I woke up this morning to my dogs whining and crying, which is very unusual for them. Normally my zoo is very quiet in the mornings, but not today. They knew that it had snowed overnight and they wanted at the white, fluffy stuff! I let them out of their crates and they raced upstairs towards the back door. They were jumping and whining and begging me to let them outside. I barely hit the latch and all three of them charged out the door into the fresh, white snow.
For hours my dogs raced and tore around the yard and wrestled with each other non-stop. And when there is snow on the ground it is nearly impossible to get them back inside. My snow dogs had an absolute blast today. It was so much fun watching them play today.
And they're off!
Ben gives the best "boo-boo" eyes!
Turner blends in so well with the snow. She may look like sweet and innocent, but, you can see, she is plotting something devious.
Those eyes . . . "all the better to see you with, my dear" . . .
Total wrestle mania in our yard!
Ben is my perfect snow monster with his icy mask.
I love Ben's expression. Turner may be older, but she can keep up with the rest of them! She uses her body like a battering ram!
Thank you for stopping by!! Cheers!
To view the entire gallery, or to purchase a print or product of the images shown in this blog, please click here! Thank you for stopping by!
On Sunday morning, the second day of our cruise on the Eurodam, we awoke to find that we were almost at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. After a delicious breakfast in bed, we got ready for the day and headed to the tender boats to get to shore. The beauty about this little island is that it is owned by the cruise line, which makes it a private island.
The island was quiet and peaceful and the beach was not packed. There were a variety of excursions to do on Half Moon Cay, but only our son had signed up for one of them, while we decided to stay on the beach and roam around.
Before his excursion, my son hit the water and searched for shells and sea life.
Along a small part of the shore are these little beach houses that the visitors can rent for the afternoon. So colorful. So vibrant. So expensive.
One of the excursions available on Half Moon Cay is horseback riding through the wooded trails, on the sand, and in the water. My husband and I ventured down the beach to see if we could find those horses and their riders as they made their way towards the water. It was a long walk, but I enjoyed every step of it. The sand was so soft and warm.
We stopped here, under shade, to wait for the horses to come by. It was right next to where the horse riding excursion starts and ends.
The horses soon appeared from the trail and were heading right towards us. I was excited and hopeful that they were going to be heading into the water, but, to my disappointment, they did not. Two of the riders had decided that they were done with this excursion and stopped to dismount, with the help of the attendants. As they did, I decided to follow the group, still hoping that they would soon be heading into the water for a swim. As I ran to keep up, the sound of a galloping horse came from behind me. I turned around just in time to see one of the riderless horses, flying by me, on its way to get back with the group. Apparently, even though the person was done with the excursion, that horse was not!
I found the second riderless horse playing hide and seek.
The horses and their riders disappeared onto another trail and I gave up my chase and headed back to where my husband was patiently waiting for me. We were done chasing horses and decided to head up the the beach and to find lunch.
As we ate lunch clouds started rolling in, giving the water a beautiful muted color.
In the blink of an eye, our afternoon had passed and it was time to head back to the ship for the evening. If there was an island that I could be marooned on, it would be Half Moon Cay, Bahamas!
In order to get to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, we had to cruise around the country island of Cuba! We woke up Monday morning to this beautiful site off our balcony! The waters were much deeper and so was the color. I never realized that Cuba was so mountainous!
The dark waters off Cuba were rougher and choppy. What a contrast between the white caps and deep blues! I had the opportunity to be creative and make some abstract images from the comfort of our cabin's balcony.
After breakfast we headed down to one of the lower decks where passengers were either snoozing on the lounges, getting their daily exercise by walking full circles on the outer deck, or just taking it all in. We tried walking around for exercise, but only made it one lap. I loved watching the wake caused by Eurodam. The lighter, and brighter, color was still there on the starboard side as the sun lit the water.
Before we joined the rest of the group I decided to have a little fun with the 8mm fish-eye lens.
Next stop . . . Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island!
Oh the daily grind in winter. Dark grey. Clouds. Chills. Light grey. Snow. Brrrrrr. Blue grey. Forecast of clouds with a chance of more clouds with a chance of grey or rain. Cold hands. Grey. Rinse. Repeat. Grey clouds. Snow brushes. Shoveling. Melting snow turns into mud. Rain. Brown. Yuk.
"Wait," I interrupted my friend as she was speaking about her plans of escape. "Vacation in the middle of winter, you say?!"
"Why not?" my friend laughed at me as if I had three heads.
"Hmmmmmmmm." And thirty seconds go by. Ohhhhhhhh myyyyyyyyyy . . . this is brilliant!!! This is beyond brilliant! Scratch that grey, broken record to a stop . . .
