Fairy Falls provides you with the best opportunity to gaze and watch the water spill and travel over, around and down the falls. Since the trail passes directly next to the waterfall, there are several places that you can set up your tripod and zoom directly into the falls. To get this shot I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter. I had the camera in Shutter Priority with the aperture at F-11. I set the focal length at 50mm in order to zoom in as close as possible but making sure that I kept a large field of view in order to avoid any distortion around the edges of the photo. I also wanted to add some of the mossy rocks and parts of the logs in the photo in order to add some detail and depth. I set the shutter speed to 4 seconds so I could capture as much movement of the water as possible but without overexposing caused by the glare from the water. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -1. The best time to photograph Fairy Falls is when the water level is at its highest which ensures plenty of water thundering over the falls. The First few days of May is normally the best time.
[/caption] All of the Cascade mountains still have so much snow that they look as though its the middle of winter after a huge snow storm. Photos like this, that was taken on 4/30/, is why we love the Pacific Northwest and especially the Cascade mountain range. From the summit of Tom McCall point you can see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams as they loom over the surrounding topography. I took this shot of Mt. Adams at about 4:15pm and the sun was pretty much directly behind me which didn’t allow for and shadows in the photo. It pretty much lacks any character because of this but at least you can see the entire mountain without any dark areas. This isn’t my best photo of Mt. Adams, especially since I wasn’t using a tripod and the focal length was almost maxed out at 229mm. It also didn’t help that the wind was blowing at 40 mph and I had no cover to help block the wind. I was forced to crouch as low as possible and try to keep a steady hand. This is where IS and photoshop helps tremendously. Because the sun was blinding me from behind I made sure to attach my warming and CIR-PL filters. I was using my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens and set the camera to Normal/Program mode. Luckily the shutter speed came out to 1/200 second and the aperture was at F-5.6. This allowed me to keep the ISO at 100 and even adjust the white balance to +0.3. Mt. Hood was more difficult to photograph since it was due south and it was directly below the sun. Early morning and late evening would be the best time to visit the summit in order to get the best photos. Your photo opportunities at the summit offer some of the most epic opportunities. These include: Two snow capped mountains, wildflowers, The gorge, cliffs, wildlife, rolling topography, farm land, the historic and winding Columbia river highway and small ponds.
[/caption] If you are prepared to see some of the fastest moving water in the Columbia River Gorge I would recommend going very soon. The waterfalls and creeks are absolutely thundering right now and you will not be disappointed. Even though the foliage isn’t completely out yet, you will at least be able to see more of the waterfalls before the dense vegetation covers them up. The spring wildflowers are amazing right now even though they haven’t peaked yet. I spent the day trying to visit as many parts of the gorge as possible in order to capture as many epic photographs that I could. I took this photo while visiting Wahkeena Falls. This photo was taken under the small foot bridge that takes you over the creek. While I was photographing parts of the Wahkeena Falls I noticed this rock shelf and the speeding water was going so fast that you could see some of the water actually bounce backwards and against the rock wall. the foot bridge above created the perfect shadow effect but also allowed the foliage to reflect some light from the fast moving creek. I had to crouch in a very peculiar position but it was well worth it. To get this shot I used my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter. I was about 3 feet from the creek and I set the focal length to 28mm. I put the camera mode in TV/shutter priority and set the speed at 20 seconds. I was trying to capture as much movement as possible in order to show every nook and cranny in the rocks below the water. As you can see, I was pretty successful. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at +0.7. It was about 5:35pm and the sun was still pretty strong, even though I was nearly under the bridge and was completely shrouded in the foliage.
