Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

Introducing the "Best Of" photo collections from years past:
Best of 2010      Best of 2011      Best of 2012     
And now for the Best of 2013:

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Comparatively, I feel like my photography has taken on a more journalistic approach over the course of 2013. This may be attributed to my work from SXSW and from my Documentary Photography study abroad in Prague. In terms of shooting, I still favor toying with the aperture over anything else, and using a prime lens to maximize aperture possibilities. In March, I transitioned from a Nikon 3000 to the Canon 7D, and I am really pleased with the photo quality...definitely a noticeable improvement from the ol' Nikon.

2013 took me to Europe and had me living on Sixth Street - SXSW. Several tens-of-thousand photos were taken. I am still wading through them all. Occasionally finding untouched shots from Valentine's Day or my trip to Paris. Overall, it has been a good year.

Note: more mountain photos in 2014.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Haas Rodina Ranch

One of the joys of winter break is the opportunity to slow down and unwind at our family ranch. Today, I sat on the front porch, opting for an old metal chair over the row of rocking chairs, edging to the corner of the patio to embrace every drip of warmth from the afternoon sun, and raced through a novel. I have been doing a fair bit of reading over the break--for thesis and personal enjoyment, in between episodes of House of Cards--but my bedroom in Houston does not compare to a country porch, to a chilly December afternoon, curled up with a blanket and a book.

Our whole family has "chores" around the ranch.
Larry, my father, works endlessly sun up to sun down. He fixes everything. He replaces porches. He repairs fences. He constructs buildings. He manages cows. Lots of cows. He pours himself into this place.
Hunter, my brother, helps my father. Learns from watching my father's hands move over wood and barbed wire and machinery.
Sherry, my mother, maintains the house, bouncing around antique stores to secure more unique bits of furniture. She also dotes on the love of her life, our donkey Mia. Trust me, the donkey is essentially a household pet--think Fido, Bingo, or whatever cats are typically called. In terms of Haas Family importance to Sherry: 1.) Mia 2.) Hunter 3.) Larry & Victoria (tie)

As for myself, I wander around and take photos. Or I sit on the porch and read. Clearly, the most useful family member...

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crying Christmas Kids

01. Be Merry | Crying Christmas kids series | Austin, TX | December 11

I am blessed to be a part of a rich community of believers in Austin, and many of my dear friends volunteer with Young Life, an international organization that aims to form relationships with middle school and high school kids in order that they might hear about Jesus. In Austin, the handprints and traces of YL leaders can be found all across the city--from suburban schools located FAR north and FAR south of the UT campus, to low income communities in East Austin, and also through ministries like Capernaum and Young Lives.

My friend Carli started off at a school in East Austin and slowly began to develop relationships with some of the young, teen moms. These relationships grew, became richer, and I remember Carli telling me about trips to the doctor with the young moms. I remember hearing about how invested she became in their lives simply because of love. The mothers, mere high school students, became sweet friends and even sweeter younger sisters to Carli.

The relationships helped begin a Young Lives club in East Austin. Earlier this year, Carli invited me to photograph the mothers and their dear, precious babes on Halloween, with the children sporting a wide range of Halloween costumes. I really enjoyed photographing a cookie monster, a mummy and a vampire, several princesses, a ladybug and a bumblebee. Please invite me back, I asked Carli.

For their final club of the year, East Austin Young Lives held a Christmas Club on December 11th--complete with a Santa Claus, a craft decorating Christmas stockings, the classic tunes of Bing Crosby playing, and a spaghetti dinner. I had the privilege of taking photos of kids with Santa. Truly, a privilege, because I've never enjoyed photographing babes quite like this...capturing their loud reactions to the mysterious man in the red suit.

02. The Man in the Red Suit | Austin, TX

03. Tis the Season to be Jolly | Austin, TX

04. All is Bright | Austin, TX

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Greenbelt 03

dry Greenbelt grass | Austin, TX | November 16, 2013

Greenbelt 02

Drought + Cacti | Austin, TX | November 16, 2013

Greenbelt 01

Greenbelt Creek | Austin, TX | November 16, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Great Kitten Rescue

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Next we park the car just off of the feeder at I-35 and Ben White Blvd., we sprint across the feeder, up a hill, through vegetation, up under the freeway, where we meet Ricky Lee and Bryan. Ricky Lee is a veteran, I think he is blind in one eye, he has a Chihuahua named Jessie, he is working to get an apartment, he is close friends with Barrett. Once, he broke his leg when he got hit by a car on Ben White, friends took him to the hospital where he got a cast placed onto his leg. Ricky Lee was in a wheelchair with a cast for six months. He thanks Barrett for driving him to the hospital to get his cast removed. He borrows Barrett’s phone to call his lawyer about the apartment. Barrett and Ricky Lee have been friends for a while.

