Pacific Northwest Cascades

[/caption] Finally, the first sunny day after 7 days of winter storms hammered the Cascades with fresh powder. I was expecting to be visiting the Cascades during white out conditions. However, the morning of my snow-shoe trip, I noticed that they had changed their report to sunny skies. The early morning saw some of the best weather since the sun was shining and there were only a limited number of clouds. However, just like clock work, the clouds began to white out parts of the sky by around 1:00 pm. I always find this frustrating since you only have a few hours of sunny weather during winter. I guess this proves that you really need to get lucky in order to find that epic shot that no one else will get. I started my day by photographing Mt. Hood from the west and then eventually moving to the east part of the mountain. I started my 8 mile snow-shoe adventure on the east part of Mt. Hood, which included traversing some very steep and tricky terrain. I’ve done this same snow-shoe trip before but this time the snow was particularly deep. There were several additional feet of snow that had drifted into the steep parts that I was climbing. I eventually ended up with cramps in my hamstrings but luckily I had plenty of water with me. Once I got to the top I found that the sun was getting lower and the clouds were moving in. The snow was absolutely epic and the scenery was even better. There is nothing more invigorating than fresh powder that is untouched and no sounds other than the wind and your snow shoes blazing through the snow. This is exactly why snow-shoeing is so awesome. I took this photo at 12:24 pm and that’s mostly why I chose this photo. The sky is still pretty clear and you can see the blue in the background. The sun is just to the left, which creates some really cool shadows from the trees in the left of the frame. I also wanted to show just how much powder was still resting in the trees as well as the untouched powder in the foreground. This day was unusually busy for a Thursday but I still found myself alone for 95% of the day. I didn’t bring my tripod since I didn’t want to carry the extra weight and I also wanted to cover as much terrain as I could without having to set my tripod. I normally use only one lens so I don’t have to take the risk of getting my sensor dirty. I also use a holster, which I attach to the front of my backpack. This way I can quickly take out my camera to take a photo and then quickly put it back in its holster. I find that this is the best and most effective way to take photos when snow-shoeing. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i and my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters and also used them throughout my entire trip. I had the setting at Program mode so the F stop was at F-9 and I had set the ISO to 100. The white balance was at -1.7 and the exposure speed was at 1/160 second.

Crater Lake National Park, OR

[/caption] Crater Lake National Park is one of the best wilderness areas to visit if you are interested in finding clean air and lots of views. With the park sitting just above 6000 feet, you are high enough to see several of the Cascade peaks as well as two states. The snow is usually so deep that it lasts well into July. In fact, when I took this photo it was 6/30/10 and only half of the road was open due to the high snow pack. The air is so clean that it’s like breathing pure oxygen for the first time. The views are absolutely breathtaking and there is no shortage of photo opportunities. Many visitors may find themselves spending only a few hours at the Park but a true landscape photographer could spend several days here. Due to the nature of the lake, the blue color of the lake seems to change its appearance depending on where you are standing along its rim or depending on the time of the day or season. There are miles of hiking and biking trails as well as other wilderness areas just outside the Park. This photo was taken at 3:25 pm and was taken from the south eastern side of the lake. You can see Mt. Scott in the distance. The color of the lake changed as the day progressed. However, I’m not sure if this is due to the time of day or because I had been moving to different parts of the lake throughout the day. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my Tokina 12-24 mm wide angle lens with the camera in Program mode. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter which put the F stop at F-8 due to having the camera in Program mode. I would never have gotten this photo without using my filters. This is a perfect example of why you should always have plenty of filters when shooting landscape photos. I believe I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch when I took this photo. I had the focal length at 17mm and the ISO was at 100. I also set the white balance to -1 due to the intense glare and the reflection of the sun coming off the lake. I would highly recommend visiting Crater Lake National Park to anyone that wants to enjoy a truly spectacular place that is sparsely populated and teaming with outdoor activities.

