[/caption] Jefferson Park is considered one of the best areas to hike in the state of Oregon and I can pretty much attest to that. This is my second trip, in the last two years, to hike into Jefferson Park during the month of September and I have never been to a more magical place than this. Early fall guarantees small crowds, beautiful fall foliage, the chance to see some wildlife and some truly amazing peace and quiet. After arriving at the Park I spent the rest of the day hiking throughout the park boundaries as I photographed everything and anything that I could. I hiked around Russel lake twice and crouched along the vegetation in order to photograph the fall foliage with Mt. Jefferson in the background. There is such an abundance of water, even in late September, that you have ample enough water to cool yourself off. One of the best places to hike, in order to get some amazing panoramic shots of the park, is to hike up the PCT towards Park Butte which is north and overlooks the park. Unless you’re planning on camping, you will find it difficult to hike to the top since it will make it a 15 mile round trip hike and over 2300 feet of elevation gain. I ended up hiking about 1/16th of a mile which put me just high enough to get some awesome photos looking down on the park with Russel lake and Mt. Jefferson. You can hike around the many small alpine ponds and lakes that dot the park and you will be lucky enough to see the numerous bear, elk and deer prints imprinted in the soft mud near the water. I was lucky enough to even spot a very rare and otherwise nonexistent SNOW OWL. I had to do a double take and even questioned what I think I saw but after I got home my wife went online and verified that there have been rare sightings in Oregon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a photo and only got a quick view of it. I took this particular shot while using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as possible as well as get a large field of view so there wouldn’t be any blur. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 due to the glare from the sun and snow on the mountain. I took this photo at 3:48pm and the saturation and brightness of the sun was perfect. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and the sky was saturated perfectly. Fall always offers the best pictures late in the afternoon and this was no exception.
[/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] Another spectacular view of Mt. Rainier can be found at Bench lake which is only a short 1 mile hike. You have the opportunity to visit Snow lake which is an additional 1 mile hike as well as get the opportunity to see some black bears and hike along the Tatoosh mountain range. The hike may be short but it is a very scenic and spectacular place to travel since you get a chance to see the mountain is all its splendor with little to no crowds. However, I would recommend hiking during the off season and during the weekday. I took this photo at about 1:15pm, the sun was well behind me and there were absolutely no clouds. I was fortunate to avoid any sun glare and the brightness was limited since I was standing just in front of a barrage of trees. The trail also ends just as you get to the lake so your limited with your ability to move around the lake. You are pretty much only able to take photos along the beach due to the heavy vegetation. However, the beach is sandy and you cat set up your tripod at the very edge of the water. I had attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter. This helped saturate the sky and bring out the warm tones of the trees and mountain. I actually took this photo with the lens at focal length 21mm but many of the photos were taken with the lens at its most panoramic focal length. However, I liked the color and saturation is this particular shot. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 and since the camera was in Program/Normal mode the aperture was automatically set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/166 second. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. There are several creeks and wildflowers that dominate the entire hike.
[/caption] Some of the most spectacular views while visiting Mt. Rainier National Park is actually not of Mt. Rainier at all. In fact, the views of the Tatoosh Range from the lower elevations of Mt. Rainier offer some of the most spectacular views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and of course the numerous jagged mountains that make up the Tatoosh Range. If you start hiking from the Paradise Inn parking lot you will begin to get a better view of the Tatoosh Range. They resemble what you might think you would find in Colorado or the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. There are also a few trails that take you into the heart of the range that offer great views of Mt. Rainier and to some amazing alpine lakes. I actually hiked upon a black bear foraging for berries while hiking the bench/snow lake trail which travels right in to the heart of the Tatoosh range. This photo was taken at the Alta Vista viewpoint which is at about 7,000 feet on the south side of Mt. Rainier. It was about 10:25am so the sun glare was pretty bright but this particular photo shows just how wide and massive the Tatoosh range is. You can see Mt. Adams in the background and Mt. St. Helens can barely be seen in the far right of the photo. You can also see Mt. Hood in the far distance but if the glare is really bad you have a hard time noticing it. You would need a fish-eye lens in order to get the entire range in the photo. And even then you probably wouldn’t get all of the mountains in the shot. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. I made sure to use my tripod and bubble level since it was somewhat windy. The camera mode was at Program/Normal and since I had the CIR-PL and warming filter attached the aperture was set at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/197 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 since the sun glare was bright and I didn’t have any shade to block the sun.
