Those sunbeams though. ❤
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca
There are a lot of stumbling blocks in our lives, reasons we feel fear, or sadness, or anger…but it is also within our power to choose life. We can choose to moderate our fears with reason. We can choose to accept the sadness, and move past it. We can quench most anger with discussion, compromise and forgiveness. We can choose to embrace the good.
While these things start as choices, embraced by both heart and mind, they are more than just an adopted philosophy. To truly live fully, your thoughts must be reflected in your actions. Say yes to adventure. Create memories. Vocalize your love for the people you care about. Open your heart to the people you have just met. Be willing to listen to another person’s story, and try to understand their perspective. Choose empathy – there is only one race, and we are all in this together. Have an enthusiasm for life that shows in every aspect of your world.
For me, choosing to live and seeking adventure started years ago with deciding that I was worthy, I was good enough, and damnit, if other people could find a way to bring their dreams to life, well, “Why not me?” Since that moment, when I opened my heart to possibilities, I have been lucky enough to see the beauty in both the countries and cultures of the world (like Northern Ireland, above), to face intimidating challenges head-on and to meet some truly incredible individuals who have reinforced my belief that most people are fundamentally good. My life has been immeasurably enriched by my willingness to live.
Nerdy Stuff: This image was taken at Giant’s Causeway. It is two blended images, for exposure and focus. 🙂 Want more info about classes with us? Contact us at info at seeingspotsphoto dot com.
For those of you who ever spent time on Craigslist laughing at the frequently ridiculous posts, this blog is for you. 😉
One of the alternate titles for this shot is: “Mist Connections”
Your soft shadow drew me in. Your rough, indomitable exterior held my attention, for what felt like years, as I carefully soaked up every detail of you with my eyes. You coyly tried to hide behind a thin veil of fog, as if you knew what I did…that this was love at first sight. But not a simple, effortless love. No. This was going to be heated, passionate, make you scream “I fucking love you!” kind of love.
Suddenly, the light hit you, like a sign from the heavens, in the most beautiful way, and I had to capture this moment. It was the only way I’d have you forever. Soon, I’d have to leave for the next location, where I would inevitably fall in love all over again, with someone (thing/subject) else I couldn’t have.
But we will always have this moment. And it will be perfect.
Okay, but in all seriousness, this is Corfe Castle in Southern England and it’s part of their National Trust system. It’s a lovely spot, which I did thoroughly enjoy visiting. Probably a little too much, since we got wrapped up in shooting here and were late for our ticket time at Stonehenge (and had to beg to be let in. haha You can’t take a photographer anywhere….)
Worth it though!
2016 was a year of photographic growth for me. I set several technical goals for myself as a way of pushing myself to be consistently better at my craft, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. I’ll admit, it was often a mix of trial and error (a lot of error), persistence, and supportive people around me but I feel like I made a noticeable difference in the quality of my images.
This year, I made a consistent effort to focus stack where appropriate, to really keep an eye on my histogram so that I wasn’t shooting 12 frames when I really needed 1 or 2, and I tried improving both my night sky/milky way techniques and lightning images. Those in-the-field efforts are represented in this “Best of…” gallery.
I’ve also grown in the editing arena, an area we can always work on, no matter how accomplished we are. I feel like my ability to *see* the weak areas of a raw image, and my ability to enhance the light in a positive way with my edits has grown immeasurably. Again, this was a matter of practice, feedback and support from my peers. I’m particularly proud of my Opal Creek wilderness forest shot, as it involved some creative shaping of the light.
The winter image in the gallery was a conscious attempt to force myself out of hibernation. Apparently, I need to do that more often – turns out winter light is lovely! Lol
And finally, the biggest reason I chose all of these images was the LIFE they represent.
I suspect it’s human nature to take things for granted – we developed our ability to tune things out as part of our survival mechanisms (because how could our ancestors focus on important things like hunting and gathering if they were constantly distracted by…oh, the wind! Oh, shiny rock! Oh, noise! Oh, a bird! What was I doing again??). Therefore, it takes a conscious effort to remember to appreciate the blessings in our life.
Write that life lesson down, folks. It’s particularly important in the relationships you hold dear.