"Oh, my lovely neighbors, how I love you . . . but we are going to crash your winter vacation this year!!! Pack your bags, boys! We are getting out of here!"
And so on Friday the 13th in January (no bad luck was to be found that day!), in the dead of winter, our family, along with three other families, started on our way to Ft. Lauderdale. We were on our way to find a pretty boat . . . I mean a ship . . . and leave the grey behind and start our search for the colors of the Caribbean. Queue the theme song for the "Pirates of the Caribbean!" But we had to get to the airport first.
After the sun went down and the sky fell dark, we flew out of Arnold Palmer Airport, (which was a surprisingly easy experience). It wasn't long after we were up in the air that the view out my window caught my attention. The waning full moon, the stars in the clear sky, and the lights from the towns below. The stars seemed to stay in place as the lights from the Earth flowed beneath the wings. The moon would sneak up beside us as the plane would bank and make its turns. And then the moon would disappear again back by the tail of the plane. It was all so pretty flying in the night sky.
My first attempt to photograph what I saw was a total failure. I tried again and again. My husband and son sat right next to me, amused at watching me trying to get the shot. Over and over again, I would set the camera's timer, press the lens tight against the window and quickly shove as much fabric against the exposed window in order to block out the glare from the plane's cabin, hold my breath and wait for the shutter to click. Sometimes the shutter stayed open for a second or longer in order to drag the lights below. Other times, it would be a shorter exposure. Many times the glare still came through and I finally made my son take his coat off so that I could try to be more successful in covering the window. To my family's amusement, I must have done this at least 45 times . . . these two are my favorite.
Half way into our flight I looked over and noticed that my friends' daughter was still wide awake. As her parents were falling asleep in the shadows, her little face was lit up by the entertaining show on the computer screen. She was such a good, little traveler.
After landing the late evening in Ft. Lauderdale, we slept in a hotel and dreamed of sea shells dancing in our heads.
On Saturday, January 14, we boarded the Holland America Eurodam. It was our first cruise. And as we stepped on board we were amazed by the sights and beauty of this this giant floating hotel. We went to our respective cabins and unpacked and then went through our first muster drill.
After the muster drill, we were informed that the best view as we pulled out of port was on the Lido deck. And off we all went. We watched two other ships leave port ahead of us before it was our turn to start our voyage. We watched in awe as these giant, floating vessels were maneuvered out of port. It was fascinating to all, young and old!
Little Eve was a true adventurer on our vacation. After the ship next to us left, she decided it was time to go and explore what else was going on. And she and her dad were off and running.
As the Eurodam left port and got into deeper waters, the ship's speed increased. I have never been on a vessel that caused such a wake and, like many of my fellow passengers, was hypnotized by the blue green water that was flowing from the back of the ship.
As we pulled further and further away from Ft. Lauderdale, the sun got lower and lower and our first sunset on our first cruise did not disappoint.
If this was what the first 24 hours looked like, I knew that the rest of our adventure was going to be amazing!
Next stop . . . Half Moon Cay, Bahamas!
To view the entire gallery, or to purchase a print or product, of the images shown in this blog, please click here! Thank you for stopping by!
This evening (the night before Christmas Eve) we traveled over to West Virginia to see Oglebay's Festival of Lights. Unfortunately, it rained for half of our trip, but we made the most of it anyway! We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the park wasn't overly packed! We were able to take our time and see everything! This evening I was experimenting a little with longer exposure with the beautiful Christmas tree lights!
We took our time traveling through the park and got to really appreciate all the beauty! Loved the patriotic display! There were a few times when George drove faster than what my camera and I could keep up with . . .but I loved the effects! ! The boys and I decided to stop at the different gift shops and discovered even more brilliant lights!
Oh look! A llama!
And we had to stop to get some really good shots of the dinosaurs, especially the t-rex!!
We spent a lot of time taking different shots of this tunnel. This one is my favorite. It was taken as we were driving through with a longer exposure. There are many different light exhibits to see! The carousal , unfortunately, had some missing lights, but was still gorgeous! This exhibit always cracks us up. A mamma cardinal feeding her babies looks like she is puking all over them. Totally gross. lol I think that a lot of visitors feel that this exhibit is their favorite! If you ever get a chance to drive through the festival of lights, I highly suggest it! There was one photo I was unable to get because of traffic . . . but if you happen to drive through the festival of lights, make sure you look back after you see the swan in the pond . . . the beautiful reflection is breathtaking!!! Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your day is full of wonder and love!!
