and I said, “Yes”.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post. If you’re here for just photos, scroll to the bottom ;)

A little over three years ago one of my good friends, Charlene Champion, took it upon herself to become my matchmaker. We had just met a few months prior in a college class. At the time I was dating someone else, but when that ended, Char didn’t skip a beat and started suggesting I go on a date with one of her friends. I however, wasn’t so eager to get back in the saddle. She would suggest meeting her friend, and I’d blow it off with, “yea, maybe”. December 2009 rolled around and Char brought it up again, saying she had a friend who she told about me, and he wanted to meet me. I finally cracked and agreed to meet him. If it didn’t work out, at least she’d stop bringing it up.

I was strangely nervous for the “date”. We were meeting at Char’s house to play some games and hang out in a low-pressure situation. She assured me it’d be fun and casual, but as the clock ticked on, I started 2nd guessing myself. Maybe I could tell them I wasn’t feeling well or that something came up.  I summoned my courage and decided to go anyway. Char introduced me to Andrew. We were both pretty shy and awkward, but he was cute and quirky and we ended up having a good night.

The next day I dove back to Iowa for my Christmas break. While home, we talked a little on facebook, but I wasn’t sure if he wanted to hang out again. I headed back to Missouri in January and one night while sitting in my dorm, I had 30 seconds of insane courage and decided to ask him if he wanted to see a movie. I was talking to my friends at the time and was trying to convince them, and myself that it wasn’t a date—it was just two people seeing a movie and hanging out. After asking him to a movie, I immediately had a massive “what the heck am I doing, this is so unlike me, he probably doesn’t even like me,” panic. He picked me up and we decided to see the movie, Legion, which is perhaps one of the worst movies of all time. As this terrible cinematic excuse for a movie progressed, I kept getting the urge to hold his hand. But, he didn’t make a move, so I let it go. I didn’t want to be that creepy girl who initiates everything, thus making the situation awkward. We left the theatre afterwards, joking about how awful the movie was and started talking about other scary movies. We decided to go to his place and watch Paranormal Activity.

Andy lived with a couple other military guys in what can only be described as a 1950’s Jeffery Dahmer house. These kinds of houses are abundant in Missouri and in college towns. They’re old homes that have definitely seen their better days. They have many creaks and cracks and unfinished, serial killer basements. We popped in the movie and sat on the couch. I figured he’d hold my hand, yet nothing—he must not be into me, I thought. We were at the scariest part of the movie when suddenly all the power to the house goes out, and he grabs my hand. I immediately start giving him crap, thinking he pulled some lame dude trick to get me to hold his hand. He swore up and down that he didn’t do anything. (And to this day he still denies it). We ventured to the basement to see he’d blown a fuse. We flipped some switches and went back upstairs to finish our movie; Andy holding my hand the whole time. I don’t know what happened that day, but we joke that it literally took an act of God to bring us together.

After a few more dates, we made it “official”. We’ve been through a lot of different things in the last three years—way more than I can write in one blog post. We got a puppy, went on a few trips, survived a 5-car pile-up, had our share of ups and downs, and said not “goodbye,” but “I’ll see ya’ later” as I moved across the country.

I’ve been living in Columbus, Ohio while he’s stuck in Missouri now for 9 months. I moved out here to take a paid internship, which turned into a full-time job. It’s been so incredibly hard being apart, but Andy knows how to make me smile everyday, even if he is doing it from another time zone. We’ve been flying out to see each other every 3-4 months, which brings us to the engagement story.

I flew in to Kansas City last weekend to see Andy. He picked me up from the airport and we grabbed lunch. We headed back to Warrensburg and stopped at Walmart to run some errands. (I always love going to Walmart in Missouri as there is no better place to people watch. You always feel better about yourself when leaving, because you still have all your teeth and aren’t buying corn dogs and gallon-sized jars of Mayo in too-tight pajamas). We got back to his house and he gave me my belated birthday present—a book by my all-time favorite photographer. I started opening it and asked him to come look at it with me. He said ,“no” and I got ready to tell him he was being a butthead, when he grabbed my hands and sat next to me on the bed. My heart skipped a beat, as I instantly knew what was about to happen.

