Oregon Cascades

[/caption] There is a very short and scenic snow-shoe trail that will take you to one of the most scenic and beautiful spots to view Mt. Hood. The trail is right off Hwy 26 and within an earshot from the chairlifts of Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. You can see the condos and lodges in Government Camp as well as hear the groomers plowing along the groomed runs of the ski resort. The Summit trail starts near the ski bowls west parking lot and ends at the Mazama sno-park. However, the lakes are right between the two chairlifts at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. As long as there is enough snow covering the two small lakes you can gingerly snow-shoe along their banks or even navigate your way through them. The day I visited it had snowed over 2 feet of cold champagne powder the night before and I was the first to visit since the snow had fallen. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the conditions were epic. However, the high winds were whipping the snow from the trees which made it seem as though it was snowing at times. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tamron 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 24mm in order to add as much of the mountain to this shot as possible. I also wanted to get the small branch in the foreground as well as frame the mountain with trees on both sides. The lake is in the foreground and you can almost make out the creek carving its way through the snow. I wanted to increase the field of view as much as possible so I kept the ISO at 100 and the white balance to -0.3. I took this shot on 2/25/11 and it was about 11:30am so the sun was somewhat bright but still low enough to create shadows from the tall trees. The camera mode was at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-10 and the Exposure Time was 1/200 second. I was using my warming filter and CIR-PL to highlight the mountain but calm the intensity of the sun drenched blue sky. The warming filter also helped eliminate too much glare from the snow. I highly recommend using both of these filters whenever photographing in snow during a sunny day.

Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] A snow storm that had brought 6 inches along the Mt. Hood Wilderness the night before gave way to sunny skies the morning I took this photo. This makes for an epic day since the sun creates a fantastic contrast, flocked trees create a great personality and the blue skies allow the mountain to really stand out. I normally stop hear whenever I am heading out on a snow-shoe trip during winter or a hike in the summer. This photo shows just how well your photos can turn out if you have all of these ingredients. The sun was still fairly low so parts of the trees are shrouded in the shadows. This also creates more personality in your field of view. I also made sure to crop out some of the sky high above as well as parts of the trees in the foreground. I wanted to showcase more of the snowy mountain in a panoramic view. I took this photo on 2/9/11 at about 10:23am and I had stopped along Hwy 26 to take this shot. I wasn’t using my tripod or my remote switch since the lighting was pretty good and I wasn’t worried about any blur or camera shake. However, I did make sure that the IS was on. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens. I also attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL in order to take advantage of the blue sky and bring out the colors of the flocked trees. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-8 and the shutter at 1/250 second. Due to the brightness of the sky, snow and sunlight I did set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -0.7. I also set the focal length to 60mm since I wanted to avoid photographing the Hwy below as well as eliminating some of the sky. Therefore, I was able to include the entire mountain without having too many distractions in the frame. I’ve taken hundreds of photos from this same spot which includes many different types of panoramic to close up shots of the mountain but this allowed me to showcase the entire volcano.

Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] The White River snow-shoe trail takes you directly to the edge of Mt. Hoods south eastern glacier that allows you to walk along 500 foot drop offs from both sides. It’s one of the best trails along Mt. Hood to snow-shoe if your looking for some of the most difficult and scenic areas within the Mt. Hood Wilderness. The White River trail is about 3 miles long and this photo was taken at the very end of the designated snow-shoe trail. However, you don’t have to stop at this spot since snow-shoes are like unstoppable off road vehicles that can go almost anywhere you take them. The snow-park itself is located just off of Hwy 35 and about 10 miles from Government Camp. The trail is pretty easy at first as you follow along the White River while Mt. Hood looms in the short distance straight ahead. You eventually start to climb in elevation as you walk past ancient old trees and the views start to increase. You have several options once you get to the end of the trail. You can hook up to the Timberline Trail that will take you up and over the tongue of the mountain which you can see in the lower and left part of this photo. This trip is epic and I highly recommend it if your up for the challenge. You need ample amounts of snow since you have to cross the river as well as climb up some really steep terrain in order to get to the other side. If there is enough snow, its pretty easy. Just make sure and watch your step since it will really hurt if you fall off the edge. The ascent is very strenuous so bring plenty of water and snacks. The wind can also be very strong, which can limit your ability to see as well as some pain so I recommend you wear eye protection and face mask. You really need to be careful since at this part, as you can see in the photo, the drop offs are very steep and you would surely need medical help if you were to fall. Doing this in high winds was a little spooky but it was also very exciting. If you are afraid of heights or have vertigo, I would maybe skip the Timberline Trail. However, once you get to the top, its truly magical. Unfortunately, the trail does end since there is a 500 foot drop off at the end of the trail so it truly is the end of the trail. If you look at this photo and follow the snow line of the cinder cone you can almost see exactly where the trail ends. I took this shot back in 1/9/09 when I was still using my Panasonic DMC-FZ30 420mm point and shoot. I was using my 81b warming filter as well as my CIR-PL. I was also using a tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had the camera set on Landscape Mode/Normal so the aperture was automatically set at F-4 and the shutter speed was at 1/50 second. I set the ISO to 80 and the white balance to 0 since the snow glare was pretty intense. I have probably hiked this trail 2 dozen times and I’ve always been impressed with the view as well as the many other trails available if your up for more. I highly recommend this part of the Mt. Hood Wilderness.

