Austin, Part One

austin_4Texas was its own nation for nine years, from 1836 to 1845. Many Texans hold this fact dear to their hearts and even hope it may come to pass again someday. Each city in this state has its own vibe but all in all, it definitely still feels like you’re in the United States. On this particular excursion we spent nearly a week in Austin. The people are friendly and goodness do they love dogs here. I finally found a place that seems to be more into dogs than San Diego!

There was a huge trail that ran along the river behind our hotel and we got to know it very well. It allows for great views of the skyline and random kayakers. It also leads to the famous Congress bridge which houses an amazing amount of bats. When they’re at peak, people come from all around to view them. Most have migrated but I was told they start coming back in March. Here are a few more shots from my first walk on the trail.

austin_1

austin_3

austin_2austin_5

 

Dublin Castle

There’s an incredible amount of history that took place here. A viking fortress once stood at this site and then around 1204 plans for Dublin Castle were established by King John of England. It served as the center for colonial administration and eventually the seat of all English government for Ireland. In the 1700’s the castle underwent transitions and renovations that today’s castle most closely resembles. dublin_castle_18

above: present day

below: castle street entrance early 20th century from the national archives. 

Dublin_castle_21

Dublin_castle_12

The Throne Room contains a throne built in 1821 for King George IV. It was originally the Battleaxe Hall in the 1740’s.

Dublin_castle_2Dublin_castle_1

The state bedrooms were rebuilt in the 1960’s after fire damage. Margaret Thatcher was the last dignitary guest here. 

Dublin_castle_3

Dublin_castle_7 Dublin_castle_4

The State Dining Room formerly called the Supper Room and now also known as the Portrait Gallery. It is the oldest room in the castle. 

Dublin_castle_13

The State Corridor built around 1758. 

Dublin_castle_11

Dublin_castle_15

Saint Patrick’s Hall was once a ballroom and dates from the 1740’s. It is now used for presidential inaugurations.

Dublin_castle_17Dublin_castle_8Dublin_castle_16

Dublin_castle_10

Above: The State Drawing Room, built in the 1830’s.

Dublin_castle_5
Dublin_castle_6

Castle Yard (above: present day, below: early 20th century)

Dublin_castle_22

Looking out toward the street from behind the castle entrance gate. 

Dublin_castle_9

Read more about the history of this beautiful place here: http://www.dublincastle.ie/HistoryEducation/History/

 

Guinness Storehouse- Dublin, Ireland

When I think of an Irish pub I think of music and guinness. And also corned beef and cabbage, although it’s not a very common dish in the eating establishments I’ve been to in Ireland. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen it on a single menu over there. Guinness on the other hand is everywhere and the top visitor attraction in Dublin is of course the Guinness Storehouse. Back in 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on a brewery at St. James’ Gate for  £45 a year. That’s kind of amazing. Spoiler alert: That lease is no longer valid as the land the brewery is on ended up being purchased outright a while back. 

guinness_1 guinness_4guinness_12guinness_2 guiness_8guinness_10

The current visitor centre for the storehouse was opened in 2000 and contains seven stories of information about Guinness and the brewing process. In the main lobby there’s a gift shop, an incredibly pricey one and a nice lady who greets you with a little information about what you’ll experience during your visit. She pointed out that if we look up we’ll notice that the seven floors of the storehouse are designed around a central glass atrium that form the shape of a pint of Guinness. And sure enough, it did. This mirrored pint if filled would hold around 14.3 million pints of Guinness, to give you an idea of scale. We made our way up through the levels learning how this black gold is made and all the history behind it. First and foremost water, hops, barley, and yeast. I had never seen hops before and the smell of all the grains was so interesting. I realize that may sound strange but I guess you had to be there. 

guinness_9

There were videos and illustrations of the brewing and growth of the brand including memorabilia over the years. At one point it seemed like a maze of industrial pipes and a portal to another dimension. 

guinness_6guinness_7GUINNESS15

guinness_17 guinness_18

An advertisement from 1943. The toucan is said to be the most popular of the animals used in early advertising for the brew. He was retired in 1982.

GUINNESS_14

 

The harp logo first appeared in 1862, chosen because of it’s importance as an ancient Irish symbol. In 1960 Guinness introduced its first lager and named it Harp. The one on display in the storehouse is called the Downhill Harp and dates back to 1702. It was played in the 18th century by a blind harpist known as Hempson. The inscription on it ends with, “That Queen of Musick you may call me”. 

guinness_13

Then on the fifth floor you have the opportunity to learn “the perfect pour” because there’s a very particular way one must pour a Guinness. And the harp logo on the glass must always face the person who’s ordered the pint.

guinness_5

 

Finally, the holy grail awaits on the seventh floor, a 360 degree view of all of Dublin in what’s called the Gravity Bar. It is the highest bar in the city and on this particular day we got to watch the sunset. It was really beautiful and many seemed to think the free Guinness was also pretty glorious. I had a very refreshing glass of Fanta orange because although I find the history of the brew very fascinating the taste of it not so much and not as hydrating as a seven floor excursion would require.