Over the last three years I have drawn him a lot of pictures. Most are comics and inside jokes, but he’s always hung them on his walls. The first photo I drew him was of an internet meme involving a cat. He had a big hole in the wall at his old house, so I drew him a picture to cover it up on one of our first dates. He started talking about the photo, saying how when he got it, he knew I was special as I was the only one he’d ever met that thought it was as funny as he did. He started going through the pictures on his wall, telling him what they all meant to him. He started getting choked up, which made me start crying. He told me he’s never met someone that made him feel so special and loved, and that I always make him a better person. Ahh! I’m getting teary-eyed just typing this!

Anyway, he grabbed the ring and put it on my finger, asking the question, “will you marry me?” Of course I said “yes,” as there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side on all the rest of life’s adventures.

Now here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. Photos!

Like any good photographer, I couldn’t just take a picture of the ring on my finger and be satisfied…

© Holly Hildreth 2013

© Holly Hildreth 2013

© Holly Hildreth 2013

© Holly Hildreth 2013

© Holly Hildreth 2013

© Holly Hildreth 2013

We also got some photos taken by my friend from college, Anneka DeJong. She did a great job. These are two of my favorites:

Photo Anneka DeJong

Photo Anneka DeJong

Photo Anneka DeJong

Photo Anneka DeJong

All Images are © Holly Hildreth 2013 unless otherwise noted | http://www.hhildrethphoto.com

Spring Break, Part III: Chicago

We started our full-on tour of Chicago on Thursday morning. I had been to Chicago a few times before, but the last time I was there was for Lollapalooza back in the summer of 2009, (but we were just there for the music–not the sight seeing). Previous to that, the last time I actually took in the sights of Chicago was on a band trip in 2007. So needless to say, it’d been quite a while since I actually did touristy things in Chi-Town

We started by meeting up with Andrew’s friend, Ryan, who lives and works in Chicago. Ryan knew all the best places to eat, and he took us to an authentic German restaurant, The Brahaus. Despite growing up in a mainly German town in northeast Iowa, I had never had German food before. (And those of you that know me, know I’m am usually skeptical when it comes to trying foods that I cannot pronounce.) The restaurant was quite authentic–the waitstaff was all from “the old country” and spoke in thick German accents, and the only drink choices were either beer or water. I ordered the hüner schnitzel (basically boneless, breaded, fried chicken, German style) and it came with leberknödel suppe, which is a bowl of liver and dumpling soup. At first I stared wide-eyed at the grey mass in the soup bowl before me, but after trying a few bites, I discovered that I actually liked it.

Next we were off to the Shedd Aquarium. We were surprised to have to stand in line to get in at 1:30pm on a Thursday. The place was very busy, which made photographing quite difficult. I snapped a few pictures while waiting in line.

Chicago Skyline © Holly Hildreth 2012

Chicago Skyline, with a storm building up in the background

I had been to the Shedd before, but it had been probably 9 years or so. They had done a lot of remodeling and adding on, which was a nice surprise. I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked to, because you had to wait your turn to see the animals on display at some of the exhibits, and the bigger animals (dolphins, belugas, sea otters,) were off display as they were doing training, so we didn’t get to see them at all.

 © Holly Hildreth 2012

© Holly Hildreth 2012

Scuba Diver © Holly Hildreth 2012

Scuba Diver feeding the fish and cleaning the tank

When we got our tickets, we opted to pay the extra $3 to see the jellyfish exhibit, and I am so glad we did, as it was my favorite part of the day. Jellyfish are very tricky to photograph as they’re constantly moving and mostly kept in low-light tanks, but I am happy with the images I got.

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

Jellyfish © Holly Hildreth 2012

While we were touring the aquarium, it decided to come up and rain. Luckily it was starting to clear up as we were leaving. Our next destination was the Sears (Willis) Tower. We had paid a parking meter $10 to park for 4 hours at the aquarium, and we still had 2 hours left on our time, so we (foolishly) decided to walk to the Sears Tower and back.

