[/caption] This is a photo of a group of daffodil’s in the Oregon’s Willamette Valley. To get this shot I laid down on my stomach, attached my bubble level and took the photo without knowing what it would look like since I couldn’t see the images on the LCD screen. Though my tripod does have the capability of folding down to the ground, I decided to try my luck at holding the camera and I was pleasantly surprised that just having a bubble level allows you some great opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have. However, I did end up deleting quite a few but I was able to move around a lot more without having to constantly set up the tripod in tight areas.
[/caption] Beautiful Dahlia flower on a beautiful late summer afternoon in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The color of this particular dahlia is so awesome that I spent several minutes photographing it. The orange and yellow colors are so perfectly organized that it almost looks like a painting or air brushed photo. I did saturate some of the colors but other than that, it’s fairly raw. All of you macro photographers know how intoxicating it can be when you find the perfect subjects to photograph and flowers are no exception. The Dahlia festival in the Willamette Valley, Oregon offers some of the most amazing photography opportunities I have ever seen and you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure that you bring ALL of your macro lenses and plan on going on a sunny day. Since dahlia’s like the warm weather and bloom during late summer, you are almost guaranteed a beautiful sunny day during the month of September in Oregon. To get this shot I attached my Sigma 50mm mcro/prime lens and also attached my UV and warming filter. I kept the camera in Program/Normal mode and also kept the ISO at 100. The only thing that I change when needed is the White Balance and for this shot I kept it at 0. The aperture was automatically set at F-4 and the shutter priority was at 1/100 of a second. It’s best to visit during the morning since the sun is a bit lower in the sky and the dew on the flowers offer even better photo opportunities. The crowds are also almost non existent as well.
[/caption] This is a photo of some really cool flowers that have been springing up all over Oregon’s agriculture land in the north Willamette Vally. I’m not sure the name of the flowers but they sure are pretty awesome and they are growing all over the place. This photo was taken just off of Roy Roger road, which is between Beaverton and Sherwood. I decided to grab my camera and drive to the side of the road and see what type of photos I could come up with. I ended up setting up my tripod and crouched around the field looking for the best spot to take some pictures. I took this shot with my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get a panoramic view. I had the camera in normal/program mode and since I had the ISO at 100, the white balance at -0.7 and attached my CIR-PL, the aperture was automatically set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I was facing west and the sun was pretty much at a 90 degree angle since I took this photo at 9:30am. You can see the foothills of the Coastal mountains as well as some of the vineyards and farmlands in the distance. The tall forested trees in the background create a fantastic scene along with the sky.
[/caption] The Trail of Ten Falls is found within Silver Creek Falls Sate Park and is the primary draw to the park. The Park offers 10 spectacular waterfalls as well as a journey to some of the most awesome geological wonders. This is Oregon’s largest State Park and offers over 9,000 acres of wilderness as well as over 8 miles of hiking trails that takes you near each of the falls. Upper North Falls is one of the most spectacular but it is also one of the least known since it’s on a hiking trail that is split from the main trail. The waterfall is also the end of the trail head since the massive basalt cliff meets you head on as the waterfall spills over its edge. Getting to the head of the waterfall can also be very difficult since the constant spray of the waterfall creates a very slippery and slimy descent towards the creeks edge. In order to get a good photo without ending up with a soaked lens you must hike down the creek a bit and take your chances on the slippery basalt rocks. Only then can you set up your tripod and try to take a photo before your lens becomes soaked. Upper North Falls may only be 65 feet tall but if the water level is high the waterfall can grow in lateral size while it spans the length of the basalt cliff just before it spills over the edge. In order to take advantage of the stark green vegetation and high water levels you are best advised to visit in either late May or early June. If Spring is getting a late start you may find your best time to visit the park during the last weeks of June. It is a very sensitive timing issue since you want to be there when the vegetation is at its peak but also when the water level is at its highest. Visit too early and the vegetation will still be brown and lack most color and if you wait too long the water level will be low and the waterfalls will be reduced to a small trickle as well as the creek itself. You also want to make sure you visit on a very cloudy and possibly rainy day in order to avoid too much overexposure. I took this photo on June 10th and it was a very overcast and rainy day. It was about 10:10am and the sun was almost directly behind the waterfall. Luckily the overcast sky’s hid the sun but still created somewhat of a hue. I set the shutter speed at 6 seconds in order to get the stop look from the waterfall and creek. To do this I made sure to attach my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter. I also set up my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had to carefully place the tripod along the edge of the rocks and since the rocks were slippery than snot I pretty much held my breath that I wasn’t going to lose my footing and fall in the water. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to maximize the field of view and create a panoramic view. The aperture was at F-10 and I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0. Due to the constant spray from the waterfall and the rain coming down I had a hard time increasing the shutter speed to over 6 seconds.
[/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] One of the best places to pay homage to the Fall colors in Oregon is the Willamette Vally. You can photograph the vineyards, trees, agriculture as well as the forested hills. I normally like to head out on a sunny, cold, dry and foggy morning and drive along the agriculture or winery areas and then look for the best possible photography opportunity. However, Champoeg State Heritage Park is a great place to visit if you want to do a little hiking along the Willamette river and photograph the many trees changing colors. It’s a huge park and is absolutely crazy during the summertime but Autumn and early Fall is almost completely void of anyone. There is even an area where you can camp with a tent or RV. This particular photo was taken just before the tree peaked. However, you can see just how dynamic and brilliant the colors are. What really drew me to this photo was the color of the sky. It’s so blue and well saturated that it looks great with the yellow in the foreground. I made sure to include the sky in the upper part and right hand corner of the photo in order to show the brilliant color of the blue sky. This tree probably peaked the very next day but unfortunately A huge rainstorm was supposed to be moving in and this was my only shot at getting these photos. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I had the focal length at 29mm and I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I actually took this photo two years ago but I wanted to post it since Autumn/Fall is almost here. It was taken at about 4:00pm and the sun was just behind the trees. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 and with the camera mode at Program/Normal the aperture was automatically set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/50 second.
