10.37 Second Creek

[/caption] It’s been raining a lot this Spring so I decided to take advantage of the one dry day which was of course last Monday. It seemed that the best weather in the Pacific Northwest was along the gorge, so I again headed east of Portland. I have to admit that I’m getting somewhat tired of waterfalls about now. I have been itching to get some panoramic views of the Cascades. Who am I kidding, I love waterfalls. I could photograph them 365 days a year. Gotta love the Northwest. Since the rain clouds were kind of settling just east of the Bonneville dam I stopped at the Multnomah Falls parking area and again hiked above the falls towards Larch Mountain. I was able to ditch the crowds once I got to the top of the falls as I made my way towards the higher elevations. Monday’s are always a great time to avoid the masses. I set out to take advantage of the overcast sky’s so I could test my luck on setting my shutter between 10 and 12 seconds and I wasn’t disappointed. I was able to get this shot while setting my shutter speed to 10.37 seconds. You can really see the complete path of the water as it heads downstream. Every nook and cranny can bee seen, along with the neon greens of the vegetation. To avoid too much unwanted light, due to the long shutter exposure, I attached my ND4 along with my warming filter and my CIR-PL. Using my ND8 would have been overkill since the sun was perfectly blocked by the overcast sky’s most of the time. I was like a kid in a candy store on this day. You couldn’t have taken a bad picture. Most of the vegetation is out, along with the many spring flowers. I set my camera to shutter priority and had the ISO at 200 since it was a little dark on the trail. The F stop was at 25.8 and I was using my 18-55mm lens which was at 34mm focal length. I used my tripod on this shot as well as the entire day. Now is the time to hit the trails if you want to take advantage of the spring light around the Western slopes of the Cascades and the gorge. The rivers and creeks are cranking out their best right now and pretty soon the heat will be upon us and many of the smaller creeks will be mostly dried up.

The Perfect Storm

[/caption] Nothing more exciting than getting totally drenched while hiking along one of the most scenic trails in the Gorge. Tuesday offered some of the most unexpected weather of my Spring so far. I spent about an hour hunched under a very large basalt rock along Tanner creek and near the base of Wahclella Falls. Even the heavy moss over me had a hard time absorbing the relentless rain. At least I was able to get some really good shots of the creek while I waited out the rain storm. I initially planned on only photographing the creek just yards from my car. Unfortunately, I was lured farther along the trail by the periodic sun that made several unexpected appearances. Too bad I left all of my rain gear in my car and made the mistake of wearing only shorts. However, I was able to get some of my best shots so far this Spring. Sun and rain make for some great photo opportunities. I took this shot at about 6:00pm. I was driving home along I-84 when I noticed that the sun was creating some really awesome sun streaks near the Vista House. I decided to check it out and was very surprised and not at all disappointed. I was able to get several panoramic shots while the clouds and the sun fought for space along the gorge. This shot shows how the sun was piercing the forest as the storm clouds swirled along the Washington side. I set my camera to Auto Exposure and the Exposure time was at 1/83 seconds. The Lens Aperture was at F-6.4 and the ISO was at 200. I was using my 55-250 telephoto lens and had the focal length at 55mm. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL in order to take advantage of the clouds and the green vegetation. I always recommend using both of these filters when photographing landscapes. I also used my tripod to get a crisp shot. Can’t wait to go out on another drenching photo trip.

Gorge Trail, OR

[/caption] Sunday was nothing but sunshine and huge crowds along the Columbia River Gorge. I normally avoid the gorge on weekends when the weather is nice but I had a childhood friend visiting that also enjoys photography. So, I decided to take him to some of Oregon’s best waterfalls closest to Portland. Since we got such a late start I figured that we would start at Multnomah Falls. The crowds were outrageous but the sunlight was pretty awesome. Even with the crowds, the almost perfect sunlight made for a worthy experience. The sun was just far enough west that you could capture the glow of the neon greens and still be able to use your shutter to capture the movement of the falls. We eventually drove to Elowah falls where we hiked along the gorge trail via Yeon Park and again took advantage of the great lighting. We also stopped at Cascade Locks to photograph some of the sailboat racers cruising a small course on the Columbia River. I decided to post this shot since I rarely get many chances to post pictures of the forest. Forest shots always seem to elude me. However, this time the soft light and ample greenery of vegetation made for a great opportunity. I used my 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 29mm. I set the ISO at 100 and kept it in Auto Exposure. The F-stop was at 4.5 and I was using my tripod. The exposure time was at .125 seconds. I had my warming filter along with my CIR-PL to create a subtle appearance.

