The creeks high above the Columbia River Gorge are so swollen that much of the vegetation that grows along the creeks banks haven’t been able to grow their leaves. The many wildflowers that usually come out in May have also been unable to bloom due to the cold weather. It looks like another record event in the Pacific Northwest. It’s still snowing in the Cascades with record snow falls along with the Willamette and Columbia river at record levels. However, this makes for some spectacular waterfalls and raging creeks all over the Northwest. This photo was taken about 3 miles up from the Columbia river as I was standing along the creeks edge. The water is moving so fast that it’s hard to set your shutter priority due to the high volume of water raging over the rocks. The fast moving water tends to create a glare as well as hide the rocks that normally create a barrier for the water to wind around. However, you can look for parts along the creeks that are otherwise non photogenic. I have photographed along this creek for several years and have never seen this type of scene before. I ended up spending over an hour photographing the water carving around these boulders as some small plants started to flourish along a wet rock. Normally these boulders are high and dry but since the water level is so high you can see the nook and crannies flooded with moving water. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as I could without having too many distractions in the frame as well as create a high field of view. In order to create this type of image I stood right along the creeks edge and stood directly over the creek while balancing myself and my tripod above a very slippery rock. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur since the shutter priority was set at 15 seconds. Luckily, the sun was shrouded in a low layer of clouds and it only drizzled for a short period of time. The aperture was at F-22 since I had the ISO set at 100 and the white balance at -1.7. It was about 2:30pm and the sun was positioned directly in front of me.
[/caption] This photo was taken from Washington State off of a narrow part of highway 14 that is called Cape Horn. It’s a great place to take in the views of the Columbia River as well as the gorge and many forested areas in Washington and Oregon. If you’re here at the right time you can witness the sun and clouds shifting around the sky which can really create some spectacular shadows and sun spots down below and in the distance. I took this photo on 5/16/11 and the time was 5:25pm. I made sure to visit before 6:00pm in order to avoid too much shadow from the low sun behind me and in the west. You can see how the sun creates some great personality in the river and gorge below. I took this with my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm. I had the focal length at 17mm so I could get the most out of this panoramic view. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake. I also attached my CIR-PL and warming filter to saturate the sky and enhance the lush colors below. I had the camera in program/normal mode so the aperture was set at F-7.1 and the shutter speed was at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0. There is about 300 feet of area that you can move around to take pictures from this area but I posted this photo since I liked how the two giant trees are in the foreground that create a great scene as well as hide the farm house below. Oregon is on the right and Washington is on the left. There are several waterfalls that you can see on the Oregon side if you have a descent telephoto lens. The river was also about 15 feet above normal and I noticed that several trees that grow along the rivers edge were either drowning or had already drowned. Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams are just off in the distance and if you stay here long enough you can see bald eagles, osprey and hawks gliding along the cliffs.
[/caption] Mt. Tabor may be a few miles from Downtown Portland but if you have a descent telephoto lens you can take some pretty spectacular photos of the city. I would recommend bringing along a tripod in order to avoid any camera shake. However, even with being this far out from the city you still can’t photograph all of Portland’s high to medium rise buildings in just one frame. You would need to stitch 3 photos as well as crop out parts of the sky and foreground. In this photo, you can’t see the South waterfront with its 7 highrise condos or the gigantic cluster of massive hospitals in the west hills. You also don’t see the many medium rise condos in the Pearl district or any of the high rise commercial buildings in the Lloyd district. This truly shows that Portland is a very stretched out city. In this photo you can see the trendy Hawthorne district in the bottom left as well as Washington and Forest Park in the right corner of the photo. The amount of lush green trees and vegetation in the neighborhoods of east Portland can really be seen from Mt. Tabor park. I found that there are 3 really good places to view the city as well as a great place to catch a view of Mt. St. Helens. There are far less hiking and biking trails as Forest Park but the views are stunning and can’t be matched by any park that I’ve visited. I would recommend visiting the park on a weekday if the weather is nice since it is far less crowded. I took this shot while using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens. I arrived at the park around 8:30am but the clouds were much heavier which caused the landscape to look very gray with little personality. By about noon the sun had appeared and the clouds were giving way to some sunny areas around the city. I took this shot at about 1:35pm when the clouds were a bit thinner and the sun was dancing around the landscape below. I watched for the sun to move around the city as well as the trees below so I could find the best lighting. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had the focal length at 79mm an attached my warming filter and CIR-PL. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F6.3 and the shutter speed at 1/160 second. I was wanting to have my ISO at 100 but speed up the shutter speed in order to avoid any blur or camera shake due to the distance of the photo as well as the wind. I was able to set the white balance at -0.3 since the sun was out and it was pretty much at a 90 degree angle without causing any glare or sunspots. I was forced to crop some of the foreground since I didn’t want to show the telephone poles or cables in the photo. In fact, you won’t be able to go any less than 75mm without having to crop too much of the shot or you will have to include a lot of unpleasing distraction in the foreground. I plan on coming back on a sunny or mostly cloudless day. I would also like to take some evening shots when the sun is lower in the sky and some backlight. I would be a little concerned about getting a descent sunset shot due to the distance.