Bryan and Ricky Lee crack jokes about Barrett’s Chik-Fil-A shirt..."why is Barrett wearing that shirt? Why aren’t the chicks wearing the Chik-Fil-A shirt?"

Bryan also tells us about his cats, and his four new kittens. He wants to get rid of them. He doesn’t have time for no kittens. The little orange and white striped kittens crawl all over his stuff, they make tiny cries, and their pelts/hair/fur/whatever are soft as velvet. Get rid of them, he asks. I wish I could take a kitten.

We leave Bryan and Ricky Lee, promising to try to find a home for Bryan’s cats....

After a few more stops and after our taco supply diminished, then we went back to Ricky Lee and Bryan. We are here for the cats. After much struggle and flying claws and an angry momma cat and fearful, shaking kittens, we herded four kittens and two large cats into the back of Barrett’s car. We drove them to the Austin Animal Shelter where we received cages and carried them in. The kittens were a surprising adventure that definitely made a mark...on our tender arms.

Winter Break

There are several beautiful things about winter break:
  1. Christmas.
  2. Family time.
  3. Netflix marathons.
  4. Tackling that pile of bestseller books.
  5. Running into old high school pals, while sneaking around to avoid other folk.
  6. Ventures to favorite hometown guilt-food establishments.
  7. -Goode Company BBQ, Bellaire Broiler Burger...mouth watering
  8. Refamiliarization with old languages, like CSS & HTML.
  9. Being a geek at 2 AM and updating your blog layout! EEK EEK EEK!
  10. Sherry's pumpkin muffins. Nuff said.
  11. Time to work on the thesis....oh wait. Job search? Meh.
  12. Making lists.

Really I am just deliriously thrilled to have updated the blog. It needed a bit of a facelift. I was losing enthusiasm blogging. WHICH IS NO GOOD, FRIENDS! End of the year calls for lists of "the best" and "the favorites." These last few weeks of December, of 2013, are about reflection and Christmas music, rumination and cocoa. Really, I couldn't NOT publish a collection of my favorite photos from the year. And I missed talking typing to myself. Thus, I'm back, it's back.

Being sentimental and nostalgic and all, I'm going to serve as my own "Ghost of Christmas' past"/blogging past:


So what's the significance of this? Senior year, this summer, this approaching fall-- it will all be about transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Change. Hence, this blog's purpose will to kind of just document change and pen down adventures so they will always be remembered.
Written Wednesday, July 14, 2010, boy oh boy! Originally, I think the blog was called Haaspice and I tried to explain it by hospice's archaic definition: a lodging for travelers, esp. one run by a religious order. The blog would be a virtual lodging for my own thoughts and ideas and musings....clearly the explanation and conversation never went well.

Edit: I quoted this like two posts ago. Oops.


Those closest to me know that I have never been fully satisfied with the name of this blog. When I originally started in July, I thought that "haaspice" sounded so edgy...so hipster..or what have you. I quickly grew tired of explaining the meaning to EVERYONE. "Oh you know...like a hospice when you travel abroad (similar to hostel)...this blog is a place for me to live and allow my feelings and thoughts to foster...blah blah blah" so after months and months of brainstorming, it dawned on me today. HAASTON. but why?
  1. victoriahaas.blogspot.com is taken. so is victoriahaas.com and haas.com and vhaas.com
  2. if you couldn't guess by point one, i really wanted to use my last name. name recognition is key
  3. i come from houston...hence the "ton" AND i live in austin..."haaston"
  4. aren't i clever?
Basically this new name captures who i am, where i am from, where i am now, and the content will track where i travel
I am indeed clever. On April 24th, 2011, I changed my blog's namesake from Haaspice to Haaston. This transition led to the following banner....


New blog layout. New ideas to be implemented. Maybe a whole new direction! New banner. Ooh la! Almost a new year too! New new new newness newwww.