Tag Archives: forest

An Attitude of Gratitude

27 Nov


Having a positive outlook on life can be hard, but intensely rewarding.  It’s easy to say a glass is half empty.  It’s much harder to say, “Thank goodness I still have half a glass to drink.  I’m thirsty, and that will help.”  Like anything else in life, seeing the silver linings in life is a skill, and when done faithfully, can become a habit.

Imagine a life where you exchange your expectations for gratitude.  The disappointments in life become much more manageable.  And there are fewer of them.  It’s easier to feel like you have enough, to appreciate the gifts you’re given and to see the blessings in life.

That is what I love most about tomorrow, Thanksgiving.  It’s yearly encouragement to be thankful for the things we have already accomplished, to see how far we have come, to appreciate our families and friends, and to see that often, we are lucky to have so much in our lives.  Most of us have a roof, even if we don’t own it.  Most of us have food, warmth and a computer with which to read this awesome blog…  We have life.  Even when it’s hard, it’s precious.

Tomorrow is a day to appreciate the positives.  Spend a few moments between tofurkey and pie reflecting on the good things in your life.  In the end, we can’t keep the gifts, the wealth, the stuff we surround ourselves with…but we can remember the path we took in life, the moments of joy and accomplishment, and be proud of how our experiences shaped us, and the choices we made because of them.  We can practice an attitude of gratitude.

The photo above was taken on a hike with my friend David (an awesome photog from Cali, check out his work!) while he was visiting in CT.  The leave whirlpool reminds me a little of the way water drains from a tub.  Felt appropriate as we make our transition from beautiful, beautiful Autumn….to very cold Winter. haha


❤ < 3 ❤

For those of you interested in helping me raise funds for the victims of Typoon Haiyan in the Philippines, when the time comes for holiday shopping, go here.  50% of profits through December 15 go to Care.org and the Filipinos in need.

For those of you interested in winning a holiday gift, go here, “like” the page and leave a comment on the contest poster letting me know which image you want.  Winner announced on Friday, so you only have a few days.

Finding Balance

19 Nov
Wild and Free

Wild and Free

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” -Henry David Thoreau

That quote by Thoreau really struck me.  It was an eloquent reminder to be a “smart shopper” and to invest in the things that matter.  Sometimes, taking a break to appreciate the beautiful chaos of nature is the most therapeutic thing we can do.  Find time for the things that make you happy. Appreciate, be grateful, smile, laugh and love. ❤


As you all know, I’m running a fundraiser for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. (50% of profits from sales through December 15, go here: www.zazzle.com/skalahan) Turns out, zazzle is also running a deal through 11/21 (sorry, I know, not much notice)…use the code HOLIDAYCOUNT for up to 60% off! And I’m pretty sure it is on the production end, not mine, so the donation to the Filipinos will be the same!

Catching Up

21 Oct

So…in the month of October I have:

A) Gotten food poisoning and landed in the emergency clinic in another country. Still trying to recover from that.

B) Hosted my good friend David Pasillas, a west coast photog, and found ourselves on a three day New England leaf-peeping adventure.  I still have to download those shots. haha

C) Worked hard to finish 3 photo projects, one of which will be a collaborative series of blogs with the aforementioned David, my friend Will and his better half Britta (sorry Will. ;-D)  I’m pretty pumped about!  (So..uh…stay tuned)  One of the other projects is a magazine submission which is making me hold off a bit on posting all of my Peru photos just yet.  But trust me, they’re awesome and when the time comes, you’ll love them.

D) Had knee surgery, and am currently on crutches.  I’ll be headed to my post-op appointment in about an hour, as a matter of fact.  You know what is difficult to do on crutches?  Everything. haha

E) Shot a couples session for one of my best friends (on crutches!) and was overwhelmingly happy when the guy surprised us all by turning it into an engagement shoot!

And the month isn’t done yet!

For today, I figured I’d share an oldie-but-goodie fall foliage photo.  Tis the season, afterall. 🙂

Autumn in New England

Autumn in New England

New photos coming shortly, I promise!

