[/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] The Upper McCord Creek waterfall is located just above Elowah Falls. The trail scrambles up a fairly steep part of the gorge and is located directly above Elowah falls, which is fed by the same creek. The elevation gain is about 620 feet and the top of the trail was dynamited in order to allow hikers to access the falls. There are steel handrails that prevent hikers from falling to their death but there are still some areas where the handrails aren’t located and the drops are just as dangerous. The view from the top is amazing with bald eagles, osprey and turkey vulture’s soaring just below. Very few people know about this hike and most of the people that do decide to hike here usually hike to Elowah falls rather than make the steep ascent to the top of the cliffs. The hike starts at Yeon park and there are no facilities and only limited parking. The best view of the waterfall is right off the main trail and there are a few amazing spots to set up your tripod. It almost like the forest intentionality set up the spots for photographers to camp out. Above the waterfall is McCord creek and you can see it winding through the forest as it disappears in the distance. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I attached my warming filter, ND4 and CIR-PL. I made sure to turn off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 21mm. I had the camera mode in shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 2 seconds. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 which made the aperture automatically set at F-10. It was about 3:50pm when I took this photo and the sun was well hidden behind the forest and cliffs. There are several wildflowers along the trail so you may want to bring along your macro/prime lens as well. I wanted to completely frame the waterfall with the neon green vegetation surrounding it and this photo pretty much shows that.
[/caption] Dry Creek Falls is one of the least visited waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge but it’s one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the area. The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 5.4 mile round trip hike and you will be amazed at the forested canopy as you slice your way through the gorge. Dry Creek falls is a 50 foot water fall that plunges through a 300 foot cliff but you can only see parts of it high above the falls. You will want to hike over the diversion dam when you get to the falls and set up your tripod. I was surprised that I was able to get near the base of the waterfall without getting totally drenched. I noticed that there are sometimes lulls in the wind gusts and you have time to get a few shots off before you need to wipe the water off your lens. I was setting my shutter speed between 2 seconds and 4 seconds, depending on the amount of glare from the sun. I made sure to use my histogram in order to have the best settings as possible in use. I set the ISO at 200 and attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to get the ghosting effect of the water and bring out the colors of the basalt rock and vegetation. Since Dry Creek Falls is known to pretty much dry up you will want to visit during late spring or early summer. The vegetation doesn’t really explode until late spring and if you wait too long in the summer the water level is very low.
[/caption] Every time I visit the Gorge, I always look for ways to get a different perspective of the many waterfalls in the area. Wile visiting Wahclella falls I decided to take my chances and leap to a rock in order to get this photograph. It was a little sketchy since the water level was at it’s absolute highest level that I had ever seen and the rocks were pretty slippery. However, I decided to chance it even though I was carrying my tripod and all of my lenses. The rock that I was standing on was big enough to allow me to set up my tripod with all three legs extended and I was able to move around as I looked for different photo opportunities. This shot was especially interesting since the perfectly round boulder was pretty much directly centered in my photo with Wahclella falls just above it. The creek was completely surrounding the boulder as well as the massive walls that created the waterfall. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. However, since I had attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter there was some vignetting so I had to crop parts of the edges out. I had the camera in shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds in order to get the right amount of ghosting from the fast and swollen creek. The aperture was automatically set at F-11 since the ISO was at 100 and the white balance was at -1. I used photoshop to increase the saturation of the vegetation and removed some of the glare from the water.
[/caption] The best time to visit Silver Falls State Park is either in late Spring, when the water level is at is maximum or during Fall when the leaves are peaking. I always try to visit during the middle of the week since the crowds can be unbearable. It’s also impossible to get a photo of the waterfalls without ending up with several hikers in the photo. This is especially frustrating when you are trying to set your shutter priority at 15 seconds. You will also find crowds of photographers on weekends. I normally get here as early as possible and leave just before dark. I also plan my trips when the weather is overcast and is calling for rain showers. This ensures the best photos and keeps many of the hikers at bay. You will need to plan on doing some serious hiking since you may end up wanting to hike to the waterfalls during the morning and then again in the early evening since the sunlight is dramatically different. I usually end up hiking up to 12 miles so I usually take a power nap in the afternoon since the lighting isn’t as good and I’m exhausted during the ride home. This photo of 93 foot Lower South Falls is one of the most photogenic since it’s fairly wide and has lots of foliage surrounding it but without hiding the waterfall. There are several areas to set up your tripod but you just need to be aware of hikers since the trail cuts directly behind the falls. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to get the movement of the water. The camera was in shutter priority and I set the shutter at 4 seconds. The aperture was set at F-16 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I wanted to get the most panoramic photo so I had the focal length at 19mm. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The lighting was pretty low since it was well overcast and it was about 4:20pm. I actually took this photo on 6/10/11 and the vegetation was absolutely brilliant. The foliage was incredibly neon green due to the insane amount of rain the Willamette Vally had received during Spring. I also made for an above average amount of fast moving water cascading down from the Cascade Mountains. This is a must place to visit for all photographers.