[/caption] The month of August is one of the best months to visit Oregon’s wine country. This is especially true in the Willamette Valley. The warm dry air mixed with the incredible rolling hills that blanket the area is proof enough that Oregon is truly wine country. I find that the wineries around Forest Grove, Dundee and McMinnville offer some of the best views of the vineyards as well as some of the Cascade mountains in the far distance. There are also more wineries within a short distance from one another which makes it easier to photograph the landscape. August doesn’t offer you the opportunities of photographing the grapes but the vines are a very lush green and make for spectacular photos. I chose this particular photo since it shows the vineyard perched along a rolling hill facing due south as well as the vastness of the vineyards. The oak tree with the tire swing as well as the clear blue sky and lush forest also adds to the beauty of the setting. To get this shot I made sure to stand in the shade since the sun was still pretty bright since there were no clouds in the sky and it was about 4:30pm. However, you can see the shadow from the oak tree in the foreground which helped create a lot of character in the shot. Since I was wondering all over the winery I wasn’t using a tripod so I made sure to keep a steady hand every time I took a shot. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter due to the harshness of the sun and the glare in the sky. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.7 which caused the aperture to be set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal. I set the focal length at 70mm since I was standing near the tasting room and the vineyard was rather far away. I wanted to maximize the telephoto so I could frame the vineyard along with the oak tree, forest and blue sky.
[/caption] The weather hasn’t been very kind to the tulips all across the Pacific Northwest this year. The heavy rains have created a lot of stress and the colder weather hasn’t allowed the spring flowers to flourish very much. While visiting the Woodburn tulip festival I was concerned that it might be too muddy as well as finding several stunted patches of tulip. This year I decided to take a different approach while photographing the tulip fields. In fact, I spent most of the day in the Tulip garden since they were more colorful and seemed less stressed. I decided to get as low as I could to the ground and try to get a panoramic photo with as many tulips in the frame as possible without too many distractions in the background. Unfortunately, the tulip fields were too muddy and the bottom parts of the tulips weren’t as photogenic. On the other hand, the garden was surrounded by grass which allowed me to lay on my stomach or crouch on my knees in order to position my camera up at an angle. I decided that it was better to position the camera on the ground and then just point the camera towards the sky with the tulips in the foreground. This allowed my to get much lower than using my tripod and I was able to completely rest it on the ground to ensure that there would be no camera shake. I used a bubble level in order to ensure that the photo would be perfectly aligned with the ground. I took this photo at about 11:10am and the sun was at a perfect 90 degree angle on the right. I wanted to create a look that made the tulips look enormous as though they were towering over the landscape so I adjusted the camera as close to them as possible and simply pointed the camera at about an 80 degree angle. It took me several try’s before I got the shot I wanted but I spent a good part of the day perfecting this method. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 14mm so I could get the most panoramic photo as possible without having any vignetting in the corners. I had the camera in Normal/Program mode so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3.
[/caption] The Willamette Valley offers some of the best nursery’s in the Country and Adelman Peony Farms is no exception. They have acres of Peony’s that you can simply walk through and get some of the most awesome pictures. There are several different species and colors throughout the farm so you will find yourself spending hours taking in the photographic opportunities that abound. You will surely want to include your macro and your wide angle lens in order to take advantage of this gem. I’m not sure when Peony’s stop blooming but I would advise visiting during Spring. This shot was taken on 5/30/10 at about 2:50pm. Because I wasn’t using my tripod, I removed my CIR-PL but attached my warming filter in order to bring out the contrast of the flowers. However, using my CIR-PL without a tripod would surely have created a blurry photo. This is especially true since I was standing so close to the flowers. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I wanted to maintain a strong field of view so I stood back just enough so the clouds and the flowers were in focus. Using any other lens would have kept parts of the photo out of focus. I did experiment with my macro lens but found that the Peony’s looked nice as a panoramic photo with the crazy looking clouds lurking the background. I was facing towards the sun so the photo was a little overexposed, especially since I wasn’t using my CIR-PL. However, I made some changes in Photoshop in order to decrease the brightness of the clouds as well as darken them enough to bring out some of their personality. The camera mode was in Normal/Program so the aperture was at F-9 and the shutter speed at 1/160 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3.
[/caption] I decided to post this picture on my blog in order to show just how great the day was. This has tulips, snow in the mountains and incredible clouds. This isn’t my best or favorite that I took but I really wanted to show off just how incredible the scenery was. I may not have taken the best photos of a tulip farm but I’m sure there aren’t very many photographers that have a combination of the three in their portfolio….Except for the other photographers that were here the same day as me, of course. The entire day was spectacular. On this shot I had set my camera to normal exposure. The F stop was set at 7.1 since the clouds were changing constantly. Sometimes the clouds would obscure the sun but then it would suddenly appear and drown out the color of the tulip filed. The focal length was at 55mm. I used my warming filter and CIR-POL on each of my lenses. I used my 55-250mm telephoto lens throughout most of the day. the ISO was set at 100. I made very little changes while using photoshop. Mostly I just darkened the clouds when needed and occasionally cropped a little, in order to take out some of the people. I was able to use all of my lenses pretty regularly all day while photographing….18-55mm, 55-250mm, 50mm macro/prime lens and my 18-24mm wide angle lens. I would highly recommend a trip to the festival if your in the area. A lot of the tulips weren’t even out yet so I’m sure that the rest of April will be even more spectacular. It’s also a great place to bring the kids and there is plenty of food. I plan on returning as much as possible this Spring.