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.

the rain has prohitbited me from seeking out all the locations i wanted to find this weekend, but it should be clearing up soon. i have some free time tomorrow to go out to new parks in the area and find good locations. i’m also doing really well in the props department – clearing out the storage room so i can organize all the stuff. bought an awesome bright purple leather chair for $10 that i can’t wait to use. i’m sure i’ll pull a few muscles dragging that out to the middle of a field somewhere. :) so although i didn’t get half of the stuff i set out to accomplish done, i did do a few important things.

a bit of my setback involved the kittens getting their rabies and distemper vaccinations on saturday morning. they have been sick ever since. :( i woke up some poor vet in the middle of the night who was on call to grill her about the condition of my kittens. :) they had told us in the office that it wouldn’t be abnormal for them to be “lethargic,” but i guess by “lethargic” they meant “barely eating, howling, stumbling around when not curled up in a corner with their head face down on the carpet.”

apparently all of this is normal for the first 24-48 hours, but it is making me quite wary of ever giving them booster shots. they’re in incredible pain and won’t let you touch them on the shoulder where they got the shots. at one point buckles accidentally rolled over onto his right shoulder in his sleep and jumped up screaming. both of them were an absolute mess last night but are slowly improving today. buckles is still crying every once in a while but sat and watched shark week for a little bit today. dolfy was more sick today than yesterday and looks so sad and weak which upsets me greatly. usually he’s bounding around yelling and annoying everyone and everything.


a lot like this, only sadder.

i’m blogging about this because i googled kittens who felt unwell after their vaccinations and received several websites of people stating their cats were unusually tired or whatnot. i also found several vaccination conspiracy websites which would’ve upset me too much to read, so i didn’t. :) since people find my blog through lots of different searches, i figured i’d let you know if you stumbled upon this to help your kitten that unfortunately it is normal for them to act like this. they are apparently running a low-grade fever and will be very strange for the first 24-48 hours. if it has not improved substantially after 48 hours is when you have a definite problem. also if they’re vomitting, radiating heat, or their face swells you will need to call your vet immediately. but if you are worried for any other reason, please wake up that on call vet anyway. it’s better to be safe than sorry.

i did look up exactly what distemper is… and seeing that it kills 50-95% of the animals it infects, it really is a good idea to vaccinate them against it obviously. but vaccinations can cause their own problems. it’s a kitten catch-22. i hope if you found my blog through this search that your kitten is okay! please let me know if you have any kitten vaccination questions. :)

before the boys went to the vet and got sick they did enjoy stalking a huge butterfly who was on the deck. thankfully the oblivious butterfly, seperated from the kittens through a merciful layer of glass, spent about 30 minutes with us and allowed me to get some nice telephoto shots. usually i find butterflies to be quite skiddish, but this one was pretty friendly!… if that’s the right word to use for butterflies.

butterfly-027 butterfly-034 butterfly-039

tonight i’ll probably accompany buckles on the couch some more to watch shark week. tonight they’re airing a documentary about the original story behind jaws. how can you go wrong? shark week is only the best week ever. however, it has declined in its quality over the past several years. i remember when it was on for 24 hours a day for the entire week, but for the past few years it has only been on between the hours of 6-10pm every night. that’s not “shark week.” that’s like, “shark evening every night for 7 days.”

also, since people became afraid of sharks and began hunting them more viciously, shark week has become less about terror and blood and more about saving the sharks. now, don’t get me wrong, i am all about saving the sharks. i totally 100% disagree with anyone who hunts sharks for whatever reason. however, my favorite shows during shark week are where innocent unsuspecting people are randomly and viciously attacked on the beach without warning from giant man-eating sharks… and i have noticed a considerable lack of those types of shows in the recent years and more about how sharks are misunderstood.

what should be happening is that the discovery channel should continue to air the bloody terrifying shark shows that make you afraid of any body of water and people should discontinue hunting sharks out of fear that they’ll be torn to pieces. everyone wins! the sharks are left alone and people are left to sit on their couches with a bucket of popcorn for a week vowing to never return to the beach. i need to write a letter to the editor.


something just brushed my leg… SOMETHING JUST BRUSHED MY LEG!!

so during our beach trip we woke up several times before it was light in order to get down to the beach and get shots of the crabs. when we went to cape hatteras when i was little (and still willing to wake up before dawn), the ghost crabs were always out in the early morning light. however, they must’ve decided, like me, that they’d rather stay up late and sleep in because no crabs were ever out. sure there were some really tiny ones, but not like the kind we knew.

so one night geoff, laura, and i ventured out into the mosquito infested wildnerness covered in deet and decided to look for the crabs at night. and voila! we have crabs. we took a flashlight, but there were so many of them we were practically jumping to avoid stepping on them. they were all fiddler crabs and ghost crabs.


needless to say, they are terrified of my flash. they jumped into the air when i shot it. felt kinda bad.

anyway, the next night my parents took us out to dinner and we had leftover hush puppies. so of course, we all went down to the beach and tried to feed them to the crabs like any sane and respectable family would do.

but it worked! and OH MAN do crabs love hush puppies. they grab them and run. and all the while you swear you can hear them laughing:

crabhushpuppy“hahaha! so long, suckers!”

if you can’t tell, the photography skills required to catch a crab in pure darkness with a telephoto lens while laughing hysterically are hard to acquire, so i did the best i could. this was one of the crabs, running frantically away after snatching the hush puppy and presumably taking it back it’s crabby liar to feast for the next several years.

i miss the beach!

top of the dunes overlooking highway 12:

beach-352-copy“oh my god, the mosquitos are everywhereeee!”