GUINNESS_16

 

It was a great way to end our first day of Dublin exploration. If ever you’re in the area check it out and if you get there earlier in the day there’s also a restaurant that is rumored to serve excellent chocolate Guinness cake. 

guinness_3guinness_15

 

For discounted tickets or for more information visit their site directly at: www.guinness-storehouse.com

Mini Session Schedule 2013

Here we go, the planned mini session schedule for this year is as follows:

  • Valentine’s Mini Sessions- January 26, 2013 (back-up days Jan. 27th & Feb. 1)
  • Kissing Booth Minis- January 30th, 2013
  • St. Patrick’s Minis- March 1st & 2nd
  • Easter Minis- March 8th, 9th, & 10th, 2013
  • Lemonade Stand Minis- April 5th, 2013
  • Mother’s Day Minis- April 20th, 2013

valentines_20134x5-colorblockmini

 

*Note: After April, There will be no further sessions in Florida until Holiday 2013 sessions to take place tentatively in November, exact dates have yet to be determined.*

We will only be doing sessions in the state of California for the months of May, June, July, and August 2013.

Is your cup empty?

Has your inspiration run dry? It happens to the best of us. I will keep it short and simple, don’t give up.

So many things are easier said than done but nothing stops you from accomplishing something more than yourself. I look for mantras to adopt all the time. I give myself new ones constantly because sometimes I need to remind myself that I am valuable, that there is still good even when things seem bad, that I can get through anything. Goals can be hard to reach but they’re not impossible to reach.  This can be applied to so many different things. I realize that others go through rough patches, have bad days, and just generally need a kind word every now and then. I know what it means to me so I will offer the same. Things can and always will get better. You’ve got this.

 

So long summer.

Last week we made our way back across the country, from San Diego, CA back to Florida. I’m not going to lie, it was a long trip. It was a rough trip. We didn’t sight-see or dilly-dally. We have amazing friends who will fly out to California to help with the drive back since I couldn’t. It has taken me a week to do laundry and start to un-pack. I’m exhausted. I almost feel like part of me is trying to catch up to the other part of me which is in a different time zone. Every now and then I look back through some of the pictures and it’s almost like a dream. As the scenery flew past I captured brief moments of it and so glad I did. I had already forgotten how beautiful a lot of the landscape we passed through truly is.

The variety of landscapes and climate was amazing. From 84 in California to a scorching (yet dry) 116 degrees in the Arizona desert, to a balmy 70 degrees in Flagstaff… all in the same day.

Next time we make a trip like this we will have to plan some stops to not only make the journey more bearable but to allow for a little more enjoyment. This country of ours has so much to be seen and explored.

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep…” -Robert Frost

The deep blue

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” -John F. Kennedy

To say that watching these creatures was mesmerizing would be an understatement. We did take time to observe and take in all there was to see but may have spent a little extra time to get those great shots. Of all things I’ve photographed to date, an aquarium has probably proven to be the most challenging environment. All of your subjects are behind thick panes of smudged glass and the lighting conditions, when there was actually light, was variable. Not to mention fighting the crowd to get close enough to see. Tricky indeed.

A couple of fun facts:

  • Male seahorses spend most of their lives pregnant. That’s right, the guys do the birthing.
  • Giant kelp is harvested as a source of algin used to give a creamy texture in foods such as ice cream, cosmetics such as lipstick, and even toothpaste.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. ~Jacques Yves Cousteau

Oh Baby

Today I am working on getting this sweet little session posted. Yesterday we met up with this lovely family to do a lifestyle maternity session. Makendra is 9 months if you can believe it and I was honestly a little worried she might go into labor. We didn’t do anything too crazy for that fact, although because Nate is so tall we got a little creative with posing at times. Nate is being deployed within a matter of days and it was my honor to capture the family together before he goes. Later on I hope to capture them again after they’ve welcomed their new one into the world. I know one thing for sure, they make very cute babies. Miss Averee is adorable!

 

Summer in San Diego

It is officially Summer and we have now been in breezy San Diego for three weeks. I have been enjoying the many blooms of the city. They inspire me to delve further into exploring macro photography. We’ve been so lucky, every day is a beautiful day here. Our friends back in Florida seem to be less fortunate on the weather front.

 

 

Exploring gardens and lush landscapes; Continuing to add to my fine art repertoire until it’s time to face the storms again.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Welcome

You have reached the new SnapsByMasharra.com! Please excuse our dust as we rearrange things. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/snapsbymasharra.