Blog

The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Alitalia at IAD

Washington Dulles International Airport - Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport

This past Thursday, May 2nd, 2019, Washington Dulles International Airport welcomed Alitalia’s A330-200, formally beginning non-stop service to Rome. Fabio Lazzerini, Alitalia CBO, and Armando Varricchio, Italy’s ambassador to the United States, spoke to guests and passengers at the gate preceding a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially mark the beginning of service from IAD to FCO.

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Embassy of Italy

Later in the evening, guests within the aviation and Italian / United States economic and cultural fields gathered at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC to celebrate the new link formed by Alitalia’s newly launched flight service. Guests enjoyed a fashion show featuring every Alitalia cabin crew uniform since the airline’s inception in 1946 while sampling Italian dishes and cocktails.

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And here I am!

Huge thank you to Ryan Ewing of  AirlineGeeks.com  for capturing me in my element.

Huge thank you to Ryan Ewing of AirlineGeeks.com for capturing me in my element.

Chicago: March, 2019

Wow, April was such a busy month; I’ve been sitting on these pictures since my most recent trip to Chicago in March, and am just now getting around to sharing them with you. As you may recall, I was in Chicago in February for a photoshoot, but due to circumstances outside my control, that photoshoot was unable to take place, requiring me to reschedule for the next month. I’m happy to say this this time everything went off without a hitch!

In February, once I’d exhausted all options to try and get the photoshoot to work out, I spent the remainder of my time available exploring nearby Milwaukee - I didn’t get to see everything I’d wanted to, so this trip I’d debated spending my spare time checking out the spots I’d missed. Instead, however, I chose to not have any real plan in mind in case there was trouble with the scheduled photoshoot again. Luckily once the photoshoot was knocked out no problem, all my stress was received and I could relax a little.

IAD - ORD

By chance, I was able to spot all four of Chicago’s nearest airports while on approach to ORD. Interestingly, although I was flying on a 737-900, my flight was the day after all 737 MAX aircraft got grounded by the FAA, and it actually impacted my flight. ORD already had heavy ground traffic upon landing, causing a 20 minute taxi to the gate, but upon arriving at the gate my aircraft was blocked by a 737 MAX being tugged from the adjacent gate to a hardstand, but the tug moving the aircraft broke down, blocking out entrance to the gate - my aircraft was stranded on the taxiway for an hour waiting for another tug to arrive to move the MAX out of the way, while we were sitting there watching from our windows just a mere 200 feet from our jetbridge. I ordered a ribeye and tall porter upon finally arriving at my hotel.

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Photoshoot Day at ORD

The night before my photoshoot I only got 3 hours of sleep thanks to stressing out whether the shoot would actually happen or not, despite having confirmation of the necessary paperwork. Luckily, on that drizzly morning, everything went just fine, and after returning to the hotel to deliver some requested preliminary images, I fell asleep at my computer after uploading the images. I slept long and deep that night, knowing I finally had the images I hadn’t been able to capture a month prior.

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Downtown Chicago

I didn’t even set an alarm; I needed the rest, and wanted my Friday to be a stress-free celebration of the previous day’s success. The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry had been recommend to me by pretty much everyone I have ever spoken with who’s been to or lived in Chicago, so I decided to finally check it off my list. I didn’t want to waste time dealing with the CTA, plus there’s no stop nearby the museum anyway, so I ordered an Uber all the way from my hotel in Rosemont; my driver actually shot some sports photography I found out.

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Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Transportation Gallery

Unfortunately the Science and Industry Museum has extremely limited hours, and closes at four, so by time I’d gotten there through some freak midday traffic, gotten my tickets, and gotten inside, I only had about 3 hours to explore the museum - I missed the vast majority of the museum because I decided to focus on several exhibits that interested me rather than try and get a rushed view of everything. I scheduled a tour for 20 minutes after I arrived, and I killed that time in the small Transportation Gallery and Great Train Story next door.

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The Great Train Story

I’ve seen professional train sets before, but this one takes the cake. Not only was it build around a scale model of downtown Chicago, but it featured mountains, tunnels, and even elements from other major US cities. There is even a scavenger hunt of Easter Eggs hidden all over the map, but I didn’t know about this until reading more about the exhibit at a later date.

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There was also this mad scientist kind of display on the way over to my next stop, but I’m not sure which exhibit it was supposed to be a part of, or what all it was representing - look closely, because the harder you look the weirder it gets.

