WC: Beautiful Nostalgia

Moments are fleeting.  By the time you’ve even processed that a moment is occurring, it has faded into the past.  From there, they coalesce into a jumble of memories, with the mundane and the daily negativities vanishing to leave behind the best and most impactful times.  We play these in our heads over and over, and they age like good wine into a beautiful nostalgia.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

The evanescence of these moments is part of why I am so addicted to photography.  Pictures help preserve these memories, and they are the key that bring me back to remember details I otherwise would have forgotten.

This is what makes my photographs so precious.  Even as my style has evolved over the years from simple snapshots to the artistic, they still serve the purpose of encapsulating my past.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia lately.  Why are we so drawn to it?  Why do we revel in those meandering visits down Memory Lane?  Why does that appear more attractive than forming new, amazing memories that have every potential to surpass those previously experienced?

© Brianna Shade 2011

See the cyclone?

My theory is that nostalgia is a known positive.  It is one’s past, distilled into just the happiest memories.  Those recollections are further amplified by their nostalgic status, to where they’re being recalled as being better than they actually were – how many times have you rewatched a childhood favorite movie as an adult, only to be disappointed?  It’s kind of like how emotions and sensations are amplified in dreams.

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This is still one of my favorite pictures.  It isn’t the best compositionally, and I obviously didn’t even take it (thanks, fellow tourist!), but it invokes so many happy memories of that day.

The mind is an amazing thing.  Our brains want to convince us we’ve had a happy life, so they record our pasts through rose-colored glasses, and those memories sweeten over time.

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Interestingly, photography doesn’t change that.  You would think a picture would be hard evidence closer to reality than what my mind remembers.  While that’s true, the essence of a day isn’t replaced by the moments in those photographs; it grows from the moments between.  Having pictures simply means I develop a richer nostalgia from those spaces – gaps that are smaller and more frequent.

This makes me love my hobby even more.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’m constantly excited for the next adventure, and I’m building an incredible past that’s hopefully more happy nostalgia than not.


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This Week on Instagram: 5/26/17

I’m always amazed by the actual reactions each week to my photos versus my expectations.  Most of the time, the Instaverse simply doesn’t like the same pictures I do.  It gives me some very interesting insight to my photography.  Am I viewing a picture better than it actually is?  Or was it simply poor timing, poor hashtags, poor algorithm?  Who can know, for sure?

Either way, I’ll continue to put my photos out there.  These are the ones I like, at least.

This first one was actually from a hike last year – Silver Star Mountain.  That was an arduous trek straight up a creek bed (we took the hard way; apparently there’s also an easy way).  The views were amazing, though I lamented the harsh sunlight.  We saw this little butterfly (or is it a moth?) on our way up, just sunning himself on the rock.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

This is one of my favorites from our trip to the Palouse.  We caught an amazing sunrise at this old barn, and this rusty truck has so much character!  I’m sure it’s been photographed hundreds of times.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This was from my post this week on Opal Creek.  I’m fascinated my decaying structures; they’re so photogenic!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

And this was my favorite from our hike to Abiqua Falls.  It’s an adventure every time we go!  That road’s a doozy, and the muddy slope down to the water’s edge isn’t much better, but the waterfall is worth it!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Ah, Crater Lake.  I never get tired of seeing pictures from this magnificent park (Oregon’s only national park, you know).  See the tiny moon there?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The pictures from Yosemite always get a lot of love.  That’s ok – I love them too!  Sunset on Half Dome from “the swamp.”  Such a stunning place.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

And the top photo from this week is a simple one.  There’s nothing quite like the rolling hills of the Palouse, especially from Steptoe Butte.  I’m so used to the lush greenery near home, so I wouldn’t have thought this would be so accessible to us.  It’s a beautiful place.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Photos are posted every day on Instagram.  Feel free to follow, and please comment to let me know what you think!


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Come Mud or High Water

This has been an unusually wet winter for us.  It’s May, and we’re only just beginning to see some truly sunny days.  It’s been cold and dreary and miserable.

