[/caption] The best place by far to really enjoy the scenic wonders of Mt. Jefferson is at Jefferson Park, which is about a 10.2 mile hike with 1800 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts on the west facing side of Mt. Jefferson and the last 8 miles of the drive are on a well maintained gravel road. The entire hike is loaded with amazing scenery and it’s probably the most pristine place in the state of Oregon. I never saw any clear cut, heard any automobiles, nor did I hear or see any planes flying overhead. The only thing I saw was an awesome forest with miles of trees, dozens of views of Mt. Jefferson, as well as dozens of different types of wildflowers and alpine lakes within Jefferson Park. You also hike over several small creeks that make for a perfect spot to rest and soak in the pristine cold water. The trail is well maintained but it’s not as clearly marked as I would have expected. With Jefferson Park being hailed as one of the busiest trails in Oregon I expected it to be more clearly marked. I hiked the trail the day after we had two days of heavy rain showers and the higher elevations of Mt. Jefferson had received a good little dusting of snow. Unfortunately I took a wrong turn near the top of the first 1.5 miles and headed towards Triangulation Peak trail and ended up hiking about 4 miles total in dense forest with the rain water and dew clinging to the shrubs that had lined the narrow trail. Within 1/4 of a mile my socks, shoes and my entire lower body were soaked. I had almost decided to cancel my quest to Jefferson Park but I actually ended up missing the switchback that headed back to the parking lot and then again found myself on the Jefferson Park Trail. I was informed by some backpackers that I was now only about 2 miles from the Park at that point. I will for now on always make a copy of the trail and have it with me. The mountain finally made its appearance later in the afternoon and I was amazed at how close I was to it. I was able to see where the mountain had repeatedly sent an avalanche of snow throughout the years which had created a swath of downed trees that looked like a smooth carpet of grass with trees that looked like snapped twigs on the outer banks. Once you get to Jefferson Park you will see dozens of alpine lakes, wildflowers and thousands of vantage points. I could spend months photographing from within the park. However, there were several closed parts due to heavy traffic that had destroyed many of the Park’s fragile vegetation. The Sentinal Hills and Park Butte surround the outer parts of the Park which really gave it a true alpine atmosphere. I took this shot right in the heart of Jefferson Park and the small pond in the foreground didn’t have a name. You can see the alpine grass in the pond and the Paintbrush wildflowers teaming all along the Park. To get this shot I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I had the ISO set at 100 and the White Balance was at -1. I had the camera on Program Mode which allowed the shutter speed to run at 1/60 of a second. I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and my UV filter in order to cut down on the glare and increase the warmth of the setting. I was using my tripod, bubble level and my remote switch in order to avoid any movement since I was concerned about losing some of my photos due to camera shake. I didn’t want to take any chances on this photo trip. I would highly recommend this hike and next time I hope to backpack here so I can have more time to really take in this amazing place. I can only imagine how beautiful the sunrise and sunsets are here.
[/caption] Ramona Falls is a great 7.1 mile hike within the Mt. Hood National Forest. I have meant to hike this trail for several years but I always chose to hike in an area that gave me a grand view of Mt. Hood. I finally chose to hike to Ramona Falls on one of the busiest days of the year…Labor Day! However, it was a great time to hike to the falls since it was overcast and rather chilly. You couldn’t see the mountain so the hike made perfect sense. However, the water level was rather low and all of the summer flowers were long gone at this point. The Ramona Falls loop is about 7.1 miles and the elevation gain is about 1,000 feet. The trail starts out through a mossy forest of small alders and hemlocks and parallels the Sandy river and Ramona Creek. The most scenic of the trail loop follows the mossy bank of Ramona Creek which also passes the huge granite cliffs just east of the trail. You can jump across the creek and look up at the immense granite facade and walk along the many fallen granite rocks resting on the floor of the cliffs. Most of them are covered by moss but many seem to have just broken from the cliffs and tumbled near your feet. This is a great spot to take some photos of the granite rock wall and the trees hanging along the cliff edge. There are many spots to take of the creek’s many small water falls that parallel the trail. The forest floor is teaming with mossy areas that create a very scenic and tranquil setting. Though my main goal was to photograph the falls, most of my photos that I took were mostly from the forest, the cliff’s, the creek and the forest high above the Sandy River. However, I was able to take several photos of the falls since it’s a very photogenic waterfall. However, I could only imagine how much water passes down the waterfall in early Spring. To get this shot, I was using my 18-55mm canon lens and had the focal length at 24mm. I was using my tripod along with my bubble level and remote switch. I was using the shutter mode and had the shutter at 3.22 seconds. The glare was too intense to increase the shutter time. The ISO was at 100 and the White Balance was at -2 due to the glare from the waterfall. The lens aperture was at F-22 since I was using my CIR-PL and my warming filter. I would highly recommend this trail since it’s a great area to get several different types of photos as well as offering a very scenic and calming environment.
