[/caption] Fall weather may provide you with some of the most dramatic sunsets possible but unfortunately the snow levels along the mountains are less than fantastic. However, you can sometimes get lucky and I was pretty satisfied with this photo of South Sister and its reflection coming from a small pond just a few yards from Sparks Lake. The very dry and yellow/orange colors of the vegetation as well as the tall trees created a great scene. The rolling lava domes as well as the lava flows help you forget about the low snow amounts on the mountain. The sun had just set behind the hills so the light was very low and I was able to get a strong reflection.
[/caption] The Lava Butte Geological Area, just outside of Bend, offers a great spot to relish in Central Oregon’s volcanic past. The Deschutes river is hidden between the lava fields and the forest, which boasts some spectacular rapids and crystal clear water. You can also catch a great sunrise at this very spot since you’re pretty much looking directly east, with the desert mountains in the horizon.
[/caption] One of the most photographed spots along the Smith Rock hiking trails is near the start of the trail that leads to the footbridge that takes you over the Crooked river. Looking west you can see the Cascade mountains as well as the most recognizable rock formations in Central Oregon. I have never posted this particular photo scene since I believe that there are just too many photos from this vantage point but I decided to finally post this photo since it really looks pretty cool. You can see Black Butte in the distance with just a little bit of snow on its summit. If you want to enjoy one of the best hiking trails in Central Oregon I would recommend visiting Smith Rock State Park. I’ve enjoyed hiking during the winter just as much as summer and you don’t have to worry about the heat or the summer crowds. It’s also one of the best areas for photographers with over 8 miles of scenic trails and every inch of the trails offering a photo opportunity. There is absolutely not a single spot in the park that doesn’t offer a great photo. I would highly recommend packing a wide angle and a telephoto lens as well as a CIR-PL and warming filter. I pretty much use my 17-70mm lens. I would also pack a tripod to ensure that you don’t end up with any blurry photos. However, you will be doing so much hiking that you will likely only use your tripod when needed since it would take you several days to hike the entire park while setting up your tripod for every photo opportunity.
[/caption] The sky is turned into an amber colored glow as smoke fills the sky and suffocates the forest. Cultus Lake was almost spooky quiet as a controlled fire was burning only miles from the lake. This seen almost looks like a foggy morning but as you can see the amber colors truly shows that something just isn’t right with this picture. I made very little changes with the color in photo-shop and almost no cropping since I was able to frame the photo with my telephoto lens. I was actually standing on the north side of the lake and the scene was taken from the south side. The forest service was conducting a controlled burn about 3 miles away and the wind was blowing the smoke directly into our path. The glow emitting from the lake and sky really adds to the interesting contrast of the trees and water. The day was actually cloudless and rather warm and it was right in the middle of the afternoon hour. However, the sun was cut off from the intense smoke but was able to help create the amber colored reflection in the water. If you look closely you can see several tall trees hiding in the background of the lake front trees. My trip to the lake was pretty much ruined since I was limited on my photo opportunities and I could hardly breathe since the smoke was so thick. However, I found that there are some great mt. bike trails at Cultus lake as well as Little Cultus lake. They are only a few hundred yards apart and they are joined by a trail that offers great mt. biking and hiking trails.
[/caption] If you stand near the southern most edge of Sparks Lake you will be able to get a fantastic photo of Broken Top and its reflection. However, you need to be be patient since it can be rather windy which will cause the reflection to disappear. You will also want to visit just prior to sunset and plan on chasing the best photographic opportunity. late Summer or earl Fall is one of the best times since the sun is lower and the lake is quiet. The lake will also be about 5 feet shallower so you will be able to walk around parts near the lake that are normally flooded and unobtainable. Make sure and bring your tripod, bubble level and remote switch since you don’t want any camera shake and you will be very impressed with the photo opportunities. I would also recommend attaching a CIR-PL and warming filter in order to maximize the color saturation.