Us © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andy and I outside the Shedd Aquarium after the storm passed

Lake Michigan © Holly Hildreth 2012

Lake Michigan and part of the Chicago Skyline

Lake Michigan © Holly Hildreth 2012

Gratuitous flower photo

So we walked to the Sears Tower. Poor choices all around. It was vastly farther than any of us figured. Ryan’s phone told us it was 1.2 miles. After getting home and looking on Google, we discovered it was a 4+ mile round-trip. We got our tour of the city, and I got my fill of the “wild life”.  The last part of the walk was difficult as it was rush hour and we were fighting a crowd, going the opposite direction against the flow. We finally got to the Sears Tower (I still can’t bring myself to call it “The Willis Tower”.) Luckily, we came at the right time and there was no line to get in. We were able to grab our tickets and go right up without any wait. Due to the rain, we weren’t able to see as far as you could on a clear day, but it was still a sight.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

South Chicago and the Chicago River

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Panoramic of the South side of Chicago and Lake Michigan

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Northeast side of Chicago (Hancock Observatory is the tall black building in the middle/slightly right side of the photo).

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Looking down. We later found out that the building in the bottom left corner with the grass on the roof is where Andrew's sister works. We stayed with her while we were in Chicago.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andy in the new glass overhangs. These were new since the last time I'd been there. If you look down, you definitely get vertigo. Still really neat.

Sears Willis Tower © Holly Hildreth 2012

After our sight-seeing at the Tower, we made our walk back. My feet were ground down to bloody pulps by the time we reached the car and completed out 4+ mile urban trek. We were absolutely exhausted. We dropped Ryan off at his house and then made our way to Andy’s sisters’ for the night. His sister, Mary, took us out for Greek food. (I had also never had Greek food. Go ahead, gasp. I came from a small town in Iowa. We don’t exactly have anything but corn and beef at our dinner tables.) We walked (oh the agony) to The Athenian Room. I decided to try the Kalamata Chicken. The 1/2 chicken is served on a bed of fries with sauce. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was actually really good. It had a lemon+vinegar taste. After supper, we walked back to Mary’s (my feet were worn ground down past the ankle by this time,) and we were so exhausted that we basically passed out as soon as we got in the door.

The next morning we met for lunch with Ryan at an Italian restaurant where he works in Harlington Heights. We planned to tour the Field Museum next as it was pouring rain outside. After lunch, we headed toward downtown, but got stuck in stand-still traffic. After an hour and a half, we had only gone 4 of the 8 miles to our destination. By the time we hit our exit for the Museum, we realized we’d only have an hour to look around and decided that for the price of admission, we wouldn’t get our money’s worth by only being there for such a short time. So, we decided to keep driving. We met Andy’s parents in Bloomington, IL, for supper. We ate at Jim’s Steakhouse, which is absolutely amazing every time. After supper, we drove to Mt. Pulaski, IL, to Andy’s parents and stayed the night. The next morning we were headed home.

Part IV, coming soon.

All Images © Holly Hildreth 2012 | http://www.hhildretphoto.wordpress.com

Spring Break, Part II: NE Iowa

After leaving Des Moines on Saturday, we headed up to my hometown of Waverly, Iowa. Waverly is about 6 1/2 hours northeast of Kansas City, so I was glad that we broke up the drive by staying at my sister’s house in Des Moines the night before, (so we only had 2 1/2 hours to drive in the morning). Iowa, like everywhere else in the country, has been seeing unseasonably warm temperatures. When I went home on Spring Break last year, I still had to wear boots and my winter coat. Last year Andrew and I went to St. Louis for part of break to celebrate our one-year anniversary and we got stuck in a snowstorm. It’s quite amazing how different it has been this year. Iowa had unseasonably nice weather, and I even wore shorts one day–something absolutely unheard of for the beginning of March.
The first night in Waverly, we went to the Pizza Ranch. I worked at the Pizza Ranch for two years during high school, and my parents loved it, because I brought home free food every night. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting this awesome establishment, Pizza Ranch is a pizza+fried chicken buffet. So, basically it’s your midwestern American dream. Ever since I met Andrew, I told him about Pizza Ranch, and he always made fun of me for it, insinuating it was a place for hillbillies to gather and swap stories about corn, cattle, and cousins over greasy food. So, of COURSE we made him go.
After supper Andrew and I went to a Celtic music concert in Cedar Falls for St. Patrick’s Day. My high school English teacher, Doug Nichols, and his wife are in a Celtic band, Banish Misfortune. Mr. Nichols has sort of adopted me, and he’s become Uncle Doug. I always try to stop by and see him, his wife, and their corgi whenever I’m in town.