[/caption] I was finally able to pick the perfect day to visit Punchbowl falls. The day was overcast and there was a light sprinkle as I photographed the waterfall. The neon green vegetation was at its peak as I was able to gently wade out to the middle of the creek so I could get in to the best possible position as I photographed the waterfall. The creek wasn’t as full or nearly as cold from the last time I visited this same spot. I even made sure to bring my pair of Teva sandals so I could have an easier time navigating the rocks below as well as the swift current. This was by far one of the most epic times to visit the falls since there was no other hikers and I was able to move almost anywhere along the creek before setting up my tripod. With the water level still very high and the amount of water thundering over the falls you probably haven’t seen this much water going over Punch bowl falls in a while. The water was absolutely piercing as it raged over the falls. I was also surprised that I was able to pretty much set up my tripod anywhere along the creek without the fast moving water causing my tripod to move as I set the shutter priority to 4 seconds at a time. My 11 month old Australian Cattle dog puppy was having a good time chasing small sticks and drinking in the creek as I took photos. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to get the correct blur effect without having too much overexposure. I had the camera mode in shutter priority so the aperture was set at F-11 since I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1. Since it was sprinkling the whole time I was forced to wipe my lens after every shot since I was setting the shutter priority at 4 seconds each time I took a photo. I took this particular photo at about 11:10am and the sun was pretty much non existent due to the cloudy skies. The waterfalls does create a strong glare in the foreground so you have to watch how you place your camera. I had the focal length at 28mm and I was standing about 50 yards from the waterfall.
[/caption] The Oneonta trail offers some spectacular views of 4 waterfalls along with several places to rest along the creek to take photos. Now that the creeks are at their full potential you can really get some terrific photos of the water thundering over the waterfalls or the creek. There are endless amounts of photography opportunities on this particular trail. I took this shot on 5/14/11 at about 2:10pm and since it was on a busy Saturday I was limited on the amount of places that I could take photos without having people in them. Therefore, I decided to really concentrate on taking photos along the creeks banks well above the waterfalls. I’ve been coming to some of these same spots for years but this spring has been especially dynamic due to the amount of water spilling out from the Cascades. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter so I could set the shutter priority to 8 seconds. I really wanted to blur the water as much as possible without having too much exposure since the focal length was at 17mm. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had to wait for the sun to hide behind some clouds since the sun was directly above me. The aperture was at F-22 since I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0-.7. With Oneonta trail providing 4 amazing waterfalls along with awesome creek views this is surely a hike worth exploring.
[/caption] Silver Falls State Park or also known as Silver Creek Falls State Park is Oregon’s largest State Park. As far as I’m concerned it should be designated a National Park. I took this photo on 5/7/10 and you can read my extensive article about the Park which I posted on 5/10/10. There are so many awesome waterfalls which are all accessible from the trail head that you could easily spend the entire day photographing them. Normally I will go back to some of the same waterfalls as the sun and shade moves about throughout the day. This is especially true if you are a serious waterfall photographer. This photo was taken around 8:30 am just as the sun was beginning to rise above the forest directly behind the falls. I wanted to have some light in the photo but without washing out the waterfall. However, I was only able to set the shutter priority to .8 seconds due to the intensity of the light. As you can see there was almost no movement showing in the foliage. Normally it can be pretty windy near the falls and the trail head due to the intense force created by the water thundering over the falls. The noise pierces your ears as the water crashes on the massive basalt rocks below. It literally sounds like a constant chain reaction of cars crashing into one another. I tried to keep the glare down as much as possible so I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2. I also used my ND4 filter as well as my warming filter. You could never get this type of shot without either using an ND filter or at least a CIR-PL. I find that using an ND filter when photographing waterfalls is usually the best choice. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. These are also a necessity when photographing waterfalls since you will want to get the blur effect while using your shutter mode. I find that the best time to visit Silver Falls State Park is during Spring and Early Fall. I would also recommend visiting during a weekday since the weekends can get pretty busy. This is especially true if you are wanting to get some photos without people in your waterfall shots as well as having the opportunity to set up your tripod without other hikers having to walk around you.