Smith Rock State Park, OR

[/caption] One of the most photographed spots along the Smith Rock hiking trails is near the start of the trail that leads to the footbridge that takes you over the Crooked river. Looking west you can see the Cascade mountains as well as the most recognizable rock formations in Central Oregon. I have never posted this particular photo scene since I believe that there are just too many photos from this vantage point but I decided to finally post this photo since it really looks pretty cool. You can see Black Butte in the distance with just a little bit of snow on its summit. If you want to enjoy one of the best hiking trails in Central Oregon I would recommend visiting Smith Rock State Park. I’ve enjoyed hiking during the winter just as much as summer and you don’t have to worry about the heat or the summer crowds. It’s also one of the best areas for photographers with over 8 miles of scenic trails and every inch of the trails offering a photo opportunity. There is absolutely not a single spot in the park that doesn’t offer a great photo. I would highly recommend packing a wide angle and a telephoto lens as well as a CIR-PL and warming filter. I pretty much use my 17-70mm lens. I would also pack a tripod to ensure that you don’t end up with any blurry photos. However, you will be doing so much hiking that you will likely only use your tripod when needed since it would take you several days to hike the entire park while setting up your tripod for every photo opportunity.

Cannon Beach, OR

[/caption] Cannon Beach is a great place to visit if you’re interested in visiting spotless beaches with a beautiful sandy coastline. On warm sunny days you can get some great views of the rocks, coastline and mountains. In fact, September and October can be the best time to experience the most beautiful weather along the Northern Oregon coast. You will also be surprised to find out that the beaches are pretty much void of the vacationers. This can be really helpful if you’re wanting to get some great photos of the beaches without having too many people in them. This photo was actually taken in October and the temperature was near 80 degrees. There were hardly any crowds and I was able to walk out in the waves and get some great shots of the water and sand. You will want to make sure that you bring a wet rag that you can use to wipe of your camera, lenses, tripod and anything else that may get salt spray on them. With beautiful weather like this you will want to be sure and stay for a great sunset.

Moon over the Washington Cascade mountains

[/caption] There is a great viewpoint to witness Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and parts of Mt. Rainier. The viewpoint is just northwest of Mt. St. Helens and about 2 miles from near the Volcanic Monument area. However, during winter I would plan on running in to some snowy and possible icy conditions since the snow pack can get pretty high and the road conditions can be pretty dicey. If you go early enough during winter you may luck out but the snow pack in the mountains won’t be as good. I was fortunate to get this shot of the moon high above the mountains but unfortunately, the snow in the Cascades was late getting to the region. The area offers some great hiking and snow-shoeing all along the Volcanic Monument area. You are also guaranteed to see some herds of elk as well as bald eagle. You will have the opportunity to look right into the mouth of Mt. St. Helens and even the entire blast zone.

Mt. Hood winter, OR

[/caption] The easiest and shortest drive to get an amazing view of Mt. Hood is the Crosstown snow park trail. The snow park is before you even get to the west Mt. Hood ski Bowl parking lot off of Hwy 26 and the trek to Enid Lake is only about 1/4 mile from the parking lot. The only drawback from this snow park is that Enid Lake is one of the only viewpoints that you can get of Mt. Hood. Unfortunately, the rest of the snow park is buried in towering trees and you won’t have much luck getting a view of the summit unless you hike your way towards the summit. There aren’t any designated viewpoints and I’ve spent several hours trying to find a viewpoint without any luck. However, you can find them but you just have to be adventurous and make sure you have a compass so you don’t get lost. And trust me, you will probably get lost during some part of you trek. I took this photo of Mt. Hood while standing on the other side of Enid Lake. The lake was completely frozen and covered by 5 feet of snow. Even though you’re only a short distance from the Hwy and Government Camp it’s surprisingly quiet and peaceful. You probably won’t hear any traffic noise and you will be amazed by the towering trees. The Crosstown Trail is actually best for trekking through the massive forest that towers over the area. There are also several small creeks and streams with snow bridges that allow you to cross. It’s better snow-shoeing terrain than x-country skiing due to the fact that it can get pretty steep and you will be trekking around huge trees as you venture the area.

Winter snow, 2011

[/caption] Winter is officially here and he Pacific Northwest is experiencing some of the heaviest snow fall in the Cascade mountains. That also means lots of rain in the valley’s of Puget Sound and the Willamette Valley. So, dust off your x-country skis and snow-shoes and plan on getting out there and experiencing some of the best days of your life. What’s better than burning some serious calories, getting an awesome leg burn, enjoying some peace and serenity and witnessing some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. This photo was taken just east of Mt. Hood after a recent snow storm. I was on a snow shoe adventure and noticed that all of the trees were flocked like Christmas trees. A great post card setting for sure.

