[/caption] These wildflowers are currently growing and sprawling along a small wetland and under several fir trees in the neighborhood where I live. I have never seen so many of these small flowers flourish like this before. I’m not sure of the name of these flowers but I’m pretty sure they flourish in the forest. Due to their bright violet and dark white color they are pretty difficult to photograph since its easy to overexpose and they also tend to swoop down when they get big. I took this photo using my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. I attached my warming filter in order to bring out the natural glow of the flower. Since I had to crouch down very low to the ground, I didn’t use a tripod or remote switch. I just made sure to keep a steady hand and ensured that the flower was in focus. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-2.8. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at +0.3 since it was raining very hard and the light was very low. Due to the lush canopy protecting the flowers I never had to worry about getting wet or the wind from blowing too hard. However, I did bring my spray bottle but once I got home and reviewed my photos I realized that I shouldn’t have sprayed any of the flowers since the water made the photo look somewhat blurry and out of focus. some of the rain drops did get some of the flowers wet but it gave more personality to the scene.
[/caption] A neon green fern standing over Tanner creek as the water travels towards the Columbia River. The early parts of the trail towards Wahclella Falls follows closely near the creek before it quickly climb’s high above the water. The first 1/4 mile offers some excellent opportunities to stand along the rocky beaches and snag some great photos like this one. There are several areas where the huge mossy rocks create a slow moving pool so you can easily walk out along the creek and snap some photos of the forest lining the waters edge. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 31mm in order to frame the fern and use it as the main subject but keeping a large field of view so the entire photo is in focus. I set the shutter priority at 20 seconds so I could blur the water as much as possible and having no wind helped keep the foliage from showing any movement. I attached my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to set the shutter to 20 seconds. I was standing on the trail and used my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The aperture was at F-14 and I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -0.7. This was my last photo of the day and it was about 6:20pm and there was very little light, which made it a great opportunity to open the shutter for a longer period and really take advantage of the low light. Now I just need to go back next week to see if the wildflowers are taking hold.
One of my favorite places to photograph fast moving water is standing on a bridge that passes over a creek or river. This gives you endless amounts of photographic opportunities since you can either take pictures looking up the river or down river. Having access below the bridge also lets you use the bridge as a barrier from the glare from the sun. However, it’s important that the bridge is in a primitive area that doesn’t destroy the feel that you’re in the forest. The creek in this photo is Herman Creek which cuts through the gorge. The Herman Creek bridge trail is easy to find and is seldom used since the main trail forks away and the more popular PCT trail is just to the south. However, the trail will meet up with the PCT within just about a mile after you cross the bridge. The bridge is only about 1 mile from the Herman Creek campsite and is an easy hike that is teaming with views of the cliffs as well as the dense forest. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I had the focal length at 19mm in order to get the most out of this panoramic photo opportunity. I made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to set the shutter priority at 15 seconds. The aperture was at F-22 and the sky was mostly overcast with almost no sun. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I was standing directly below the bridge and even though there was limited glare the bridge helped reduce some glare from the fast moving water. The entire area was teaming with birds as well as some wildflowers that were just starting to show their colors. The vegetation wasn’t at their peak but I liked the darker colors around the trees that grow along the edges of the creek.
[/caption] Unless you plan on wading out in a foot of frigid water to get this type of shot I wouldn’t plan on making the trek until the water level starts to drop. The water level is so high that the rocky beach is almost completely underwater. I have never seen the water level in the gorge this high since I started hiking the gorge over 20 years ago. As you can see from this photo Punchbowl Falls is beyond swelled. In order for me to get this shot I had to take off my socks and shoes and wade out in about a foot of water before I could get a clear shot of the falls. The water is moving pretty fast so you need to steady your tripod as firmly as possible and hope that it doesn’t move. In case I did lose my footing and found myself swimming in the frigid creek I made sure to leave my photography bag, with all of my other lenses, at the safety of the creeks edge. The creek was so cold that after about 30 minutes I completely lost feeling in both of my legs from the knees down. The pebbles and rocks that you are forced to stand on are pretty jagged and hard but once my feet became numb I lost all feeling and was forced to rely on my tripod to steady myself as I scrambled back to the edge. Next time I will bring my Teva’s so I don’t have this problem again. Though the vegetation is starting to spring there are still several plants that still haven’t bloomed as well as several of the old growth trees that have only just begun to show their buds. This created a challenge since I wanted to take advantage of the swelling creeks and waterfalls but not include any of the shots with the bare vegetation. The harsh winter and cool and rainy spring has really made it tough on the gorge this year. The wildflowers are even somewhat confused. Several of the flowers are growing along the high cliffs but most of the wildflowers that grow along the creeks are barely out. I chose this shot in order to show just how much water was thundering over the falls as well as ensure there were no bare branches. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. This was especially difficult since the tripod was in the middle of the fast moving creek. I attached my ND8, warming filter and CIR-PL so I could have the camera in Shutter Priority mode. The focal length was at 58mm and I had the shutter open for 4 seconds. The aperture was at F-16 and I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. I spent about 45 minutes in the creek so I had plenty of time to adjust the focal length and the shutter speed and white balance but I was forced to basically just adjust and shoot as quickly as possible. The morning and afternoon was overcast so the sky was perfectly covered and it never even tried to rain. The trees should start blooming within the next week so I hope that my next trip here will offer more color but still plenty of water.