[/caption] My first trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington State was an awesome experience. The weather was stellar and the sights were an amazement of incredible views. San Juan Island is one of the largest of the islands and it’s about 55.3 square miles and about 6,950 residents. However, I’m not sure if that’s full time or part time residents. Friday Harbor is the only town on the island and also where the ferry drops visitors off. We caught the ferry at Anacortes and it was about a 45 minute trip. However, make sure to get there early and plan on waiting for a while before boarding the ferry. It’s pretty expensive on the island so I would recommend bringing as much food as possible and make sure you fill up your gas tank in Anacortes. When driving through the island, it looks more like an agricultural area more than an island. It reminded me a lot of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. However, the rocky shores were teaming with viewpoints that included Mt. Baker to the east, the Olympic mountains to the south and Vancouver Island, Canada to the west. There are also two lighthouses on the southern part of the island, several densely forested areas as well as numerous fresh water lakes dotted along the island. There are plenty of historic places to visit and the interior has several rolling hills that offer some of the best road bike riding I’ve ever seen. We saw several deer as well as several sea otters in Mitchell Bay. There are several places that you can view orcas from the island, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. There is a small winery and an alpaca farm. Several cattle, horses and sheep are raised here as well as wheat and grass. There are several old barns and houses to photograph and with the Olympics always close by, you can sometimes get the mountains in most of your pictures when visiting the southern side. There are two harbors and dozens of coves and bays throughout the island. I was amazed with the amount of kayaks on the island. Most visitors coming off the ferry had either a bike or a kayak strapped to their vehicles. Sometimes they had both. I was able to get a lot of photos with kayaks in the picture, which made for some great sunset photos. I was able to kayak where I was staying, which was at Mitchell Bay on the north side of the island. You could see Vancouver Island, Canada and I paddled near several sea lions, kayaked through a kelp garden, saw several jelly fish and watched as some very expensive sail boats and power boats steamed by. There is also a 1 mile hike up Young Hill, which is about an 800 foot elevation gain. It provides a fantastic panoramic view of the Olympics, the many harbors and Vancouver Island. One of my favorite spots to photograph and visit along the shore was at tiny Reuben Tarte County Park, which is on the north east tip of the island. You have an incredible 180 degree view with several islands in the distance. You can see the mountains on Vancouver Island and photograph the ferries heading to Sidney Harbor as well as the many sailboats and power boats in the San Juan Channel. Since I was limited on time I visited San Juan County Park to get my sunset shots. It was only about a 10 minute drive from Mitchell Bay and there were several areas to set up my tripod. To get this photo, I was using my 55-250 telephoto lens and had the focal length at 79mm. I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter as well as my tripod and remote release. The sun had just set so I was able to get the orange glow exploding over Vancouver Island and Andrews Bay. You can also see several homes near Victoria, Canada. Since the glare was fairly bright, I wasn’t able to set my camera mode to Shutter. I kept it at Program mode and the F stop was F 4.5. I set the ISO to 100 which caused the shutter to release at 1/15 second. I have several photos where I had set the shutter to 30 seconds but this photo really shows the colors of the sunset. I would highly recommend visiting the San Juan Islands if you want to really experience an epic journey. There are several other islands that the ferries can take you to, but I was very impressed with what this island had to offer.
[/caption] One of my favorite places to hike within the Mt. Hood National Forest is where this photo was taken. There are only gravel roads that take you to this part of the mountain, which eliminates most of the crowds and reduces any road noise far below the trails. Another great reason is due to the fact that there are no signs of any clear cutting of the forest and there are over 7 trails zigzagging throughout the National Forest. The PCT cuts right through the trail systems and there are several other trails that take you in any direction. As you can see, this is also one of the best areas to get the best view of Mt. Hood. Mt. Hoods personality really shines from many of the vantage points. You can see its glaciers, the carving of the huge canyon below and also the birth of the Sandy River. Wildflowers grow along the creeks, the trails edges and along the many cairns exposed to the elements. This is truly a magical place that can really calm the senses and create an epic adventure. There are also many photo opportunities as well. if you decide to hike down to the muddy creek area, you can witness several towering waterfalls and almost hear the echoing of the alpine glaciers. However, the bridge across muddy creek which connect to Romona Falls is still out and has been for a several years. Unfortunately this means that you have to turn back once you get to the creek. However, you can hike back up and then hike along a different section of the timberline trail towards McNeil Point. This part of the trail opens up to some spectacular views. I took this shot posted on my blog at Bald Mountain. This is a very popular spot to photograph Mt. Hood and for good reason. It allows you a great panoramic view of the mountain, the forest and the forest below that was carved out by the elements. For most of the day I was using my tripod but when I took this shot I wasn’t using it. The morning started out a little hazy and the sun was fairly bright. I had the camera set on Program mode and I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV protector. This helped cut down on the harsh light created by the sun and haze. The exposure time was 1/125 second, the F stop was at F8 and the ISO was at 100. I set the white balance at -2 since there were no shadows and I was in an open area with too much exposure. I was using my 12-24mm wide-angle lens and the focal length was at 20mm. I’ve made this hike three times now and it’s one of my favorite places to hike.