This does not make for good photographic conditions.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

What’s a photographer to do?  Well, I try to get away from home if I can – steal a semi-dry afternoon whenever I can find one.  I’ve been itching to hike all winter, but I’ve been confined to the city and what urban excursions I can put up with from under the edge of a dripping umbrella.  Needless to say, I haven’t been shooting a whole lot since Yosemite.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We did manage a quick jaunt down to Abiqua Falls, however.  Granted, this hike was postponed at least twice due to rain, but we managed to find one Saturday that wasn’t completely drenched, if not entirely dry.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I love this hike, because it’s fairly off the beaten trail, it’s somewhat challenging to get to (think serious four-bying to get to the trail and ropes to assist in the steep descent to the creek), and it boasts no formal trailhead.  It also rewards with a beautiful waterfall.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

With all the rain, you can bet that trail was a slick mess of mud.  Fortunately, I wore clothes that could easily be washed.  Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for my camera.

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This was after I had already wiped quite a bit off.  Photo courtesy of Duane Bolland.

While attempting to back down the muddy incline, I of course slipped (despite the rope), sending my beloved camera straight into the muck.  I luckily had a rag on me that I could use to try to clean it up, but I’m still picking mud out of the cracks (battle scars of an adventure well had?).  I was smarter on the way back up, tucking the camera away, but the damage was done.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Contrary to our last visit to Abiqua, it was quite cloudy, affording relatively even lighting.  This made photography considerably easier than when we had to contend with the glaring sun.  I’ve also since acquired an ND filter, so I had lots of fun playing with long exposures.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We didn’t stay very long.  Apparently the hike has become more popular since our last visit.  More adventurers showed up, and before we knew it, the small rocky bowl was quite crowded with selfie sticks and neon jackets doing yoga poses smack dab in the middle of our serene shots (in a compositionally crushing way).  Good thing we were pretty much done by that point anyway.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It was really good to stretch my legs and get outside for a bit of fresh air.  Now that we’re starting to see sun again, I should hopefully be able to go exploring more – preferably with less mud!


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WC: Beauty in Decay

I’m always fascinated by seeing evidence of history long gone.  The ruins of an old building, a decommissioned road slowly being reclaimed by nature – embers of the past.

One of my highlights of our trip to Hawaii last year was the surprise discovery of a ruined restaurant.  It was even more beautiful in its dilapidation than images of the original in its heyday.  There’s just something about the process of the wilderness taking back what’s hers that I find intriguing.  There are a thousand things to photograph; every detail is mesmerizing.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’m drawn to images of abandoned malls, and I loved reading about another blogger’s recent exploration through the Chernobyl wasteland.  The simple absence of civilization and the earth’s power to reshape what man has modified is truly remarkable.  Nature is a wild and veritable force, and it’s awesome to witness.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It’s for this reason also that I enjoyed visiting the local Opal Creek Trail.  This trail leads upstream to Jawbone Flats and back in a seven-mile loop past condemned mine shafts and rusty prospecting equipment.  You can read about my first foray into this area here, where I spent far more time exploring all the little wonders this trail has to offer, shooting everything from misplaced wheels to an old steam engine.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This trail also offers a crumbling shack.  During our last visit, this was barely standing, propped up by a single tree.  Since then, I had heard it collapsed, and I made a point to return this time around for an updated shot.  It was a little sad to see it in a crumpled heap, but it was also beautiful in its decay.  Many were upset about this swiftly disappearing local heritage, but I see it only as another step in the gradual recirculation of the land.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This evidence of the past can’t be preserved outside of photographs, and I wouldn’t want to.  Instead, I’ll marvel at the ever-changing landscape and watch as Mother Nature wins the slow battle against man – at least here.


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This Week on Instagram: 5/19/17

This week was a little better!  I saw increased engagement, and I even have a new inductee to the 100 Club!  I think I’ve finally figured out the secret, and I really should have known: my own engagement makes my account more visible.  I made a point this week if spending five minutes each time I post not only posting my picture, but then turning around and liking, commenting, and following others.  It takes more time, but I see huge improvements when I do those things.  Go figure.

You should recognize this first image from this week’s photo challenge: reflection.  I chose to eschew the predictable watery reflections and shimmering surfaces in lieu of the more nostalgic interpretation.  It’s a post about the most influential woman of my life, and I invite you to read it here.

