Portland view on the waterfront, OR

[/caption] Fall weather can be hit or miss when trying to photograph the changing of the vegetation along the riverfront near downtown Portland. Either the vegetation hasn’t started to peak yet or the trees are just starting to change. The weather is the culprit when missing the best opportunities since I normally find myself standing in a rain storm as the trees reach their peak color. This photo shows a storm moving in from the west and the vegetation is just about to peak. Unfortunately, the rain stayed for several days and the trees peaked and then started losing their leaves before the skies cleared. This is a classic scenario that repeats itself almost every year. However, this particular day wasn’t at a total loss since the clouds were pretty cool and I was able to saturate the city and the trees as well as separate the clouds from each other in order to create a really cool contrast in the sky. Since I was riding my mt. bike, I didn’t have a tripod to steady any of my shots but the sky was pretty well lit and I just made sure to keep a steady hand. However, it was pretty difficult since it was really cold and I made the mistake of wearing short. My day was also cut short since my saddle was coming lose and I forgot to bring my wrench to tighten it. I was using my Canon T1i and my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I set the focal length at 42mm and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 and the camera mode in Program/Normal. This made the aperture set at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. The photo was taken at about 11:30mm so the sun was at about a 90 degree angle with little light due to the cloudy skies. However, the clouds did create a very bright light and overexposed setting.

Frozen trees on Mt. Tumalo, OR

[/caption] Mt. Tumalo is a great place to snow-shoe or hike since it offers a great view from the summit. The trail can get very dusty during the summer months and the mountains are much less spectacular since the high sun and lack of snow on the mountains can make your photo opportunities limited. However, it’s still a great hike and the views are breathtaking. The winter months can offer something much more beautiful and rewarding with the entire area covered in the white stuff for as far as you can see. However, it’s best to pick a day that the weatherman says will be sunny with lots of blue skies since an overcast sky can eliminate the view. Another great thing about winter is that you can make any trail for yourself as you snow-shoe towards the summit. There are no designated hiking trails when your on snow-shoes or x-country skis. You just pick a line and go for it. This particular photo was taken while I was snow-shoeing towards the summit during a blizzard. The temperature were so cold and the wind was so bad that the trees near the summit were completely frozen and crystallized. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a view from the summit and the wind made it difficult to take any photos. I was forced to find cover around the trees in order to take some shots of the frozen vegetation. On a sunny day you can see the entire Oregon Cascades from Mt. Bachelor in the south and Mt. Hood in the north. This photo was taken without a tripod and I set the ISO at 80 since the glare from the snow made the aperture at F-4.

Snow flocked trees in the Oregon Cascades, OR

[/caption] After a big snow storm hits the Pacific Northwest you can sometimes get lucky and have a few days of sunny skies which offers some great photo opportunities. There is no better way to get Christmas card ideas than to head out to the Cascade mountains and snowshoe around some of the snow parks. The trees are plentiful and almost beg you to take their picture. The only thing to do is take a bag of lights and create your own private Christmas tree in the National Forest. This photo was taken in the Mt. Hood National Forest after a big snow storm the day before. The weather changed to sunny blue skies with high wispy clouds. I wasn’t using a tripod since the light was pretty bright and I decided that it would be too much work to carry my tripod since I relied on my poles to keep me from getting stuck in the 5 feet of fresh powder. sometimes I just make the necessary adjustment but when I’m on a roll and only stop for a few seconds at a time, I like to just rely on my IS and make sure to review the histogram and keep a steady hand. Too get this photo I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.3 since I was looking almost directly into the sun. It was about 12:05pm and the glare was pretty intense due to the sun and snow covered platform. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the camera mode at Program/Normal. The aperture was at F-9 and the shutter speed was at 1/166 second. I was using my Canon 18-55mm kit lens and set the focal length at 32mm.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

[/caption] The White River snow park offers one of the best areas to snow-shoe around the Mt. Hood wilderness. It’s located on the east side of Mt. Hood and the parking area is just off of Hwy 35. There are enough parking spaces to fit 10 football fields and there are enough snow-shoe and x-country areas to keep you busy for the entire winter season. the White river cuts between the West and East areas of the park and it offers some great views of a frigid river cutting through the snow packed river banks. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you want to. It offers some terrain for the most hardy winter explore or the most novice. There are over 10 different trails and they are completely different from one another. Some of my best winter photographs have been taken from this area and I will continue to visit since it offers some of the best photographic opportunities. However, the best time to visit is during winter since most of the trails are only available when the terrain is covered in 20 feet of snow. I took this photo on October 27th at about 12:50pm and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle. Unfortunately, the sun can pose some real challenges since the park is on the east side of the mountain and the sun is always on your left with the mountain just to the north of the sun and your photos. This is especially true since the sun only gets so high and sometimes there are little to no shadows near the mountain. I was using my Canon T1i and my Canon 18-55mm kit lens when I took this photo and I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had attached my CIR-PL and warming filter to saturate the blue sky and warm the scene. The aperture was at F-11 and the shutter speed at 1/197 seconds since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7.