On Sunday we decided it would be a nice day to go to Decorah and picnic. Decorah is a small, Norwegian town in extreme northeastern Iowa, about 15 miles from Minnesota and around 40 miles from Wisconsin. Decorah has been a fun day-trip spot for my family since I was a little kid. The Iowa Trout Fish Hatchery, Ice Caves, Twin Springs (artesian wells,) and Dunning Springs waterfall area all located there. (To see pictures of the aforementioned in season, click here: My Trip to Decorah in Summer 2011). We went to the fish hatchery to begin. Across the street from the fish hatchery is a nest of eagles. (You can read more about it in the above link). We looked at all the trout, which ranged in size from an inch to 24″. It’s always fun to walk up on a still pond, throw some fish food in, and watch the water churn with the swarms of fish. There’s a waterfall emanating from a limestone bluff that fuels the trout hatchery with cold, natural spring water.

Andrew © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andrew with the natural spring. He was like a little kid, and I had to keep telling him not to climb on things and to be careful, haha!

Parents  © Holly Hildreth 2012

My parents in front of the waterfall. My dad is in a sling, because he just had surgery on his shoulder. He was driving to work on the highway this past December when a car failed to stop at an intersecting road and t-boned his work van. He had a torn rotor cuff among other muscle injuries and it chipped off a piece of his shoulder.

Us  © Holly Hildreth 2012

Andrew and I at the fish hatchery. It was windy and hot--80-some degrees. A record for Iowa!

After the fish hatchery we went to the Ice Cave. As kids, we explored the Ice Caves caverns, but I hadn’t been in probably 15 years. The Ice Cave is named such as it has ice on the walls year-round. To our disappointment, it seems parts of the Ice Cave have collapsed. We weren’t able to go much past the initial opening of the cave. I know Andrew was disappointed, because we were talking it up and his outdoorsy Eagle-Scout instincts took over and he was ready to do some spelunking.

Next we went to Dunning’s Spring, which is my favorite part of Decorah. However, the once raging waterfall had been reduced to a trickle and most of the area was brown. We couldn’t believe our eyes. In the 22 years I had been coming to Decorah, I had never seen the waterfall this dry. I didn’t take any pictures, as I was so disappointed. I also felt bad, as we were raving this up to Andrew as well. By this time, I’m pretty sure he was thinking that we Iowans are easily amused and think the littlest things are great. Here’s a picture of Dunning’s Spring in its prime when we visited this summer:

Dunnings spring  © Holly Hildreth 2012

Finally we stopped at Twin Springs Park to see the artesian wells. These too had dried up. There was only a little bit of a stream flowing. We had a picnic in the park and relaxed. I of course had to take pictures, even though the springs were definitely not in their prime.

Twin Springs Part © Holly Hildreth 2012

Twin Springs Part © Holly Hildreth 2012

Twin Springs Park © Holly Hildreth 2012

Twin Springs Park © Holly Hildreth 2012

Twin Springs Park © Holly Hildreth 2012

Twin Springs Park © Holly Hildreth 2012

My mom took a photo of Andrew and I in front of the stream, and I was VERY proud of her for not cutting our heads off.

On Monday, we went to Cedar Rapids to visit my oldest sister, who just moved there recently to accept a new full-time meteorologist position at CBS affiliate station. It was Jen’s birthday, so we went out to eat and hung out at her apartment for a while.

