Winter in the Pacific Northwest is hard. Early sunsets and rainy weather make for some seriously dark days. With mountain hikes snowed out, summer days are far away. It's easy to feel trapped inside and forget that the sun and mountain views are still there, just behind the clouds.

This time of year, I usually leave the camera at home. When I do finally make it out to a trail, I keep cardio training in the forefront of my mind, and try not to focus on the rain I'm trudging through and horizon views I likely won't see. But that doesn't mean that there's not any beauty in the world. It doesn't mean there's nothing worth photographing in this season.

I recently made a (somewhat) impulsive purchase and got my hands on a Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo. It's a combo digital and polaroid camera, meaning it forces me to sacrifice some control for a more "in the moment" feel. You can adjust the exposure, and set a lens or film effect, but other than that it's a 28mm point and shoot. It's also smaller than my standard cameras, and houses an internal printer which allows me to hold my photos more immediately after I shoot.

For me, I grabbed this camera to encourage me to take more shots of my day-to-day life, and to help me appreciate the little things more. Fast-forward about a week later, and as I was out running errands, I noticed the clouds were clearing as the sun was setting. I decided to take a spontaneous detour to my favorite lake.

As I drove north, I doubted the clouds had cleared enough to let the mountain out, but the views on my drive proved me wrong as I stole peeks over farms in the distance. As the sun continued to set, it just got better and better. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I knew I was in for something special.

I was bummed I didn't bring my "professional" camera, because I had always envisioned this shot in my mind ever since I started looking for apartments here in Bellingham. But that day, I was able to let that go and just enjoy the moment for what it was. And I have the polaroid shot to prove it.

Luckily for me though, the conditions repeated themselves the next day, so I was able to get these high-resolution photos as well. Sometimes things work out. And I guess that's the moral of the story. Sometimes things rest for a season. Sometimes you can't see things, but that doesn't mean they're gone. The beauty is still out there, even if it's not right in front of you.