While I’ve titled this series “Chicago Lights,” I think another appropriate name could also be “Freezing My Nose Off in Chicago.” Upon more earnest reflection, however, I realized the first title sounds a little prettier (artist’s note: I did not, in fact, lose my nose to frostbite while photographing street scenes in Chicago in January after the sun set, but it still felt that way).

Even though I was born in the Midwest, I’d never traveled to this beautiful city on the shores of a sparkling green-blue lake. I honestly didn’t realize that Chicago had anything more to offer than excellent pizza, the Blues Brothers, and unions. What I found when we arrived, on a brilliantly sunny afternoon, was a gorgeous city full of detailed architecture, polite people (I live in Philly: when someone in Chicago held the door open for me, I nearly passed out from shock), and beautiful views built around the river and lake.

I also found trees wrapped in twinkle lights.

Not just a few trees. Not just one block of trees. No, entire streets glowing with glittering trees as the sun sank below the horizon and the winds (finally!) settled down for the evening. I could barely feel my fingers, my nose (as mentioned previously) was completely numb, and my eyes were cold. Yes, even my eyes. But whatever: I found beautiful twinkly-trees and I was not going to let the cold stop me.

I led my husband on what would have been a fairly embarrassing journey had he not been thoroughly used to me behaving oddly with a camera. Dashing across streets, shooting upward while walking (he saved me from ramming into a few unsuspecting pedestrians), and generally getting very excited about this whole twinkly-tree thing offered him no surprise.

I shot literally hundreds of images from that night until I lost the available light completely. These are some of my favorites, shot with my favorite new lens that lets me do all sorts of fabulous soft-focusy things. I hope you enjoy them in the warm comfort of your own home.

Chicago: I would love to return some day, but believe me, it will only be in the middle of July…