The Needles at Cannon Beach, OR

[/caption] I decided to upload another one of my photos that I took at Cannon Beach, OR on 10/13/10. This day was one of the best sunset experiences that I’ve witnessed while shooting at the Oregon Coast. The sun was intense and the sand and water were perfect. The Needles seemed to just float in between the horizon and the sand as if they were sails from a ship or from the dorsal fins of a huge shark. Fall is by far the best time to get great photos along the Northern Oregon Coast. You are almost guaranteed sunny and mild weather as well as mostly clear days. The sun also sets between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. This allows you to have plenty of time to pursue some great day shots without having to wait until a 10:00 pm sunset. The sun was so intense that many of my shots that I took with the sun above or next to the rocks are so bright that it’s almost painful to look directly at the photo without having to squint. This photo was taken with the sun directly behind the left rock which gives a nice silhouette. You can really see the sunburst of the suns rays bursting out from the needles in all directions. Another great thing about photographing along Cannon Beach is that you can continue to shoot well after the sun sets. Since the sun was still pretty intense I wasn’t able to use the shutter on my camera. Even with my ND8 and ND4 filters, the sun was just too bright to set the camera in shutter mode. However, I did use my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure that there was no camera shake. I had the camera in Program mode so the shutter speed was at 1/100 second and the F stop was at F-7. I was using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my 18-55mm Canon lens. I had the focal length maxed out at 55mm and had the ISO set at 100 due to the intensity of the glare. I also set the white balance at -1.3 step. The tide was pretty high so I wasn’t able to get as close to the rocks as I normally can when the tide is low. In fact, I had to chase the tide as it receded and then swelled back up the beach. I spent a good part of my evening trying to get as close to the rocks as possible. The one good thing about high tide is that when the water recedes it leaves the sand in amazing shape. The sand almost looks like its moving and gives off a great glare from the rocks and color of the sunset. The tide will also wash away any debris that may ruin an otherwise perfect photo.

Lower Latourell Falls, Oregon

[/caption] I have now posted my second photo that isn’t of the snow in the Cascades. I am really getting tired of all the rain/snow mix that has been falling in the Cascade mountains. I am beginning to think that this winter is going to be as bad as last years winter. I know that they are predicting the colder temperatures and snow to arrive by next Wednesday but I am starting to lose faith in their predicting ability. We Oregonians know that we normally get a cold snap with some early snow that allows the ski resorts to open but then to be sidelined by a quick and nasty warm and rainy event. However, I thought this winter was supposed to be different. How many times do we need to hear about La Nina. In fact, we usually have sunny but much colder weather in December. This month has turned out to be warm and very rainy. This is nothing like they predicted. I will now stop complaining about our winter in the Pacific Northwest and write a little something about this photo that I took along the Columbia River Gorge on 5/18/10. Last spring was one of the better springs that I have ever experienced in the Northwest. On this day, I was able to take several photos of the many waterfalls that string along the old Columbia Highway. I took this photo at about 6:45 pm. I was heading back from the east side of the gorge when I decided to stop at Lower Latourell Falls. I was pretty sure that I would have a great opportunity to get a good shot since the sun was lowering and the shadows were just starting to appear. I was using my Canon Rebel T1I along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. Since the sun was still rather bright I attached my ND 4 as well as my warming filter. I was only able to adjust the shutter speed to about 1.3 seconds due to the brightness of the sky. I set the ISO to 100 and the F stop was at F-14. I had the camera mode on shutter and the white balance at -1.3. The Latourell Falls trailhead is one of the closest waterfalls from Portland and it’s a short drive along the Historic Columbia Highway. The hike is about 2.3 miles and it’s a very easy loop to hike. The lower falls is 249 feet and the upper falls is 100 feet. Upper Latourell Falls is about 1 mile from the parking lot and the trail winds around the falls and brings you back to the road which directs you under a really old 100 foot arch that is part of the historic highway. The trail is paved and its a great hike for kids and for taking photos.

San Juan Island, WA

[/caption] As I patiently wait for the snow to continue to fall in the Oregon Cascades I began to ponder my experience while visiting San Juan Island last summer. I remembered that I had taken a photo that I really liked and forgot to post on my blog. However, I did add it to my website since it is one of my more favorite photos taken just after sunset. The bay was so still that I was able to make it look as though it was made of colored glass and the sky was so amazing that it also looks like an exact replica of the water. All of the colors on this night were absolutely amazing. To get this shot I was using my Canon Rebel T1I and my Canon 18-55mm lens. In order to set the shutter speed to 25 seconds I kept my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter attached since the glare was still pretty intense and I wouldn’t have been able to get the smooth warming effect of the water or sky. I had to take several photos since I was having problems with water spots appearing in the photo. I knew that I needed to have my sensor cleaned but this was the first time it was so evident. A lot of it had to due with the colors in the photo. As you can see, the colors in this photo are pretty dramatic and pretty unusual. You can see Vancouver Island in the distance. I had the camera in Program mode so the F stop was at F-11. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. Since I took this photo at 8:55 pm, which was just as the sun set over the Island, the colors were really exploding over the water and the sky. I had to take several photos while adjusting my settings but I was pretty satisfied with most of the photos. But again, I was very disappointed with how dirty my sensor was. I took this shot at San Juan County Park, on the northwest side of the island. As I stated in my previous article, I would highly recommend visiting this tiny island since it offers everything that a photographer and outdoor adventurer could ever ask for.