About a year and a half ago I decided to resign from my receptionist position at a local hair salon in order to stay at home and keep a tight eye on my teenager. But I also found myself taking more and more photographs and trying to make a living doing stock photography from home. But I quickly realized that I didn't want to do stock photography, but, rather, I wanted to start my own photography business and chase sunsets, animals and beautiful landscapes.
Around that same time, I happened to be sitting in the waiting room waiting to get my mammogram done. (I know, too much information). But, as I was sitting there, I picked up the latest National Geographic magazine. While flipping through the beautiful pages, I noted that Nat. Geo. had just started a new community for photographers who are trying to show off their best work, get noticed and be published. I felt my heart leap out of my chest! Since I was a little girl, my dream was to be published in the pages of National Geographic magazine! And this was possibly a way to do so!! I felt like a little kid again! I felt like anything could happen!
To date, National Geographic's Your Shot community has uploaded over 6,982,683 photos from over 787,465 photographers who come from 195 different countries.
In the past year and a half, I am honored to say that, I have been published four times in National Geographic's Your Shot's "Daily Dozen." I have also been published in National Geographic's Your Shot story, "Sights and Sounds" story by Matt Adams! And the photo that was chosen for the story was of the silhouette of my son playing the trumpet at sunset. Below you can see the images that were published in National Geographic's Your Shot's "Daily Dozen" and the story, "Sights and Sounds." I can't even describe the joy it brings to me that my photographs have been noticed by some really amazing editors!
Below is the "Trumpeting Sunset" image that I took of my son after his 7th grade band concert. We had picked up ice cream and then stopped on our way home to watch sunset. My son took out his trumpet and played while the sun was getting lower and lower on the horizon. And I am very proud to say that this image was selected for Matt Adams' "Sights and Sounds" story! Unfortunately, only one photo made it into the printed magazine, and it wasn't mine. So I continue to work harder!
The photo below not only made it to National Geographic's Your Shot's "Daily Dozen", but it was also voted as December 17th's "Top Shot"! This means that I have another chance to be published within the pages of National Geographic's magazine. It took me months of visiting the zoo, photographing and spending many, many hours watching Koda and Kobe playing in their area of the Pittsburgh Zoo. I am extremely proud of this image! This image was also featured in National Geographic's Your Shot's Instagram account, along with being featured in the Editor's Spotlight!
The "Polar Bear Wrestling" image below was published in the "Daily Dozen." Kobe, the female polar bear, was sitting by the window watching me and all of the visitors who passed by when Koda decided to take advantage of the situation and sneaked up on Kobe and started wrestling with her! Would you believe me if I told you that I almost dumped this photograph?!
The silhouette below of Koda and Kobe not only made it to the "Daily Dozen," but it was also voted in as "Top Shot" and was featured in natgeoyourshot's Instagram's account!
This past summer my story and work were featured in the "Arts" edition of LOCAL Pittsburgh magazine!! I was a nervous wreck being interviewed and photographed! But it was also a lot of fun! Below is the cover page and the two-page spread the magazine did on my work! Oh, yes, I am EXTREMELY honored!!
Below is my image, "Polar Bear Wrestling", which was published in a German magazine!! And, yes, I actually got paid a little bit of money for it!
My "Polar Bear Wrestling" photo was also published in Spain's Muy Interesante's Animal special! Koda and Kobe got a two-page spread!
A few years ago, I had the honor to work with Mary Pitcher and the Tony Hawk Foundation during the building of Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark in Carnegie, PA. The more time I spent with Mary Pitcher and the young volunteer skateboarders, the more I appreciated, and understood, what she was trying to be accomplished in memory of Mary's two boys. I started falling in love with photographing skateboarders, BMXers and WCMXers and all of their talents.
Since then, The Tony Hawk Foundation has used several of my images for its Press Release and for its 2014 Annual Report!! What an honor!
Locally, the SteelCityGrammers, from Instagram, featured my work four times!
I have also been blessed to be noticed by the Instagram account "412 Project" for my work also!
Earlier this year, Phipps Conservatory ran a contest on Instagram and I was one out of the three winners! I was awarded a yearly membership for winning! And let me just say, I put that membership to good use! The photo below is the silhouette of Fred and Ginger, along with my beautiful friends Lisa and Dan! This was such a beautiful sunset!
LOCAL Pittsburgh also featured the following photo on their Instagram account. What an amazing sunset that evening! The past year and a half has been so incredible!
Going through this exercise, of examining my accomplishments over the past year and a half as my first blog, has made me realize that I am doing what I should be doing with my life. With that being said, I could not have done this without the love and support from all of my friends and family. It brings me so much joy that my work can make people smile! Thank you, friends and family, for your guidance and for cheering me onward and upward! . . . Time to go chase another sunset!