Ireland: Inistioge and Woodstock Gardens

On our drive from Kilkenny to Wexford, Ireland, we stopped in a small town, Inistioge, to stretch our legs and get some coffee. The first thing I saw was a wall of boots with plants growing out of them.

The coffeehouse we stopped in had beautiful photographs on the wall of the area and the barista told us how to get to Woodstock Gardens just a short drive away. There weren’t many visitors to the gardens that day, making it feel a bit like we were entering the Secret Garden.

One of the few signs of life was an arboretum in the garden where you could get tea and ginger cookies.

We spent a few hours at the garden though I think I could have easily spent several days. 

Ireland: Kilkenny

After visiting Dublin, our next stop in Ireland was Kilkenny. We started at Kilkenny Castle.


The architectural details of the outside were just as impressive on the inside, with ornate carvings and beautiful windows throughout the castle.


We also stopped in a local church to light a candle for Tim’s grandfather who had passed away shortly before our trip. 


We spent the rest of time in Kilkenny walking around the city. Most of what caught my eye were the beautifully painted doorways and unique door knockers and keyholes.


Our last stop before settling in for the night was a trip to Dunmore Cave where we arrived just in time to sneak into the last tour for the evening. So many stairs, and so much green at the entrance of the cave! Apparently it was the site of a viking massacre in 928 AD. We were told a story of the locals coming to the cave to escape the vikings only to have the vikings set fires outside the cave in an attempt to smoke them out. Instead, the vikings essentially stole their supply of oxygen and those seeking refuge inside suffocated. 




Ireland: Dublin

It’s been almost six months since my trip to Ireland; I feel horribly behind in these updates. Is anyone still out there?

By the time we arrived in Dublin, we’d already been in a car, a train, a plane, and a bus. After getting our car rental and learning how to drive in Europe (Just keep Beyoncé’s “to the left, to the left” in your head), our first stop was a place to sit, rest, and drink a hot cup of tea at the Brazen Head.

Once our second wind kicked in, we ventured out into the city. Trinity College Library was one of our first, and favorite stops. With two stories of floor to ceiling books, this library is reminiscent of the library in Beauty and Beast, and is just as impressive. There is no flash photography allowed as the light could degrade the old books.


There were many beautiful and colorful architectural details around the city; it was hard to pull myself away and head to our first B&B in Kilkenny.


The last night in Ireland was also spent in Dublin, though we arrived so close to dinner there wasn’t much time to further explore the city. On our walk to find dinner, though, we spotted a few unique pieces of street art.


I’m back!

Sometimes a lot of life fits into a short period of time. This time it’s kept me away almost 8 months. So here’s the short and long of it…

In July, after completing my degree in accounting earlier in the year, I started a new job at a local accounting firm.

In September I went to Ireland, something that has been on my bucket list for a very long time! And it definitely did not disappoint. I will do a series of posts to showcase my trip and show you Ireland’s beautiful countryside and urban details.

In December, we get into darker territory. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had surgery pretty quickly thereafter. I am now short one thyroid gland, but am extremely fortunate to have caught it this early. The risks are very low that it will come back.

In anticipation of some time off work to recover from surgery, my Christmas present to myself was ordering art supplies. The artwork above was actually inspired by the ultrasound of my thyroid, and this was one way for me to work through some of my anger and depression after being diagnosed. My husband fondly calls it “Exploding Skittles” which is an apt title.

I’ve also been experimenting with watercolors, which inspired me to create some bookmarks – small, fun, and easy to try out different techniques!

With my new art projects, I decided now was as good a time as any to begin revamping my website. I am still working on completing everything, so keep an eye out for changes and new galleries!

Horseshoe Lake

The day after my friend and I visited the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary, we decided to end my weekend with her at Horseshoe Lake, looking for blue herons and any other wildlife we may run across. I first spotted several turtles sitting on logs in the middle of a pond near the lake.

2016 05 22 0003 Horseshoe Lake

We also spotted several blue herons and great white egrets.