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German Submarine U-505

One of my favorite movies is U-571, which tells the tale of an American submarine capturing a stranded German U-boat to obtain its onboard Enigma code machine. This Matthew McConaughey film is extremely fictionalized, and in fact the real U-571 was never captured; it was sunk via depth charging by the RAAF off the coast of Ireland. During the course of WWII, approximately 15 Enigma machine or Enigma codebook captures were made by the Allied Forces, only one of which was by US forces. In June, 1944, the US Navy captured the U-505, which provided much of the premise for U-571. However, unlike the film heavily implied, it was actually British forces that captured the first Enigma, three years prior when HMS Bulldog captured U-110 on May 9th, 1941. U-571 presents an amalgamated plot of the captures of U-110 and U-505. Although U-505 was not used in filming U-571, film crews reportedly visited and extensively studied the submarine to partially recreate parts of it for the film.

In reality, the U-505 sunk 8 ships over the course of its 12 patrols and two year service history. The US Navy launched a six ship Task Group to hunt U-505 when British Ultra intelligence intercepted generalized locations of German U-boats off the coast of Spain. The Task Group, consisting of one aircraft carrier and five destroyers, made sonar contact with the U-505 on June 4th, 1944, shortly after Captain Daniel V. Gallery had called off the search as the Task Group had exhausted their fuel. With air support from aircraft carrier Guadalcanal, destroyer Chatelain dropped depth charges that crippled the U-505, forcing it to surface. Oberleutnant zur See (Lieutenant) Harald Lange ordered his crew to abandon ship and scuttle the boat, but the 59 man crew could not disembark before the nine member US boarding party was able to board the U-505, close the valves filling the submarine with seawater, and disarm scuttling charges set by the German submariners.

All but one of the U-505’s 59 man crew survived the Allied assault and capture, and only three other crew members were injured. The crew was ferried to Bermuda aboard the Guadalcanal, before being transferred to a POW camp in Ruston, Louisiana several weeks later. To maintain OPSEC and the illusion to Germany that the U-505 had been sunk with no survivors, the POWs were kept separately from others in the prisoner population, and all letters or attempts to communicate outside the camp were confiscated; a direct violation of the Geneva Convention. The imprisoned crew members even constructed makeshift balloons out of cellophane and hydrogen yielded from mixing cleaning chemicals in order to convey their letters over the camp walls with the hope residents of the nearby town would find them and forward the messages to their family, but these attempts were unsuccessful. Some of the POWs learned and played baseball with members of the US Navy baseball team who were tasked as guards at Camp Ruston. Upon the end of the war in 1945, the interned crew began being returned to Germany, with the last remaining captives repatriated in 1947.

As for the U-505, the United States and Allied forces had to hide the submarine to maintain the illusion to the Axis powers that they had captured the missing boat and the valuable Enigma ciphers and codebooks it carried. The U-boat was ferried to a naval base in Bermuda to be studied by US intelligence and naval engineers. To further hide the captured German U-boat, the U-505 was painted to resemble a US submarine, and renamed the USS Nemo. By 1946, US intelligence had gathered all useful information from the U-boat, and dismantled most of the ship’s interior. Having no more use for the ship, the Navy planned on using the U-505 for target practice until it sank. Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery got wind of the plan, and through his brother connected the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry with the Navy to form a plan to donate the U-505 to the newly formed museum, which was already planning on acquiring a submarine to exhibit. On September 25th, 1954 the U-505 was dedicated was dedicated as a permanent exhibit, and a war memorial to all sailors whose lives were lost in the first and second Battles of the Atlantic. In 2004, due to over 50 years being stored outdoors, the U-505 showed heavy wear from the elements, and was subsequently restored and moved to a newly built permanent dry dock inside the Museum of Science and Industry’s East wing.

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An interesting bit of U-505 history conveniently left out of the PG exhibit and tour: the U-505’s 10th patrol endured a very long and severe depth charging. Crushing under the pressure, Kapitänleutnant (Captain lieutenant) Peter Zschech committed suicide during the depth charging, shooting himself in the head in front of his crew in the U-boat’s control room pictured below. First Watch Officer Paul Meyer took over command and ensured the U-505 survived the depth charge attack. Upon returning to port, Meyer, in typical authoritarian dictatorship fashion, rather than being awarded for his quick action to take command, successfully thwart the attack, and save the boat, was simply “absolved from all blame” for the “embarrassing incident” by the Kriegsmarine.