Lewis River, WA

[/caption]It looks like summer is officially here. Nothing but clear blue skies and thundering rivers with cascading waterfalls dotting the Washington’s Lewis canyon. I’ve been wanting to hike the Lewis river trail for a while so I decided that mid May would be a good time to see the river swelled to it’s maximum. Each of the waterfalls cascading through the river were so high that it was flooding it’s banks and swallowing the lush neon green moss that usually protrudes out of the waterfalls. The water was moving so fast that I was forced to use a much faster shutter speed. The drive from Portland to the Lewis River is fairly long (100 miles one way) but it’s still a perfect day trip. Highway 503/90 are well maintained with only about 1 mile of gravel road to get to the park. I take this same highway whenever I’m going to the south flanks of Mt. St. Helen’s. Many sections of the trail were hit pretty hard by landslides during the rainy season which made parts of the trail fairly tricky. The forest service had a sign posting near the lower falls stating that the trail was closed at one of the many bridges that cross along several brooks and creeks. I decided to drive to the upper falls and work my way down to as far as the middle falls before driving back to the lower falls. The Lewis river was swelled to it’s fullest capacity. The waterfalls were thundering so fast that many of the smaller falls were overshadowed by water leaping over them and plunging to the other side. I was forced to set my shutter to as fast as 1/4 second due to the quickness of the falls. I witnessed several hawks cruising just above the river, probably hunting for trout. There were several catch and release trout signs posted so I’m assuming the fishing must be pretty good. To get this shot I had hiked just below the upper falls which has a really nice pool area with hundreds of drift wood resting on shore. I decided to get a shot with the blue sky in the background. I set the shutter speed at 1/4 second and the ISO at 100. Because the sun was so bright and it was so late in the day I ended up having to stack my filters in order to keep out the glare. I stacked my warming filter, ND8 and my CIR-PL and used my tripod. The F stop was at 10 and I intentionally under exposed the shot so I could bring out the blueness of the sky and the greens of the vegetation. I used my 18-55mm lens and set the focal length to 28mm. I highly recommend this hike. There are several waterfalls as well as small brooks and creeks that you cross over on small footbridges and there are several areas where the water is cascading down moss covered rocks. There is also an awesome trail called Big Creek trail just 10 miles west of the park. It’s a 2.5 mile trail that takes you to two huge waterfalls (Big Creek Falls at 125 feet and Hemlock Creek Falls 250 feet) and right to the edge of the Lewis Canyon with panoramic views of the area. Hemlock Creeks Falls are on the other side of the canyon so you will want a descent telephoto lens to get a closer shot. The other side is probably 2 miles or so.

Silver Falls Sate Park, OR

[/caption] Silver Falls State Park is Oregon’s largest State Park and has the highest concentration of waterfalls in the state. The park boast’s 10 waterfalls and they’re all within the hiking trail. I always try to start out as early as I can in the morning in order to take advantage of the early sun and the lack of crowds. By noon, there can be hundreds of hikers crowding the trail, which can really frustrate any photographer trying to capture a serene shot of the falls. This is especially true since some of the trails go directly under the falls. Five of the waterfalls are over 100 feet and if you go in early Spring they’re swelling with intense amounts of water thundering towards the basalt rocks below. The falls can be really empty in summer, winter and fall, so I recommend spring. However, some of the vegetation is still not out yet. We’ve been experiencing some of the strangest springtime weather. Normally the waterfalls throughout the western slopes of the Cascades are completely covered with all of the neon greens. I’m assuming it’s due to the late snow and colder weather that we’ve been receiving. At this rate I hope that the waterfalls stay swelled along with lots of vegetation. I spent the entire day photographing at the park. I started at 7:00 am and finished around 6:00 pm. I tried to capture the early sun in the morning and the soft sun in the evening. Since the waterfalls are deep in the canyon, the sun is usually pretty soft throughout the day. Lower South falls is one of my favorite falls to photograph. The waterfall is 93 feet high and the trail goes directly under the falls. You can get a great shot from either side and since the trail travels up several hundred steep steps you can sometimes get a great shot from high above the falls. I took this shot around 11:00am and I used my ND8 and my warming filter. I set my exposure mode to shutter priority at 1 second. The F-stop was set at 20 and the ISO was at 100. I was using my 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 43mm. I was also using my tripod. Due to the popularity of the park, I would recommend going on a weekday and getting there as early as possible. Weekends can be busier than a parking lot on Christmas eve. May and June are also the best times to go there.

