I’m a lifelong DuPage resident, wife and mother. In the past, I was editor of a photography magazine, a creative director, freelance marketing communications writer, and blogger.
Today my near-daily pursuit is nature photography, which I started about five years ago. I post some of my photos on Instagram @dawnbertuca. In addition, I’m very involved with Studios630, a group of local artists, as the communications chair and board member. I also have a large vegetable garden and am passionate about growing food.
Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves
I first became acquainted with DuPage forest preserves as a child, visiting as a Girl Scout and with my family, especially Herrick Lake, Blackwell and Fullersburg Woods. As a college student, I worked for the DuPage Forest Preserve District as a seasonal journalist, which meant I traveled to different preserves taking photos for press releases. While working in that position, I discovered many more preserves, such as Pratt’s Wayne Woods and Waterfall Glen, as well as facilities like Kline Creek Farm, Willowbrook Wildlife Center, and Danada Equestrian Center.
Dawn Bertuca took this photo of a frozen leaf at Lyman Woods in Downers Grove.
What Brings You Back Time and Time Again
I consider spending time in nature essential for my well-being. The forest preserves are some of the very few places we have in our area to enjoy unspoiled nature — they are oases from the noise and stresses of daily life. In addition, the Forest Preserve District has a wonderful variety of programs that bring me and my family back, including ranger talks, hikes, sunrise at Mallard Lake overlook, the Native Plant Sale, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, which I’ve yet to try but plan to try in the future.
Bertuca captured this image of fungi at Churchill Woods in Glen Ellyn.
Catching the Nature Bug
I probably caught the nature bug as a very young child — playing outdoors where nature fueled my vivid imagination — as well as being a Girl Scout and learning about nature and conservation that way. My family also had a cottage in northern Wisconsin where I spent a lot of time outside and learned to appreciate trees, birds, and the simple joys of observing nature.
Bertuca snaps a photo of a hollowed-out tree stump at McDowell Grove Forest Preserve in Naperville.
Favorite Things to Do in the Preserves
Photo hikes are my favorite activity in the preserves. In addition to getting exercise and fresh air, there’s always something new to see and capture with my iPhone camera! In any season, you can find something beautiful. Occasionally my husband and I will bring our dog along, too, and he loves the adventure of sniffing a new trail.
Bertuca captured this scenic view at Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton.
How Nature Inspires
The colors, patterns, and textures of nature inspire me. Just the colors and hues alone are a gift — the blue of a robin’s egg is so different from the blue of the sky. I find joy in the mathematical symmetry of flowers, the veins of a leaf, the textures of moss and fungi. I like to get close and look at the smaller details of insects or the structure of a snowflake.
I recently learned how to use a macro lens on my iPhone camera, and it opens up a whole world of natural beauty that escapes the naked eye.
I also love to catch the colors of a sunrise or sunset. I feel that sunrise is a very hopeful time of day. The natural beauty gives me hope. In addition, I find the silence and sounds of nature to be restorative.
Advice to Others
The first step is getting outside! Sometimes that takes an effort, but once you’re out, it’s well worth it. As you walk, be sure to stop, stand still, look around and listen. Allow yourself some time to simply observe, be present and let nature speak to you.
Bertuca took this photo of a woman at Mayslake Forest Preserve in Oak Brook.