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Henry Crown Space Center

After touring the U-505, I head over to the small space exhibit. I will never not look at space stuff. I did, however, speed through since we have two Air and Space museums here in DC, and I spent almost an entire day exploring Space Center Houston in 2016.

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Fast Forward & Genetics

This part of the museum was a little confusing, as I thought they were the same exhibit at first. I sped through these because I was mostly just interested in seeing the baby chicks!

Fast Forward: Inventing the Future was mostly conceptual exhibits about future-tech. Genetics interested me, but was overrun with kids and I chose to explore other parts of the museum rather than fight a horde of 6 year olds to read the exhibit placards.

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Science Storms

Unfortunately by time I reached Science Storms the museum was 10 minutes from closing. I got an up-close view of the several story tall tornado, but didn’t stay for the last demonstration of the day to instead check out the museum gift shop; they had lots of things I wanted, but none that would be convenient to carry around the rest of the day, particularly with the plans I’d made for later in the night.

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Pioneer Zephyr

The Pioneer Zephyr is a diesel luxury train from the 1930s that makes you feel like a character from Murder on the Orient Express by just standing nearby. On May 26th, 1934, the train set a speed record by covering the 1,015 trip from Denver, Colorado to Chicago, Illinois "Dawn-to-Dusk," in 13 hours 5 minutes, with an average speed of 78mph and a top speed of 112.5mph.

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Hyde Park

It was 4PM and I still hadn’t eaten anything except half a chicken wrap while waiting for my Uber, so I walked the few blocks over to Hyde Park for lunch. I ended up at some local place that had multiple award winning chili, so I was expecting something to rival Ben’s Chili Bowl; the chili was so bad I didn’t even finish it, but the rest of my food was what I expected. After a bit of exploring, coming across a delightfully creepy ivy-clad house, I settled down at a Pâtisserie to relax and unwind with some coffee and macarons before heading uptown to the only thing I’d really planned for the day.

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Check out how this house looks in Summer when the ivy is growing. For bonus points, change the display date and watch as the ivy slowly grows up the side of this home over the last 15 years! It’s beautiful.

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Buddy Guy’s Legends: Nellie Travis with Tommy McCracken

Now for the only thing I’d really planned on, if you can even call it that. The previous evening, while eating dinner after my photoshoot, I noticed that Buddy Guy has a blues club downtown. Although Buddy hails from Louisiana, he is a true legend of Chicago Blues… with his own Southern influences that create his unmistakable, unique tone and style of playing. Today he calls Chicago home, which isn’t too surprising.

I bought tickets to whatever show was playing on my only free evening, without even looking up who Nellie Travis or Tommy McCracken even are - if they’re playing at Buddy Guy’s own club, they’re gonna to be good. I went knowing there was a chance Buddy Guy might even be present, but that was secondary; I intended to relax with creole soul food and cocktails for the night, and enjoy some live music. And that’s exactly what I did - they had an oyster po’boy on the menu! Two of my favorite foods, combined!

Even though I arrived late - Tommy McCracken and his band started playing as I walked in the door - I got the last open seat at a front row table despite the rest of the club being standing room only!

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After the one-hour opening set from Tommy McCracken, it was time for Nellie Travis, who delivered wit with her soulful voice. Some of her songs even included audience participation - she may or may not have put her microphone to my lips during “Sweet Home Chicago…”

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Toward the end of Nellie’s first set, about five minutes before he took the stage, I spotted Buddy Guy walking through the crowd and nodding to Nellie. My suspicion turned out to be correct; Buddy Guy, the blue legend himself, took to the stage to sing a few songs with Nellie’s band. Or, if you’re familiar with Buddy, his music, and his personality, talk about life and give relationship advice.

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Buddy’s relationship advice for the night can be summarized:

  • Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so treat your lady right.

  • And ladies, treat your man right.

  • Respect one another; don’t run around playing. You’re playing with fire, and you’re gonna get burned.

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Buddy only plays full sets at select shows in January, so no guitar this time :-( But that’s okay; watching him talk with the audience with his strong, unmistakable voice was more than I could have asked for.

It was late, so after chatting with a girl at the front desk about some of her most memorable experiences working at such a unique venue, I dipped out as Nellie Travis was beginning her second set.