[/caption] One of the best things about the Pacific Northwest Cascades is that you can always find a great place to view the volcanoes that span the Cascade mountain range, as well as the enormous stands of forest. Some of the best things to do when taking in the views is to gaze out across the enormous span of forest and look down and try to find some of the meadows and alpine lakes. The geology is so diverse and complicated that it’s hard to imaging just how violent the Cascades were during their earliest days. It’s also hard to imagine that some of the only alpine glaciers, within the lower 48 states, are found in the Cascade range. 97% of them are found in the North Cascades National Park alone. It’s well worth taking the time to hike some of the trails that they offer and take advantage of it diverse geology and awesome splendors. I took this shot of mt. Jefferson in the distance using my ultra-wide angle lens in order to show just how impressive the forest and the foothills are. The focal length of my 12-24 wide angle lens was at 14mm. I set the ISO at 100 and the F stop was at F-6.4. The exposure time was at 1/100 second and I didn’t use my tripod to take this shot. The clouds helped create some great pictures as well as provide some great personality of the forest. I had to have the F-stop below 7 since the sun was hidden behind the clouds during this photo. I have some shots with more sun but it caused too much glare and also the photo to be somewhat over-exposed. Having clouds in your shots always creates a much need personality of the Cascades. This is especially true if the sun is too bright and the sky is somewhat hazy.
[/caption] This is one of my favorite spots to cast a view of 5 of the Cascade Volcanoes. You can see Mt. St. Helen’s, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Mt. Jefferson from the crest of this old Fire lookout site. You can also see the tops of Mt. Washington, North and Middle Sister’s. You can see just how spectacular the forest surrounding the Cascades is as well as the intense greenery and solitude that it provides. It’s hard to believe that the forest service was paid to look out from this spot several years ago. The only thing remaining are the concrete steps and a small plaque. During July and August, several summer flowers grow along the crags and cliff’s surrounding the Western Cascades. This trail is only about an hour drive from Portland but you would never think that it’s that close to civilization. Since the forest road is so remote and the trail is somewhat poorly marked, I have never seen anyone on this trail. This is surely a place to have some peace and quiet. I hiked the trail over the weekend in order to take advantage of the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. I was a little nervous about the sun glare so I started the hike in the later part of the morning, which put me on the top of the summit by about 4:00. The trail to the ridge is only about 4 miles round trip but there are several other trails that zigzag through the Cascades and also to some of the nicest meadows and natural spring lakes. I also ran into several feet of snow along the trail, which really slowed me down. I haven’t seen that much snow during the middle of June since 2007. I was forced to scramble through the snow when the trail was impassable as well as rummage through the thickets. I ended up with some descent scrapes but it was well worth it. I took this shot from near the concrete steps in order to get the crags and fir trees in the foreground and give it more personality. I was using my wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I had the camera mode set at auto exposure and the ISO at 100. Since I was facing away from the sun, I had to keep the white balance at 0 and the F-stop at 8. I was using my tripod to stabilize the camera since there was just a slight breeze. This is one of those hikes that you could do several times a year without ever getting bored.
[/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.
[/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.
[/caption] One of the most majestic and massive waterfalls that I’ve seen in a long time. It isn’t nearly as tall as Multnomah Falls but this 3-tiered cascade starts with a hidden 50-foot falls, spreads across a 70-foot fan and finally drops 80 feet into a huge rock punchbowl. However, the last part of the waterfall isn’t within view due to the trees and the sheer drop next to the falls. The waterfall is so wide towards the top that you could park a semi from end to end and still not block the falls. The trail starts at about 15 miles north of Carson, WA at a primitive and quiet parking area. The last few miles are on a gravel/dirt road with some potholes. The best part of this hike isn’t just to the waterfall. If you backtrack about 1/2 mile there is another trail that takes you to the top of the falls. This puts you at 2370′ and right on top of the falls. There are several viewing areas at this elevation and the panoramic views are incredible. The forest is also especially beautiful and quiet. If you’re a fan on my business facebook page at PNW Photography LLC, you can see several more pictures from this hike. There is also another great little creek that flows down just before the main falls that a bridge crosses. I’m pretty sure that it’s a natural spring since the upper trail never crosses this same creek and it doesn’t seem like it forks from Falls Creek. This photo was taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon. I returned to the falls for a second time in order to avoid most of the glare from earlier in the morning. To get this shot I used my 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 16mm. I had my warming filter and CIR-PL attached to the lens. I set the ISO at 100 and the F-stop was at 16. I set the Exposure Program to Shutter Priority and set it at .5 seconds. I used my tripod in order to avoid camera shake. Again, a lot of the vegetation still wasn’t out which made for some of my shots to seem like there was some brown vegetation. Many of the wildflowers were starting to come out but I would give it another week or so before the rest of the neon greens break out. I’ll be returning once all of the colors are out.