Elysian :: TN

19 Dec
Elysian :: TN

Elysian :: TN

 

I saw something over the weekend that reminded me that your perception of the world has a lot to do with how happy you are.  The basic idea is that things happen – good, bad, mundane, extraordinary –  but the way you interpret and react to them determines how successful and happy you are.  It goes hand in hand with one of my favorite phrases, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” (Epictetus).

That’s a powerful sentiment, when you think about it.  There will be difficult things in your life.  There will be speed bumps, there will be days where your entire life plan goes off course.  But you have a choice.  Do you choose to rise above, and embrace the positives?  Or do you choose to be defeated by it?

In my own life, I try (and frequently fail, but then try again) to meet challenges, to accept that things are difficult and to either see the positives or to keep my head down and push through until the difficult season has passed.  Hell, this past year alone has challenged me in a lot of ways, with serious family health issues, with heartache, with changes within the circle of people I rely on for support, financial challenges….  But in the end, we have just a finite time on this earth and I try to choose, every day, to work towards my best possible self, to tell myself that this too shall pass, that there is joy around the corner, and in the meantime, to work towards leaving the world a bit better than I found it.

That can mean any number of things.

You can choose to see the best in a bad day – the beauty of a beautiful sky, the opportunity to learn from a mistake (even if you frequently wonder when your “lessons” will start paying off), having a grateful attitude for the blessings you do have…

You can choose to do something kind for another person (or living creature) – a smile or bad joke when needed, verbalizing something you appreciate so they understand their worth to you, all the way up to grander gestures like gifts, or volunteering for a cause, or giving blood, or adopting from a local shelter and advocating for spaying and neutering…

You can choose to use your voice – we are all complicit when we remain silent about things that matter.  The problem, these days, is that we have so many wrongs to right that it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start.  Politics is hairy.  Tax laws, health care, the national monument debate…where do you even begin? Global warming is a thing (that recent starving polar bear video from NatGeo just hurts to watch).  There is genocide going on in the world.  Sex trafficking.  Sexual harrassment.  Discrimination.  Religious aggressions.  Civil wars.  It can be overwhelming, but we all have a responsibility to, at the very least, have civil discussions.  We can’t improve any problem by ignoring it.  So find your causes, the ones that are near and dear to your heart, and have a difficult conversation.  Listen to the opposing views.  Find some common ground on which you can begin to build a bridge.

In the end, how you react to the things life throws at you will determine things like how much joy you feel, or how much hope you feel.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are going to be overwhelmingly sad, or angry moments.  But if you keep this idea in mind that you can get through it by being aware of how you perceive a situation, then you will get through the difficult times with grace and find your way back to happiness quickly.

This particular photo was taken at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN.  So much thanks to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around to their favorite spots in the area!  They’re talented guys, make sure to check them out!

Also, big shoutout to David Pasillas (as always) for his patient feedback about my image edits.

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Invasion :: Iceland

12 Dec
Invasion :: Iceland

Invasion :: Iceland

You know what’s incredible about Iceland?

Almost everything. Except the abundance of tourists. Particularly those who don’t respect the culture and beautiful spaces there.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Iceland and would go back in a heartbeat. But I saw so many dangerous, rude and disrespectful things, even among my fellow photographers, which made me quite embarrassed for the lot of us. As a landscape photographer, I take protecting our collective “office” (aka nature, and access to spaces) pretty seriously. I love the fact that we are lucky enough to see, capture and share the beauty in this world and a few bad tourists have the ability to ruin it for the rest of us.

Do I love that the world is more connected and more people have access to see these wild, gorgeous spaces? Absolutely. But I hope more people will take care to respect those spaces. For example, maybe don’t cross the ropes to hang off of the edge of an eroding cliff or canyon overhang. Or, say, get too close to a beach known for rogue waves that drags people out to sea. Or…well…any of the bad behaviors you read about. Do your research, respect the culture and spaces, and we all win.

Hidden Treasure :: Iceland

5 Dec
Hidden Treasure :: Iceland

Hidden Treasure :: Iceland

 

“One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can.” -Frederick Buechner

Some of us were born with a wandering gypsy soul. There are days that I think about all of the choices, good and bad, that have brought me to where I am now. I wonder how different my life would be if I gotten the things I thought I wanted. I wonder if I will ever get the things I still do want. I wonder at what life has in store for me. Whatever it is though, I hope it will always allow me to wander, and to fill my soul with joy. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep appreciating the little moments of happiness and the opportunities I’ve had to grow, even when it’s hard. In the meantime, I’ll keep exploring, and making memories and choosing bravery, even when it seems like a monumental choice. Because I suppose, that’s when it counts the most.

