[/caption] Another day in Paradise in the Pacific Northwest. This is one of the views you get when you hike to the summit of 4,971 foot East Zig Zag mountain. The hike is a grueling 9.6 mile round trip hike and provides 2,370 feet of elevation gain. However, you will encounter a pristine wilderness, raging waterfall, dozens of creek and stream crossings to cool off in, a picture perfect alpine lake and last but not least you will have endless views of Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Adams, Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s. You may even spot some wildlife along the way. There are several spots where you can rest along the top of the mountain and rest beneath some trees and nap in the shade. During mid summer, the wildflowers come out in droves and the butterflies are everywhere. there are also several marked campgrounds near Burnt Lake, which I’m sure can get pretty busy during the summer weekends. I just finished this hike on a weekday and I didn’t see a single hiker the entire day or even see a car parked at the trailhead parking lot. I did encounter quite a bit of snow above Burnt Lake, 4,100 feet, but I was able to navigate the trail without much trouble.
[/caption] Late afternoon shot of the west side of Mt. Washington with the sun glaring down. This photo was taken at the edge of Big Lake looking east and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle on the upper right of the frame. The huge shadow in the center of the mountain was created by the upper part of the summit shadowing the bottom part of the volcano. Trying to get the perfect shot was difficult during this time due to the intense glare being created by the high sun. However, there were several great photo opportunities while using my 50-250 telephoto lens. The shadows on the mountain, from the leeward side, created a great personality and really gives the mountain a distinct look. I made sure to attach my CIR-PL and kept the ISO at 100 and even reduced the white balance to -0.3 in order to avoid too much glare. I pretty much had to stand behind a tree and block out the sun most of the time since there wasn’t a cloud all day. The photo was taken with my Canon 50-250mm kit lens and I had the focal length at 250mm. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/400 second. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to a avoid any camera shake or blur. If you visit during winter, I would make sure to pack all of your lenses since there are too many opportunities to get great panoramic and telephoto shots. Big Lake is an easy 30 minute snow-shoe trek from the Hoodoo parking lot and if you’re x-country skiing it will be even quicker. However, you may want to make the trip around the lake and it’s much easier on snow-shoes.
[/caption] A great place to stop and check out the great views of the Oregon Cascades is none other than the rest stop between Bend and Sisters. It may be the laziest way to take advantage of the mountain views but it’s a no brainer. You can see Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, all three of the Sisters and Broken Top. You also have a great view of lesser known Black Butte and Belknap Crater as well as the several other snow capped smaller mountains. You want to make sure and include your telephoto lens since you’re pretty far away from the mountains and unfortunately you can’t get all of them in the same frame. There are several power cables that block parts of Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington but if you move around and use your telephoto, you can get a pretty good shot. It’s better to visit during the early to late morning since you will be looking west and the sun will be south east rather than directly east. Make sure to bring your tripod and filters since the glare can get pretty intense off the snow capped mountains and the distance requires a sturdy tripod.
[/caption] A birds eye view of Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park with Russell lake looming smack dab in the middle of the Wilderness. Late July, August and September are the best times to visit the Jefferson Park wilderness. In fact, any other days of the year will be either covered in snow and impassable or you will find yourself trudging through steep slopes that are too dangerous to cross. The forest road that you need to drive is about 7.5 miles and once the snow level drops, the entire road will be closed and that will make your journey that much more demanding. I couldn’t imagine snow-shoeing or cross country skiing to the Park but I assume that people can and have done it. However, the best thing about visiting during the summer months is that you can swim in the lakes, view the wildlife, photograph some of the creeks and waterfalls and most importantly, you can view the hundreds of wildflowers that grow throughout the wilderness. If the day is sunny when you visit, you’re pretty much guaranteed some of the best photographic opportunities. So, I would plan on bringing your tripod and as many lenses that you can carry. I actually saw a snow owl leaping from a tree and flying away as I was taking a photo of the mountain with my wide angle lens. Unfortunately, my camera was on my tripod and I didn’t have a telephoto to get a shot but the owl was gone before I was even able to see where it flew off to. I took this shot from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which can be seen in the photo in the lower right hand corner.
[/caption] Reflection of Mt. Bachelor at Sparks Lake, Oregon. This photo was taken from the southern most part of the lake with the contrails and smoke from a controlled wildfire in the right hand corner of the photo. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as possible. I was visiting the lake during a weekday and it was past 5:00pm so there were no crowds of people other than a few people fishing near the lake. The lake was glassy and the winds had died down so I was able to get a really good reflection of the mountain and the contrails. If you visit during the afternoon to late afternoon you can expect quite a bit of wind so you will have a harder time getting a good reflection. Early morning and late evening is the best time to experience a glassy lake.
