Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Name Game

Well, we did it! We adopted a dog and no one else can claim him - we have the microchip to prove it! After scouring through scores of craigslist postings, petfinder postings and visits to shelters and SPCAs, some close by in Raleigh, others way the heck down south, almost to South Carolina, we found him or actually maybe he found us.

Phillip's mom told us about a rescue organization in Wake Forest called Saving Grace. The founder, Molly, goes around to rural shelters in North Carolina and has a way of figuring out if the dog can be rehabilitated and will make a good family pet. She was at the Johnston County Animal Control shelter when she spotted a black terrier mix. She asked the AC how he was taken in and was told that they found him and another dog tied to a tree with no shelter, food or water - how awful?! They approached the owners and they said they didn't want them anyways, so AC took them away. Luckily for them, Molly rescued both of them, not knowing they were brought in together. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of dogs brought in to the shelters, they only have a week to be adopted or else they have to euthanize them. It's pretty heart breaking going into the shelters knowing that this is their last chance. We knew we wanted a shelter dog, but it's hard to tell what they will be like when they're in such a terrifying situation. The dogs we attempted to meet were actually afraid of us and some wouldn't even leave their cages. It's pretty depressing. I definitely have a better appreciation of Bob Barker's spay & neuter your pets campaign.

Thankfully Molly knows what she's doing and works around the conditions of the shelters. So after our application was accepted, we set up an appointment to meet "Freeman" - the name Saving Grace had given him. As soon as we walked through the gate, he came running up to greet us with lots of kisses and a happy tail wagging. He snuggled up to us both when we kneeled down, so we knew he was The One right away and a few minutes later he was ours! That was the easy part... the next part was not so easy. What are we going to call him? He hadn't been at Saving Grace too long, so he didn't know a name yet - our options were endless. It seemed like anytime we were together we were shouting out different names at each other. We'd poll family, friends, co-workers... really anyone who was willing to give an opinion, which people are generally not shy about giving. We finally narrowed it down to a top 10 list in no particular order:

1) Wallace
2) Duncan
3) Oscar
4) Harvey
5) Griffin
6) Roscoe
7) Johnny
8) Buddy

9) Lincoln 
10) Walter

I don't think we even really had a favorite since neither of us was willing to go out on a limb and say "he is definitely a ____." Days went by. Inquisitive emails from family and friends pressed for an answer. Our deadline came and went and we still couldn't decide. Finally, the day of the vet appointment arrived. It was kind of do or die. We had narrowed it down to 3 names - Walter, Harvey and Oscar - but couldn't decide. Phillip made the executive decision to list him as one of the names at the appointment. Afterward he told me the name he chose and I still wasn't sure, so I suggested we call him another name. It still didn't feel right calling him by that name either. By this point, we were pretty exhausted by our sub-par decision-making skills so we would just shout out random names to him and finally one stuck.... (drum roll please)

I introduce to you HARVEY! (which as luck would have it happened to be the name we told the vet) Isn't he handsome?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Meet Miss Suiter. This little lady with an angelic face was wide awake and raring to go when I arrived early Sunday morning for a quick photo shoot. Her mom said she was all smiles and giggles right before I got there, so of course when the camera came out she was very serious, but at least there were no tears! Phew! And as much as we tried, she couldn't stay asleep unless she was snuggled up with mom - too much to see! So I just focused on capturing her gorgeous features, tiny hands and feet and beautiful decor of her nursery. I did catch one lucky shot of her blinking so it looks like she's sleeping - don't be fooled though - she sees all. Mom was great about changing outfits and keeping her happy while I snapped away. I'm still figuring out a lot - I think taking pictures of babies must be one of the most difficult things in photography - but was very happy with a few of the photos!

Here are my favorites:
 and now in color
tiny toes
black & white version
tiny hands
Rocking her to sleep
Sound asleep when snuggled up with mom... 
I love the baby fuzz! So soft!
baby blue eyes
 Thanks for a great shoot ladies!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Professional Photographers of North Carolina

One of my assignments for my photography class involved purchasing some film for an in class project. While in Southeastern Camera, I started chatting with one of the owners and inquired about photographers needing second shooters for weddings - gotta start building that portfolio! - and additional local resources for someone who's just starting out. As luck would have it, the store keeps a list of people available as second shooters so they added my name (I scanned it and there weren't too many people listed!) AND I found out about the upcoming Professional Photographers of NC workshop in Durham the last weekend of February. And the icing on the cake? They're handing out free tickets to the trade show. Sweet!

