Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Ever Changing Rock

The Ever Changing Rock!
Halloween as of October 2012

On the northwest corner of Ridge Road and Thornwood Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois is a rock, but it is not an ordinary one. The history of the rock goes back to 1999 and the tradition, carried out by two families living nearby, was chronicled in an article by the Winnetka-Kenilworth Patch on January 24, 2011. It is known locally, as the "Ever Changing Rock."
The rock at the corner of Ridge and Thornwood courtesy of Google Maps.

Renee Rendler-Kaplan
The images used in the Winnetka-Kenilworth Patch article and shown below, were created by local photographer, Renee Rendler-Kaplan. For this blog entry, interspersed between her chronological images of the rock, Renee reveals her thoughts (in Q&A format) about the rock as well as photography, image-making and motivation. The oldest images are on the top of the entry and new ones will be added to the bottom as the story of the "Ever Changing Rock" continues.
Chronological Images of the Rock
Renee's first "rock encounter" was with the shark.
The Ever Changing Rock (this was the first one I spotted)
Shark, October 2007.
Question: How did you get interested in the the "ever changing" rock?

Answer: The first "rock" that caught my eye was the shark. I love when objects in nature are used to create art and I immediately stopped my car to shoot that shark. It was done so beautifully and realistically that I was drawn to it. I had no clue at that time that a few weeks later, a different painting of that rock would appear and when it did, I was hooked on passing that corner every few weeks to see the amazing transformations taking place. It was a HUGE mystery to me..who painted it, who was motivated to change it...and that was the best part for me..the whole surprise element. Recently I was contacted by a writer who also took an interest in my photos of the rock and solved the mystery with her write up for Triblocal, and I was sort of disappointed to know about the rocks history yet found the backstory awesome at the same time. I'm still hugely surprised when it changes and happy to shoot and document it."

The Ever Changing Rock
The Cardinal, December 2008.
The ever changing Rock - October 2009
Jack-O-Lantern, October 2009.
The Ever Changing Rock
Turkey, November 2009.
Question: What motivates you to create photographs?
Answer: For me, everyday life motivates me to create photographs. I like to think I have possibly seen something that you might have missed and that I am eager to share.

The Everchanging Rock - Thornwood and Ridge - Wilmette IL
The Cookie Monster, December 2010.
The Everchanging Rock - May 2010
Lady Bugs, May 2010.
The Ever Changing Rock - Thornwood and Ridge
Chicago Blackhawks, July 2010.
Question: How long have you been making photographs?
Answer: I've been shooting since I received my first Brownie Star Flash when I was seven years old, documenting my everyday life. I've tried jewelry making, drawing, painting, making pottery, and nothing has ever been as satisfying as taking images. I have my own wet darkroom and found shooting and developing B&W film a wonderful and creative process and fought using color or touching a digital camera for a very long time. I truly believed that I "saw" in B&W. My daughter used only a digital camera and left it home one day. I decided to use it it and it changed both the way I "saw" and shot. Color can be exciting and moving in ways I never believed. I might change a digital photo from color to B&W if it meets a need, but I do not use Photoshop to alter my images in any other way. 

The Ever Changing Rock - Halloween 2010 - Thornwood and Ridge
Ghost, October 2010.
Question: What are your favorite types of images?
Answer: I basically shoot outdoors, and those are my favorite images. Nature excites and motivates me and being outside is important to me in any type of weather. I began shooting outdoor portraits in my work and then moving on to people with their pets (outdoors only). Then shooting only their pets because they never complain about how their hair looks or why I haven't retouched an image. They just sit, smile and behave. Beyond my work, I shoot for myself.

The Ever Changing Rock
The Grinch, December 2010.
Question: Fill in the blank. Photographically, it's a good day when _______. Answer: Photographically, it's a good day when I have feel I have something worth keeping from a day's shoot. I never go anywhere without at least one camera, usually two, and never go a day without fitting in a photo shoot.
The Ever Changing Rock!
St. Patrick's Day, March 2011.
The Ever Changing Rock!
Easter Egg, April 2011.
The Ever Changing Rock
Sun, June 2011.
The Ever Changing Rock
Butterfly, September 2011.
The Everchanging Rock
Candy Corn, October 2011.
Question: Please share some of your successes.
Answer: At the beginning of each year, I set a wish list for myself. My first was "oh I wish I could have an exhibit." Three months later I was contacted by the Lincoln Park Cultural Center and asked if I would like to put up my own exhibit for a month in their space. It was a heady and wonderful experience to stand in a room, surrounded by my own work on display. Another year, I wished to be in a group show and was accepted to a winter Around the Coyote show in short order. Amazing, and so much fun. I was lucky enough to be accepted for several years. Next I joined the Chicago Artist's Coalition and wished to be accepted into one of their shows. I was accepted on honored to win Curator's Choice for my image. Another wish, another win, as Best of Show at a fundraiser for The Anti Cruelty SocietyRecently I was asked to be a part of a wonderful book entitled Found Faces and am thrilled now to be published. Wonderful wishes, wonderful surprises, and all through something that I wake up excited to do over and over again. I've been most fortunate.

 You can see more of Renee Rendler-Kaplan's images on her Flickr feed or her blog, Everyday Sights.
The Ever Changing Rock
Christmas Tree, December 2011
The Ever Changing Rock!
Hershey Kiss, February 2012
The Double Sided Ever Changing Rock! (2 of 2)
The Double Sided Ever Changing Rock! (1 of 2)
Finding Nemo, March 2012
The Ever Changing Rock!!!!!!!
The Proposal, May 2012 
The Ever Changing Rock!!
The Answer, June 2012
The Ever Changing Rock!
Independence Day, July 2012
The Ever Changing Rock
Football, September 2012
The Ever Changing Rock!
Halloween, October 2012


  1. Renee, I'm very happy for you :).
    Congratulations and best wishes and much success in coming years. All well deserved!!
    Always with you,
    Agnes (.dzika.)

  2. lovely photos and a lovely idea well translated with humour and bold colours !