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.

Tips

  • 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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  2. Economics: MishGEA

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Garden of the Gods: Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

Our Illinois tour continues with a look a the Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest in extreme Southern Illinois.

More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest. Over the years, the elements have sculpted stunning, extraordinary rock formations.

There are 5.5 miles of hiking trails at this spot with many more trails nearby. I would rate the trails to the images shown in this article as easy for almost everyone but those in a wheelchair. The feature shot and the images below are a half-mile or less from the parking lot.

Feature Image Details

For the image, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 28mm, for 1/13 of a second at ISO 250, f16.

Tips

  • This is an easy shot. 28mm is not extreme. Anyone can take this image with almost any camera.
  • You just have to be there at sunset on a sunny day. The location does not photograph well at other times. The hardest part is not having people in your images. This is a very popular spot, especially on weekends.
  • Best time: Very late October or early November.

Here are some more images from the same day.

I assure you these shots are as easy as they get. Nearly anyone can walk to this location and nearly any camera will do.

I recommend a tripod as always, but these shots could be taken without a tripod with proper technique.

Equipment List

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

Related Articles

  1. Horseshoe Lake, Illinois Sunrise, Bald cypress and Tupelo trees
  2. Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow the former.

Please follow. I do not give away or share email addresses!

Thanks!

Coming up next: Another destination in Southern Illinois.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Horseshoe Lake, Illinois Sunrise, Bald cypress and Tupelo trees

Olive Branch Illinois, in Alexander County, is the home of Horseshoe Lake, not to be confused with Horseshoe Lake in Madison County.

Horseshoe Lake is an oxbow lake in Alexander County, Illinois. It is the site of Illinois’s Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, a state park 10,645 acres (43 km2) in size. A remnant of a large meander of the Mississippi River, it is today a shallow, isolated patch of water located near Cairo and the southern tip of Illinois.

The Alexander County lake has major problems with siltation. During the Great Flood of 1993 the river tried to shift back to the Horseshoe Lake meander, but returned to its modern channel after the flood subsided. Much of the lake resembles a swamp or bayou. This is one of the northernmost parts of the natural ranges of the Bald cypress and Tupelo trees, which are found on the shoreline of the lake. Another tree found here is the swamp cottonwood. There is a good growth of the flowering American lotus.

Feature Image Details

The feature image shows Bald cypress and Tupelo trees at sunrise.

For the image, I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 30mm, for 1/8 of a second at ISO 400, f16.

Tips

  • The key to reflection images such as these is for the water to be in the shade.
  • Play around with various exposures and time durations.
  • Get low to the water! Sometimes you cannot see any reflections unless you get low. Find a composition you like, then set up the tripod in that position.

Here are some more images from the same morning.

I like the above image a lot. It distinctly shows the Bald Cypress trees. It was taken with a  Canon 14MM F2.8 L Lens. I did not have my tilt shift lens with me at the time. It was in the car. Had I walked back to get it, I would have missed the shot.

The trees were hugely pointed in, but I corrected the perspective in Photoshop. A Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens would have been about perfect.

Here’s a clip of what it looked like as shot.

Perspective controls in Photoshop are amazing but it is better to use the right lens.

Glorious Sunrise

The above image was taken with a Canon 100-400 MM F 4.5-5.6 L Lens. I seldom carry that lens, simply because of the weight. I had it with me because I knew there were opportunities like this.

Hatfield vs McCoy

Horseshoe Lake is not a “family destination”. There are few services and unless you are interested in photography, fishing, or birding, there is little else to do.

The above images are recent and digital, but here’s my story from twenty years ago that highlights the issue.

In the immediate area, there was then and there still is today precisely one place to eat, and it’s in a bar. I sat down at the bar and asked for a menu.

Then I made a mistake: I asked the person sitting next to me a question about the number of the geese in the fall. This was the resultant conversation.

Me: Is this an average year for geese in the area.

Him: Do I know you?

Me: I’m Mike – cutoff

Him: Are you from the DNR?