Now unlike Phillip, who scored about as high as you can score on the extrovert portion of the Myers Briggs and is as charming as they come, I'm not the most extroverted person - we balance each other out that way. So the idea of walking up to strangers, who I want to be just like, is pretty intimidating. What do I say? Hi, my name is Laura. How do I do what you do? What's your secret to success?  Photoshop or Lightroom? Nikon or Canon? Do you need someone to mentor because I'm available? Need an assistant who'll work for free? I'll do it! Please teach me everything you know.... not likely. But if I'm seriously going to do this, I'm going to have to step out of my comfort zone... eek. I'm getting nauseous just thinking about it. This is what I want to do though and I'm passionate about it, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and turn on the charm. I'm sure I have some hiding somewhere ;)   

Here's to taking chances! PPA here I come! 

And representing my motivation is this picture of me sitting on top of The Law in North Berwick, Scotland. This was our first day there and we hadn't slept in over 24 hours, so needless to say we were pretty exhausted, but didn't want to miss a second of the great weather since it was supposed to rain the rest of the trip. So we hiked and on the hike, ran into an American student studying photography! I remember being so jealous that she had figured out the photography "thing" at such a young age, but also inspired that this was something obtainable and grateful that I had the clarity to see my passion now. So here I am, no shower and no sleep, but grinning ear to ear after climbing 187 m (613 ft) to the top of The Law. Whenever I am feeling lazy, I look at the picture and tell myself to get off my bum and go climb a mountain (or very large hill). No excuses!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunny San Diego

I'm currently holed up at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego on business. The plan was to bring my camera to take a few pics should any free time fall into my lap, but with my carry on and personal item filled to the brim and weighing all most as much as I do... ok, that's an exaggeration, but they are pretty heavy... I had to nix the DSLR camera and planned to throw in my point-and-shoot; however, that got left behind along with my toothpaste. So I'm left with my camera phone, which is actually not too shabby. Here are few photos I snapped with my LG:

View from my hotel room

Gas Lamp District Entrance

Padres Stadium

View of the marina and a Dole Cargo Ship -- That is A LOT of bananas

Entrance to the Embarcadero Marina Park 

View from the Convention Center of the sunset over the marina 

As a side note, while in the RDU airport, I realized that my fingernails looked pretty atrocious. As luck would have it, 2 gates down from my departure gate was the Xpress Spa. I've wandered by it quite a few times on other trips, always curious, but never enough time. Well, for once I actually arrived at the suggested hour and a half before my flight, so I took advantage of the spare time and got a manicure. It was definitely relaxing to sit in the massage chair and let all the stress from traveling, work, life, etc. just melt away and for half an hour I enjoyed some "me" time. Even though it was brief, it definitely did the trick and I was recharged and energized for the next few days of long work hours. I highly recommend it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Journey to the Artic Tundra

It's no secret that this winter has been very cold and wet on the east coast, but mother nature seems to have a direct bull's eye on my hometown of Front Royal, and she is not letting up. They've gotten close to 6 feet(!?!) of snow this winter, and have more on the way this week. 

Phillip and I trekked up to "Fro Ro," as we affectionately call it, to see my parents and the 30 inches of snow still on the ground this past weekend. And while they have managed pretty well, their dog and cat, Bailey and Lucy, have taken it pretty hard. Neither is a fan of the snow, especially when it's over their heads, so each has a major case of cabin fever. Bailey has taken to leaving little "presents" around the house and Lucy has bonded with a rubber band. Apparently it's become kind of a security blanket for her, so she takes it with her wherever she goes... upstairs, downstairs, naps, it doesn't matter. She even plays fetch with it. We're convinced she thinks she a dog.

When we weren't watching their antics around the house, we were out and about taking pics to document the copious amounts of snow.

My parents' backyard buried under the snow...
Sunset over the snow covered mountains. 
Icicles looming above...
Main Street.
Ginormous snow piles in the parking lot. 
The church where we were married just over 4 months ago!
Phillip driving the caboose.
Blue Ridge Mountains Skyline

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm exhausted from the four and a half hour car ride back to Raleigh from a visit with my family in Virginia, but wanted to post a quick picture that I took of my mom's orchid (one of my all time favorite flowers) in front of a window at their home.  

A beautiful flower for a beautiful valentine's day with the ones I love. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cotton Candy Clouds

As much as I wish the sun would set later this time of year, I do appreciate having a gorgeous sunset to look at on my evening commute home. This is what welcomed home tonight:

Alright, it's time for photography class!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Ode to Ollie

Meet Ollie.