Wildfire :: Iceland

28 Nov
Wildfire :: Iceland

Wildfire :: Iceland

I know what you’re wondering.  You’re asking yourself, “Is that a Game of Thrones reference??”

Yes.  Yes it is.

This was taken from the Dyrhólaey Peninsula overlooking the black sand beaches near Vik, Iceland.  We had flown overnight from Boston to Iceland, landing about 6:30am and spent the day exploring.  We eventually got to Vik, checked into our guest house, got some…well…slightly questionable dinner…and by the time we finished we were spent.  We wanted showers and sleep.

I’ll give you one guess as to what Mother Nature thought of our plans. lol

Melissa was wrapping up her shower, and I thought, “I should at least check the skies.  It’s clear, and there is no guarantees with weather here.”  I dragged myself out of my (very comfortable, warm) bed and grabbed my camera.  I went around to the slightly darker backyard, and took just one test shot.

“Damn.”  There were a clear, very blurry due to it being handheld band of green across the bottom of the frame. My “damn” turned into a much more enthusiastic “daaaaaaaammmmmnnnnn!!!”.

Sleep is for chumps anyway.

I went back inside and demanded Mel, who had just put on her PJs, get into real-people clothes because this was one adventure I wasn’t going to let her miss.  Our first stop was the famous white church in Vik, but turns out that’s a beast to shoot.  The lights on the church blew out the frame, even with selective dodging, if we exposed for the sky.  If we exposed for the church, the green of the aurora was barely visible.

Little did we know this was just the weak start to what would turn out to be an incredible light show. 

So did I get my church shot?  No.  But I’m not a quitter.  We had explored the Dyrhólaey peninsula earlier in the day and so we knew it was at least darker than in town.  Was it going to be an epic Vestrahorn/Northern Lights shot?  No.  But I’d figure it out, right?  I’m a professional (who occasionally gets lucky), dangit. So we hopped in the car (because at that point, we had completely given up on the idea of sleeping) and headed back to the peninsula.

This is the point in the story where the night became a magical symphony of dancing lights, and a lot of me sighing happily.  Or pointing excitedly.  Or yelling for Melissa to look in whatever direction I was looking in, so she could also sigh happily. lol

This particular shot was taken towards the end of the light show, at one of our last stops before headed back to Vik.  It was cold, and windy up there and we were tired….but dang it was beautiful.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Gosh, there are so many to choose from.

Never put on PJs before it’s time?  Caffeine is photography fuel?  Iceland is purty?

How about, if you don’t show up, you’ll never get the shotYeah, let’s go with that one. 😉

This or That? Opinions needed!

26 Nov

This is one of those beautiful small  scenes the Catskills in NY is known for. We got here during mediocre light (by photographer standards…aka a nice day to everyone else haha) so I struggled a bit with this edit.  What do you guys prefer?  Black & White?  Or color?

Also, the holiday gift giving season is upon us.  If anyone wants a print or two, let me know!

A Million Thanks

22 Nov

My heart is full of gratitude today. I’m wrapping up the print sale shipping/delivery, and *we* raised over $730 for Liam. ❤️ I’m so proud of my tribe today. I’m so thankful for all of your help, and I know Liam’s family is too. Cancer is such a difficult thing to face, but truly, the support, the hugs and prayers helps. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and have a happy & healthy Thanksgiving. 😘

Steadfast :: Iceland

14 Nov
Steadfast :: Iceland

Steadfast :: Iceland

“Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice, oh
Oh, come and then go, come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so” -Patty Griffin/Up to the Mountain (based on an MLK speech)

 

This incredible peak had an equally incredible glacier field attached to it, and I felt blessed to see it. A photo-friend, Dani, talked about a project she is doing where she goes back yearly to a glacier field and it has noticeably receded in just the short time she’s been capturing it. It makes me wonder how long we have before these beautiful spaces are gone completely. And more importantly, I wonder what can WE HUMANS (the biggest contributors to the problem according to the newest climate report released in the US) can do to combat the problems we face?

If there are any stragglers for the print sale to benefit little Liam, let me know!  I’m ordering from the print house tomorrow!  And for all of you that have reached out already, thank you!  You’re amazing!

Shannon