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ORD - IAD

Sadly it was time to head home the next morning; Chicago has really grown on me - the only thing I don’t enjoy is the cold, which is true anywhere I go. Although this trip was still chilly, the little remaining ice on Lake Michigan from February’s Polar Vortex I saw on the flight here had seemingly melted by time I flew back to DC three days later. Of note, despite all the flights I’ve taken, this was my first time on a 757. Til next time, Chicago!

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2015 Film Scans

You guys, I’m super excited! I found some rolls of old, expired film laying around that I’d never gotten developed, so I sent them to the wonderful folks at The Find Lab last week and I just got the scans back!

I had no idea what was on them, but it turns out I shot 3 rolls on the same weekend in October, 2015. These rolls were all expired Kodak Gold given to me to kill off, and were definitely underexposed even though they were all shot at speed; I’m not quite sure why they were underexposed for this reason. Kodak Gold isn’t the best film in the World, and I prefer the soft teal hues of Fuji 400H as opposed to the oversaturated warm tones Kodak films tend to have.

Katie’s Cars and Coffee: October 24th, 2015

Saturday morning I went to Katie’s Cars and Coffee and shot the show on film. I have a hunch I used the 35mm f/1.4L for the whole show and most of the next day in Shenandoah, but I’m not 100%. It was a foreign invasion, with offerings from France, Germany, England, and Japan.

These photos are available for print and download here.

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Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive

The next day was the annual trip to Shenandoah National Park to take in Skyline Drive - this part I shot on film and digital.

I wish I could remember what trail we hiked while there. When the wind chill is bearable and we have the time we often go hiking during our annual trip. This was my first trip to Skyline Drive with my new car, and we spent most of our time there photographing all our cars. This was the first and only time Jake, Patrick, and I had our cars together on Skyline Drive, so the majority of my digital pictures were of the cars, and I used the film for nature and landscape photography. I used a mix of lenses, but I can say for sure the first photo was shot using the TS-E 90mm f/2.8.

These photos are available for print and download here.

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Best of 2018

Each year I publish a year-in-review which shows the highlights of my year in photography.

2018 began by closing out 2017’s setbacks; as some of you may recall, I dislocated my kneecap and tore my MPFL in 2017, and underwent surgery to reconstruct my MPFL in October, 2017. This meant that by time 2018 rolled around, although I was back on my feet, I was still in a full-leg brace and only mid-way through physical therapy. The beginning of 2018 was slow, and felt even slower, but that wasn’t a bad thing since it helped me focus on making a full recovery. By February I was out of the leg brace, March I was jogging again, and April I completed physical therapy. By May I was running full-speed again, and June I was fully recovered, hiking Old Rag Mountain and running half-marathons again. Today, 15 months after surgery, I am happy to report that it is almost like nothing ever happened to my knee in 2017.

Fully recovering from knee surgery early allowed 2018 to become my biggest year for travel assignments, giving me back full confidence and ability to go and do anything anywhere that is needed or wanted. In 2018, after spending a week and a half in Rhode Island visiting friends and exploring parts of the state that I hadn’t gotten to in previous visits, this meant a whirlwind week and a half across the entire country, touring airports in cities from coast to coast. Traveling from Washington, DC to Atlanta, to Chicago, to San Francisco, and back to Washington, DC, then back to Chicago again before returning home to DC a few weeks ago, I’ve enjoyed five photoshoots across three cities, not counting photoshoots in the DC metro area. The travel allowed me to sample some cities I’d never visited before, and relish some experiences I’ve looked forward to for years.

2019 already has some more travel planned, and I’m very hopeful to continue taking my photography on the road (correction: in the skies). Although it’s not the first time I’ve travelled for a photoshoot, 2018’s trips have been the largest and most logistical travel assignments I’ve taken on, and I’ve loved every second of it.

Below you’ll see some highlights from 2018, including some photos which are unreleased to-date due to focusing on deliverables rather than personal photos.

Here’s to 2019 and hoping it shapes up to have all the opportunities from 2018 and more!

A driving instructor watches the autocross track during The Kia Stinger Experience Tour, Washington, DC, March 10th, 2018.

A driving instructor watches the autocross track during The Kia Stinger Experience Tour, Washington, DC, March 10th, 2018.

Portrait of Steve Mohyla CFP with podcasting microphone.

Portrait of Steve Mohyla CFP with podcasting microphone.

An aircraft on final approach to DCA’s R/W 19, photographed from Gravelly Point, Arlington, Virginia.

An aircraft on final approach to DCA’s R/W 19, photographed from Gravelly Point, Arlington, Virginia.