Fairy Falls provides you with the best opportunity to gaze and watch the water spill and travel over, around and down the falls. Since the trail passes directly next to the waterfall, there are several places that you can set up your tripod and zoom directly into the falls. To get this shot I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter. I had the camera in Shutter Priority with the aperture at F-11. I set the focal length at 50mm in order to zoom in as close as possible but making sure that I kept a large field of view in order to avoid any distortion around the edges of the photo. I also wanted to add some of the mossy rocks and parts of the logs in the photo in order to add some detail and depth. I set the shutter speed to 4 seconds so I could capture as much movement of the water as possible but without overexposing caused by the glare from the water. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1. The best time to photograph Fairy Falls is when the water level is at its highest which ensures plenty of water thundering over the falls. The First few days of May is normally the best time.
[/caption] All of the Cascade mountains still have so much snow that they look as though its the middle of winter after a huge snow storm. Photos like this, that was taken on 4/30/, is why we love the Pacific Northwest and especially the Cascade mountain range. From the summit of Tom McCall point you can see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams as they loom over the surrounding topography. I took this shot of Mt. Adams at about 4:15pm and the sun was pretty much directly behind me which didn’t allow for and shadows in the photo. It pretty much lacks any character because of this but at least you can see the entire mountain without any dark areas. This isn’t my best photo of Mt. Adams, especially since I wasn’t using a tripod and the focal length was almost maxed out at 229mm. It also didn’t help that the wind was blowing at 40 mph and I had no cover to help block the wind. I was forced to crouch as low as possible and try to keep a steady hand. This is where IS and photoshop helps tremendously. Because the sun was blinding me from behind I made sure to attach my warming and CIR-PL filters. I was using my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens and set the camera to Normal/Program mode. Luckily the shutter speed came out to 1/200 second and the aperture was at F-5.6. This allowed me to keep the ISO at 100 and even adjust the white balance to +0.3. Mt. Hood was more difficult to photograph since it was due south and it was directly below the sun. Early morning and late evening would be the best time to visit the summit in order to get the best photos. Your photo opportunities at the summit offer some of the most epic opportunities. These include: Two snow capped mountains, wildflowers, The gorge, cliffs, wildlife, rolling topography, farm land, the historic and winding Columbia river highway and small ponds.
[/caption] If you are prepared to see some of the fastest moving water in the Columbia River Gorge I would recommend going very soon. The waterfalls and creeks are absolutely thundering right now and you will not be disappointed. Even though the foliage isn’t completely out yet, you will at least be able to see more of the waterfalls before the dense vegetation covers them up. The spring wildflowers are amazing right now even though they haven’t peaked yet. I spent the day trying to visit as many parts of the gorge as possible in order to capture as many epic photographs that I could. I took this photo while visiting Wahkeena Falls. This photo was taken under the small foot bridge that takes you over the creek. While I was photographing parts of the Wahkeena Falls I noticed this rock shelf and the speeding water was going so fast that you could see some of the water actually bounce backwards and against the rock wall. the foot bridge above created the perfect shadow effect but also allowed the foliage to reflect some light from the fast moving creek. I had to crouch in a very peculiar position but it was well worth it. To get this shot I used my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter. I was about 3 feet from the creek and I set the focal length to 28mm. I put the camera mode in TV/shutter priority and set the speed at 20 seconds. I was trying to capture as much movement as possible in order to show every nook and cranny in the rocks below the water. As you can see, I was pretty successful. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at +0.7. It was about 5:35pm and the sun was still pretty strong, even though I was nearly under the bridge and was completely shrouded in the foliage.
[/caption] The Tom McCall Nature Preserve is well worth the 85 mile drive from Portland. I’ve driven through the gorge many times but I had never stopped to visit this part of Oregon. I normally just gaze out my window and stare at the amazing cliff’s high above or along the Columbia river so I was hoping to finally spend a day exploring some of the basalt cliffs. It’s hard to describe just how magnificent this place really is. I had to choose between 10 photos before settling on this one but it hardly shows just how many photographic opportunities exist. You can see Mt. Adams along the entire trail that winds up to 1722′ Tom McCall point as well as view Mt. Hood once you’ve reached the summit. You can see more of Mt. Adams as you wind up the 1.6 mile trail towards the top Tom McCall summit. The views are stunningly beautiful and you better plan on bringing several memory cards because you will need them. You can also plan on experiencing some very high winds almost anytime of the year. You will notice that many of the trees are growing in the east direction with many of their branches leaning towards the east. Since parts of the trail hug near the steep cliffs it’s best to pay attention while hiking along parts of the trail since a strong wind gust could easily catch you off guard and blow you right off the cliff. Even the winding road that takes you to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint is worth stopping to take several pictures. The road that takes you here is part of the Old Columbia River Highway and it was probably one of the toughest parts of the highway to build. I took this photo at about 5:00pm and because the wind was so strong I wasn’t able to use a tripod all day. The wind was just too strong and each time my photos would turn out too blurry. Having a good steady hand and utilizing the sharp program in Photoshop helped. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I attached my warming filter and CIR-PL filter to ensure that the sky was well saturated and the foreground and landscape showed off their brilliant colors. Without these two filters, your entire day would have been ruined and none of your photos would probably be useable due to the harshness of the blinding hard sun. I set the focal length at 17mm in order to create as much of the landscape as possible as well as create a large field of view. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-6 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I wanted to limit the amount of light to enter the cameras sensor so I set the ISO to 100 and then reduced the white balance to -1. As you can see in this photo the sun was at about 90 degrees in the far left corner of the photo and I was facing southwest.