Monday, December 31, 2012

Snippets + Snapshots | December 2012

Snippets + Snapshots from the past month...
what a mess | floods suck | not. getting. up. | special date | cirque show | hey that's me | definition of adorable | workers in the house = puppy gate | hard at work hubby | cuteness overload x2 | blanket thieves | christmtas play | arizona balloon classic | the hubby | good for a giggle | flower porn | sunshine = sleepy pups | final christmas decoration | dear santa... | favorite holiday tradition | puppies galore | love note in my lunch | breakfast casserole coming up! | nursing a cold | yum | a holiday must | christmas afternoon nap | sugar cookie time | holiday sweetness | my loves | puzzle domination | sky porn | stunning light | bringing in the new year couch potato style

Since I had so many photos from December, I didn't include any photos from our trip earlier this month in this snippets + snapshots. Instead, you can find them in a special christmas trip edition post here.

If you want to see all of my Instagram photos, you can check them out online here or search for me on the app - my user name is michelewhitacre!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Self-Portrait | December 2012

Some months are easier than others to decide what to capture for my self-portrait, and luckily December was a piece of cake!  While most people have an insanely busy holiday season to contend with, I have the opposite situation.  Since Kevin and I don't have any family in the area, we weren't running off in a million directions attending holiday celebrations like most of you probably were.  So, I spent the entire month of December blissfully relaxing and regrouping while I was curled up on the couch watching movies.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to watch Christmas movies and I have developed quite a collection over the years.  I usually get the movies out the day after Thanksgiving and watch them all before New Years, when I once again tuck them away until the next holiday season.  Unfortunately, I ended up coming down with a cold the day before Christmas this year.  So once I ran out of Christmas movies, I continued to run through several more random movies from my perch on the couch while I attempted to nurse myself back to health.

I opted for a bit of an environmental self-portrait for this month because I wanted to include my surroundings in the photo.  This was the first time in 3 years that I put up a Christmas tree or set out any decorations, and I have to admit that I found myself really enjoying the season for a change.  Now that I no longer have to deal with the cold winter weather in conjunction with the Christmas season, I've started to find more joy in it.  I absolutely loved glancing over at the lit Christmas tree and seeing all of my favorite holiday decorations surrounding me while I was enjoying my movies.

I was trying to make this image as authentic as possible, so I let the dogs curl up with me like they usually do when I'm sitting on the couch, pulled my hair back, put on my favorite old sweatshirt, and snuggled under one of my favorite blankets.  And I think I succeeded because when I look at this picture, I definitely see my month in a nutshell!


As I look back over my 2012 self-portrait series, I feel like I want to label them "all or nothing" because they are either shot from a wide angle and show all of me and a lot of my environment or else they are an extreme close up showing just a very small part of me. Perhaps in 2013, I can shoot for (no pun intended) a few more "middle of the road" type photos.

I can't help but look back at my self-portrait project and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  First, it feels like an accomplishment that I've simply managed to keep it going all this time. Second, I feel like I continue to grow and stretch my creativity month after month while taking these images. Capturing interesting photos, while staying true to myself and what is happening in my life each month is a constant but welcome challenge. I look forward to embracing it and continuing along my self-portrait journey in 2013. I hope you will continue to join me for the ride.

Did you miss some of my past self-portraits?  Clicking here will take you to all of my self-portrait blog posts. Clicking here will take you to my self-portrait Facebook album.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snippets + Snapshots | Christmas Trip {December 2012}

When Kevin and I relocated to Phoenix, we decided that in lieu of mailing Christmas gifts back and forth with my parents every year, the four of us would plan a trip together instead. For this year's trip we found a great deal on a 4 day cruise that went to Key West and Cozumel during the middle of December.

