[/caption] Smith Rock State Park is located in Central Oregon and is a short drive from Highway 97. If you plan on hiking around the trail system that encompasses the park you will want to bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and lots of camera gear.
[/caption] One of the best parts of the Misery Ridge trail is that once you’re at the top you can venture around parts of the summit and explore the unique geology and vegetation as well as look for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities. This photo was taken near Monkey Face and looking directly west towards the Cascades. The drop off just past the shrub is several hundred feet and you can see the cliff edge in the shadows just above the shrub. I wanted to create a very unique and dynamic shot so I tried to incorporate as many subjects as possible. There aren’t a lot of shadows but the shadows from the cliff and shrub create the perfect image. The blue, green and brown colors are almost in perfect harmony with the snow capturing the essence that is truly Central Oregon. There are several desert wildflowers that bloom during summer as well as dozens of raptors soaring high above. If you’ve never visited Smith Rock State Park I would plan on spending at least 2-3 days in order to experience the entire park as well as the high mountain desert that surrounds the park.
[/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] 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.