WC: Eclipseption

Before we get too departed from the excitement of the great American eclipse this year, I wanted to share a fun photo with you.

With cameras painfully ubiquitous, it is increasingly difficult to present any new ideas.  But I love a good challenge, and I’m always trying to push myself.  Sometimes, the unique concept comes from how the picture is taken.  Other times, the creativity shines in the editing.

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WC: Helpless

It feels somewhat easy to distance myself from the devastation in Texas, and I turn only a concerned brow toward what lies in wait for Florida.  It’s tragic, and my heart aches for all who have lost their homes and livelihoods (and all this month, I am donating 25% of all proceeds from print sales to Harvey relief efforts).  But once the news is turned off, my personal life creeps back in, pushing the drenched scenes, the tears, the pleas for help – back across the miles from whence they came.

But when tragedy strikes so close to home, I can no longer shut it out – intentionally or otherwise.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The Columbia River Gorge is one of my many playgrounds, and I’ve blogged about several hikes in the area.  In fact, I just wrote about the famous Multnomah Falls last week.  The Gorge is lush and green, spidered with tantalizing trails and breathtaking views.  It’s full of waterfalls and moss-covered trees, paths begging to be explored, and hidden nooks just waiting to be photographed.  I love it dearly, and I’ve remarked on more than one occasion how grateful I am to have it in my very own backyard.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

And as I type this, it is being destroyed.

A senseless act of recklessness sparked a massive wildfire that has consumed tens of thousands of acres of this stunning landscape.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It has threatened homes, and it trapped hikers.  It has closed a major freeway and diverted boat traffic.

Multnomah Falls was on fire.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Visibility dwindled.  Ash sprinkled from the sky and collected on the cars.  And it has darkened the city’s skies for days, forcing residents to remain indoors to take shelter from the harmful air.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The only meager silver lining is that it has made for some powerfully compelling photos.

But documenting this tragedy is all I can do.  The fire is still burning, and it will likely continue to burn until the autumn rains return.  Beautiful trails are being ravaged.  And all I can do is wait for it to stop.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I hike there every summer.  I take visitors out there whenever they’re in town.  Aaron and I got married there.  That historic highway was one of the things that made me first fall in love with the Pacific Northwest.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

And it is forever changed.

I can’t ignore it when I’m surrounded by thousands who are likewise mourning this loss.  I can’t shrug it off with, “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me.”  This literally hits home.  And I am utterly heartbroken.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

But I also know that I’ll return.  New trees will sprout, and with enough time, it will be green again.  I’ll do whatever is in my power to restore the grandeur of that beautiful wilderness and ensure this playground is around for future generations.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

A news article quoted a spokesman from Portland Fire and Rescue saying, “The Gorge still looks like the Gorge; it’s not a wasteland.”  That’s heartening amidst this despair, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.  I may feel somewhat helpless right now, but I’m not without hope that I’ll play there again.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015


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TWOI: 9/8/17

Happy Friday, all!

Boy, this was a really difficult week to sort these.  This set represents so many disparate aspects of my life; it’s crazy to look at sometimes.

This first one was from our eclipse weekend.  We met these pack goats at Olallie Lake, on some training missions.  This sure seems like a smart way to go backpacking!

This was also my submission for last week’s Monochrome Madness from Leanne Cole.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Next, a wildlife shot from Tortuga Island in Costa Rica.  I chased this silly bird all over the island to get a decent shot; it was difficult to stay ahead of it.  I just love those colors!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

From tropical to freezing, this was a beautiful chilly morning in Yosemite.  We were shooting the Three Brothers for sunrise, and I turned around to see this scene: one of our fellow photographers just taking in the peaceful morning along the water’s edge.  The moon was also conveniently placed, so I had to snap a shot.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This image of the famous Multnomah Falls hails from my most recent photo challenge response to “structure.”  Instead of going for literal interpretations for these challenges, I attempt to find a different interpretation.  This one focused on the many pieces that contribute to the experience of visiting a tourist spot, and my endeavors to find the unique in the over-shot.  You can read it here.

This response is also somewhat ironic.  Little did I know that the very afternoon prior to my posting this – lamenting its mundanity – actions were set in motion that would forever scar this iconic location.  This week’s challenge happened to cater to that topic, so look for that on Sunday.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Next, you knew there’d be another image of the eclipse.  I played with framing and cropping on this one, as well as some slight yellow tinting.  But interestingly, though I love this picture, it wasn’t quite my favorite this week (though millimeters away – seriously, it was so difficult to choose my favorites out of these).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I just love the colors of this one.  That day was spectacular, and the lighting was perfect.  On top of making an incredible coastal discovery, I was in high spirits.  This picture just makes me think of happy things.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Finally, this week, bears rose to the top!  I’m finally getting to my Alaskan stories, and I adore this bear clamming on the beach.  I have so much to tell from that trip, so be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss out.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’m on most major social media platforms, obviously including Instagram.  I always welcome comments both here and there; I would love to hear your thoughts on my photography and/or adventures.  Come say hi!


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WC: Overcoming the Tourist Trap

Tourist spots are so cliche and overdone that most self-respecting photographers will steer way clear.  However, there are times when a photographer has visitors from out of town, and they want to see these famous sites.  Many begrudgingly agree but leave the camera at home – what’s the point in shooting something with more clicks than the Google homepage? (I might be exaggerating…)

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Eclipse: A Preview

Alright.. So I know everyone’s anxious for my Alaska posts, and I even had something else originally planned for this week, but with all the excitement of this life-changing event, I had to interject an extra story.

This is just a preview, as I’m still working on the photos, but I’ll have the rest next week.  Follow my blog for all the latest!

Anticipation for the solar eclipse has been brewing for months, and “totality” invokes a very clear image in everyone’s minds.  For any living in the States, it’s meant booking hotels and campsites for exorbitant amounts, scrambling to secure legitimate solar glasses when half those sold were recalled a week prior, and selecting the best viewing spots.

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TWOI – 8/18/17

Happy Friday!  Are you excited for the eclipse on Monday?  I live right near the path of totality, so I’ve been stoked for years (not exaggerating).  I got my long lens from the rental shop last night, and I’m all packed up to go camping in eastern Oregon.  I’ll have two cameras set up (Aaron will have three), and I hope to catch everything from the shadow moving across the landscape to the solar prominences.  Look forward to pictures after we get back!

What are your plans for the eclipse?

So!  Another week of photos on the good ‘ole ‘gram.

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Photostory: Secret Cliff Discovery

Nowadays, most of the best cool spots are overrun with people wanting to see such locations firsthand.  With the prevalence of the internet, once secret or obscure places can be broadcast to millions of people within an instant – complete with GPS coordinates.

I do whatever I can to avoid crowds, and it’s sad to see some of my favorite spots reduced to a mere tourist attraction.  Therefore, I have decided to make an effort to not disclose the precise location of all of my photos anymore, instead sharing only the beauty therein.

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Costa Rican Shows

This is my last post on Costa Rica; stay tuned for my series on my Alaska trip next! We’re also still posting a bit more from this trip on our travel blog if you haven’t gotten enough of this tropical adventure.

When we travel, we usually try to make our dollars (or colones) stretch as far as possible.  This was a special occasion, so we splurged on the Doubletree Resort in Puntarenas.  We were surprised by how much it actually offered!  Besides air conditioned rooms (which alone were worth the price), it had several pools, three excellent buffet-style meals every day, and unlimited beverages.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It also featured nightly shows.

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