2016 05 22 0024 Horseshoe Lake 2016 05 22 0021 Horseshoe Lake

The most unique and unusual bird we spotted was a juvenile bald eagle. I spotted a large bird across a field and my first thought was “well, that’s a big bird… can’t be an owl, it’s noon, can’t be an eagle…holy crap it’s an eagle”. We trekked a little more than halfway through the field before he took flight to get away from us.

2016 05 22 0014 Horseshoe Lake 2016 05 22 0017 Horseshoe Lake

Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary

A few weeks ago, a friend took me to the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The sanctuary has one lion, Alexis. She looks meaner than she is. I caught her mid-yawn that looks more like mid-growl, but she mostly ignored us and napped during our tour.

2016 05 21 0018 Crown Valley 2016 05 21 0017 Crown Valley

Several of the tigers were also out, though they were sleepy, and too close to the bars to get anything great.

2016 05 21 0013 Crown Valley 2016 05 21 0016 Crown Valley

After the Tiger Sanctuary, we made our way to the Crown Valley Brewery for lunch and a tasty hard cider. The scenery on our way to and from the sanctuary was beautiful.

2016 05 21 0025 Crown Valley

We ended up on some never-ending back roads and discovered a few barns along the way as well.

2016 05 21 0020 Crown Valley 2016 05 21 0024 Crown Valley

June Update

Wow, what a busy month May was! I went to the Crown Valley Tiger Sanctuary and did some back road driving with a good friend. Unfortunately, things have been so busy, I haven’t had time to properly edit any of them. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come!


Last weekend I participated in a holistic fair where I sold my photos and made bath salts and sugar scrubs – something I discovered I enjoyed doing over the holidays. I won’t lie, I could pretty much bathe in the coffee one.


This coming weekend I’m doing a show in Charleston, Illinois. If you’re in the area – come say hello. Otherwise wish me luck and expect some more tiger and barn photos soon!

St. Louis Zoo

For my birthday last month, I took the day off to visit my mom and make a trip to one of our favorite places, the St. Louis Zoo.

2016 04 28 0011 STLZoo 2016 04 28 0010 STLZoo

We headed straight for the big cat area where we spotted most of the big cats taking naps and ignoring the onlookers. One exception was the lion enclosure.

2016 04 28 0015 STLZoo 2016 04 28 0016 STLZoo

Not realizing the zoo closed at 5:00, we had taken our time grabbing a late lunch and chatting, so we didn’t get to the zoo until just after 3:00.

2016 04 28 0039 STLZoo 2016 04 28 0037 STLZoo

While this didn’t leave us a lot of time to explore, we were able to spot some pretty neat animals, including the flamingos above and the red panda who seemed a little restless and did not want to stay still long enough to pose for a photo.

2016 04 28 0002 STLZoo

Senior Portrait Shoot – Rebecca

The weekend before last, I had a senior photo shoot with Rebecca, a senior and drama student.

For the location for our shoot, we got to explore the currently vacant Miner’s Theater in Collinsville, Illinois that is currently under restoration. If you would like to donate to that project, please visit their website and check out what they’re doing!

The building had some great locations for photos, including in front of their original stage curtain, which seemed especially appropriate for a drama student…

And just to prove how crazy we were, we (yup, including myself) crawled up to the top part above the stage where the curtains could be controlled from. I got back down to take this shot before she made her way back down.

The upstairs also had a number of large windows which provided ample lighting (I’m a sucker for natural lighting).

The Spooky Action

Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier '0' in /home/saballa6/ on line 332

Earlier this month I did a band shoot with Spooky Action at a Distance (AKA The Spooky Action, AKA SAaaD). The band consists of three members, Tory (left), Les (right), and Brie (middle). Check them out!

I always have fun on creative shoots like this, and this was no exception. Creative shoots also mean I get to play around with post-processing more and work with unusual color schemes.

But my favorite moments to capture are those when everyone is goofing off a little.

Overall a great shoot and a pretty awesome band!