Tuesday was a relaxing day. We futzed around the house, I got a haircut and ran errands, and we both packed and prepared for our voyage to Chicago on Wednesday morning.

I apologize for the length of this blog. Normally I like to keep it short and sweet and bombard you with photos. The next blog post will follow that pattern. Stay tuned for Part III: Chicago.

All Images © Holly Hildreth 2012 | http://www.hhildrethphoto.wordpress.com

Advanced Studio: Storytelling/Lifestyle

For assignment #4 in Advanced Studio we were given a choice between shooting “health and beauty,” or “Storytelling/lifestyle”. Normally every couple weeks our professor explains what the upcoming assignment is, shows us examples, and then sets up a lighting demo as an example of what you could do for the project. However, we had to cancel the class period where he introduced and explained the project as well as the period where we are allowed to shoot our projects in class to get help from the professor. Normally I’d be pretty bummed about this, but the tradeoff was that we got to tour Hallmark’s photography studios in Kansas City instead. Although the tour was an awesome once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it left me confused on the assignment as we never got any clarification in class.

Since the subject is really open-ended, I decided to go with “Storytelling/lifestyle”. I thought about the project for a while, and after an initial period of being completely stumped, I came up with a good subject.

My boyfriend, Andrew, loves all things that are nerdy. He plays tons of computer games and likes role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons as well as Dark Heresy. He even has a collection of Magic cards. Yes, being a nerd is Andy’s forte. I wanted to capture this for my assignment. I used and editorial approach and tried to recreate his natural environment in the studio. We brought in a box of his stuff and strewed it about and then set up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The trickiest part of this assignment was trying to light the scene so it looked like the computer was actually on. I used a flash with a blue gel over it to make the monitor look like it was glowing, and I used a medium soft box to fill the rest of the scene. I also played around with a flash with a gridspot behind him to add a sort of “kicker light” in some of the shots.

Anyway, anyone who knows Andy will know that this is a pretty accurate portrayal of him.

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

…And of course we took a quick photo together at the end of the shoot.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

Images and content © Holly Hildreth 2011 | hhildrethphoto.wordpress.com

The City Lights

One of the biggest problems photography students have is not shooting during their Summer breaks. I am just as guilty as the next. Last summer I took a portrait photography class. It was 3 hours a day, Monday-Friday. After doing that, I didn’t feel like doing any personal work. Once the class ended, the only reason I picked up my camera was when there was money involved. This Summer, I vowed to not be lazy and to keep myself sharp by doing random photo shoots over my break.

When there’s nothing interesting to photograph, I always use Stoli as my fallback plan. He’s always willing to be my subject, and he’s a bit of a ham.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

I promise we don't give our dog drugs! © Holly Hildreth 2011

I promise we don't give our dog drugs!

 

The Kansas City area has seen a few storms move in recently. Weather photography is something I find to be really interesting and fun. I think my sister rubbed off on me as a kid, because she was getting her meteorology degree and interning when I first started getting in to photography. Here are a few pictures from a recent storm. I wasn’t able to get any fantastic storm pictures as you need cloud-to-ground lightning, and not cloud-to-cloud lightning like you will see in these photos.

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

On Sunday, Curry and I took a trip to the Plaza in Kansas City. Curry had been working 16 hour days for a week straight, so we hadn’t seen eachother or hung out since we took the trip to Wisconsin. We wanted to do something fun, especially considering I was leaving the next day to go to Iowa and Atlanta for 2 weeks. After I got off work, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for a nice dinner, and then we walked around the plaza and I took some pictures. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains, as it has the most fountains and public statues of any city in the world. I have been wanting to get up there and do a fountain shoot for over a year, but the timing was never right. Anyway, it was a great way to spend our evening, and I think I got a few good shots. What I love about extended exposure photography of the city and these fountains is how soft and colorful the photos become. Also, the images posted to my blog have been downsized to prevent people from stealing my work. As a result, the pictures here may look a little grainy, or the color of the sky might seem blotchy. The original photos don’t look that way, but that’s something that happens when you drop the resolution on the image to prevent theft.