[/caption] While visiting Mt. Rainier National Park for the second time in about a month, I was pleasantly surprised to see this mother deer and its fawn hiking near the Paradise parking lot. I was absolutely amazed to be able to get this shot with Mt. Rainier directly behind them. The deer were pretty tame since I was able to get several shots as well as ensure that my settings were good as well as ensure that Mt. Rainier was perfectly aligned in the photo. You can also see some of the wildflowers in the foreground. In fact, this was by far one of my best photography days ever! Not only did I get these shots of the deer with Mt. Rainier in the background but I also saw a black bear while hiking on the Bench/Snow lake trail. I actually saw it twice but the first time it scampered off before I could get a shot. I also photographed a vibrant Marmot as well as a Ptarmigan. I also stumbled upon a family of frogs. I saw my second black bear of the day when a bear cub was running across the road as I was driving. The wildflowers are absolutely amazing. In fact, the smells are so intense that you can almost taste them. The lupine are so fragrant that I found myself kneeling down and thrusting my nose in them in order to inhale the scent. If there was a best time to visit the park, now is the time. The crowds are gone and there is a dusting of snow lingering on the otherwise bare parts of the mountain. This makes for spectacular photo opportunities. This photo was taken from the beginning of the Alta Vista Trail. I was actually standing in the Paradise parking lot when I noticed them foraging in the wildflowers. I even managed to set up my tripod and bubble level since they didn’t seem to mind a few of us hikers gawking at them. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had my CIR-PL and warming filter attached. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3. The aperture was automatically set at F-5.6 and 1/128 second since the camera mode was in Program/Normal mode. I had the focal length at 46mm in order to frame Mt. Rainier in the background while ensuring a large field of view so the entire photo would be in focus. It was about 8:50am when I took this photo so the lighting was awesome and the sun was directly behind me. If you like mountain peaks, waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, creeks, alpine lakes, glaciers, forests, historical buildings or streams then this is the place for you.
[/caption] The views along the Jefferson trail, which ultimately leads you to Jefferson Park and Russel Lake is one of the most scenic and beautiful areas found in the Oregon Cascades. Once you reach the alpine valley in Jefferson Park you will be met with dozens of small alpine ponds as well as some fantastic flowering vegetation that can only be found in the alpine wilderness of the Cascades. Because Mt. Jefferson is so remote, you will need to drive on a road that is less traveled and either gravel or dirt, so be prepared to get your car a little dirty. I took this photo while standing near one of the alpine ponds and Mt. Jefferson can be seen behind it. I wanted to get a shot with the trees in the photo along with the snow capped mountain and the pond. You can really see just how pristine and picturesque the setting is in Jefferson Park. Depending on the time of year you visit, you will be able to see dozens of alpine flowers dotting the park. Since I wanted to get the most panoramic photo as possible I used my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to reduce the sun glare and warm the natural tones. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle on the right but the glare was still pretty intense. I spent most of my time trying to find the best spots that weren’t overexposed due to the intense glare from the sun. I had the camera mode in Normal/Program so the aperture was at F-6.3 and the shutter speed at 1/99 second since I did have the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake or blur.
[/caption] Last winter brought so much snow that the majority of Crater Lake was still covered in snow by mid June. Luckily, I brought my snow-shoes and had a great time shoeing around the south and west parts of the National Park. I entered through the south entrance and noticed that there was still 15 feet of snow on both sides of the road within the Park. I was stunned to see that most of the buildings were still almost completely buried in the snow. The heavy snow made my trip much slower than I had expected but the photo opportunities were epic. I took this photo from near the rim at Garfield Peak Trail. I decided to hike closer to the rim so I could get this particular shot with the pumice in the foreground and the trees below. Since I had my tripod with me it was more time consuming to get some of these types of shots since snow-shoeing so close to the edge of the rim was a little scary. However, it was well worth it since I got some pretty awesome shots and many of them would have turned out showing camera shake since the saturation was so intense. I took this shot with my Sigma 17-70mm lens with the focal length at 21mm and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. Because I had the camera in Normal/Program mode the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/166 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 due to the brightness from the glare of the snow and the sky. I also took this shot at 12:15pm so the sun was very high in the sky which created a lot of challenges since I was constantly looking for shade to block the sun. I was using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure there wouldn’t be any camera shake or blur.