Arethusa Falls, NH

18 Sep
Arethusa Falls, NH

Arethusa Falls, NH

The day after last month’s Mt. Washington, we decided to take an “easy” hike to Arethusa Falls in New Hampshire.  There were two photogs on the trip (myself, and my friend Melissa…whose birthday happens to be today!  Wish her a good one, folks!) so we enjoyed stopping at all of the falls and rock formations while our other two friends enjoyed waiting for us….and taking photos of us photoing. haha

This photo was a composite of two exposures, masking out the spots in each I didn’t love – mainly, the way the water fell in one exposure and the sun light falling on the water in the other…a relatively simple edit, for once!  Nothing wrong with getting it right in-camera to save you time in post later! 🙂

Photo-ing Photogs Photo-ing

Photo-ing Photogs Photo-ing


Happy Wednesday, friends!

Nature Photo-Walk

28 Aug
Enders Falls - CT

Enders Falls – CT

“Free time”…what a foreign concept in my world. haha  When I do have a spare moment or two though, it’s nice to take a quiet walk in the woods with my photo-friends.  This image was one of many cascades at the area of Connecticut known as Enders Falls.  I’m not sure which one this is…but it sure is purty. 🙂

Many thanks to my buddy Emmet for suggesting this outing!  It was a nice day with great light and photographically productive to boot!

Enders Falls with Emmet

Enders Falls with Emmet

Moody and Mono

8 Aug
Enders Falls - Mono and Moody

Enders Falls – Mono and Moody

As I mentioned in last week’s post, some images tell you what they need and want.  This shot was definitely one of them.  As I compared this RAW to last week’s RAW, I immediately knew which version of these falls would be color and which screamed to be monochrome.

It’s interesting what a difference there is between the two images.  To me, the color image has a soft, mystical feel.  The colors and light after soft and soothing.  The monochrome goes in the opposite direction, with darker tones.

When I first opened this image, I knew that I loved the composition, but was pretty sure there were deep shadows I wouldn’t be able to recover smoothly.  I knew from past experience that forcing those edits would stand out like a sore thumb, and/or warp the color image in a direction that didn’t feel natural.  That kind of made the mono decision for me.

Now to execute!

Rather than just a blanket desaturation, I pulled out each individual color channel.  That gave me the ability to choose the light/dark level for each color. From there I tweaked each section of the image, working to get the best tones from the rocks, the water, etc using different exposure layers and masks.

In the end, the image worked well as a back and white because it had several of the ingredients that make a successful monochrome.  In this case, the deep shadows are broken by a lighter diagonal lines of the falls, a composition win.  There is also a copious amount of texture, and tonal range which are important component in the creation of a successful black and white image.  (Yes, that was just an excuse to use the word copious.)  As with any black and white image, the lack of color forces the viewer to focus on the technicalities of photography.  It is, 100% of the time, considered good practice to keep your “photo tool bag” up to date.  As you work through any shoot, make it a point to notice the areas within a scene that are important components of a black and white image (textures, patterns, strong compositions, good tonal range, etc).  Then go a step further, to work through the skills that make ANY image…color or otherwise…a success.

As they say, practice makes progress!  🙂

The Great Lens Cap Tragedy of 2013

29 Jul

Did you know they make these nifty little lens cap bungie attachments?  I do.  Because I’ve been gifted (and broken them) before.

It happened.  Again.  The lens cap took a cliff dive without it’s swimmies.  Please…a moment of silence, if you would.  May you live on forever in the lens cap afterlife, where cameras and their caps thrive in dry, dust free enviroments.

On the plus side, I did get to swim under a waterfall (if you haven’t done it, add it to your bucket list!) and…well… I got this photo. 🙂

Great Lens Cap Tragedy of 2013

Great Lens Cap Tragedy of 2013

When I was sorting shots to edit (and there were a fair amount.  Hope y’all like waterfall photos. haha), I took one look at this and knew exactly how I wanted to edit it.  It felt like I wanted it to have that peaceful, mystical forest feel.  Strangely, the vertical of this same waterfall series screamed monochrome, with deep shadows and mood (blog post to come.  Gotta milk this shoot as long as possible! lol).