 

Curry and I on the Plaza © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

We tried so many times to take this picture, but finally gave up and settled for a blurry image. The exposure was 5 seconds, and as you can see, we both apparently can't sit totally still for that long!

We tried so many times to take this picture, but we finally gave up and settled for a blurry image. The exposure was 5 seconds, and as you can see, we both apparently can't sit totally still for that long!

 

Poseidon © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

Kansas City Lights © Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

© Holly Hildreth 2011

 

The Cheesecake Factory Tower © Holly Hildreth 2011

The Cheesecake Factory Tower

 

One of my recent posts was a photo tour of my new apartment. Since moving in, I’ve had a handful of “interesting” experiences. To summarize, sometimes I start thinking I live in a trailer park, and not the University apartment complex. Anyway, my newest neighbor is a raccoon that lives in my patio. Here’s a photo of him in the dumpster next to my car. Any name suggestions?

Raccoon

Raccoon

 

My family and I will be traveling to Atlanta at the end of the week for a family vacation. This is our first REAL family vacation, so I’m excited. I’ve never spent any time in Atlanta, so any suggestions of fun things to see and do would be appreciated! Stay tuned for more photos of my adventures.

Destination: Wisconsin

This past weekend our friends, Char and Chet invited us to their cabin near Prairie Du Chien, WI. It was a nice chance to get out of Missouri and away from all the hectic stuff that had been happening recently. For me, I didn’t miss the 20 phone calls a day from work, and I know for Curry, it was nice to relax after dealing with the military and car accident stuff from the last week. It was a fun and memorable weekend. I didn’t take many pictures, as we usually were busy with something. While up there, we cut down four trees. Anyway, here are a few pictures from our vacation adventure.

Curry and Chet prove their manliness by chopping down the forrest with machetes.

Curry and Chet prove their manliness by chopping down the forrest with machetes.

 

Ferns in the forest

Ferns in the forest

 

Yes. That IS an outhouse...

Yes. That IS an outhouse...

 

Caterpillar, which we later discovered was really a bag worm. There were a TON of them everywhere

Caterpillar, which we later discovered was really a bag worm. There were a TON of them everywhere.

 

I did some tree climbing...

I did some tree climbing...

 

Looking down from my perch in the tree.

Looking down from my perch in the tree.

 

Chet and Curry fighting...Somehow I don't think this will end well for Chet. Curry's got a machete, and Chet's got...a blade of grass.

Chet and Curry fighting...Somehow I don't think this will end well for Chet. Curry's got a machete, and Chet's got...a blade of grass.

 

Char with her grass mustache. Afterwords we discovered that they made our faces super itchy.

Char with her grass mustache. Afterwords we discovered that they made our faces super itchy.

 

Photo Char took of me with my grass mustache. Photo © Charlene Champion

Photo Char took of me with my grass mustache. Photo © Charlene Champion

 

The boys fighting again.

The boys fighting again.

 

Us all sweaty from the hike. Most attractive.

Us all sweaty from the hike. Most attractive.

 

Giant toad

Giant toad

 

Curry couldn't handle the bugs.

Curry couldn't handle the bugs.

 

Tiny toad

Tiny toad

Spring Break 2011

Most people don’t think of Waverly, IA as a Spring Break destination. In fact, as most of my classmates talked about their exotic vacation plans, I kept my trek to the homeland under wraps, because everyone knows that only cool kids go to Iowa for Spring Break. So I left Missouri’s 75+ degree weather and traded it in for a 6 1/2 hour drive north to snow piles and highs in the low 30’s. I brought Stoli with me. Normally he cries and paces on long drives, but a quick stop to the vet for anti-motion sickness medicine relaxed him and he was great. (A little out of it too..He brought me a mouth full of rocks and then flopped on his side just staring at me.) Stoli loved the family and I have a feeling they liked him more than they will admit. Stoli’s favorite part of the trip, however, was chasing my sister’s cat, cooper. (Cooper was not pleased.)