[/caption] Aside from photographing the many waterfalls in the Gorge I think that photographing the tree lined forest is the second most impressive thing about the area. However, it can be very difficult and challenging to take a really good photo of the forest. Whenever I’m photographing a waterfall I take several minutes if not hours setting up my tripod and looking for the many angles that I can shoot the falls. I normally use a waterfall as my destination so during my hike I sometimes don’t take the time to see the forest through the trees. But when I decide that I want to concentrate my photos on the forest it can take a lot of time hiking with my tripod and camera attached as well as setting up on some really uneven ground. The rewards can be well worth the effort but getting really good shots of a tree lined forest is very challenging. I took this shot while hiking the Herman Creek trail. There is an area that is exposed to the cliffs and tree lined forest. You can see the trees climbing up against the basalt rock cliffs with other species scattered about. The weather was partly cloudy with the sky partly backlit. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL due to the overexposed sky and the desire to capture the warm tones of the trees and basalt cliffs. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure no blurring of the landscape. I learned very early that you can’t take landscape photos of the forest without using a tripod if you don’t want any camera shake to appear. A forest filled photo can really confuse the sensor and the different lighting effects will guarantee a blurry photo.
[/caption] The Columbia River Gorge can offer some pretty spectacular scenery but there is nothing better than catching a scene like this. After spending a sunny morning and afternoon along the Gorge a monster of a storm was moving in from the northwest, so I decided to drive up near the Vista House to see what kind of shots I might be able to get. The sun continued to peak out from the fast moving storm clouds so I was able to take some shots as the sun moved down and along the river below. I started taking several photos just as the sun had shined directly over the Vista House and the surrounding trees. You don’t get many opportunities like this so I felt pretty blessed even as I had just taken some of my best photos of the waterfalls earlier in the day. Spring is the best time to take pictures in the Gorge and May is the best month. This shot was taken last year on 5/18/10 and it was about 5:25pm. The sun was actually directly behind me but I was able to take advantage of my position as you can see from this photo. Though very few good photo opportunities arise when the sun is behind you, this was surely an exception to the rule. The sun was low enough to create some awesome cloud shapes as they quickly engulfed the mountains and river below. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I attached my warming filter and CIR-PL and made sure that I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I maxed out the focal length to 55mm but you can see that the field of view was high so I wasn’t worried about any blur. In fact, I had to max out the focal length in order to avoid any of the tall trees near me to show up in the photo. This would have ruined the photo for sure. The camera was in Program/Normal mode and the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I had the ISO at 200 and the white balance at -0.3. Each time I set the ISO to 100 it was too dark and increasing the white balance wasn’t enough to offset the need to increase the ISO. It’s finally April and now there is only one month until May and I hope to spend as much time as possible trying to get more photo opportunities like this.
[/caption] Hiking inside the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the most spectacular views you will ever experience. You will never be let down no matter which hike you decide to take. You will most likely encounter several waterfalls, steep canyon walls, creeks, brooks, steep drop offs and plenty of wildflowers. I took this photo using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I was using my warming filter and CIR-PL along with my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. This shot was taken around November so the forest was lush and green due to the recent rains. I had the focal length at 34mm in order to narrow the field of view and frame the trail and forest in the shot. The camera mode was in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-4.5 and the shutter speed at 1/3 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the late morning glare from the sun high above. There was a huge drop off behind the trees in the foreground and the sun was shinning just behind them. I have never been disappointed when visiting the Gorge no matter what the month is or the season. However, Spring is probably my favorite with Fall a close second.
Tanner Creek offers so many photographic opportunities all year long and Spring is no exception. During the Spring you are able to capture the neon greens and fast moving water that floods through the waterfalls and creeks that make up the Columbia River Gorge. You always want to remember to bring your ND filters as well as your tripod whenever visiting the Gorge. This is especially true if you expect to leave your shutter open in order to create a blur effect from the fast moving water. I took this shot on 5/18/10 at about 2:10pm. It was a sunny afternoon so I decided that it would be more effective if I stood along the bank of the river so I could hide beneath the trees in order to block most of the harsh sunlight. I wanted to get a blur effect but I didn’t want it to be overexposed. I attached my ND8 filter along with my warming filter to my Canon 18-55mm lens. I placed my tripod along the creek and made sure that it was steady in order to avoid any movement caused by the swift moving creek. I also attached my bubble level and remote switch. I wanted to frame the creek with as much vegetation in order to create personality. I added as much field of view so most of the vegetation was in focus without losing focus on the creek it self. The warming filter also helped bring out the colors from the vegetation in the water. This shot really shows just how intimate and scenic the Gorge really is. I set the focal length at 35mm and had the camera mode in Shutter priority. The aperture was at F-29 since I was using my ND8. I set the shutter speed to 3.29 seconds, the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1.7. Spring also brings out dozens of different species of wildflowers and really allows the lush vegetation to flourish.