Seattle, Washington

[/caption] Last summer I spent three days photographing Seattle from the most popular spots around the city. On my last day I decided to try and find a viewing spot that wasn’t as popular among photographers but provided a great view of the city. After driving all throughout the north and north eastern parts of the city I decided to look for some neighborhood parks that might offer some descent views. After scanning a map of the city I ended up driving through parts of north eastern Seattle. I first drove through Old Ballard and then ended up in Loyal Heights where I found a small park that had a great but somewhat obscured view of downtown. I’m not totally sure of the park but I’m pretty sure it was either Loyal Heights playfield or Salmon Bay Park. You can see the hills of Queen Anne in the left part of the photo with the Space Needle rising up. I wasn’t happy with the light but I didn’t have any other opportunity to return so I took a bunch of photos hoping that some would come out. It was during the middle of the day, on a overcast July afternoon, and I had to try and saturate the sky since the clouds were pretty thick.

Downtown Portland, OR

[/caption] Portland is a very challenging city to photograph, due to the high vegetation and hills that engulf the city. However, one of the best places to get a good view is from the SW Vista Ave. bridge. The only downside, however, is that you will have to look at the view below that includes the many power lines and the tall trees that obscure the view. It’s also too bad that the bridge wasn’t another 100 feet higher in order to get a better view of the city. Mt. Hood is also partially hidden behind some of the high rises but if you move around you can get the mountain in plain view but then you won’t be a able to take a photo with the majority of the buildings in the photo. I wanted to include a photo with all of the buildings so I took this panoramic shot with the KOIN tower and the Ben Franklin. However, I had to crop out the unnecessary power lines and street below as well as some of the sky above. I have never been satisfied with any of my photos from the bridge but I always return hoping that I can someday get a good shot. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens but set the focal length at 25mm since anything wider would have included too much vegetation.

Olympic mountains in Washington State

[/caption] One of the best places to get a panoramic view of the Olympic mountains is while you’re visiting the San Juan Islands, WA. It seems like you’re a long distance from the mainland of Washington state but you have the opportunity to get an unbelievable panoramic view of the entire area. You are also able to see Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker in the east and south. The Olympic mountains are about 30 miles from the island but at least you have the ability to see the entire length of the mountain chain as well as view the water. This photo was taken near Eagle Cove, which is near the southern tip of San Juan island. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had my 55-250mm telephoto but decided to use my 17-70mm and set the focal length at 70mm so I would be able to get a better quality photo. If you do visit the islands, plan on bringing your entire arsenal of lenses since there are so many photographic opportunities available.

Mt. Jefferson, OR

[/caption] This is a view near the summit region of Mt. Jefferson when hiking up the Jefferson Park trail. You are actually looking due south but you’re northwest of the mountain so the mountain seems much narrower than when viewed from the Park area. This is because the mountain is much larger and longer when viewed from north or south but you need to be standing directly north while in the Jefferson Park area. I think that’s one of the most unique things about the Cascade mountain volcanoes. Each mountain looks completely different when viewed from different geographical areas. This is especially true since most of the volcanoes are surrounded by much smaller lava buttes or lava domes that were created by the volcano. Each mountain has its own diverse wilderness with forests, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, rock outcroppings, canyons and most importantly it’s own weather pattern due to their enormous size. The climate and vegetation on the east part of the mountains are much different than the west and even the type of snow is different.

Lost Lake and Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] Lost Lake is one of the best places to get a great shot of Mt. Hood in the background of a beautiful and quiet lake. Motorized boats aren’t allowed in the lake and you have to really want to visit the lake since it’s a 110 mile drive from Portland. This means that you’re more likely to experience a smaller crowd during the off season or on a weekday. Your best photographic opportunity is when the lake offers a glare of Mt. Hood and the trees. Late afternoon and early evening are the best chances of getting this type of photo since you are more likely to have high clouds and some sun glare during the morning or early afternoon. The winds are also more calm later in the day, which will allow the lake to be more calm and provide a perfect canvass for the glare. I actually took this photo about two years ago during the month of October but I finally got around to going through the raw photos again in order to reduce the saturated color of the photos that I made in photo-shop. There is an awesome 3 mile hike that travels around the lake as well as a trail that takes you to a viewing area at about 3500 feet and takes you through an ancient forest. Plan on spending the entire day or even camp at the spotless private campground and maybe even bring a canoe, kayak, paddle board, wind surfing board or anything else that doesn’t require a motor. You may even spot a hawk, osprey or bald eagle diving for their meal or see deer or black bear foraging in the forest.