A great way to photograph parts of the city is by riding a bike along the waterfront on both the east and west sides of the river. One of the best starting points is at Sellwood Park which is in SE Portland which offers ample parking and its free. There is a great bike path that takes you right into downtown Portland and it offers several viewing spots along the river. I took this shot near the Hawthorne bridge and I was pleasantly surprised with how good it turned out. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens as well as my CIR-PL and warming filter. The sun was at about 90 degrees in the upper left of the photo, which really helped with the great coloring and rich blue tint in the sky. This photo was taken at about 9:52am and I was facing west. I was fortunate to be here at the best time of the morning along with a little help by a beautiful sunny day. Since I was on my bike I didn’t bring a tripod. I took the time to get off of my bike while photographing most of the time but I believe that I was on my bike when I took this shot. I was wanting to get the most panoramic photo as possible so I could highlight the city as much as I could so I had the focal length at 17mm. I also wanted to create a large field of view without having any parts of the city out of focus. Since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal the aperture was set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 9:52am.
Here is another photo of Portland as seen from the hills in the SW neighborhood. You can see Mt. St. Helens in the background as well as the tip of Mt. Adams to the left of the old Benjamin Franklin building. This is one of the better times to photograph the city since the sun had already set but the sky was bright enough to show the mountains and clouds. The sky is also the perfect cobalt blue that photographers look for as well as the ability to use your shutter priority to enhance the trail effects from cars as well as the lit buildings. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and I still had my CIR-PL and my warming filter attached when I took this shot. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake or blur. I had the focal length opened up at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo that I could. The camera was in shutter priority so the aperture was at F-2.8 and I set the shutter speed to 10 seconds in order to offer the most trail effects from the cars below as well as illuminate the cobalt blue sky and enhance the lights from the city. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +2. The sun had set around 8:16pm and this shot was taken at 9:12pm. I was facing NE and the sun had set almost directly behind me.
[/caption] Beacon Rock State Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for access to the water along the Columbia River or if you are interested in enjoying some grueling hiking trails. Beacon Rock is an 848 foot Basalt Monolith that has 47 switchbacks and several railed catwalk bridges. The views of the summit are stellar but there is limited standing room at its summit. It’s actually a small volcano that erupted over 57,000 years ago with deep Native American history. I took this shot while using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. There are limited spots to get a photo looking directly up at the rock so I stood just above the highway and looked for a spot where the sun wouldn’t overexpose the landscape too much. I wasn’t using a tripod since the sun was very bright and I found myself moving several times looking for the best photo opportunity. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. Because the sun glare was so intense I was able to have the ISO at 100 and reduce the white balance to -1.7. I took this photo at 4:00pm and the sun was pretty much directly overhead and just to the right. The hike to the summit is a fairly simple hike but if you’re afraid of heights you may want to avoid this hike. There are plenty of other scenic hikes available around the park. You will have the opportunity to see bald eagles, hawks and osprey at almost any time of the day.
