Happy 2024!

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Two photos on Instagram; five on 500px.  Here are this week’s highlights!

This first one is from the beautiful Land of the Rising Sun.  We visited many shrines and temples in Japan, most of which in Kyoto.  This particular one was just up the hill from our ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel).  Everything within the gates was meticulously cultivated and arranged for optimal zen.  It was impossible to enter one of these sanctuaries and not feel an utter sense of peace as the hustle and bustle of the city just melts away.  You can read all about that day here.

Stone path crossing a pond at a Kyoto temple | LotsaSmiles Photography

Next, this adorable little guy was just chilling in a park right here in the city.  He even let me get quite close!  Those eyes are just so beautiful.  What a remarkable creature that we almost never see, especially in the city.

Owl among the branches of a tree in a Portland park | LotsaSmiles Photography

Speaking of eyes… What a cutie this little one was!  We simply loved our time in Kyoto, and this was one of the many monkeys at the Arishiyama Monkey Park.  Here, the primates roam freely, and humans can enter a building with caged windows through which peanuts and other small treats can be offered to hungry little furry hands.  It was well worth the short hike up the mountain, and we followed it up with a trip through the beautiful bamboo grove.  You can find the full account on that day here.

Young monkey gripping the wires over a window at the Arashiyama Monkey Park in Kyoto, Japan | LotsaSmiles Photography

This photo was from a bit closer to home.  This is an image I took from the bush plane that took us out into the Alaskan wilderness to photograph bears last summer.  We originally had ambitious plans of doing a day hike up to this lake, but by the time we got down the beach, we were far too tired to consider it.  Instead, we spent more time with the bears.  That incredible adventure can be found here.

Lake in front of a snowy mountain in the wilderness of Alaska | LotsaSmiles Photography

Even closer to home, this is a calming scene from Seaside.  I love this picture because it just came together perfectly – the sun poking through the clouds, the reflection, the silhouettes, the gull…  Nothing was digitally altered or added (aside from my standard edits).  I prefer to document life as I actually see it, and there was a precise moment in time when these exact elements came into alignment.

Golden sunset on the beach at Seaside, Oregon | LotsaSmiles Photography

Getting up into my favorites of the week, this is a moonscape.  This is also what 4am in Yosemite National Park looks like.  We took a winter trip to this stunning park, and it was here that I fell in love with the idea.  Last winter, we followed it with a trip to Bryce and Zion.  Where should we go this year?

I’d love to shoot more moonscapes, as they have the eerie appearance of a daytime photo with stars in a rich deep blue sky.  But I’m also a huge fan of sleep…  This photo also has a whole photostory behind it.  You can read the full story here.

Bridalveil Falls under the moonlight in Yosemite National Park | LotsaSmiles Photography

Finally, my favorite this week is this early morning photo of Mount Hood.  We ventured out to the St. John’s Bridge in the hopes of catching some morning fog, but there wasn’t much there to photograph.  We didn’t even really have much of a sunrise, either.  But the clouds that day diffused the fiery rays into watercolor pastels.  I can’t complain.

Sunrise over Mount Hood in Portland, Oregon | LotsaSmiles Photography

In addition to new photos on Instagram and 500px, I also have these new photos available for stock licensing on Picfair:

Which image is your favorite?

Stay tuned for a new photostory from Norway on Thursday, and follow my blog for alerts on new posts!

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