Valentine's card from the planet: Place of Dreams

Photos: Jeff Mitchum

Valentine's Day may be regarded as a day for lovers, but it's not uncommon for people to also give acknowledgements of the platonic love shared between family and friends. You may not realize it, but this same sentiment is extended to us every day by our oldest mother — Earth. After all, are there any greeting cards out there that are more grand than witnessing our planet's golden sunrises, blooming flowers and tumbling waterfalls?

We see a perfect example of one such poignant greeting card from Mother Earth in the photograph above, titled "A Place of Dreams." The image was captured by Las Vegas-based photographer Jeff Mitchum, who has developed a deep appreciation for our planet through years of trekking and documenting the wilds. It's these experiences that have informed his photographic interests and ingrained in him a passion for nature conservation.

"The visual journey means nothing if we do not create an emotional connection to the space before our peers' eyes," Mitchum writes on his website. "This is how we preserve both nature and fine art photography."

Mitchum discusses the inspiration behind "A Place of Dreams" below:

"There is a symbiotic relationship between music, art and nature's grand light. When this emotional connection is discovered through a visual journey, it becomes clear how deeply connected they are. They are all married. This is why I believe people are so in love with our wild outdoors, the captivating light resonates within their soul!

"'Place of Dreams' is one such particular visual journey and image. To fully express the marriage, there had to be the passion of the color red sculpting the heart shaped rock. Thus, the wait for that magical evening to convey the sense of "LOVE" space within all of us. In a moment, the dancing color and light turned nature into one of the greatest romances known to the world. If seeing is believing, then feeling is the affirmation of this journey."

Continue below to see more of Mitchum's romantic landscape and nature photography, paired with his own commentary on each shot's inspiration and process:

Valentine's card from the planet: Spring Surrender

'Spring Surrender'

"Every six to eight years, the forestry service has a prescribed burn on these hills. This enables the dormant lupine, which only comes alive every eight years, to have plenty of room to breathe in the light.

"The blooms’ fragrance is so strong, guess who comes to visit in droves? Bears. Everywhere."

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Valentine's card from the planet: Archangel

'Archangel'

"It’s almost impossible to comprehend that flash floods sculpted these amazing pieces of nature's art. Imagine for a moment the thousands of years it has taken to polish and create the Archangel. Eons were spent sculpting the neck, face and swept-back hair as if the wind even now still whistles through her locks.

"Equally amazing is the advent and rarity of a panoramic photograph. What makes Archangel so compelling is how this location has been shot hundreds of times, yet this image captures a new look with a fresh and unconventional approach. I love how the right canyon wall leads through the composition into the angelic face, almost as if the angel is looking into heaven."

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Valentine's card from the planet: Bridge to Romance

'Bridge to Romance'

"Multnomah Falls located just south of Portland is one of the most popular waterfalls in the world. As such, it has been photographed thousands of times and needed a new twist. It’s amazing what can be created when you look for a new perspective, and turning my panoramic camera vertically yielded refreshing new angles.

"I shot this location in the winter, spring and summer, and all were beautiful images but nothing like the color palette of fall. The contrast really ramps up the depth of this place.

"The waterfall’s force continually wears away the rock face, and a giant erosion in 1995 brought about a humorous anecdote, as reported by The Oregonian newspaper: On Labor Day, a wedding party was gathered on the bridge when a slab the size of a bus dropped into the upper pool. This 400-ton boulder fell 225 feet and created a 70-foot splash, spewing water and small rocks over the Benson Bridge. A wedding party happened to be there at that moment, and 20 people suffered minor injuries from flying gravel — including the groom, who was struck in a particularly sensitive part of his anatomy. His bride reported the next day that despite his injuries, he still bravely performed his conjugal duties."

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Valentine's card from the planet: Romancing the Light

'Romancing the Light'

"Any image has to start in the heart then designed by the mind. Many things run through my head when I’m choosing a location to shoot a great landscape — angle of light, composition — and then I ask myself, 'Is this unique and rarely seen? What does the weather bring?'

"'Romancing the Light' took several years of revisiting before I finally decided to photograph it.

"On this evening, everything went as hoped with the exception of one event. If you carefully study the direction the storm is moving, with rain bands in tow, it’s going wildly, quickly north. Notice the rain bands bending and bowing — this is one strong system!

"When this dramatic sunset began to fade, I could see a lightning cell from the south moving through the camera lens. Within 15 minutes, only a small band of color remained from the sunset, and lightning began to paint the sky. Quickly, I changed my 90-millimeter lens to a 300-mm lens and captured 'Three Brothers.'"

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Valentine's card from the planet: Something to Remind You

'Something to Remind You'

"The inspiration was each time you look at this you're reminded of love for you."

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.