© Brianna Shade 2013

This next one was my submission for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.  I was drawn to the details of these little grass tufts in “the swamp” of Yosemite.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I really like this next image.  It’s an interesting perspective, looking straight down to the distant Crater Lake far below my feet.  That blue is incredible.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

This was from my photostory this week.  That morning was very cold, but the icy climb was worth the beautiful moonscapes I was able to capture!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Here’s another from Yosemite.  This is the peak of one of the Three Brothers, right at sunrise.  This park really is a photographer’s playground.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I love the colors of this next image, also from Crater Lake.  It changed so quickly as the sun set, from bright gold to gentle pastels.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Finally, my most-liked image this week, and a proud new member of the elite 100 Club!  This is yet another from Crater Lake.  That day was beautiful.  Those clouds, and those rich colors…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

You can keep up with my posts on Instagram, and as always, I welcome you to let me know what you think below.  I love to hear from you!


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Photostory: The Impossible Gentle Climb

Last week, I talked about my discovery of the magic of moonscapes.  Waterfalls are also something else in this ethereal light.

But waterfalls spray water.  And spray in the winter quickly turns to ice.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

After securing our moonscape shots at Tunnel View, we drove down to the base of Bridalveil Falls.  There’s a short path to a lower viewpoint – not anything I’d venture to call a hike, even under the most liberal of definitions.

But it was impossible to traverse.

While we had crampons, the six-inch solid sheet of ice was slicker than a butter-dipped kid on a slip-n-slide.  The gentle incline wasn’t even steep!  Half of the path blessedly had a chain rail we could use to hoist ourselves up a few more inches, but we were out of luck once that ran out.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

A mere few inches from the final viewing area, I was reduced to literally crawling, just to have enough traction to continue forward.  And even then, it wasn’t enough.  I ultimately had to get help from my fellow ice adventurers – to step forward six inches.

This is what photographers do at 4am.

Of course, being right at the base of the waterfall, we were likewise graced with that same chilly spray.  And it sprinkled our cameras.  We had to be especially careful to wipe our lenses frequently lest the mist begin to freeze.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I shot away from Bridalveil to capture the distant Ribbon Falls across the way as we each awaited our turn for the prime spot at the bottom of Bridalveil.

I finally got my shots – quickly removing my lens cap, composing, and shooting before my lens got too wet.  And not too surprisingly, my favorite shot wound up being the one at my (now infamous) special angle.  I just thought it filled the frame better this way.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

When we felt we were photographically sated and cold enough, we packed up to leave.  Lucky for us, the way back down was far more fun than the way up!  We were all bundled in our snow gear, so we just sat our bums down on the ice and slid down!  Whee!  I felt like a kid again.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It was a fun little excursion, but it makes me smile now just to look at the photos.  How often have you had that much adventure at four in the morning?


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WC: My Very First Fan

I am extremely fortunate in that I had a very rich upbringing.  And no, I don’t mean my family was rich – at least not in the monetary sense.

© Brianna Shade 2014

I’ve written before about my father and his influence on my adventurous spirit and my love for photography, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mother.  When Dad would take us on outings, Mum would ensure we stayed safe.. and check our heads for ticks when we got back.  When we went camping, she provided food for an army (seriously, you have no idea how amazing homemade beef stew is over a campfire when you’re famished and tired from a day of hiking).  She would plan our many excursions to the letter, so all we had to do was show up and have a good time.

She’s witty and sharp, always with a pun and a party theme.  Her laughter is infectious and her love is endless.  And knowing she’s constantly worrying (as mothers do) keeps me mindful of my own safety (even when I’m tempted to defy it).

© Brianna Shade 2014

She also loves to spoil us all.  She’s the first to admire my photography, always asking for more photos to show on her digital frame.  Really, she was the first to love any of my art – back to the crayon and macaroni days.  And she has purchased so many camera accessories for me over the years.

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Mum enables me and encourages me in all of my endeavors, never not believing I could accomplish anything.  I think I get my tenacity from her.  She is strong yet quiet – an unsung hero never asking for anything in return but our happiness.

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Photo courtesy of Carolyn Wiens

She is also the primary reason I’m such a grammar nerd.  She was quick to correct my speech growing up (she still does), and I find joy in writing (and even more joy in reading) because of this conditioning.  With this influence, my mind records stories.  And between the words and the pictures, I relay them to you.  I see stories in every photo I take, and this adds a depth I feel casual pictures lack.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

It’s easy to be myself when I’m loved so completely.  Reflecting back on the many years of support I had makes me eternally grateful for the amazing life I now lead.

Thanks, Mum, for seeing in me all I had the capacity to be and for being my first and always fan.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there.  How has your mother shaped your life?


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