[/caption] Downtown Portland as seen from the Portland Viaduct bridge that’s located on SW Vista Ave. Trying to find the perfect panoramic view of Portland, without any obscurities, can be very frustrating and pretty much impossible unless you live in one of the many mansions that line the west hills. Unfortunately, there aren’t any parks like Seattle that provides the best views of the city. The tall and lush trees almost always play the biggest role in hiding the best views. Portland is also a very long and spread out city that makes it impossible to get all of the tall building in one photo. You pretty much have to choose which buildings you’re going to leave out. On this particular photo I ended up leaving out the Lloyd Center in order to include the KOIN tower and Wells Fargo building. I also had to crop out 1/4 of the bottom portion of the photo in order to remove the less than photogenic street below. A car lot and telephone poles don’t make for the best scenery. I decided to include this photo since it provides the best shot of the city, which includes the majority of the buildings that can be seen from the east. You can see Mt. Hood in the distance as well as part of the hallowed out Federal building with its crane sticking up. The one thing that I think really destroys a photo and that’s an unfinished building with a huge crane jutting out. I took this photo with my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter since the sun had only just set and the light was still a little overexposed. The sunset was at 8:38pm and I took this shot at 8:55pm and the sun had set directly behind me. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any blur or camera shake. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-3.2 and the shutter speed was at 1/6 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7. I usually visit the bridge during the day and I have never been happy with any of the photos mostly due to the color but if you visit during sunset the light is much better.
[/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] Dry Creek Falls is known to be one of the most seldom visited waterfalls within the Columbia River Gorge scenic area. This is the main reason that I had never took the time to make the 5.5 round trip hike to the waterfall. However, I am very glad that I finally decided to make the hike to this spectacular and very secluded and seldom visited gem. Sometimes you need to decide for yourself before you let someone else decide whether something is worth visiting or not. I was totally amazed at this scenic hike along the PCT, especially with the canopy of neon green trees and vegetation that littered the area. There are plenty of wildflowers along the trail and you also follow along the creek just before ending at the falls. I also happened along a deer that had been grazing just above the hiking trail. Parts of the trail do cut through some power lines but its only for a few hundred yards and once you get far enough on the trail you will no longer hear the busy I-84 traffic. Unfortunately, because the waterfall was used as a diversion dam back in the day, parts of the falls below the water is littered with iron and old concrete along with an old pipe just below the falls which is hard to keep out of your photos. However, I was able to take many photos as well as this one shown that doesn’t show any remnants of the dam. I took this shot while using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I was standing just behind the old dam so I could set the focal length at 28mm and then frame the huge walls surrounding the area. I made sure to attach my ND8, warming filter and CIR-PL so I could have the camera in Shutter Priority. I set the shutter speed at 4 seconds and the aperture was at F-16. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3. Because the falls are in such a secluded area which get only limited light I was able to take this shot at 12:00pm even though the sun was directly behind the falls. It’s hard to imagine that there is probably even a bigger waterfall in the cliffs behind dry creek falls. This is a hike definitely worth making and you will really enjoy the solitude of the area.
[/caption] Portland can be a very challenging city to photograph when you are trying to get a panoramic shot. Unless you are in a plane you pretty much can’t get all of the highrises in one photo. Early morning or during sunset is the best time to take photos of the city. I took this shot from the hills of South East Portland. So far I’ve found that this is the best spot to get a panoramic shot of most of the buildings in the city. You can also see Mt. St. Helens, Rainier, Adams and Mt. Hood in the distance. If the skies are clear and free of any haze or particulates you can place them in the background of your photos. In this particular photo you can see Mt. Rainier in the far distance and parts of Mt. Hood in the far right. Unfortunately, trying to get this type of panoramic shot along with the mountains is very challenging. I should have used my wide angle lens so I could include all of Mt. Hood along with Mt. St. Helens. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0 in order to get the best quality photo without any noise. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake or blur. I set the camera mode to Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-2.8 and the shutter speed at 0.6 seconds. I took this shot at 8:53pm and sunset was at 8:16pm. I attached my warming filter in order to increase the colors of the lights from the building as they were just beginning to show.