Equestrians during the 2018 Virginia Gold Cup.

Equestrians during the 2018 Virginia Gold Cup.

A Summer thunderstorm photographed from beyond the rainfall.

A Summer thunderstorm photographed from beyond the rainfall.

The Honorable Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation, addresses guests at The Aero Club of Washington's "When Ingenuity and Innovation Come Together" luncheon, June, 2018.

The Honorable Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation, addresses guests at The Aero Club of Washington's "When Ingenuity and Innovation Come Together" luncheon, June, 2018.

Bayard proposes to Margaret upon her arrival and clearance through Customs at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Bayard proposes to Margaret upon her arrival and clearance through Customs at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Nighttime view of the former location of New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers through the Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Nighttime view of the former location of New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers through the Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Headstones in the fog, seen in Union Cemetery, North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Headstones in the fog, seen in Union Cemetery, North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Historic Downtown Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

Historic Downtown Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

TF Green Airport ARFF Station as seen from airside.

TF Green Airport ARFF Station as seen from airside.

Southern face of the Rhode Island State House, Providence, Rhode Island.

Southern face of the Rhode Island State House, Providence, Rhode Island.

“She Never Came” by Bezt from Etam Cru and Natalia Rak; a mural in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

“She Never Came” by Bezt from Etam Cru and Natalia Rak; a mural in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

The Providence Biltmore Hotel as seen in the film  27 Dresses .

The Providence Biltmore Hotel as seen in the film 27 Dresses.

Hennessy the pit bull playing in a river stream.

Hennessy the pit bull playing in a river stream.

Easton Point, Newport, Rhode Island.

Easton Point, Newport, Rhode Island.

At the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, a French-Candian immigrant worker tends to a loom.

At the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, a French-Candian immigrant worker tends to a loom.

My September, 2000 print of New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers held and photographed in the exact same spot in present-day Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

My September, 2000 print of New York City’s World Trade Center Twin Towers held and photographed in the exact same spot in present-day Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

View of Manhattan from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

View of Manhattan from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

View of Manhattan from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

View of Manhattan from Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey.

View from atop Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah, Virginia. This would mark the first time I hiked Old Rag since my knee injury over a year prior.

View from atop Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah, Virginia. This would mark the first time I hiked Old Rag since my knee injury over a year prior.

A stream in Shenandoah National Park.

A stream in Shenandoah National Park.

The Shenandoah River with a thunderstorm rolling in in the distance. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone 6.

The Shenandoah River with a thunderstorm rolling in in the distance. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone 6.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaking at The American Heart Association’s Value in Healthcare Initiative Meeting at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaking at The American Heart Association’s Value in Healthcare Initiative Meeting at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

Nikon President and CEO Yasuyuki Okamoto welcomes guests to the Nikon Z 7 release event at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Nikon President and CEO Yasuyuki Okamoto welcomes guests to the Nikon Z 7 release event at the Newseum in Washington, DC.

Capital Area Photographers gather for a group photo at the Nikon Z 7 release event at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone 6.

Capital Area Photographers gather for a group photo at the Nikon Z 7 release event at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone 6.

Food photography for a marketing campaign.

Food photography for a marketing campaign.

Bayard and Margaret stroll during their engagement session in Alexandria, Virginia.

Bayard and Margaret stroll during their engagement session in Alexandria, Virginia.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night, aerial.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night, aerial.

Alexander Calder’s  Flamingo  in Chicago, Illinois.

Alexander Calder’s Flamingo in Chicago, Illinois.

Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor’s  Cloud Gate , colloquially known as “The Bean,” in Chicago, Illinois. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, colloquially known as “The Bean,” in Chicago, Illinois. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Pacifica Beach, Pacifica, California at sunset. My first full West coast sunset. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Pacifica Beach, Pacifica, California at sunset. My first full West coast sunset. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Cyclists biking down the chicanes of Lombard Street, San Francisco, California.

Cyclists biking down the chicanes of Lombard Street, San Francisco, California.

Aerial view of San Francisco, California from Christmas Tree Point, Twin Peaks, San Francisco, California.

Aerial view of San Francisco, California from Christmas Tree Point, Twin Peaks, San Francisco, California.

Cabernet Franc grapes on the vine in Napa, California.

Cabernet Franc grapes on the vine in Napa, California.