Gnarl Ridge and Newton Creek from Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] Gnarl Ridge is located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Hood and it’s a great day hike as long as you start early enough and plan on hiking during the summer months since the snow can stay well past Spring. Drive south on 35 from Hwy 26 and park at the trail head that’s just before you get to the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic parking lot. The hike is about 10.2 miles round trip but if you’re willing to trudge up Elliot Glacier you can continue until your leg give out or the terrain gets too difficult. I stopped at about 7,500 feet when my legs started burning and the terrain was getting pretty difficult. The photo was taken from the viewpoint at 6,500 feet and it provides an awesome view of Mt. Hood and of the surrounding area. You can hear the snow and ice cracking as the birth of Newton Creek juts through the glacier and rumbles through the rocks. You will also have a chance to see numerous rock slides down the massive Gnarl Ridge area as they hurl down towards Newton Creek. There are several species of alpine vegetation and you’re guaranteed to see several hawks and an occasional bald eagle soaring high above. You may want to bring a wind jacket since the wind can really howl. I took this photo with my Canon T1i and my Tamron 12-24mm wide angle lens. I set the focal length at 14mm and had the aperture at F-8 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2. The photo was taken on July 18th and it was about 5:15pm so the sun was still pretty high but at least I was able to keep the sun at about a 90 degree angle. You can see Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters in the distance. You can also get a great view of Mt. Adams but in the other direction. This photo gives somewhat of a 3D appearance since it looks as though you’re falling down the ridge towards Newton Creek. I would highly recommend this hike to anyone that wants to hike along an alpine mountain wilderness and have the opportunity to hang out along a glacier.

Oregon Cascades

[/caption] Squaw mountain is a little known hiking spot that offers some of the best views in the Oregon Cascades. Only a few remnants of the fire lookout tower remain but at least the view is still there. You can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from its summit. And best of all, you have an amazing view of the rolling foothills that make up the Cascade mountain range. If you look closely in this photo, you can see the tip of the North Sister and Mt. Washington in the distance. This photo also doesn’t show any of the logging scars left by the timber industry. However, there are plenty of scars surrounding the mountains and it’s almost impossible to avoid having them in your photos. This photo was taken on 6/12/10 at about 5:20pm and as you can see the weather was absolutely amazing. There was a few feet of snow still covering parts of the trail but the summit was mostly void of snow due to the sun exposure. I was using my Canon T1i and my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I had the focal length at 24mm and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. I had the camera in program/normal mode so the aperture was set at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0. You are almost guaranteed to see several hawks and even a bald eagle and keep a sharp eye out for owls since you will be hiking through an old growth forest. You may even want to bring a book since the view and solitude is so amazing that you really won’t want to leave.

The Needles at Cannon Beach, OR

[/caption] Cannon Beach offers so many photography opportunities that it’s almost impossible to be comfortable with just a few photos. Haystack rock and the Needles has a million different personalities and you can consider yourself lucky to photograph them on their most unique days. This particular shot was taken on 7/5/11 and the entire fourth of July weekend had some of its warmest temperatures on record. The skies were completely void of any clouds but on this day, clouds were seen streaming northward in the later parts of the day. By the time the sun had set the clouds were traveling at such a high speed that I decided to create a long exposure and see if I could include the clouds and surf. It was already 9:40pm so I was able to remove my ND filter as well as my CIR-PL but left my warming filter on in order to warm the purplish colors in the background. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 17mm so I could create a panoramic view of the rocks. The aperture was at F-8 since I kept the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -1. I set the shutter exposure to 13 seconds in order to get the effect of the fast moving clouds as well as the slow moving surf. The sky gives off a purplish hue and the blur of the clouds and water give it a mystical look. I was fortunate that there wasn’t much of a wind and the sea birds seemed to stay at bay for the most part.

Portland, OR waterfront

[/caption] One of the best times of the season to photograph along the Willamette river, in Portland, is during Fall if you’re wanting to get the glare of the city in the foreground. The contrast won’t be as good as late Spring or early summer but you will have a better chance of getting the glare. I took this shot in late November about 2 years ago and forgot about it until I was going through my inventory of Portland photos. I wasn’t using a tripod and I was shooting with my very basic Canon 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 34mm. I was using my CIR-PL and warming filter and had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 since the sun was still pretty bright even though it was late in the season and it was about 2:00 pm.

Portland, OR waterfront at night

[/caption] Downtown Portland during the summer months offers some great opportunities to take photos with very long exposures since the air is usually still and the city lights are strewn perfectly along the waterfront. The Hawthorne bridge also offers great opportunities with the steal covered road creating an awesome patchwork of stenciling along its beams. I took this picture on 7/27/10 and it was about 10:40pm so the sun was completely gone with nothing but the dark night sky to work with. I made sure to remove my CIR-PL and warming filter since I didn’t want any grainy color in the background or along the lights. However, I wasn’t immune from the little red dots that seemed to run rampant along the photo. The Focal length was at 24mm so I would just crop out the dots in the background and foreground. I set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, which caused the dots to appear. Each light shines like a well lit lantern and really creates a dynamic personality and highlights just how spectacular Portland is. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch and continued to check the histogram for the proper exposure. The camera was set at Shutter/Priority mode and I had the ISO at 400 and the white balance at -0.3 so the aperture was automatically set at F-22 due to the low light.

Lava field in the Deschutes National Forest, OR

[/caption] The Lava Butte Geological Area, just outside of Bend, offers a great spot to relish in Central Oregon’s volcanic past. The Deschutes river is hidden between the lava fields and the forest, which boasts some spectacular rapids and crystal clear water. You can also catch a great sunrise at this very spot since you’re pretty much looking directly east, with the desert mountains in the horizon.