This happy fellow came into our lives in not the happiest of circumstances. He was found wandering in a parking lot, wet, covered in mud and ticks and had an injured leg. Lucky for him, my friend Emily took charge and scooped him up to see what was wrong. He had no collar and no microchip, so there wasn't an immediate way to find the owner. She whisked him to the vet, vaccinated him for rabies, got pain meds for the leg, and nursed him back to health. After postings online and fliers around the shopping center where he was found, no one turned up. Emily, knowing our desire to add a dog to our family, setup a playdate for us, and we fell for him instantly. He's adorable, doesn't chew on anything, no accidents in the house, no begging for food, and his favorite thing to do is sleep on his back with his paws in the air. He's the perfect dog. How could we be so lucky!? We sent out pics to family and friends introducing everyone to the new love in our life, and started falling into a routine. Life was good. Until the email came. The owner found him on craigslist three weeks after he'd been rescued. Our hearts fell into our stomachs as that horrible feeling of knowing he was no longer ours set in. We questioned why he was found in such a bad state, where had they been for the past 3 weeks and how did he get away? But we knew he was not ours. We had to give him back. We returned him to the family who owns a farm, where he was born, with 4 other dogs, so we know it's for the best and he'll be very happy to be back with his doggie buds, but it still hurts. We miss you Ollie. You have set the bar high for our next fur-baby, but we know he or she is out there and will be just as happy in our home. Take care buddy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

If I had a million dollars...

On road trips, Phillip and I like to play the game "What would we do if you we won the lottery?" Since the odds of winning are infinitesimal and actually requires you to play the lottery, we just have good time trying to think up lots of different and sometimes silly ways to spend our imaginary money. Of course we mention the requisites like new cars, a new house, perhaps a beach house, traveling the world, charities, etc., but then there's also the sail boat in Caribbean, infinity pool, helicopter rides, in home movie theater, the condo in Scotland, villas in Italy and France, the list could go on forever. However, even if I were to win the lottery, I know I would still want to be a photographer, especially since it would make it that much easier to fill my bag with this arsenal!
The Canon 5D... Isn't he handsome?
Oh the pictures I could take with you. 
The 85mm, 1.8 lens. The perfect portrait lens. *sigh
The 50mm, 1.2. The lens I'd use for anything and everything. 
I just know we'd be a great match.

The macbook pro. 
I can only imagine the time it would save me with its ease of editing.
The 70-200mm, 2.8 telefoto. He'll leave no detail, near or far unfocused.
And carrying this bad boy around I'd have arms of steel - well, maybe just one left arm of steel.
100mm, 2.8 Macro Lens
I've never been a fan of insects, but this guy might persuade me to get close...

Or maybe I'll just stick to flowers.
And of course... the fish eye lens.
No bag would be complete without this gem.

Well, a girl can dream... and if a certain someone needs any ideas for a birthday/valentine's day gift, he won't have to go far for ideas!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


While Phillip and I will always be a Deacon & a Wahoo at heart, I have to confess that we were pretty pumped at the opportunity to attend a Duke basketball game at Cameron Indoor. I've heard stories of how loud and crazy it gets in there, but to experience it first hand is like no other - Lord help anyone who decides to wear their school's colors in there... They are pretty ruthless as one Florida State gentleman in a yellow and maroon rugby shirt (aka Harry Potter, which the students affectionately shouted in unison towards him throughout the game - you can play Where's Waldo in the photos below) found out early on. Needless to say, it definitely lived up to my expectations and it was nice to  understand what the Cameron Crazies were shouting since it's sometimes difficult to tell on TV. One thing I was not prepared for was how tiny the arena is. It's no wonder my ears were ringing afterward with so much noise in such small confines. Here are a few highlights of the game:
Pregame warm-up.

The gentleman in the cowboy hat with the white erase board prepares the crowd for the "Harry Potter" chant. Though, in their defense, he was definitely intoxicated and actually seemed to relish the spotlight.
Wizardry battle between Harry Potter and the Blue Devil

Willing the ball to go their way.

Yawn* I think I'll see what's going on in the news...
Just kidding! The Crazies brought out the papers for a FSU foul shot and shouted, "Can You Read This."
Action shot.

Coach K rallies the troops.
And one last battle between Harry Potter and the Blue Devil. 
I believe this was before security asked the HP entourage to leave.

All in all, a fun time.