Ballard Nature Center {Fine Art Photography, Altamont, Illinois}

I found my new favorite place a couple days ago!  Ballard Nature Center.  Tharin and I went for a very long, very hot walk.  I'd been wanting to go for quite awhile and we finally made it over there.  Tharin brought his spray bottle and watered all the plants and even the ground since it was so dry and cracked.  He's been carrying around this spray bottle for three days now.  It's his new favorite toy. Why, you may ask?  Beats me, I don't understand the whims of a three and a half year old! What did we see?  You name it , and we saw it!  Lots and lots to look at. The trails are clear and easy to walk through. There is a Tall Grass Prairie Trail (loved!), a Woodland Trail (walked through lots of spiderwebs, but still awesome!) and a Wetlands Trail (didn't make it, Tharin got too hot, even after spraying himself in the face multiple times).  There is even a little cemetery on the property, right after having to walk up 'Heart Attack Hill' strangely enough.  Hmmm, makes you wonder doesn't it?

No one was around so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was awesome, but I really think more people should be utilizing this little gem of  a place. The Visitor Center is really cool, with lots of interactive things for kids to do. They had all different kind of animal pelts you can touch and hold, pine cones, animal bones, rocks, nuts, seeds, puzzles, an aquarium with fish, turtles and crawdads, and lots more.  I could hardly get Tharin out of there to walk the trails. The best thing of all???  It's free! Yes, I said FREE.  Not too many free things anymore, so pack a picnic, jump in your car and get out there!

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Tytia Habing

I am a self taught, natural light photographer, with sixteen years of shooting experience under my belt. Back in the day, I learned to shoot with film, developed it and printed my own photos in my darkroom. I've since moved to digital, but film holds a very dear spot in my heart that I just can't seem to shake. I was supposed to be a horticulturalist and landscape architect...at least that's what my degree's tell me. I followed that path for some time, along with a few other paths, but photography won my heart. Plants and beautiful mother nature is, and will always be, a great inspiration to me. If at all possible, I prefer to shoot outdoors and somehow incorporate nature into the scene. I'm originally from the Watson, Illinois area, but the majority of my adult life I spent living in the Cayman Islands and only moved home to Illinois with my husband and son a few short years ago. I grew up on a small working farm, with acres and acres of natural areas at my disposal. It gave me a great appreciation for the world around me. I roamed wherever I pleased, built forts in the woods, picked wildflowers in the pasture and caught craw-daddies in the crick. My son is taking over the jobs of fort building and craw-daddy hunting, but I'll never give up the picking of wildflowers.