Isn’t it interesting how sometimes, our art takes us on the path it wants, regardless of our original vision?

Finding Our Way

1 Jul
Smugglers Notch Trail

Smugglers Notch Trail

I wondered, just now, how people come up with titles for their images and posts and such.  I mean, occasionally, I dream up a title to something that just feels right.  Same way with the rare poem that comes to mind, or the every-now-and-again piece of writing I turn out.  Those words are easy.  They just flow from my brain to my pen (or in this case, keyboard) without effort, already formed into a cohesive and succinct thought.  In those cases, I dare say, they were just born eloquent.  No struggling, no writer’s block, no searching for hidden meanings or words that do an image justice…  Just an outpouring of creativity.

Those are wonderful moments in any creative’s life.  You have an itch.  A desire.  A need to produce…something.  And it happens, until you’ve satisfied your craving (may I use the word obssession?  Because it seems accurate.) and can move on to the next thing in your day.

But then there is the rest of the time.  You feel an urge to create, but it is more of a vague, somewhat frustrating itch that you can neither reach nor scratch.  You know you WANT to draw from the well of your imagination, but for whatever reason, it eludes you.

I had one of those moments the other day, when I was posting this photo on 500px.  I believe the title I came up with (after 3 tries) was “Mountain Path”.  That’s like naming your black and white cat Oreo (no offense to all of the Oreo’s out there!  And as a side note, while I’ve dropped my filters and let my fingers run wild on the keyboard…what about naming a black and white cat “Monochrome”?  Huh, photo-fans?  Super-genius, right?)

Where was I?  Oh…yeah…Mountain Path.  Definitely does not do the photo any justice, however true the words may be.  My inner poet was sleeping that day, to be sure.  Something inside of me wanted to give it a name that was inspiring, and transferred the sense of peace I felt in the woods that day to the viewer.

“The Path to Enlightenment”? Nah.  It was the path to a very cold, beautiful pond at the top of a New England mountain…but enlightenment would be over-stating.

“A Walk in the Woods”? True…but not very inspiring.  A title is like Twitter…only so many characters available to convey our feelings.

“Dang, 4 Miles of Hiking Is Tiring”? As honest as it gets…but an obvious latch ditch effort. haha

So, I thought a bit more about the day, the hike, my life and what the memories meant to me.  2013 has been, simply put, the year of change for me.  I’m not the sort to generally spill a whole lot of personal details about my life, but suffice it to say, there has been a lot of self-reflection, a lot of accepting things I cannot change and resolving to improve the things I can.  One of those changes involved transitioning out of a 13 year relationship where we were both unhappy towards the end.

Since growing enough courage to make an amicable break, and finding a place of peace about the decision, I have been blessed with a fresh start.  I’ve promised myself that in this new relationship, I will try not to make the same mistakes, and to hold tight to the lessons I’ve learned.  I’m more honest, a better communicator, and more inclined to put my energy into something positive, less inclined to bury my head in the sand.

(A good course of action not just for our interactions with others, but for life in general, no?)

This day…this photo…was a great hike I took with the new guy, a day full of smiles and laughs.  It was easy, and full of promise.  To me, this photo was representative of my journey, of me finding my own way through life.  Sure, its full of twists and turns, its full of steps that made my ruined knee ache (ohh…I mean some pain) but it’s life and as long as I stay on the (blue marker) trail, I know I’ll make it.  My journey, my path, my life with all of its mistakes and lessons.  My photo.

Hey…guess I found that creative well after all.  This image is called “Finding Our Way”.

A quick technical note:  This is a pano stitch taken with my nifty-50 lens for a project being hosted by my friend Will.  This scene was suggested as a photo by the new guy, Sean.  Gotta give credit where credit is due. 🙂