Crater Lake National Park, OR

[/caption] Wizard Island looks as though it’s floating above the teal blue lake known as Crater Lake National Park. I’ve added several photos of Crater Lake to my blog but I what I really liked about this photo is that 80% of this shot has the lake in it and it really shows just how magical and beautiful the lake truly is. I wanted to keep any vegetation out of the foreground so I could keep the field of view limited to lake in the foreground. It’s hard to believe that the sky is actually less blue than the lake. I visited Crater Lake on 6/30/10 and wrote an extensive article about the National Park on 7/6/10. In this photo you can see Wizard Island, Llao Rock which stands at 8,049 feet and 9,182 foot Mt. Thielsen. I took this photo while visiting the south eastern part of the Park and was hiking towards 8,054 foot Garfield Peak. It was about 4:15pm and the sun was just to my left. The sun was still pretty high since it was late June. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch since I was hiking at such a fast pace. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL since the lake and sky were so blue and the warming filter helped bring out the contrasts in the cliffs along the volcano. I had the camera setting at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.6 and the exposure speed at 1/60 second. I also set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 since the glare from the sun as well as from the lake was pretty intense. In order to maximize the field of view I made sure to focus on Llao Rock in order to avoid any blur due to the huge field of view in this photo.

Seattle, WA

[/caption] I normally don’t change many of my photos to black & white due to the fact that I like to show the colors that engulf the Pacific Northwest. I also find myself spending so much time on my color shots that I forget to chance any to Black & White. This is kind of strange though since I have an entire Gallery on my website dedicated to Black & White shots. However, I decided to go through some of my Seattle photos that I took last summer to see how they would turn out and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. This shot was taken from West Seattle with Elliot Bay and Seattle in the background. Downtown Seattle is about a mile from where I took the photo. You can see that the Space Needle isn’t in this photo. The Space Needle is located on the left but unfortunately the city skyline is so long that I wasn’t able to get the Space Needle as well as the Port of Seattle and Quest field in the photo. If you were to use a wide angle lens you would be able to get the entire skyline but the skyline would be too far away and the buildings would look like tiny ants running across the photo. In fact, the Space Needle is so much farther north from the city skyline that I decided that I didn’t want to lose any of the main sky scrapers as seen on the right of the photo. I also like that you can see the bright lights emitting from the stadium and also coming from the port with the ships docked at the waters edge. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Canon 18-24mm lens and I had the focal length at 29mm. It was 9:37pm at night so the sun had already set just behind me. I was wanting to get as much glare from the lights in the city as possible as well as blurring the water so I set the shutter to 20 seconds. I had to attach my ND4 and my warming filter to ensure that there wasn’t too much over exposure. I also set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -1. The camera setting was at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was automatically set at F-9. I normally always use shutter priority whenever I set the shutter speed but on this particular shot it came out better while the setting was in Program/Normal mode. This is mostly due to the wide field of view. One great thing about black & white photography when shooting a city skyline is that you can see the hue surrounding the upper parts of the overexposed parts of the photo.

Columbia River Gorge, OR

[/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.

Sunset on San Juan Island, WA

[/caption] The sun had just set when I noticed that the lights shinning from the homes in the far right were glowing in the darkening sky. I decided that this would be a good photo opportunity and I wanted to try and get some light glare from the small cluster of porch lights. You can just make out the cluster of homes dotting the edge of the bay. I was wanting to open my shutter as long as possible in order to get a frothy look from the slow moving tide entering the bay but the light was still too bright and the clouds were moving at a pretty good speed. I ended up setting the shutter to 16 seconds and lowered the ISO setting to 100 as well as the white balance to -1. Since the camera was in Shutter priority the aperture was automatically set at F-8, which allowed just the right amount of light. I was using my Canon EOS T1i as well as my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I was also using my warming and CIR-PL filter. I set the focal length to 21mm so I could show as much of the mountains way out on Vancouver Island as I could. The fast moving clouds were also posing a bit of a problem since I had set the shutter speed to 16 seconds and they were moving rather fast. I was using a tripod, bubble level and remote switch so there was no camera shake but the clouds did cause some blurring effect in the upper right of the photo. I would probably just print an 8×24 or 10×36 panoramic print and have parts of the clouds cropped out. I think this is now my fourth sunset shot I’ve posted on my blog that was taken from this particular weekend, when I was visiting the San Juan Islands, but I have yet to experience such a beautiful and magical place to get these types of photos.

