[/caption] Springtime offers some great photo opportunities along the Gorge and only the vegetation decides when it’s time to take pictures. The one deciding factor that designates the best time to travel along the Columbia River Gorge in order to photograph the pristine waterfalls and neon green vegetation is when the vegetation decides to come out of its dormant stage. It becomes a waiting game as you find yourself hiking along the tall trees and view the many different ferns that create the perfect canopy below the massive forest. However, you never know when the forest will come out of its dormant stage and usually it’s only after the weather warms up and the rains begin to subside. Sometimes you have to wait until mid June but sometimes you’re lucky enough to start in April. this doesn’t only apply to the Gorge but to the entire areas west of the Cascade mountain chain.
[/caption] I gripped the wheel as I thundered through the highway cutting through Silver Falls State Park! A group of deer stand helpless in the middle of the road as I plunge closer and surely may cause their demise! I then ratchet the steering wheel and listen for the AWD steering to glide me around the creatures like they were cones set up on a race track. Before they even knew what had happened I had already disappeared through the foggy mist surrounding the forested road.
[/caption] Every once in a while you’re lucky enough to be photographing the landscape when you look up and notice that the moon is in the distance. However, I’m never lucky enough to witness the moon within a close proximity of my subjects that I may be photographing. Whenever I’m able to include the moon in some of my photos it’s always pretty far away and hard to notice unless I use my telephoto. I can only imagine the day that the moon is enormous and very close where I can take a picture of a snow capped mountain or the ocean at sunset standing side by side. Until then, this is the best that I can come up with. While I was returning from my snow-shoe trip in the Mt. Hood wilderness I decided to snow-shoe inside the deep forest and look for some descent photography opportunities but then I noticed that the moon was just above the trees. Luckily the sky was still a perfect shade of blue and the clouds were allowing me several photo opportunities without them in the frame.
[/caption] This is a view of Mt. Jefferson and its summit as viewed from Jefferson Park. With the elevation of the Park being so high, the forest that spans the area offers some great views with the mountain in the background. You can’t ask form anything better than photographing a 10,000 foot volcano with a hanging alpine glacier and nothing but blue sky in the background and an amazing forest of trees in the foreground.
[/caption] If there ever was a place that you would think you would catch a glimpse of Bigfoot it would be anywhere along the Pacific Northwest. This is especially true on the western flanks of the Cascade mountain range that stretches from Canada to the northern parts of California. The Douglas Fir trees that line the western slopes are some of the biggest trees on the planet and are draped with flora that allows it to take on a jungle look. However, taking a panoramic photo of the forest can be very tricky and always frustrating. The camera sensor seems to struggle when trying to focus on the scene which is primarily due to the fact the the trees are so dense and close together that it can cause the photo to look blurry. I normally try to take as many photos as I can and ensure that I set my camera on a tripod and use my bubble level and remote switch. This photo was taken on 9/5 and it was about 1:00pm. The clouds were starting to roll in and the sun was barely above the foothills. I wanted to include some of the low clouds but also get as many trees in the photo without too much glare. It looks like the photo is blurry but there wasn’t any wind and I steadied my camera on my tripod. The exposure time was only 1/25 second and the ISO was kept at 100 in order to avoid any overexposure. Since the sky was completely overcast I wanted to ensure that I kept only the forest in the scene so I set the focal length at 250mm. There were several hawks flying nearby so I had to make sure none of them ended up in the photo. You can also plan on coming across a flurry of rivers or streams whenever you hike in the Cascades.
[/caption] Lost Lake is one of the best places to get a great shot of Mt. Hood in the background of a beautiful and quiet lake. Motorized boats aren’t allowed in the lake and you have to really want to visit the lake since it’s a 110 mile drive from Portland. This means that you’re more likely to experience a smaller crowd during the off season or on a weekday. Your best photographic opportunity is when the lake offers a glare of Mt. Hood and the trees. Late afternoon and early evening are the best chances of getting this type of photo since you are more likely to have high clouds and some sun glare during the morning or early afternoon. The winds are also more calm later in the day, which will allow the lake to be more calm and provide a perfect canvass for the glare. I actually took this photo about two years ago during the month of October but I finally got around to going through the raw photos again in order to reduce the saturated color of the photos that I made in photo-shop. There is an awesome 3 mile hike that travels around the lake as well as a trail that takes you to a viewing area at about 3500 feet and takes you through an ancient forest. Plan on spending the entire day or even camp at the spotless private campground and maybe even bring a canoe, kayak, paddle board, wind surfing board or anything else that doesn’t require a motor. You may even spot a hawk, osprey or bald eagle diving for their meal or see deer or black bear foraging in the forest.