[/caption] With its numerous craggy spires, Broken Top is one of my favorite Oregon Cascade mountains to photograph. On any given day you may hear rocks tumbling down either of its sides as the eroded volcanic rocks loosen from the steep terrain. The easiest routes to the the mountain are from either the north or east side since the paved highway is just to the north. The Cascades lakes highway offers several hiking trails that allow you to choose between coming in from the north or east. I took this photo while hiking along the east side of Broken Top on an alpine trailhead. We actually had to drive over 5 miles on a non maintained and very rough road to get to the parking lot. However, you park at about 6,900 feet and you have the choice of either taking the 2 mile trail to Todd Lake or traversing around Broken Top from either the south or north. We chose to hike north and I took this photo just before you get to the trial junction. You get to the parking lot by turning towards Todd Lake but instead of parking at the lake parking lot you want to continue up the rough road, which is Forest Road 370, and continue for about 5 miles. It seems like cheating but it gets you to the higher elevations sooner and we were short on time since it was already in the early afternoon and the sun was going to set around 6:00pm. However, you could start at the Todd Lake trail and continue the entire loop trail around Broken Top if you wanted to make it an all day and very grueling 15 mile hike. This hike is a must if you love the outdoors since you will experience every aspect of being in the high mountains. You will hike over creeks that are partially frozen, tarns, canyons, pumice, lava rock, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, lava domes as well as some spectacular views. This photo was actually taken from about the 1 mile mark and I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 28mm. I had the camera mode in Program/Normal and I wasn’t using my tripod since the lighting was descent and we were covering a lot of ground with limited time. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 which caused the aperture to be at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/125 seconds since I also attached the CIR-PL and warming filter. The sky was fairly saturated and the color was descent but the sun was fairly low and there were some clouds hovering below the sun. I was visiting the area on 10/27/11 and it was probably one of the last days to hike the trail since they close the HWY in October and the snow is just days away. I would put this hike on my short list and visit as soon as the snow melts and the HWY opens.
[/caption] Sparks lake offers some of the best lakeside views of South Sister and Broken Top and early Fall is one of the best times to visit the lake since its usually calm and there are almost no crowds of people. Due to the low water level you can also hike farther into the lakes beaches and get a better view and photo of the mountains. I took this photo on 10/27/11 at about 5:20pm so the light was very low to the horizon and made for the glare from the lake create an exact image of the landscape. I was fortunate to find little wind and very few distractions in the water. However, parts of the lake were frozen so I had to move around the lake until I found the best place to photograph. The sun was mostly behind me and relatively low so I was able to take advantage of the color and lack of overexposure. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I set the FL at 17mm in order to create the most panoramic scene since this photo would be a great candidate for a ultra panoramic photo and would allow you to crop out some of the water and sky. The aperture was set at F-4 since I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3.
[/caption] Fall Creek is located just off the Cascades lakes highway and offers one of the most scenic hiking trails in Central Oregon. The trail starts just feet from where I took this photo and I was actually standing just a few yards from the picnic area. I was pretty lucky to get this shot since I had the shutter speed at 3.2 seconds in order to get the effect of the moving water and without having too much glare and overexposure. I had to make sure to eliminate the sky since it was the middle of July and several hours before sunset. I made sure to attach my ND4 along with my CIR-PL and warming filter. I was fortunate to have the aperture at F-25 in order to avoid complete overexposure.
[/caption] The weather in Central Oregon is summertime at its best. I was amazed at how much water was still in the Central Oregon high desert. The abundant snow and rain fall has caused every single lake, creek and river to swell well over its banks. Almost all of the hiking trails are still covered in snow and I have never seen so many pine trees flooded near the banks of the alpine lakes and rivers. I took this shot while driving on Century drive/Cascade Lakes Highway while returning from Green Lakes. It was about 7:20pm when we noticed these 4 bucks and a single doe grazing in the meadow. The doe was mostly laying in the grass as the 4 bucks crowded around her. I wanted to have Broken Top in the background along with the meadow and the dear in the entire frame so I attached my Sigma 17-70 mm lens and set the focal length at 57mm. Since I was sitting in the backseat I wasn’t able to set up my tripod so I had to try and be as still as possible without blurring the camera. This was especially difficult since it was getting late, the sun was low and I was using my CIR-PL and warming filter. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 in order to saturate the landscape. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/128 second.
[/caption] Having the opportunity to find water around Oregon’s desert landscapes gives a photographer several opportunities to take a dynamic photo. There always seems to be plenty of water surrounding the entire state of Oregon. I’ve driven and hiked through a good portion of Oregon and the one thing that I always seem to notice is that there is always a river or creek running through its valleys, mountains or even its deserts. Smith Rock state park is no exception to this. The Crooked River winds its way through the park and gives the hiker or rock climber plenty of opportunities to cool down during the sunny and hot summer days. Having a river in a photo with the desert rocks in the background allows for a terrific photo opportunity. I took this photo last June and I have a more detailed article from my 7/15/10 blog post. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. The focal length was at 14mm in order to get as much of the rocks in this panoramic view. The time was 9:22am and the sun was directly behind me so the glare from the rocks and the river was pretty intense. However, my CIR-PL and warming filter was no match for this shot. The blueness of the sky and the warming tones of the rocks and vegetation would have been impossible without using these filters. Since I had the camera in Program/Normal mode the aperture was automatically set at F-6 and the shutter speed was at 1/83 second. I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch so I had to be extra careful to avoid any camera shake. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 due to the sun intense sun glare.