I decided that the best way to share a few memories and photos from the cruise was to do a special edition of the instagram photos I posted during our trip. So, I give to you Snippets + Snapshots from our Christmas Trip 2012...
charlotte airport holiday spirit | miami views shuttle style | let's cruise | first stop: dessert | bird watching | sunset cabin view | first night aboard | what is it? | key west tourists | palm tree porn | new friend | b-a-n-a-n-a-s! |  side trip to cuba? | key lime pie = yum | life size ice cream | back to the ship | water views | looking good | best. dessert. ever. | dog or pig? | floating city | mom + dad touristing it up | pier + parasailor | new look? | mayan culture | hot, hot, hot | oceanside photo ops | mayan ruins of tulum | and the mystery continues | all lit up

If you want to see all of my Instagram photos, you can check them out online here or search for me on the app - my user name is michelewhitacre!

I also completed a few items from my Birthday Bucket List during the trip, so if you want to see a little more you can check out the other posts here, here, and here.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BBL 2012-2013 | Send a Message in a Bottle


#7 SEND A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Why did I include this on my Bucket List?

When I was in elementary school we did a project where each of the students attached a card with their name and the school address to a helium balloon and then we released them into the sky. We asked whoever found them to write and tell us where the balloons landed. I always thought it would be neat to try the same experiment with a message in a bottle cast to sea.

Was the experience what I had hoped it would be?

I guess I won't know how it turns out until I wait to see if my bottle is ever found, but the sending of the bottle went pretty much as planned.  The only exception was that I intended to take some photos of the bottle once I'd released it into the water, but sadly that didn't happen.  As soon as the bottle hit the water I lost sight of it in the blinding glare coming off of the surface of the water.  I guess that's what I get for deciding to throw it overboard in the late afternoon sun!

The details...

I ordered a message in a bottle kit online and took it with me when I went on our recent Christmas cruise with Kevin and my parents. During our day at sea (on December 20, 2012), I wrote my letter, including my contact information, sealed up the bottle and threw it overboard somewhere in route between Cozumel, Mexico and Miami, Florida, U.S.A.  I tossed the bottle off the back of the ship to make sure that it actually hit the water and didn't end up coming back onto the ship and landing on someone's balcony.  I saw the bottle hit the water and start floating, but by the time I raised up my camera to take some photos I had lost sight of it and couldn't find it again.

Here is a photo of the kit all packaged up before I opened it...


And here is my bottle all ready to cast out to sea...


Do you want to see my entire 2012-2013 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.  Or did you miss my 2011-2012 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

BBL 2012-2013 | Visit More Mayan Ruins


#5 VISIT MORE MAYAN RUINS

Why did I include this on my Bucket List?

I had the opportunity to visit the Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins in Mexico in 2007, and the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize in 2010. Both experiences were amazing, and I vowed to see more Mayan Ruins any time I had the chance in the future.  So, this is sort of a vague constant on my Bucket List.  When I knew that I would be visiting Mexico as part of my family Christmas Vacation this year, I decided it would be a good time to check off another Ruin from the list.

Was the experience what I had hoped it would be?

Of the three Mayan Ruins I have visited, this one had the most intact buildings, which was pretty cool to see.  It gave me a better sense of the size of their city and the proximity of the buildings.  However, I did actually enjoy the other two tours more than this one.  At Chichen Itza, the tour guide was amazing and gave a lot of in depth information about every building and what each was used for.  At Xunantunich, I was able to climb pretty much all of the structures, which really gave me a sense of how the buildings were constructed and the size of the people who inhabited them.

The details...

Kevin, my parents, and I went on a cruise for our Christmas celebration this year, and one of the ports we stopped in was Cozumel Mexico.  Touring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum was offered as a shore excursion, so the four of us signed up for it.  In order to reach the ruins we had to take a 45 minute boat ride, and then a 45 minute bus ride to the site.  Once there our tour guide told us a bit about the ruins and the Mayan culture and then let us explore and take photos on our own for about 2 hours.

While we were there, Kevin was practicing his skills with the DSLR, so I was amusing myself with our point and shoot camera on auto mode. (It does have the option to use it in manual but since I so rarely use it I can't remember how to operate the setting selections when the time comes.)