Myself atop the Panoramic peak above Muir Woods, Mill Valley, California. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Myself atop the Panoramic peak above Muir Woods, Mill Valley, California. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

A bobcat crosses a road atop the Panoramic peak above Muir Woods, Mill Valley, California.

A bobcat crosses a road atop the Panoramic peak above Muir Woods, Mill Valley, California.

View of the Muir Woods canopy from midway above the forest floor.

View of the Muir Woods canopy from midway above the forest floor.

San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

Aerial view of wildfire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Aerial view of wildfire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Composite image of the moon and Milky Way galaxy. Moon and stars are not to scale or sky position, but were photographed in the same night sky.

Composite image of the moon and Milky Way galaxy. Moon and stars are not to scale or sky position, but were photographed in the same night sky.

Myself standing in Willis Tower’s “Sky Deck Ledge,” the tallest point above Chicago, Illinois.

Myself standing in Willis Tower’s “Sky Deck Ledge,” the tallest point above Chicago, Illinois.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

David and Tiffany during their engagement session in Shenandoah, Virginia.

And assortment of mannequins gathered for closeout sale in a liquidating Sears department store. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

And assortment of mannequins gathered for closeout sale in a liquidating Sears department store. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport’s iconic Terminal 3 decorated for Christmas as seen in  Home Alone 2: Lost in New York .

Chicago O'Hare International Airport’s iconic Terminal 3 decorated for Christmas as seen in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

My first photoshoot with Canon’s new EOS R mirrorless full-frame camera, in Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

My first photoshoot with Canon’s new EOS R mirrorless full-frame camera, in Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Shot and edited entirely on iPhone XS.

Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor’s  Cloud Gate , colloquially known as “The Bean,” in Chicago, Illinois, as seen from inside / below.

Sir Anish Mikhail Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, colloquially known as “The Bean,” in Chicago, Illinois, as seen from inside / below.

The Chicago, Illinois cityscape skyline at night as seen from atop 875 North Michigan Avenue, colloquially known as the John Hancock Center. Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) can be seen on the far left lit in red and blue uplighting.

The Chicago, Illinois cityscape skyline at night as seen from atop 875 North Michigan Avenue, colloquially known as the John Hancock Center. Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) can be seen on the far left lit in red and blue uplighting.

Christmastime in Chicago

It’s no secret that one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is Home Alone (1 and 2). So when I confirmed a photoshoot at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport scheduled for December, I was elated. I’d just had a photoshoot at O’Hare (and two other airports) two months prior, but visiting ORD in December meant I would get to see O’Hare’s Terminal 3 decked out for Christmas. Made famous in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Terminal 3 is where the McCallisters perform the McCallister family travel tradition of springing to their gate. The McCallisters fly out of the K Gates in Home Alone, and the H Gates in Home Alone 2, while Kevin gets separated at the Y-split, boarding his flight to New York out of the K Gates. A fun factoid if you watch the movies closely is the Terminal 3 Christmas decorations only appear in Home Alone 2.

My flight on United arrived in Terminal 1, and since it was nighttime upon landing and my photoshoot the next day was in the morning, I took an extra hour to walk all the way over to Terminal 3, stand in awe of the beautiful light display, take pictures of it, and walk all the way back to Terminal 1 to exit and claim my bag - this way I was sure to get photos of the decorations during night and daylight. Totally worth it, and a huge airport bucket-list item checked off.

By the way, all these photos were shot on the all-new Canon EOS R, which I will be reviewing in the coming weeks; I had promised a review on Instagram during this trip, but due to migraine and now ongoing shoulder spasm and deadlines, this has been backburnered.

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At the hotel I got some editing done after making my room a bit more… festive.

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The day after my photoshoot was free for flexibility or inclement weather, so I decided to go downtown and explore some of the places I didn’t get to in October. I started at the Christkindlmarket Chicago, a German Christmas market serving German food and selling German Christmas wares. After eating some bratwurst, a stuffed pretzel, and some hot chocolate with Krampus, I embodied Kevin McCallister and set out hunting Christmas trees.

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I started at Millennium Park, photographing Cloud Gate in daylight (since I photographed it at night in October), and worked my way along Michigan Avenue en route to the pizza joint which some of my O’Hare contacts had recommended for dinner.

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This led me to 875 North Michigan Avenue (AKA John Hancock Center), which provided some fantastic views of the city to pair with my night aerials from my October trip up Willis Tower (AKA Sears Tower). These photos will come along later, but I found it interesting I recognized this space at the building’s base before I realized what building I was standing beside.

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