Me: I’m Mike – cutoff

Him: I did not ask you who you are. I asked if you were from the DNR.

At that point, he pulled out a gun, pointed it at my head and said If you are from the DNR I’m going to blow you away.

I assured him that I was not from the DNR and he put the gun away.

I should have immediately left at that point, but I had already ordered dinner and waited for it. The man who pulled the gun on me started talking to the person next to him. The other fellow mentioned that his daughter was dating someone who he did not know.

As you might imagine from this, our “hero” said that if his daughter was dating someone he would know when he got up, where he went, and would stake him out until he knew everything about him.

The next day, I filled up at a gas station and a young kid came out to pump. This was not self-service yet. I told the kid what happened and he laughed.

He then said: “I am not surprised. In fact, if anyone sees me talking to you, I can get in serious trouble.”

The moral of this story is please do not try to talk to anyone in deep Southern Illinois unless you know them.

Equipment List

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

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

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You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow the former.

Please do. Thanks!

Coming up next: Another new destination.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois

Those looking for a scenic day trip from Chicago or Northern Illinois should check out Apple River Canyon State Park.

The park is located in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. In the winter, eagles frequent the area.

Five trails – Pine Ridge, Tower Rock, River Route, Sunset and Primrose Trail (accessible) – wind through the woods for several miles within the park.

You can easily explore the park in a single day.

All of these images are from late-October. They represent the peak of the Autumn season.

Feature Image Details

For the feature image, I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58mm, for 1/30 of a second at ISO 500.

Tips

  • The key to reflection images such as these is for the water to be in the shade.
  • Play around with various exposures and time durations.
  • Get low to the water! Sometimes you cannot see any reflections unless you get low. Find a composition you like, then set up the tripod in that position.

Here are some more images all taken within a couple hundred yards of the feature image in late afternoon.

When possible, shoot both vertical and horizontal images. Here is a vertical image from the same location.

The previous two images were taken with a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens: If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective.

 

Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall

Note the Great Blue Heron fishing at the top of the waterfall.

The above image is not in the main park area. Rather, a dam on the river forms Apple Canyon Lake. For directions, do a search for Apple Canyon Lake Waterfall as opposed to Apple River Canyon State Park.

There are no trails in the area. The surrounding land is private and posted. Other than to stop and take an image, there is little to do at this spot. It’s worth a side trip from the state park, but it’s not an activity destination.

Equipment List

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

If you like this article, please share by email or use one of the share buttons beneath the article.

Please Subscribe: Click to Subscribe by Email.

You can also follow me on Twitter! I have both an economic forum and a photography forum.

  1. Photography: MishMoments
  2. Economics: MishGEA

MishMoments is a subset of MishGEA. Those interested in photography only should follow the former.

Please do. Thanks!

Coming up next: Another new destination.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Council Overhang – HDR Merge

This the last in a series of posts on Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

Next up: Joshua Tree National Park where I went in early to mid-December to photograph a meteor shower and rock formations.

I took the feature image in last week of October of 2017.

Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Council Overhang – HDR Merge”

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Ottawa Canyon Autumn – Focus Bracketing

This the next to the last in a series of posts on Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

It’s almost time to explore another place in depth. Death Valley National Park California is one of my choices. I have lots of images to choose from. Finding time to write that’s the issue.

I took these image the first week in last week of October of 2017. They are from Ottawa Canyon.

Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: Ottawa Canyon Autumn – Focus Bracketing”

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: La Salle Canyon Waterfall in Autumn

This is the fourth in a series of posts on Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The park is about 2 hours away from Chicago.

I took these images this past week. If you are close by, there is still time to see the park. Peak time is now.

As is typically the case at Starved Rock, and photographing waterfalls in general, the best conditions possible are bright overcast days with little or no wind.

This past week was cloudy most of the time and winds were calm early and late in the day most days.

Continue reading “Starved Rock State Park, Illinois: La Salle Canyon Waterfall in Autumn”