So, here are a handful of the photos I took while exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum in Mexico:














Do you want to see my entire 2012-2013 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.  Or did you miss my 2011-2012 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Friday, December 21, 2012

BBL 2012-2013 | Visit Key West


#4 VISIT KEY WEST

Why did I include this on my Bucket List?

Back in 2006, I briefly visited Key West, Florida while I was on a cruise with one of my friends. The two of us opted to do a pub crawl as our excursion while we were in port. We had an absolute blast checking out the local bars and getting to know some of our fellow cruisers, but the pub crawl took up almost all of our time on the island. I was sad that I didn't have more time to explore all that Key West had to offer and vowed to make a return trip again some day.

Was the experience what I had hoped it would be?

On my second trip to Key West, I was able to see more of the island and learn about more of its history. Unfortunately, I still didn't feel like I got my fill of Key West and would like to return again for a longer visit.  I just love the "beach town" feel of the island and think it would be an awesome place to spend a week or two for vacation some day!

The details...

Ironically enough, I found myself back in Key West as part of the same cruise I took years ago with my friend, only this time I was with Kevin and my parents. The four of us decided to take a tour of the city as our shore excursion in order to see as much as possible during our short time there. The tour allowed us to hop on and off the trolley as many times as we wanted in order to explore parts of the island a little more. We didn't have tons of time, but we were able to walk around a little bit, visit the southern most point of the continental USA, and eat some key lime pie from two local establishments to do a little taste test comparison.  (The Key Lime Pie Factory definitely won by a landslide!)

Here is a collage of the Instagram photos I posted while we were in port in Key West...


Do you want to see my entire 2012-2013 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.  Or did you miss my 2011-2012 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Idiopathic Head Tremors in Dogs

(a.k.a. Idiopathic Head Bobbing Syndrome in Dogs)

Before I get started, I want to say that this post has absolutely nothing to do with photography, so I hope you will indulge me as I take a moment to write about something that I wanted to share with the internet world. I hope that by writing this maybe I can save someone else the fear and stress that I went through when I was the one frantically searching to figure out what was wrong with one of my sweet fur babies.

You see, one of my dogs suffers from Idiopathic Head Tremors (or Idiopathic Head Bobbing Syndrome). Zoe had her first episode about 4 years ago, when she was a little over a year old. The first time it happened it was so mild that I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but over a few weeks the episodes increased in severity to the point that it was impossible to miss.

Here is a short video taken of Zoe during one of her recent head tremor episodes.  As you can see in the video, her head tremors side to side and varies in the severity throughout the episode.  The more she is concentrating on looking at me the less her head shakes.  She is used to immediately getting food so I know she was sitting there wondering what was going on while I was recording:



Of course, I did what everyone would do in the same situation... I freaked out, started googling, and made an appointment to take Zoe to the vet.  The end result of all of that was basically that no one could explain what was causing her head tremors or what we could do about them.  At the time I was terrified that something was horribly wrong with my baby and that she had a disease that was going to cause her to suffer and/or take her life.

After four years of living with Zoe's head tremors, I can happily tell you that absolute isn't the case!  Even though Zoe has "head bobbies" or "the bobbies" (as we call them), she lives a completely normal, healthy, happy (spoiled) dog life.  I'm sure every case is different, but Zoe almost always gets her head tremors in the evening and will often get them as soon as she is waking up from a nap.  They tend to happen the most when she is stressed.  Zoe doesn't like change and doesn't like it when her normal routine is disrupted.  So, the head tremors are more likely to show up during those times.  She will often get several episodes over a week or two and then we won't see them again for months.

Giving Zoe a handful of food instantly makes the tremors stop and not return again until the next episode days, weeks, or months later.  Sometimes engaging her in playing tug or fetch will help, but not as well as food does.  Zoe acts completely normal while her head is shaking, and doesn't seem upset by it in the least.  She does, however, know that it is happening.  By now she knows the routine, and as soon as her head starts shaking she will come up to one of us to get our attention and then dash off to the cabinet where her food is stored, waiting to get fed.