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

After the trip home, I returned to Missouri a few days early to take a sever storm spotter training class. We’re required to attend a safety class outside of the normal university meeting time for one of my gen ed classes. Storm Spotter Training in Missouri is…well…intersting. These hillbillies lose it. It’s like Christmas for them, so not only was it educational, but a great time to people watch. (But that’s a whole different story.)

My boyfriend, Andrew and I have been trying to celebrate our one-year anniversary for quite a while. The plan was to go to St. Louis as a mini-vacation. I have only been to St. Louis once, but it was night time and I was young enough to not remember. Our Anniversary was January 23rd, and we just got there this weekend, over 2 months later. It wasn’t for a lack of trying on our part. The first time Andrew scheduled his leave and the trip as a surprise, but it was right in the middle of my finals week, so we had to cancel. The next time we made reservations, the Air Force screwed us over and put travel restrictions on us due to “impending blizzards,” so we had to cancel yet again. (It never snowed a single flake, by the way.) The last time we scheduled our trip, Stoli got sick with an advanced bladder infection and upper respiratory infection, which set us back $225 in vet bills. Fourth Time’s a charm, I guess.

The trip was not all a walk in the park. I think someone was trying to keep us from getting to St. Louis (we apparently didn’t catch on after getting turned away 3 times!) When we left Warrensburg the forecast called for light snow with little to no accumulation. Things were fine until we switched drivers about 2/3 of the way there. I started driving the last part of the journey as as soon as I did, all Hell broke loose. It got mega snowy and icy in a heartbeat. There we lots of cars and semis in the ditch. I was driving 40 in a 70 mph zone and passing cars like they were standing still.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

View from our balcony of the snow

We made it to our hotel safely, but they didn’t get our room right. Although the room wasn’t what we had reserved, it was still really very nice. The hotel was full–there was a plastic surgeon convention staying there and they must have gotten everything mixed up room-wise.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

We didn’t bring swimming suits or anything to do in the hotel as we didn’t figure we’d be there a whole lot other than to sleep, but with the blizzard-o-death outside, we were sort of stuck on ideas of what to do. We explored the hotel from the pool to the cigar lounge. I wanted to take pictures, but andrew wouldn’t let me. Something about already being totally out of place…( I would have liked to have seen all the old rich American Royalty getting their mustaches in a bunch over it.)

The snow calmed down a bit once the sun went down and we decided to hit the city. Andrew’s dad had suggested a nice restaurant downtown by the arch called Mike Shannon’s. We dressed up and decided to give it a try

(I didn't take this photo, but I wanted to show what the restaurant looked like.)

I had filet mignon and Andrew had the prime rib. It was amazing! After supper we explored the city a bit, but it was still nasty out, so we headed back to the hotel and watched some TV. We called it in early as we were both really tired.

The next morning we got up and headed out for lunch. We originally stopped at a BBQ place, but the line was ridiculous as it had been featured on the travel channel and voted best BBQ in St. Louis. We settled for a T.G.I. Friday’s near where we had eaten supper the previous night. After that we headed over to the arch.

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011We got to the arch at around 12:30. They were ALREADY SOLD OUT OF TICKETS FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! We weren’t able to do anything other than look around on the main level. Andrew and I milled around the museum and walked the campus outside the arch and then headed out. The original plan was to go to the zoo, but it was only in the low 40’s and was very windy, so we decide against that. Instead, we went to the St. Louis Art Museum. I had been to the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City a fair few times and decided that I’d like to see what St. Louis had to offer. I was surprised that Andrew wanted to go too. Normally getting him to go to anything cultural is like pulling teeth (for lack of a better idiom.) When we got their, we found out to my dismay, they had gotten rid of ALL their photography! I like looking at paintings and sculptures, but photography is pretty much the whole reason I go to art museums. We spent about an hour looking around. I love taking andrew to the modern abstract art. Rothko and Jackson Pollak make him want to beat up hippies.

We decided to head home after the art museum. It was nice to be back in Warrensburg and to see Stoli again. All in all we had a really good trip, despite all the hiccups. I’d like to go back and visit St. Louis again as there were many things we didn’t get to see and do. We both really enjoyed our very belated anniversary. It was great to get out of warrensburg and see the world (even if it is still in Missouri!)

