Photo Essay

Air Force One
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

Click the image to launch a slideshow of White House pool photographs by Justin L. Fowler of The State Journal-Register and Terrence Antonio James of the Chicago Tribune.

Glen Lake from Sleeping Bear Dune
Robert Pahre / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Though Illinois is not famous for its mountains, it has other pleasures. As a westerner turned midwesterner, I decided to bloom where I’m planted. I’ve learned to appreciate both the Great Lakes and the prairies. Although Illinois does not have a nonhistoric national park, neighboring states with natural national parks surround it. All of these are national parks, though the names sometimes sound otherwise — national lake shores, national monuments and the like.

Photo Essay: The River and Us

Jul 1, 2012
Kayaking the Cache River State Natural Area in southern Illinois. Recreation, such as boating and fishing, is a way to enjoy and explore the state’s rivers.
Chris Young

Nature photographers, especially this one, are fond of using their long, telephoto lenses to isolate their subjects and eliminate anything that distracts from the beauty of the image.

We make sure utility poles and wires don’t show up. We leave out roads, cars and other evidence of civilization when we are focusing on nature.
That’s fine, except that sometimes we eliminate an element from the picture that looms large over our rivers and other natural areas — us.

Yes, people are an integral part of our landscape, our natural areas and our rivers.

Natural Illinois

Jul 1, 2011
Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park is at Zion on Lake Michigan.
Adele Hodde / Illinois Department of Natural Resource

The Healing Ground: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Photo Essay

Jul 1, 2010
Photographs courtesy of The Wetlands Initiative and Renee Thakali, U.S Forest Service
Renee Thakali / The Wetlands Initiative & U.S. Forest Service

Gradually, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is growing into its name. 

About 2,000 acres of the 19,000-acre complex has been restored to tallgrass prairie, and the wetlands and woodlands there are increasingly inviting to flora and fauna.

The evolution of the site, located about 50 miles southwest of Chicago, suits the name Midewin, which comes from the Potawatomi word for healing.

UIS biology student Andy Grant and high school student Nick Boltuc wade through a thick stand of giant ragweed at the unrestored LaGrange refuge near Meredosia.
University of Illinois at Springfield

Illinois is striving to preserve and protect its last few wild places — even, occasionally, returning farmland to Nature. The Illinois River Valley and the Cache River Basin are two areas of the state rich in habitat and in various stages of restoration, regeneration

Imagine Illinois
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s not an easy beauty. Rather, it resides in nuance, in the steady cycle of the seasons, the certain chronology of renewal, the sure relationship of people with the land. The beauty of the Midwest, Larry Kanfer believes, must be experienced across time. But his challenge, over the past two decades and more, has been to convert these subtleties into two dimensions, to convey through photographic composition emotions embedded in the landscape. “Here is beauty as small as this dirt clod.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ask central Illinois photographer Larry Kanfer what he can possibly find in this flat and seemingly empty landscape and, like any true Midwesterner, he’ll talk about the history of towns, the cycle of seasons and, of course, the significance of weather.

In awe-inspiring detail. The first thaw? That’s usually January 20 or so, when a bit of black earth shows through the snow and there’s a slight scent of spring in the air. Never mind that February will then seem as unending as the horizon. Spring is a certainty. So are summer and fall.