Renaissance Center (Detroit, Michigan)

Standing on the Windsor side of the Detroit River I took sunset pictures of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Built in the 1970s and (at least partially) funded by Henry Ford II the RenCen now houses the world headquarters of General Motors – one of Ford’s biggest competitors. The seven-building complex remains the tallest building in Michigan as the hotel in the center of the complex rises 79 stories into the air.

The sun shined perfectly on the tower as it set to the west. The reflection cast a blinding sparkle towards me and reflected on the water. I stopped down the aperture to f/32 (essentially squinting for your eyes) and fired away to try and create the starburst effect that you can get while shooting directly into the sun. The reflections on the building were essentially the same thing so I wound up with a number of star bursts.

Renaissance Center (Detroit, Michigan)

Renaissance Center (Detroit, MI)

My father worked on assembly lines in Detroit while I was growing up. Every day, I watched him do what he needed to do to support the family. But he told me, “Life is short. Do what you want to do.”

— Anita Baker

We all can’t be so lucky – to do what it is we want to do – but at least thus far I’ve been pretty damn close. It isn’t always perfect but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This life is too damn short to miserable so get out there and enjoy yourself. You never know when your ticket is going to be punched.

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Detroit Skyline (Windsor, Ontario)

Just over the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario lies Sculpture Park which is a great place to park the car and get out for some pictures of the Detroit skyline. The Detroit skyline prominently features some very unique architecture and buildings designed by some historically significant architects. The highlights to the skyline are the Fisher Building, One Detroit Center and the Renaissance Center. It’s funny how growing up here and going to Windsor many times I never appreciated the beauty of the skyline from this spot as I do now. Detroit has been through it’s struggles but it is starting to revive itself and hopefully will one day be a model for other beleaguered economies for how to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and rise again.

Detroit Skyline from the bank of the Detroit River (Windsor, Ontario)

The city of Detroit at Night

Edison’s Lab (Dearborn, Michigan)

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan is an AMAZING place and one of the best pieces in the museum is actually a part of Greenfield Village outside of the museum itself. During Thomas Edison’s most inventive years he spent nearly every waking hour of his life in his Menlo Park (New Jersey) laboratories. He did not work alone and often had many brilliant individuals working with him on a variety of inventions that would eventually change the world. It was here – in a room that looked EXACTLY like this that Thomas Edison invented what made him most famous – the electric lightbulb. After ‘failing’ for years he eventually figured out that a carbonized form of cardboard filament burned the longest and most consistently.

Edison famously, said about ‘failure’:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Edison’s Laboratory (Dearborn, Michigan)

Thomas Edison's Laboratory Dearborn Michigan

When Thomas Edison built this lab (in New Jersey) in 1876 it was the first industrial research lab in the United States. A few years later though the lab itself was practically abandoned (he invented the lightbulb on New Year’s Eve 1879). In 1886, Henry Ford recognizing the historical significance of the structures wanted to move them from New Jersey to his property in Dearborn, Michigan to ensure their preservation. Unfortunately, when he went to retrieve the structures he found most of them in complete disrepair. Not ever one to be discouraged he collected photographs from the time that Edison spent there and reconstructed the lab to its exact specifications – two original pieces do remain though – the chair in the middle of this frame and the floorboard that it sits on. These are the exact places that Edison sat when he experimented on thousands of different filaments before finally hitting on the cardboard. Edison – when he saw the reconstruction with his own eyes was awestruck because of how perfect everything was.

Having Tea at Greenfield Village

The Cotswald Cottage at Greenfield Village is an english teahouse experience translated to Southeast Michigan. Guests are invited to a ‘traditional’ tea experience featuring tea, finger sandwiches and other snacks. It’s a nice relaxing time and good place to stop during your exploration of the village…plus you can get iced tea in place of hot tea since they serve only in the summer. The village in general due to being outside doesn’t get a lot of traffic in the winter.

Cotswald Cottage – Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Michigan)

Cotswald Cottage - Greenfield Village Dearborn Michigan

Off to Alaska tomorrow! Woo Hoo!!

Stepping Back in Time

Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan is about ten minutes from where I grew up. As kids we’d take annual field trips here but I never truly appreciated the history of the village and the adjacent Henry Ford Museum. There is so much history in between these two places – including the presidential limo that Kennedy was assassinated in, the rocking chair from the Ford Theater that Lincoln was assassinated in, the bus that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on during civil rights protests, an exact replica of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory (all buildings built in exact size and scale) that even Edison was amazed at since all of the details – like where varying chemicals were stored – were perfect.

Bicyclists at Greenfield Village – Dearborn, Michigan

Throughout the year, there are many people who work at Greenfield Village and dress in period costumes as the two above are. They were riding old bicycles from the late 1800s and early 1900s – I have gotten into biking the past few years and have a nice, light road bike that I’m sure weighs a fraction of these beasts. The other question that is pretty obvious is how the heck did he get all the way up there? Well just in case you wanted to find out (as I did) – there is a video posted by one of these riders showing how they get on the ‘Ordinary Bicycles’

Sunset over Lake Michigan

We are heading off to Michigan tomorrow afternoon to enjoy the fourth of July weekend. I took this photo last summer but finally got around to working on it. I was standing on top of one of the dunes overlooking Lake Michigan while the sun set on a perfect summer day. I thought the beach grass would make an interesting element in the foreground while still minimizing the rather boring and cloudless sky. I added a hint of texture (Antique Paper) to the sky to give it a little bit of interest because in general I think skies without any texture tend to be rather ‘blah’ (technical term?).

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Sunset over Lake Michigan

The Beach Path

“If you’re reading this…Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.”

– Chad Sugg, Monsters Under your Head

The Beach Path – Lake Michigan

Beach Path Sunset Lake Michigan

The path leading to the beach below it on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan where we spend many weekends in the summer. The two benches where people old and young remove their shoes before sprinting down to hop into the frigid cold waters (especially after this winter). The sunsetting slowly into the lake as the sky takes on all different shades of orange and pink. The dunes to the right and left creating a perfect place to lay the planks of a path…It is a such a contrast from the Chicago craziness we take in during the week or the Chicago beaches on the weekend so it is always nice to step away to our little slice of heaven.

If you can’t smile in these situations than what can you smile about? Life is pretty good sometimes.