Nov 012012
 

I have got to tell you that my excitement to go visit the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ was not unwarranted!  It was amazing to watch the majestic creatures that were there.  They have 4 different pens for the wolf packs.  They have had the misfortune to have had several of their wolves die this past year, but it was from old age as the majority of the wolves there are 10 years +, which is older then they would have lived in the wild.  There are a few younger wolves including 3 British Columbian Wolves that are black that are being kept in a smaller pen for now as they were spoiled a bit by the older wolf pack they were tried to be introduced to, which caused them to become a little over aggressive towards the older wolves, so they needed to be put in their own pen.  These pups were about 18 months old when we saw them I believe.

Each pack was unique and it was fun to see the different interactions between the members of the packs.  All I have to say is that it was an amazing experience and I have to strongly suggest visiting this preserve to any who have a love of wildlife and/or photography!  The extra for the photographer’s option is well worth the money.  If you aren’t interested in photography, visit the preserve just to see the wolves during their twice daily wolf watch.

I do have to let you know that right now the preserve is without power due to Hurricane Sandy as it is located in New Jersey, but the owners are working on cleaning up and keeping the wolves safe.  They  also plan to adopt a few new pups next spring to introduce to their packs, so younger wolves will soon be joining the ranks.

 

Aug 272012
 

This Spring I had the honor of discovering an new local attraction that I never new existed.  A friend heard about a Dam and Azalea Garden near Columbia, Maryland and we decided to check it out.  I have to say that it is a beautiful area and the Dam itself offers a nice habitat for geese and some other wild life to enjoy.  Fishermen can go there, although I do want to put out the reminder that this is an area shared by other people and other species, so please clean up after yourself and don’t leave fishing lines out where it can harm other wild life!

 

 

First we saw the beautiful picnic area down by the dam and then we went and walked around the Azalea Garden, which has Azaleas in many different colors and several different sizes.  It was fun to walk around, get some fresh air, and see and photograph these beautiful flowers and the local wildlife.  Definitely keeping this place in mind for next year to visit again!

 

 

 

Of note, there are also beautiful Dogwood trees in the Azalea Garden.  There is fun to be had here by people of all ages and even the family pet can go and have fun.  There is picnic tables, and even a pavilion for special events.

 

Aug 222012
 

Jelly Fish

Living near Baltimore there are many places I try to visit at least every couple of years.  As I have friends and family come visit who don’t live in the area, I make it to some of these sites more often then when they aren’t here visiting.  It is very easy to take for granted the sites in DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis, let alone all the other areas near by.  My last visit to the Baltimore Aquarium was this past April, and it made me want to make it there to visit more often.

When I went there was still an official Dolphin show taking place several times a day, and I hear now that is not the case, but visitors can still go watch the trainers interact with the dolphins and can pay extra to spend a day assisting the trainers/or become trainers for the day.

There are many fish and exhibits to be seen that can teach young and old alike about our oceans and water ways.  There are even special exhibits that occur sometimes.  When I went there was a special Jelly Fish Exhibit to capture the visitors imaginations.  The fish are beautiful and there is lots to learn along the way.  The aquarium has activities for children and lots of information that is fun for the adult visitors, too.  I’d recommend a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to anyone who is contemplating it!

 

Aug 202012
 

Zebra walking past an inflating balloon after the Dawn Patrol

Balloon taking off

All I can say about Albuquerque is if you ever get the chance to go there and experience the Balloon Fiesta, GO!  It is an experience that you will never forget and you will not regret it!  In 2011 I witnessed a world record being broken as they launched more balloons in an hour then had ever been launched before the first weekend we were there.  It was beautiful to behold and the sky was just filled with balloons!  There are many different events to behold, some very early, and some late.  The day starts with the Dawn Patrol.  And it is just what it sounds, balloons taking off in the pre-dawn light and it’s a site to behold as you can see the balloons gradually inflate and glow as their fires are lit and fill them with hot air…and then they sail up into the dark sky just before dawn, then as the sunrises, they can be seen floating around as the rest of the balloons fill and take off.  One of the great parts of the Fiesta is that you can walk around the field as the balloons are laid out for their flights, and then watch as they are filled and then take off.  Their are officials who monitor the take offs called zebras and I have to say that the zebras keep everything orderly and clear the area as the balloons take off.

There is little going on during the day after the morning balloons take off, so the park clears around 10-11, as the food and gift vendors close until the evening when the Evening Glow takes place.  In the evening no one takes off, but the balloons are laid out and inflated as everyone walks around and beholds all the unique balloons.  There is everything from standard balloons to special shapes that come in all shapes and sizes!

 

I’ve been to the Balloon Fiesta twice now and this past year I even got to go up in a balloon.  I was honored to represent the media at the event and will never forget my first balloon ride.  I hope to be able to up again in the future, too.  My flight almost didn’t happen because it was a windy day, and the pilot almost chose not to go, but the winds improved and we went.  It was not as long as many other people got to have, but it was long enough to make me want to have the experience again.  I’ve been in a chase crew twice now and that is almost more fun then going up…but as I said, ALMOST!  Sailing up and away from the field and then floating in the air with a balloon keeping you up is not something everyone would want to do, but most the pilots are very experienced and they know what they are doing.

 

don’t know for sure when I’ll make it back to another Balloon Fiesta.  I wish I could go every year, but that just isn’t in the cards.  But I know I’ll go back almost every chance I’m given!

Official Fiesta Balloon lowering the Stars and Stripes for the National Anthem after the Dawn Patrol but before most other balloons take off

Aug 162012
 

Lately I’ve found myself trying to build my family portraiture portfolio.  This is a learning experience because there is so much to consider.  I’ve been building my infant and child portfolios, too, and they have similar challenges.  When young children are involved a photographer needs to keep in mind that it by necessity needs to be a short shoot.  Get in the beginning the shots you really want because that is usually the best chance you have, then you can try to fill in a few others if the child/infant is up to it.  As a pediatric nurse I know what to expect from most kids, but each child is an individual and one is never totally in the know.  Some kids work better when Mom and Dad are present, others are better behaved when they are no where in site.  Sometimes the parents think they are helping by adding comments and such, but sometimes they just distract.  This can be said for any extra person in the studio…if that is where you are shooting.  Being outside has it’s own challenges…and add in pets…and one could easily throw ones hands in the air and say ENOUGH, but I love the challenges that each of these things have brought.

Family portrait in the studio

Family portrait outside

family portrait outside and with pets

 

Through these shoots I’ve dealt with an healthy infant, one who had shoots earlier in the day, and one who had a stomach flu.  Sometimes we get thrown curve balls, but good results can still be had!!