Iris Flower


I was amazed to find out how many different colors of Iris flowers were mixed to create some of the most beautiful hybrid Iris flowers that I have ever seen. I took this shot on 5/30/10 and posted a very detailed article on 6/2/10 about my trip to the Iris flower garden that’s located just north of Keizer, OR if anyone is interested. With all of the amazing colors of these flowers it allows a photographer hundreds of opportunities to capture the true personality that these flowers project. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Sigma 50mm Prime/Macro lens. The only filter that I was using was my UV and my Hoya 81B filter. You never want to use a CIR-PL when taking macro shots since it will create too much shadow and the shot will come out blurry. I was about 1 inch from the flower and I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch. I don’t like using a tripod when taking most of my macro photos since it takes forever to set up and it’s not nearly as fun as getting right up close to your subject. As long as you have your settings correct and you allow enough light to avoid any blur you can master some pretty awesome shots. To ensure this I had set the camera to Program/Normal mode and made sure that the IS was on. The aperture was at F5.6, the ISO was at 200 and the white balance was at -0.7. Since the light was perfect the shutter speed came out at 1/256 second. I took the photo at about 12:05pm and I had the sun near my back so there was little to no shade to darken and blur the subject. Since I was using a prime lens I needed to concentrate and focus on one particular subject so I decided to focus in on the very bottom part of the orange tongue of the flower and the part of the dark purple that was just beneath the orange. This allowed me to focus on two separate parts of the flower without blurring the majority of the flower. I find that this is the best way to take full advantage of a Prime/Macro lens, especially when standing just cm or inches from your subject. I took well over 750 photos this day and I never seemed to run out of ways to shoot. A tripod would have really slowed me down and bored me as well. As long as you have a steady hand and can find the correct setting as well as lighting, a macro lens can really create a fun experience when photographing close subjects.

Portland, OR

[/caption] This is one of my favorite and better photos of Downtown Portland. It looks really good as a printed 8×24 panoramic printed photo since you will have to crop out a majority of the water and some of the sky in order to print at this size. Portland is a very difficult city to photograph when trying to get all of the buildings and bridges in the frame. This is especially true if you want to have the Willamette river in the foreground. You most definitely need a wide angle lens if you plan on getting the majority of the city scape in the photo. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and had the focal length at 12mm. Luckily it was 10:30pm at night when I took this shot so I was able to remove my warming and CIR-PL filter which creates shadows on each of the corners of the frame. Therefore I was able to maximize the frame potential of the scene. I took this photo on 7/27/10 so the sky was void of any clouds and the air was a bit stale since the temperature in the afternoon hovered around 90 degrees. I was wanting to capture the glare and colors of the lights illuminating the night sky as well as the glare of the lights on the water so I set the camera in shutter priority and set it at 16 seconds. Again, since it was 10:30pm I increased the ISO to 400 and kept the white balance at 0. Since I wasn’t using the manual setting the aperture was at F-13. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch.

Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] After two days of champagne like snow that fell in the Oregon Cascades near Mt. Hood, the clouds gave way and there was an abundant of sun to go around on Wednesday. After several weeks of dismal weather that brought very little snow, we had experienced a truly epic day in the Cascades. There is a great snow-shoe/x-country ski trail that is just 65 miles east of Portland. It’s a quick and easy drive from the city. The Enid lake loop is a very pleasant and easy 2.7 mile loop. You can also continue on the Crosstown trail if your eager to go further since there are miles of trails that zigzag throughout the wilderness. Unfortunately, you will have little luck finding a vantage point to get a clear view of Mt. Hood. Enid lake is one of the only places that opens to a view of the mountain. You can also blaze your own trail if your looking for some fresh powder void of any markings. The morning started out sunny and crisp but unfortunately the afternoon gave way to much warmer temperatures. I guess all things must come to an end. As the day went on the temperatures started to melt the snow from the trees which made it seem as though the forest was being inundated with rain drops the size of pennies. I took this particular shot around 11:00am, just as the sun was peeking through the tallest trees. Frozen Enid lake is in the foreground with Mt. Hood looming in the background. I spent most of my trip photographing the trees that had been blanketed by the snow. This particular photo was taken without a tripod since I decided that I wouldn’t need it. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 18mm and since the camera was set in Program/Normal mode the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter at 1/125 second. Due to the sun gaining in intensity I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I was also using my warming filter and my CIR-PL due to the blue skies blanketing the backdrop. I saw several rabbit tracks in the snow as well as a small creek that followed many parts of the trail. I’ve hiked and mt. biked some of these trails during summer and they are simply awesome. You can’t beat a short drive from Portland to revel in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cascades.