Stoli’s Studio Shoot

Mid-Program is looming overhead like a big, black thundercloud. In order to try and prepare myself as best as I can before I get raked over the coals by my professors’ jury panel, I figured I would try to get a lot of diverse animal shooting in before the week of Mid-Program. I initially started my wildlife/animal portrait series by shooting exclusively at zoos, but after being inspired by amazing photographers like Tim Flach, William Wegman, Eliott Erwitt, and Nick Brandt, I decided that it was time to step into the studio and see what I could come up with. Since classes haven’t gotten hot and heavy yet, the studio was open and free for the taking. (I think I am the only one who rushes into the studio to work ahead when we have a winter storm warning dumping eight inches of snow on us!) Anyway, I tried to hash out a few different ideas that I had circulating in my head. The execution wasn’t all there, but some of the ideas were difficult technically and visually, (and it didn’t help that Stoli was more interested it playing fetch than he was in sitting still! Luckily my boyfriend, Andrew Curry, was a good sport and helped me wrangle the little guy).

Here are a few of the images from today’s shoot. As always, you can see all the proofs by visiting my flickr. Here’s the link to a slideshow of today’s collection: More Photos Here

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

© Holly Hildreth 2011

Low-Key Portraits, Hunt for Red October Style

For my Into to Studio class, we have to do low-key portraits. For those of you who may not know, a low-key portrait is a portrait where the scene is dominated by predominately dark tones and usually utilizes a dark background and dramatic lighting. For my portrait, I wanted to use my boyfriend, Andrew Curry, in his Halloween costume. Anyone who knows Andrew knows he has a few certain (quirky) loves. He’s a nut about history, Russia, Sean Connery, and “The Hunt for Red October”. So what a better costume for him than to go as Captain Ramius from “The Hunt for Red October”. Andrew ordered the costume from a Russian Military surplus store online. It took about two weeks to get here, and everything was written in Russian. It was really cool, seeing an address from the Ukraine on the box. The uniform was a legitimate Naval Captain’s uniform. It still had the chalk on the sleeves from being tailored to a soldier. The medals and pins that went on the jacket were worn and weathered from being used in the service. All in all, it was a really cool costume.  Anyway, I was inspired by a few smoking portraits that I had seen using the low-key style, so I asked Andrew if he would smoke a cigar for me in the studio. Andrew is not a smoker, but he was a good sport and bought some Swisher Sweets for my shoot. We shot for a while in the studio, but I eventually started coughing and had to call it quits. I could never date a smoker–I had a hard enough time getting through a 2 hour shoot alive, haha! Anyway, here is Andrew Curry (scratch that, Sean Connery as Captain Ramius)!

 

Stoli’s First Halloween

Let me preface this post by first saying that I am not someone who likes to dress up their pets. I don’t really see the appeal in it and I always feel bad for the poor dogs and cats that have to suffer through their owners cross-dressing them in some God-awful Christmas sweater or little ballerina skirt. Something about it just screams maladjusted shut in to me, haha. Anyway, boyfriend and I are going to a Halloween party at our friend, Charlene’s house on Friday. Stoli and her dog, Monty, are little puppy pals, and so Char told us we could bring Stoli over, but it’s a costume exclusive party. So we decided that it would be time to dress Stoli up. Not just any costume would do, however. Only the finest for our “little gentlemen”. Boyfriend and I decided a nice tuxedo with coat tails would look great on our regal corgi. We tried the tux out, but it seems to be entirely too small for him! The website said that a full grown pug would fit into it, but Stoli’s only a 5 1/2 month old corgi puppy who only weighs in around 12 pounds. We gave the costume a test run outside today and played around while raking the leaves. Here are a few shots of him looking like the most sophisticated corgi you’ve ever seen. (Also, just a word of warning, I was trying to shoot for my “dutch angle” assignment for Materials and Processes, so if you noticed an excessive use of the 45 degree camera tilt, that’s why. I personally am not a fan and think Dutch angle is lame, but that’s just me.)