[/caption] Only 12 more weeks until waterfall season starts in the Pacific Northwest. It’s almost time to dust off your ND filters, clean your camera sensor from any dust or water droplets, locate your bubble level, remote switch and tripod. Even though the season can begin in late June or even sometimes early July, May can offer some great opportunities if the foliage starts to bloom early. The water volume is also way more amazing, which can sometimes help you overlook the still dormant vegetation. The Pacific Northwest offers several weeks of abundant overcast days with lots of partly sunny skies that help you create the perfect setting. You just want to make sure and pack your best waterfall lens and try to keep it as dry as possible. I use my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attach my UV, warming, ND4 and sometimes my CIR-PL filter. Depending on the lightness of the scene, I will usually remove the CIR-PL and attach my ND4 filter but if there is enough light and I want to increase the shutter priority above 10 seconds, I will attach both since I don’t have an ND6 or greater. However, I will sometimes adjust the ISO and white balance in order to get the best shot.
[/caption] Is it true that the grass is always greener on the other side or is it possible that you might find a 300 foot cliff waiting for you on the other side? This photo was taken at Tom McCall State Park in Oregon. It’s located between Hood River and The Dalles. There actually is about a 300 foot cliff on the other side of this photo, which happens to be the Columbia River.
[/caption] Tanner creek cuts through the deep chasms of the gorge until it reaches the Columbia River. An easy but very photogenic trail takes you to one of the most spectacular waterfalls and creeks in the gorge region. Tanner creek is only about a 1 mile hike but takes you on a journey that you will never forget. There is an amazing waterfall that spills through an incredible canyon-end grotto. This photo was taken at about the 1/4 mile mark and just a few feet from the trail. There are hundreds of places to photograph along the creek so be sure to have plenty of time and patients. Don’t forget your tripod and bring as many ND filters that you have. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens when I took this shot and I set the focal length at 28mm. I was using my tripod and made sure to attach my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter as well as utilize my remote switch and bubble level. I set the shutter priority at 4 seconds and the aperture was set at F-22 and I reduced the white balance to -2 due to the strong reflection. I also made sure to keep the ISO at 100 in order to eliminate too much glare and over exposure.
[/caption] The calm between storms! This photo was taken on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge with Washington State across the river. It had snowed earlier in the morning in the foothills of the Cascades but the skies finally broke and some blue sky arrived but only long enough to feature some pretty enormous clouds coming in from the north. With fall almost over, you many want to get out to the gorge in order to take advantage of some awesome photos and some even more awesome weather watching! Most of the vegetation has now gone dormant, near the waterfalls but there are millions of leaves that create a pretty nice photo opportunity.
[/caption] A panoramic view from the Oregon side looking across the Columbia River into Washington State. This photo was taken at a viewpoint spot along the Oneonta trail that’s just down the road from the Horsetail Falls parking lot. The parking lot is on the old Columbia River Highway but just west of the Oneonta Gorge. You can get to triple falls much quicker if you start from this part of the trail head but you will miss the majority of the waterfalls unless you double back towards horsetail falls. However, the viewpoint is well worth the short hike since you get a birds eye view with unlimited views of the Columbia River and Washington State.
[/caption] This may be the last photo showing a sunny and cloudless day along the Columbia River Gorge until next Spring! This photo was taken at the Women’s Forum, which is just above the Vista House and on the Oregon side of the Columbia river. The foothills of the Cascade mountains were dusted with snow and just a few days after I took this shot, the foothills got hammered with lots of snow. There are only a few more days left to view the fall foliage, along the Gorge before the leaves are completely gone, so now is the time to enjoy them.
[/caption] If you’re looking for a great hiking spot along the Columbia River Gorge that offers some of the best views, Angels Rest might be the one place to visit. The hiking trail is only about 40 miles from Portland and there is ample parking available. The trail is about 4.5 miles round trip and there is about 1500′ of elevation gain. The views at the summit are amazing with a panoramic view of the entire area, including views of Mt. Adams and even downtown Portland. However, you can only see portions of the summit of Mt. Adams and you might want to carry some binoculars in order to get a good view of the city. The summit literally looks straight down and you could spend hours taking in the fresh air and the occasional heavy winds. I took this photo from the summit and I pretty much pointed my camera almost straight down in order to include portions of Washington state, the river, sand bar, old pilings and old burned out tree stands on the Oregon side. I didn’t bring my tripod so I had to keep a steady hand an turn on the IS since I wanted to keep the ISO at 100. If you hang out long enough you can photograph some of the massive barges steaming by. You may also want to bring along a backpack full of food since you won’t want to come down anytime soon. The gorge is known for it’s amazing waterfalls but unfortunately you won’t see any on this hike. However, there is a waterfall that you do cross but its well out of sight and you only hike across the foot bridge that crosses the creek. You can view the upper portion of the waterfall but it’s only a few feet high and you want to avoid getting too close to the edge since it looks deceiving and you could fall over. I normally stop to let my dog play in the creek but I always make sure he’s on his leash. You can also hear a waterfall from the 1500′ summit but you can’t see it.
[/caption] A short hike takes you to the Herman Creek Trail bridge with spectacular views of the swift moving water. The bridge is only a short and easy 2 mile round trip hike but if you’re wanting more adventure and more exercise you can add an additional 1500 miles or so since it connects to the Pacific Crest Trail. However, there are also a few other trails that follow along the creek from the north which offers amazing views of the gorge and the canyons below.
[/caption] Another iconic but little known waterfall high above Multnomah Falls! It’s official! July temperatures in Oregon have reached the 80 degree mark just like clockwork. Every summer the temperatures reach into the 80’s and unfortunately if you were hoping to get great photos of the lush and green Columbia River gorge time may just have run out. Once the hot temperatures reach into the gorge, the foliage begins to stress and wilt and the spring run off becomes much less predominant. In many of the creeks it becomes nothing more than a trickle and even some of the waterfalls dry up. However, there are hundreds of swimming holes that are ideal to cool off from the heat.
[/caption] Another picture perfect setting in the Columbia River Gorge! This is just another waterfall in the Oregon gorge that you see when you hike near the same creek that thunders over Multnomah Falls. I set up my tripod on the trail and just made sure to leave enough room for other hikers to pass by without having to move. I made sure to use my bubble level and remote switch and turned off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I wanted to get the most extreme ghosting effect since the water was traveling through slick basalt and the white water was pretty long. I set the shutter speed at 6 seconds and just made sure to attach my ND4 and CIR-PL.