Cascadia Obscura

The stories behind some of my favorite photos and trips...

The Cascadia Obscura origin story...

So you may be wondering what Cascadia Obscura is all about; like why did I choose that name? What’s up with the word Obscura being flipped upside down? Well, let’s break it down by word, put it all together and make some sense of it all:

Cascadia is the name given to the corner of the world I live in. Stretching from down to Northern California to coastal Alaska and over to the western part of Montana, the Cascadia bioregion is tough to beat. Granted, I’m biased, but with soaring mountains, dense forests (there’s even a rainforest out on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington that gets the most rainfall of anywhere in the United States), the Pacific Ocean, high desert areas, rolling plains, glaciers, endless blue skies, lakes and abundant wildlife, Cascadia is basically a Disneyland for outdoor enthusiasts where there’s a little something for everyone.

Obscura in Latin means dark. You’re most likely familiar with the word when used to describe the first camera, the Camera Obscura which made choosing this name even more appropriate. (if you’ve not seen the remake of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson, I highly recommend checking it out as there is a brilliant and simple explanation for how a Camera Obscura works and what it is)

Put them together and you’ve got Dark Cascadia, which seemed a fitting name for the Internet home of a guy sharing his works photographing all over the Cascadia region, predominantly at night.

Now, here’s where it gets really cool. My dear friends over at Factory North helped me in branding this project and did an incredible job taking a name and turning it into something visual. Here’s an old line drawing I provided them which showed how a camera obscura works (light enters an aperture and it flipped on the other side) and ended up being the primary driver of all they created:


So when Tyler showed me what they’d created I was speechless…


The moon above the mountains and the trees, the moonlight entering the aperture and flipping the image just like in an actual camera obscura, the moon becoming the sun in the flipped image, the moon a “C” and the sun an “O” for Cascadia Obscura… I mean, I knew they were good but this is outstanding. Then, to see the type logo just put me over the top:

Again, Cascadia enters the aperture and comes out on the other side with the image flipped and becomes Obscura. Brilliant. A couple fun alternate looks on marks for various purposes like packaging, all keeping with the camera obscura theme of light entering the aperture and getting flipped on the other side and Cascadia Obscura was officially a fully-branded concept.

So, that’s the origin story of the name Cascadia Obscura and little peek into the brilliant and thoughtful imagery and meaning put into the branding by my good friends at Factory North down in Portland, Ore. They do extraordinary work in all they do, but I’m especially proud of and stoked on the work they did for me…

Bryan Mills4 Comments