There is nothing more awesome than snow-shoeing deep in the forest just after a huge snow storm blankets the forest. I took this shot as well as many others while I was snow-shoeing within the Mt. Hood Wilderness. I had just finished photographing Mt. Hood when I decided to blaze through the trees and see what kind of pictures I could get. I was fortunate to have been visiting the day after it had snowed. I was trying to capture the perfect photo as I positioned my camera in every angle I could. This shot was taken at about 11:45am and I was pointing towards the sun. This created some reflections off the trees and made them look somewhat blueish as this can happen when you’re taking pictures in the snow. I was also shooting at about an 80 degree angle so this makes the light have to bend at a pretty steep angle which can also completely change the lighting and the perspective of the shot. I made almost no changes to the saturation or brightness in photoshop. This is pretty much a raw photo with me mostly just cropping parts of the edges out since I was using my wide angle lens and the edges were dark due to the use of my filters and lens hood. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 13mm in order to get as much of the trees in the frame. I attached my warming and CIR-PL filters in order to calm down the overexposure of the bright sunlit skies as well as eliminate any shadows that may appear from the trees. The camera mode was in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-4 and the shutter speed at 1/40 second. I wasn’t using my tripod so I did increase the white balance to +0.7 so I could still keep the ISO at 100. I was lucky enough to avoid any sun glare, especially since I was looking almost directly in the sun and the aperture was at F-4. Using the trees to block parts of the sun and having filters helped avoid this
[/caption] One of my favorite places that I hiked and visited early last September was along the trails in Jefferson Park, OR. The day before I took this photo it had snowed along the higher elevations of Mt. Jefferson so I was able to get some really great photos of a recently dusted mountain. However, the snow had long melted along the Jefferson Park by the time I had arrived. This photo was taken on 9/10/10 so the lighting was fantastic and the sun glare was not that challenging since most of the photos were taken in the afternoon and early evening. I took this particular photo at 5:00pm and the sun was at the far right which was in the west. Most of my photo time in the Park was between 3:00 and 6:00 pm so I was blessed with some great lighting. However, the morning was shrouded with clouds and I couldn’t even get my first photo of Mt. Jefferson until about 1:00pm. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 14mm in order to get as much as I could in the view finder. I was amazed at the amount of photo opportunities there were in the Park. Next time I will either camp over night or hike to the Park in the early morning in order to take advantage of the vantage points dotting the park. I was using my warming and CIR-PL filter and the camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-6.4 and the shutter was at 1/80 second. I believe I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch when I took this photo. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1.7 since the sun was still pretty intense. There were dozens of alpine flowers surrounding the Park as well as elk prints. I can only imagine how many elk visit the Park when the crowds are gone. There are several creeks transferring the melting snow down stream as well as several waterfalls plunging down the higher elevations. Jefferson Park is truly a hike worth taking
[/caption] The trail that follows along Herman Creek that cuts through the cliff walls along the Columbia River Gorge displays some of the most awesome scenic views in the Gorge. There are also several additional trails that you can choose from that offer difficult hikes. The Gorton Creek trail will take you directly over the Gorge 2700 feet above the Columbia River or you can also hook up with the Pacific Crest Trail within just a few miles on a different trail. However, the Herman Creek trail is my favorite since you follow through the steep walls of the Gorge and takes you along many viewing areas of the forest along with spectacular views of the creek. During spring and early summer you can photograph some of the most beautiful flowers that dot the trail. I took this shot on 6/3/10 at 10:48am during a fairly overcast day and when the water levels were extremely high. I was standing on a bridge that is just just .4 miles off the main Herman Creek trail. I like this shot because I am standing directly over the creek which allows me to encompass the water and the vegetation that looks as though the river is bubbling right out of the forest. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. Since I wanted to get the flowing motion of the river along with a long shutter speed I had to use my ND8 filter along with my UV and warming filter. Normally I only use my ND4 but the glare was still pretty intense due to the amount of water and the fact that it was traveling at such a high speed. A slower moving river or waterfall is much easier to photograph than one that is moving much faster. In fact, I was only able to set the shutter speed to 4 seconds. I had the camera mode set at shutter priority and the aperture was at F22. The F stop was at F22 since I had the ND8 filter on the lens which only allowed a small amount of light through the lens. I also set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare of the water. Taking photographs of fast moving rivers and waterfalls really requires you to master the art of utilizing and understanding light and your subject. I can spend hours changing my filters and settings in order to take the perfect shot. However, I am rarely disappointed when visiting the Columbia River Gorge. The photo opportunities are endless. I normally avoid the Gorge when the water levels are low and if the vegetation is still sparse or too dry due to the time of year. Late summer and winter isn’t the best time to get the best shots.
[/caption] Three pools is one of the best places to visit when hiking along the Little North Santiam River. The 9 mile round trip trail begins near Elkorn and ends at the Shady Cove campground. The trail follows the river the entire way and it’s located on the opposite side of the road. There are several swimming holes and small waterfalls throughout this hike. There are also several spring trillium’s and mossy old growth forests dotting the wilderness area. There is also a short hike to the top of adjacent 4650′ Henline mountain, which allow for great views of the foothills of the Cascades. On a rainy day I would recommend hiking along the rivers edge in order to get some great photographs of the swirling river. The water is so clear that you can easily see the bottom and the water gives off a neon green glow. This is one of the best places to maximize your shutter time and really capture the movement of a beautiful and scenic river if the day is well overcast. If the weather is clear or partly sunny I would recommend hiking to the summit of Henline mountain. The views are awesome and you can really see just how massive the foothills of the Cascades truly are. To get this shot I was lucky enough to be here when the weather was rainy and very overcast. The rain was coming down while I was taking this particular shot. However, I was still only able to set the shutter to 10.37 seconds since the glare from the river was high. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch so I wouldn’t have any camera shake. I was also using my 18-55mm canon lens and had the focal length at 24mm. I attached several filters on my lens, which included my UV, warming, CIR-PL and my ND4 filter. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2. Because I took this shot in September, the water level was pretty low. However, I was able to capture the edge of the river bank that otherwise would be submerged. On a warmer day, one could easily traverse more towards the center and really catch the personality of the river.