[/caption] This may look like an average rock standing in front of a blue sky but it’s actually Crater Lake behind this rock. That’s right! Crater Lake is so brilliantly blue, that it looks like a tropical blue sky. As you hike or scramble along the rocky rim of the Park, you have several opportunities to witness this type of phenomenon. The lake is so blue that it gives an impression of a blue sky and as you move across the rim you can see how the color of the lake will change colors, depending on the time of day or your location. To get the best opportunity, you do need to stand almost directly on the edge of the rim so you want to be careful since it’s pretty easy to lose your footing as you find yourself immersed in the out of body experience. To get this shot I climbed along the rocky rim and perched myself directly above the lake. I was able to get out of my snow shoes in order to climb on the rocks. I pointed my camera at about a 75 degree angle in order to get a good portion of the rock and as much of the lake without having any glare or reflection from the high clouds above. In fact, any clouds above will create a reflection in the lake so you need to look for a spot that’s perfect. I wasn’t using a tripod when I took this photo so I made sure to turn on my IS and keep a steady hand. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter on my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 42mm. I was worried about camera shake or blur but I was still able to set the ISO at 100 and reduce the white balance at -1. Because I had the camera in normal/program mode the aperture was set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. Luckily, the sun was directly behind me and it was late in the morning so the overhead sky had the perfect amount of brightness.
[/caption] The weather at Crater Lake National Park last week was absolutely epic and the snow pack was perfect for hiking and snow shoeing. There was just enough snow along the rim and higher elevations to create great photos but there was enough exposed rocks that you could climb along the edge of the rocky rim in order to get some even better shots. I took this photo while standing just above the Sinnott Memorial Overlook, which is near the Crater Lake lodge. The overlook wasn’t opened since the snow was too deep. I was looking almost directly north and the sun was pretty much directly behind me so I didn’t have to worry about any sun glare. However, you need to make sure to utilize your histogram when photographing Crater Lake since the lake itself can really alter the darkness of your shots due to the intense blueness of the lake and the glare from the snow along the rim. I always check the histogram after I take a photo and see if I need to make adjustments to the white balance. This limits the amount of photos that I will have to upload when I get home and reduces the amount of photos I end up deleting. Since I spent the entire day at the Park I ended up not using my tripod in order to cover as much ground as possible and taking as many photos that I could. I made sure to turn on my IS as well as taking advantage of the almost perfect lighting. I made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter to my Sigma 17-70mm lens as well as set the ISO at 100. I also adjusted the white balance to -0.7 in order to get the perfect amount of brightness and limit the darkness. Since the camera was in normal/program mode, the aperture was automatically set at F-7 and the shutter speed was at 1/200 second. The fast shutter speed helped limit the need for a tripod and that was good since I wasn’t using it.
[/caption] Crater Creek flows down the alpine mountains near Broken Top with Ball Butte in the background. Hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness offers several opportunities to visit many of the creeks flowing from the nearby glaciers as well as seeing the cluster of alpine lakes that dot the wilderness. The wilderness offers one of the most memorable experiences and provides the outdoor adventurer everything that a wilderness should. There are dozens of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, creeks, lakes, waterfalls, alpine flowers, wildlife and of course some amazing views. However, you will want to visit during the weekday or off seasons since summer and weekends can really get busy.
[/caption] Mt. Hood ski bowl is still using the old style chair lifts that look like they belong somewhere in the Swiss Alps and they make for some great photos. I could almost pass this photo off as a ski resort in the mountains of Europe but it’s actually located in Government Camp, OR. Mt. Hood Ski Bowl doesn’t offer any gondolas or high speed quads but they do offer you the opportunity to think back to how the original ski lifts used to operate. The wooded structures that run the chair lifts are a great example of the old days and they allow you to get some great pictures. I took this photo last month and on a day that the resort wasn’t opened. This allowed me to snow-shoe and wonder through the area without having to dodge skiers or snow-boarders. I was using my Canon T1i and my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I noticed the backdrop of this shot so I tried to make it look as though the mountain behind the structure was several hundred feet above it. The blue sky added a dramatic scene as well as the snow covered trees and rock outcropping.
[/caption] The higher you climb near the summit of Mt. Hood, the darker the sky becomes. I slowly realized this as I trudged my way up the west side of the mountain. I began my snow-shoe journey from the parking lot of Timberline lodge and I was able to make it just below the hogs back when I started cramping and realized that I was getting pretty dehydrated. I was forced to turn back but not until I got some pretty amazing photos of Mt. Hood completely covered and crusted over with wind blown snow. It was pretty amazing to see the blue sky turn more and more dark blue as you increase in elevation. I spent most of my time adjusting the ISO and white balance in order to eliminate the photo from being under exposed or completely dark. The sky was epic and almost cast the mountain as a moon scape looking out into outer space. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens. I wasn’t using a tripod and since I extended the focal length at 250mm, in order to get some really close up shots of the summit, I had to make sure that I kept a steady hand and allow enough light so the photo wouldn’t come out blurry or shaky. I was able to set the ISO at 100 but had to set the white balance at 0. The camera was in normal/program mode and the aperture was set at F-8 and the shutter speed at 1/500 second. I did attach my CIR-PL in order to saturate the sky and eliminate too much glare caused by the snow.