filmed in Punxsutawney and Gobbler’s Knob Pennsylvania was in reality mostly filmed 575 miles away, in Woodstock, Illinois.

The feature image is of the Woodstock Opera House that appears in many scenes.

The town square is nice and there are a lot of good restaurants.

Here’s a Walking Tour of Downtown Woodstock.

The Legend

Each year, on February 2, Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, a long-time resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, comes out of his home in Gobbler’s Knob (about 2 miles east of town) to predict the weather for the rest of winter. In front of all the townfolks and thousands of his followers from all over the world, Phil looks for his shadow. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, spring will be coming early this year.

Feature Image Details

For the feature image, I used a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L Tilt-Shift Lens at ISO 400, 1/15 of a second at F16.

This is a fixed focal length lens, not a zoom.

It has tilt/shift capability that I primarily use in shift mode. If you are familiar with the unsightly effect of pointing up at trees or buildings, you can correct that distortion by shifting the lens up rather than pointing the camera up.


  • This Opera House image requires patience and lots of it. I camped out for hours in one spot, shooing away any cars that tried to park in front of the building. Everyone cooperated. Most cooperated happily, one reluctantly. The cars to the right were there all day. Had they been parked in front of the building, the image would have bee ruined.
  • I took this shot mid-week. Forget about having a clear view on Friday or Saturday, or for that matter almost anytime you are not shooing cars away.
  • A sunny day works well but you need to know how to bring out shadow details.
  • In Autumn, this scene is mostly backlit but right at sunset expect extreme sidelight. There were some high thin clouds that helped even out the light.

Here are some images of the courthouse as seen from the town square.


Winter Scene

I took the Winter scene with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L Tilt-Shift Lens as well. Canon also makes a 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens.

I have both lenses now but only had the 24mm version when I made those images.

If choosing between the two T/S lenses, take opt for the 17mm lens. You can always crop, but it is difficult to add what isn’t captured.

Equipment List

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Other Illinois Destinations

  1. Horseshoe Lake, Illinois Sunrise, Bald cypress and Tupelo trees
  2. Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois
  3. Garden of the Gods: Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

I have an entire series on Starved Rock State Park.

Click on the link for a search, or better yet, scroll through my Mish Moments Home Page until you find them.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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