So, if a google search has brought you here looking for information because your dog has been diagnosed with idiopathic head tremors, please rest assured that there are other dogs with the same condition who are living normal, happy, healthy lives.  If you need reassurance, you can find tons of photos of Zoe looking happy and spoiled all throughout my blog! :)

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Arizona Balloon Classic {2012}

As I mentioned, Kevin and I attended the Arizona Balloon Classic last weekend and I took along my camera to capture some images.  I took tons of photos while we were there, so it took me a while to narrow it down to just a handful of favorites to share!  I don't feel like these photos need much commentary, so I'm going to just let the gorgeous balloons speak for themselves.



















As always, thanks for stopping by!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Street Photography {arizona balloon classic}

Is it still called street photography if it happens in a park?

I know I've said it before but... I love the idea of street photography, but taking photos of random people tends to make me nervous.  However, almost everyone had a camera at this event, so it wasn't really too intimidating to photograph the people around me while I was taking images of the event itself.

All of these photos were taken at the Arizona Balloon Classic, which Kevin and I attended this weekend.  As you will quickly notice, all of them are of people.  If you are interested in checking out my second attempt at street photography, please read on. (You can find my first attempt here.)  If you are only interested in seeing the photos I took of the hot air balloons, please come back later in the week when I will have those posted.

If you're still with me, here are my favorite people photos from the day, along with a brief description about each of them:

I just love that this little guy's camera is almost as big as he is. I could have stood there all day taking images of him while he was shooting photos with it, but his mom was kinda giving me the stink eye (which I caught in some of my images!) and didn't want to push my luck...


This little boy was so excited to be watching the balloons, and kept running up to get a closer look only to have his parents call him and he'd come running back. Here he is on one of his trips back to mom and dad...


And here he is mesmerized by the balloon getting filled up...


It's amazing how perceptive children are to the things around them! There were several instances where the children I was photographing realized it and I ended up with photos of them looking directly into my camera. Yet, not one single adult noticed that I was taking their photo all day. This little girl is one of the many who caught me in the act and started looking, but I much prefer this photo of her before she noticed me...


They were selling these blow up balloons all over the place, and I was in love with them! If I hadn't been so busy taking photos, I might have asked hubby to buy one for me. Instead, I was too busy taking images of this little guy and his dad purchasing a balloon...


I would have picked that one, too...


And these two little girls, wishing their dad would do the same!...


I couldn't convince Kevin to actually pose for a photo, so I ended up having to steal quick photos of him throughout the day, too!...


This is one of my favs!! Dad pointing out something to his son, while grandma photographs the moment...


I just couldn't help myself! Every time one of these blow up balloons caught my eye, I ended up being drawn to it. (And I cannot tell you what a kick I got out of the Dunkin Donuts workers eating Chinese food in the background)...


Photo of someone taking a photo, because no one's ever thought to do that before. :) Actually, this wasn't intentional. The guy stepped into my frame as soon as I crouched down and started shooting, but I decided I liked the effect (even if he did cover up one of the balloons)...


This little girl ended up catching me, too, but before she did I captured this photo. I just love the look of awe on her face!...


If I was forced to pick a favorite, I think this would be it. The size contrast between the tiny boy and the huge (partial) ballon is amazing!...


This dad was tossing his daughter up in the air for several minutes and I managed to capture several good images. Part of me wanted to go up to them afterward and tell them that I knew I got some cute photos and would be happy to email them to him, but I didn't want to come off like a total weirdo so I didn't...


See. Those balloons. The called to me...


Loved this family, with dad all decked out carrying the baby and the diaper bag. The daughter was so into the balloons, yet intimated at the same time. So, she'd walk a little closer then stop and then after a while she'd take a few more steps. So cute...


As always, thank you for taking the time to view my photos and read my blog. I love being able to take photos, but being able to share them with friends, family, fans, and other photography enthusiasts is what really brings a smile to my face. Please stay tuned for more photos of the actual balloons coming up soon. I was just so excited and proud that I got up the guts to do a little so called street photography, that I had to edit these first.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.
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