Lost Lake, OR

[/caption] I’ve been posting so many photos from my recent hikes along waterfalls that I decided to dig deep into my bag and post one of my all-time favorite pictures. Since I’ll be taking many more photos of the green vegetation and waterfalls this Spring, I wanted to include something just the opposite. This photo was taken last October and was taken in the late part of the afternoon. Lost Lake is about 25 miles south of Hood River and follows a windy but well maintained paved road. There are several views of Mt. Hood along the way as well as some of the best Fall colors available. There is an awesome hiking trail that goes around the lake, which is about 3.4 miles. Three are several viewing areas along the lake. Since you aren’t allowed to have motorized boats on the lake, it mostly stays calm. There is also a great hike that takes you to Lost Lake Butte, with an elevation of 4468′. It has an elevation gain of 1300′ and is about 3.8 miles round trip. I believe that most of the trees in the area are old growth. The summit includes some of the most spectacular views of Mt. Hood and provides an absolute clear view of the mountain. This shot was taken on 10/21/09 and I used my auto exposure without using a tripod. I used my 18-55mm lens and set the focal length at 41mm. The F-stop was at 5 and the ISO was at 100. I was using my warming filter and my CIR-PL filter as well. Lost Lake has a very nice day use area as well as a very clean and well kept campground. They also rent cabins and I believe it also has a lodge. There is a general store and showers. They also rent canoes that you can take out on the lake. I hope to get a chance to visit Lost Lake before the end of May so I can get some great shots of Mt. Hood and all of its snow from our recent snow accumulations this Spring.

Gorge tour

[/caption] Friday was another great day to view the Falls in and around the Gorge. Most of the vegetation is out but there are still some vegetation that is just not ready yet. However, there were plenty of neon greens to create a great landscape with the creeks and waterfalls in the background. I decided to take as many pictures along the gorge in one day. I started my morning atop the Womens Forum State Scenic Viewpoint and eventually finished near Hood River atop Mitchel Point, a grueling but quick hike that overlooks the entire gorge. The day was filled with downpours, wind, sun, sprinkles and cold. The waterfalls are currently so thunderous that it’s almost impossible to get a pictures near the falls without ending up with water spots covering your lens. I was forced to delete most of my photos due to this. I was able to photograph over 10 of the waterfalls and visit three viewpoints that are high above the gorge. I decided to post this picture of Wahclella Falls since it shows just how green the vegetation is and how scenic the gorge is. There were several other smaller waterfalls pouring over the basalt cliffs as I was trying to take this picture high above the basalt grotto. This waterfall is one of the most difficult to photograph due to the speed and strength of the falls. The speed of the water coming out of Wahclella Falls is so great that it’s really hard to get the mirrored effect without distorting the rest of the falls and creek. To get this shot I hiked just above the main trail and used my tripod to steady my camera. The exposure mode was set at auto exposure and the exposure program was set at shutter priority. The shutter was set at .8 seconds and the focal length was set at 15mm. I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens and had attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL. I set the ISO to 100 and the F-stop was set at 18. The rain had just started again when I took this picture. The hike to Wahclella Falls is easy and very scenic. There are hundreds of areas to stop along the creek to take pictures of the vegetation clinging along the creek as well as the many moss covered rocks seemingly floating just above the water.