you are here.

another group of shots from my recently shelley lake adventures. it was an overcast kind of white-out day when there’s very little if any blue in the sky. i loved this little bench on a hill all by itself.

bench2 bench1

i walked around the park in unbearable heat on the only day in the past month and a half that it hasn’t rained. and believe me, i was saying every rain prayer i could think of and doing all of the rain dances that i could muster up the energy to do. i am not a big person – standing at 4’11 and weighing less than most full grown dogs i know, i am not the type of person to really work up a sweat no matter how hot it is. sure, if i play tennis for an hour or two i will. but i can be hanging around in the heat, walking, doing whatever, and still be relatively free of claminess. let me tell you folks, walking around that lake was an exercise in hydration survival.

i went there on a very brief mission to find a few good shooting spots. so i started walking on the path… la la la… and before i knew i had walked to the middle of the lake. for those of you who aren’t familiar with shelley lake, you get up to it by walking up a hill that overlooks a large lake. you obviously conclude: “this path must loop around the lake.” so once i saw that i had reached the point in the path that coincided with the middle of the lake i thought, “yes!…just a little bit further now, louis!” and yes, it was kind of like that point in pet semetary when louis and jud walk, like, 2000 miles and jud keeps saying it’s not much further.

so at this point i had been at the park for about 10 minutes. then i realized that the path went past the lake. “oh okay,” i thought. “this just must swing a little bit around the lake. not bad, not bad.” how bad could it possibly be, right? surely this couldn’t go much past the lake. and it seemed like it would be faster to continue walking this way and loop around than it would be to turn back.

of course i was sorely mistaken and on this 100 degree day in unspeakable humidity with no water i was the sweatiest i have ever been. disgusting.

at this point i started to see mile markers… and that is a terrible sign for someone who believes this path to be a short jaunt around the lake. in fact, it’s one of the worst signs ever. this is when you know you’re in it for the long haul – water or no water, skirt or no skirt, hiking shoes or no hiking shoes, 30 pounds of camera equipment or no 30 pounds of camera equipment.

and around this point i started to wonder if i should go back. i was one mile into it at this point according to the mile marker. i figured it couldn’t go on too much longer (the heat must’ve affected my cognitive skills).

of course, it did go on forever and ever. saw some nice water that i considered diving into despite its depth of about 1.5 feet:


and shortly after this i saw a sign that mapped the park and the trails around the lake. at this point i had walked very far and taken several turns because the path splits off in a couple places. i had no idea where i was, i just knew i was headed in the general direction of the lake.  so i was thinking, “sweet! a map! please let me find my way out of this place as quickly as possible.” now, please, tell me if there’s something i’m missing, but if i’m not mistaken this map is completely useless:


do you see the little “YOU ARE HERE” sign at the bottom indicating that my location will be parked on the above map with a triangle? then do you notice how there’s a complete lack of said triangle on the map? side note: there is also no emergency telephone. so what – “YOU ARE HERE” as in “look! this triangle is pointing up towards the sertoma arts center boat house. you are somewhere around there! so, you know, if you needed to use that nonexistant emergency telephone to call for help, you can tell them you’re on the shelley lake trail at the sertoma arts center boat house and they’ll find you….in five days.”

sigh. so to make a long story short, i came stumbling out of the woods, disheveled and covered in sweat 2.5 miles and an hour or two later. thanks, shelley lake trail map.


the lake: shortly before i jumped in, drank the entire thing, and passed out.

so day 1 of the scouting new shoot locations began with me going to brookhaven nature park off of millbrook road in north raleigh. i had no idea what it would be, but figured it might be a good place to take portraits. i had a little extra time today so i swung by and parked in an empty parking lot.

immediately as you enter the park you come upon a gazebo-overlook-type-thing with a few picnic benches and a long railing. on that railing are plaques depicting various types of wildlife you can see in the park. great! i’d love to know what’s in store for me in the nature park. and nature plaques are innocent enough, right?

but here’s the catch:  the dude who put up the plaques puts these up all the time and i’m sure gets pretty bored so he decided to have a little fun, let loose, and scare the bejeezus out of people by putting this as the first and most noticeable plaque of the park:


wait… wait…really?………………… jeez.

great. because that’s exactly what i want to see when i enter a nature park. a plaque that says basically, “there are tons of these suckers in here. this plaque is a testament to the fact that there are snakes around every corner. you can’t hide. you can’t escape. because when a park hangs up a sign informing you of the wildlife you’ll see, you will most certainly see it.” i can almost hear the plaque guy laughing from here. now you have two choices: continue to enter the park knowing that you face certain death, or turn around and go home, make yourself some cocoa, and take a nap.

but now i was strangely intrigued. it was like some sort of terrible low-budget movie scene when the actress gets a really obvious warning that she ignores much to the joy of the audience. because hey, she enjoys a dare every now and then.

so of course you’ll notice the phrases “poisonous snake” and “generally found in lowlands and near swamps and streams” on the plaque. this is all right before a trail that takes me directly to a stream. awesome. whoever planned this park has a totally warped sense of humor. at this point i considered calling geoff to give him my coordinates so that he could just skip calling the police and directly call an ambulance when i didn’t show up for dinner. but before i could i was distracted by these:

020 i want my mommy.

by this point i was hopping, skipping, and jumping over millipedes while flailing my arms wildly about to protect myself from the spiderwebs i kept falling into and any snakes that might happen to jump up and attack. i was making so much noise that the snakes weren’t really concerning me so much anymore as much as the giant spiders that i knew were lurking somewhere around their giant spider webs that i kept disturbing and accidentally eating.

riddlehey guys, over here! i found shelob’s lair!

i was also incredibly suspicious of a dragonfly who was literally following me around the park. he was continually hopping from plant to plant but of course never letting me get too close to him to use any lens but my telephoto.  but he looked like he was up for a challenge or a fight… or possibly he was a spy for the snakes or giant spiders. better still, he could’ve been carrying the serum to ultimately destroy mankind (obscure lord of the rings and coheed and cambria references all in one blog!).



the best part is that i walked all over the nature part avoiding snakes, running into spider webs, and hiding from suspicious dragon flies all while trying to scout out good locations for shoots when i reached the end of the trail. which ended simply like this:

041hahaha, suckers!

well then. this was me… standing in the middle of a stream, taking a picture of where the park planners threw up their hands in exhaustion and said, “eh, it’s good enough, let’s go home.”

besides the dangerous nature, it’s a beautiful park. it would be really great and lovely to do photoshoots here in the fall because the leaves would be awesome. so if anyone is looking to do fall photoshoots, i hope you are the adventurous type who doesn’t fear poisonous snakes or spiders and don’t mind your photographer wearing thigh-high leather waders and chain mail.  all sarcastic jokes aside, there is real beauty to the park and great places to hike.

i ended up not seeing any snakes. what gives? that plaque basically promised me snakes and now i feel ripped off. but at the same time i am home alive and in time for dinner.


and in other news, there was some funky type of grasshopper in that plant on our deck last night. he was like a space age see-through grasshopper and posed quite nicely.


and with that, monday’s over. bring on the tuesday.