[/caption] Wahclella Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s located in one of the most dramatic and spectacular canyons that is bursting with neon green vegetation and massive basalt walls reaching 500 feet. When the snow melts from the Cascades or when the rains in the Cascade foothills begin to gravitate towards the lower elevations, there is only one place for them to go and that’s through the narrow Tanner Creek. The waterfall just above Wahclella Falls is only flowing when there is too much runoff for it to flow through the creek by itself. The waterfall is comprised of a very narrow bit of basalt rock which creates a thunderous bottleneck of fresh water leaping over the falls. In fact, there is so much water thundering into the pool below the falls that it pierces your eardrums as it crashes below and the wind draft will surely soak your lens. This photo was taken at about the time that the waterfall is at its maximum. It was taken on 4/30/10 and it had been raining throughout the week as well as the warmer temperatures were melting the snow near Mt. Hood. It’s impossible to set your shutter any higher that about 1/2 second since you won’t be able to see any difference between 1/2 a second or 60 seconds. The water is moving too fast and the amount of wind being created by the falls whips and pummels the surrounding vegetation. I took this shot with my Canon EOS T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my ND4 and my warming filter in order to get as much water blur as possible. I was standing on the small bridge that takes you over the creek. There is a short loop that you can take around the waterfall. There are actually two bridges that take you over the creek at different spots. I had the camera set in the Shutter Priority mode so the aperture was set at F-16 and I set the shutter to 1/2 second. Even though it was totally overcast and raining at times I had to set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1.3 due to the glare being created from the waterfall and creek. This photo really shows just how dynamic the canyon really is. You can see the massive basalt rocks, the neon greens of the vegetation as well as the fast moving waterfall and creek. It’s important to come here on an overcast day as well as during Spring to early June if you want to capture a shot like this one. Anytime after early summer the water level really drops off and the vegetation isn’t as intense. You are also more likely to have sunnier skies since it can get very warm in summer. However, if you just want to enjoy the atmosphere anytime is a good time to visit the Gorge.
[/caption] I am now starting to look forward to an early spring this year. I have all but lost hope in a snowy and amazing winter in the Northwest as they had predicted. Therefore, I am starting to give my attention to one of the most amazing places to visit during spring and that is the Columbia River Gorge. Both Washington and Oregon share in its beauty but the Oregon side has a lot more waterfalls and creeks to hike along. I snapped this photo last spring on 4/30/10 and it was later in the day around 4:15pm. The sun was out for most of the day and there weren’t many clouds to shade the gorge. However, since I waited until later in the day I was able to get this great shot of Tanner Creek with the unbelievable greenery surrounding the creek. However, I was only able to set the shutter speed to 1/2 second due to the light and glare still being created by the fast movement of the water. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my 18-55m lens. I set the focal length to 24mm in order to allow the vegetation and rocks to frame the photo. Since I was using shutter mode while in Program the aperture was at F-11. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 in order to prevent too much glare but still get some of the blur from the movement of the water. I was using my tripod, bubble level and my remote switch as well as attaching my ND4, warming and CIR-PL filter. This allowed even a smaller amount of light to enter the lens. I can’t express how amazing the gorge is during spring. Especially since the snow is melting in the Cascades which creates a thunderous amount of water spilling through the waterfalls and engulfing its creeks. The vegetation explodes with neon greens and the flowers turn to all colors imaginable. Clearly a most epic scene that one must enjoy every year.