[/caption] Mt. Tabor offers some of the best views of Downtown Portland along with the West Hills and East Portland. However, since you’re so far away from the city you are advised to bring a pair of binoculars if you want to get any close ups of the city. It’s almost impossible to get the entire city in a single frame using a wide angle lens since 80% of the photo will end up showing mostly sky and foreground due to the distance and the fact that Portland spans a long distance from North to South. I spent two days last Spring hiking Mt. Tabor in order to get some shots of the city but I was frustrated with the lighting since it was either too overcast or the lighting was just plain bad. I hope to come back during the peak Fall season since the majority of the vegetation seen in this photo show that the colors of the leaves changing should be spectacular. I took this photo on 5/24/11 at about 1:35pm and unfortunately the morning was completely clouded over and the evening glare was too much. The sun glare made it hard to get a good focus on the buildings so I ended up discarding the majority of my photos. The distance also made it difficult since that will always play a role in the quality of the image. I was using my Canon 55-250mm lens and had the focal length at 163mm. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to try and reduce the overexposure due to the sun and warm the tones of the buildings and vegetation. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7. Since the camera was in program/normal mode the aperture was at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/256 seconds. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake. I also ended up using the sharpening tool in Photoshop while trying to sharpen the image of the buildings.
[/caption] If you didn’t know that this beach was located in Oregon you would think that this photo was taken somewhere else in the world. Samuel H. Boardman State Park has dozens of opportunities to photograph some of the most scenic and isolated places available along the west coast of the United States. This particular beach barely gets 100 visitors a year and that’s mostly due to the fact that no one really knows that it exists as well as the fact that the populations along the coast is very small. I was so impressed with this beach that I wanted to see if I could get a photo of the water moving while setting the shutter priority in order to get the movement. However, it was 11:20am and the sun was very high overhead since this photo was taken on 6/23/11. Luckily, I was able to find some shade just below the massive rocks to the left and I was able to keep the sun at a 90 degree angle. I made sure to attach my ND4 as well as my CIR-PL and warming filter so I could cut down the amount of sun entering through the lens. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length to 17mm in order to maximize the field of view and get the most panoramic photo that I could. I was only able to set the shutter speed to 2 seconds due to the brightness of the sun but I was happy with the movement of the water as the wave receded from the beach. I set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -0.2 so I could keep the exposure to a minimum. The aperture was automatically set at F-22 due to the filters that I was using as well as the ISO and white balance setting.
[/caption] Crown Point or best known as The Vista House is one of the best spots along the Columbia River Gorge to take some terrific sunset or sunrise photos. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you really need to have the perfect cloud cover, which will allow you to take advantage of the color and personality that they will bring. Fall and late Spring are also the best times to photograph from this spot since you can take advantage of the many trees far below. I have very rarely found myself keeping any pictures that I take between November and April since the lighting is somewhat drab and the foliage is limited. Crown Point also allows you to get a 180 degree view of the river below and watch for the clouds to crowd along the gorge on the Washington side. This photo was taken on 5/3/11 at about 6:25pm and the sun was beginning to set just as the clouds were coming in from the west. As you can see, the water level was very high and the foliage was just about to pop. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and you can see how the upper left corner is overexposed, which helped bring out the personality of the clouds due to the glare from the water below. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the CIR-PL and warming filter attached in order to saturate the sky and warm the foliage below. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since the light was pretty low and I didn’t want any camera shake. I wanted to get the most panoramic photo as possible and ensure that the field of view was large so I set the focal length at 17mm. I just made sure to stand at a place where I didn’t have any unwanted tree limbs in the corners of the photo. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 since the glare was very high and I was worried about too much overexposure.