So where am I going with this? Well, I’m an American woman. Currently, that means the law considers me to be a person with inherent rights, one of which is the ability to obtain resources and pursue my life aspirations. On the whims of fate, I was born here. I am not viewed as property, or less than human. I have the stability provided by a nation dedicated to protecting our freedoms. I am educated. Compared to so many places in the world, I grew up like a queen – I had food, clean water, health care, and never had the threat of war, unrest and violence looming on my doorstep every day. Although America isn’t perfect, I am GRATEFUL every day for the progressive ideas that surrounds me. As a country we can always improve. We are but a nation of flawed humans afterall, and will always have room to be better versions of ourselves…. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t already holding the human rights bar pretty high and I desperately hope we continue to do so abundantly, and equally across the country.
Because I was blessed be born in a place that respects my rights and raised to believe in pursuing my dream (so much thanks to my family for always inspiring and encouraging me), I have seen and experienced SO MUCH JOY all in pursuit of a photograph. I have traveled to places that have stolen my breath. I have met some incredibly interesting, funny and supportive people who are a constant source of light in my life. I have taken chances that have fed my soul.
In 2016, I was able to see the forest and seascapes (and….uh…wildlife) of Oregon and Northern California, the towering waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, try out the delightful food trucks in Portland and have my heart swell at the beauty of the Steens Mountains and the Alvord desert. I soaked in a hot spring, while smiling with strangers. I sat under the stars with friends, and pretended to play a violin under the Milky Way. I explored NY and much of New England. I was assaulted by a frog near the Adirondacks, got to see bald eagles in Acadia, the wild ponies on Assateague and black bears in Shenandoah.
I have taught photography students and built friendships around the world through Light & Landscape (thanks for that opportunity Matt!), I wrote another photography book with my business-partner-in-not-crime David, I was blessed to photograph weddings for some amazing couples with my other business-partner-in-not-crime Melissa, worked with one of this year’s 40 under 40 winners (you rock, Fitz!), refined my inner photo-journalist with freelance assignments through the newspaper (shout out to Jared and the staff at the paper for the feedback and encouragement), and saw AMAZING shows / met some wonderful musicians during my nights as a concert photographer (so much thanks to the venue, Kathy, Pat and Angelo).
In short, I have the freedom to LIVE THE LIFE I WANT and these photos represent the landscape side of that. They are a reminder to be THANKFUL EVERY DAY.
Remember to count your blessings often, and appreciate the people and things that enrich your lives. Dwell on the positive, and embrace GRATITUDE instead of criticism. Open your heart to the people that care and the endless possibilities in front of you. Take chances, even knowing you may fail….failure can generally be overcome, but you’ll never get back the time you waste on “What ifs”. Travel as often as you are able to responsibly do so, so that you can learn about the magical places in the world….how else will you learn to cherish and protect them? As you travel near or far, make sure to appreciate that you have the ability to do so.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2017!
Like free landscape photography articles? Want to learn from the experiences of experts? Check out Light & Landscape Magazine, a wonderful resource that I love contributing to.
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This month’s article is about our photo-walk in Acadia National Park last month with some of the students over at the Light & Landscape Members Area. If you are looking for that perfect gift for your favorite photography enthusiast, consider a private lesson through the instructors (David and I) or a monthly education subscription through the Member’s Area!
I have so many entrepreneurial friends, as well as running my own photography business (our prints and books make great holiday gifts, guys!) so obviously I urge you to spend some time supporting local businesses this holiday season. #shopsmall #smallbusinesssaturday
If you run a small business – photography, musician, candles, bags, stationary, crocheting, whatever – leave your link below so people can find you. Let’s do our part to support each other’s dreams this year. 🙂
For those of you who made it this far down the post, the photo above was taken in the Schoodic Peninsula portion of Acadia National Park. It’s a simple focus stack, converted to black & white, edited with Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik Colorefex.
Exactly one month ago, I drove up to Maine to find some fall colors. This scene, along the Jessup trail in Acadia, really spoke to me. There was so much chaos and transition and texture…it felt like it was telling a story of the passing of the seasons….all I had to do was capture it. 🙂