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Happy new week to you all!

I’ve been talking about it for a bit, but this week, I finally followed through on the “two-five” (TWO5) idea.  This week, I posted two new photos to Instagram and five new photos to 500px.  I am also trying just wildlife photos on Instagram.  We’ll see how I like this new focus.

This first image was from our trip to Mesa Verde National Park.  We had to take a tour to get down to the actual ruins, but it was totally worth it.  These ancient Puebloans lived incredible lives carved out of these cliff faces.  Clambering down death-defying drops to access these fortresses and surviving off of corn and seep springs.  Wow…  You can read all about our full adventures at Cliff Palace and the other ruins right here.

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park at dusk | LotsaSmiles Photography

Next is a placid scene from a tranquil Buddhist temple in Kyoto.  This is one of my most quintessential Japanese photos, complete with a colorful koi and the fire-red leaves of the Japanese maple.  I’m so glad these grow here at home (there are several just outside my window as I type, in fact), as they are one of my favorite trees.

Koi in a pond under the boughs of a fiery-red Japanese maple in Kyoto, Japan | LotsaSmiles Photography

I took this photo in Zion National Park, just after we were disappointed by a nonexistent sunrise at Canyon Overlook.  These bighorn sheep surprised us on the trek back to the car, and they made the rainy hike totally worth it.  You can read that photostory here.

Bighorn sheep on a mountainside in Zion National Park | LotsaSmiles Photography

This one… While I love the imagery of this picture, the memory of what made it possible still breaks my heart.  A couple of negligent kids launched fireworks off the Eagle Creek trail and set the beautiful Gorge ablaze.  This resulted in a very smokey city for several days.  The scorched area is still closed, and it will take many years to repair the damage.  Our beloved playground is forever changed.

A fire-orange sun peeking through the clouds in a blood-red sky | LotsaSmiles Photography

This very different sun is from a much happier memory.  Aaron surprised me with a trip to the San Juan Islands off of the Washington state mainland, and we spent a long weekend in Friday Harbor.  This image reminds me how peaceful it is there…

Setting sun behind the silhouette of reeds | LotsaSmiles Photography

Next, one of my favorite pictures from Japan.  We were lucky to have fit the Fushimi Inari-Taisha into our trip at all (have I mentioned we vacation hard?), but as a photographer, I knew it was an absolute must.  It was late, and we were very tired and very hungry, but we ascended the hill anyway.  The shrine was far less occupied than it would have been during the day, and I’m quite pleased with the unique perspective I had on this iconic site.  How many photographs of this famous place are taken at night?

Orange torii at an angle at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto | LotsaSmiles Photography

Last, but certainly not least, is my favorite of this week.  This is also a very different perspective on a very well-photographed site.  We tried three days for a decent sunrise in Arches National Park, and we hiked the mile to Landscape Arch in the predawn pitch darkness.  But this image should make it clear that it was all worth it.  You can read that full story here.

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, shot at sunrise | LotsaSmiles Photography

While I post regularly to Instagram and 500px, I also add new photos every week to Picfair, a stock photography site that aims to actually pay photographers reasonable rates.  Feel free to check it out if you’re looking to license some stock photography and you’d like to support my art.  Here is the latest batch:

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