Fairy Falls, Oregon

[/caption] This isn’t exactly the most masculine name for a waterfall but I guess you could imagine this waterfall being created by a fairy. The waterfall itself is a very photogenic waterfall and there are several different photographic opportunities. I usually zoom into the waterfall and capture the water cascading down and over the step like basalt rocks. I can literally visualize myself climbing up the entire waterfall like a staircase. The waterfall is located directly on the main hiking trail that climbs along the gorge. The waterfall is about a 1.5 mile hike and the entire hike is somewhat steep with about 700 feet of elevation gain from the main trail. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had the camera mode in Shutter Priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The sky was completely overcast but the sun was directly behind the waterfall which caused the water and foliage to give off great colors. I attached the warming, ND4 and CIR-PL in order to allow me to set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The aperture was set at F-8 and I set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -0.3. I was standing about 8 feet from the waterfall and I had the focal length at 21mm in order to frame the entire waterfall in the photo as well as include some of the foliage and logs in the foreground.

Triple Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

[/caption] The trail that leads to triple falls is one of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the Gorge. The trail leads you past four beautiful and very photogenic waterfalls, unbelievable views of the gorge and the Columbia River, old growth forest and parallels the creek that feeds the waterfalls. The best time to visit is between May and early July. This is the best time to catch the creeks at their highest level and the foliage is usually in full bloom. The wildflowers are also spectacular and some of the most widespread in the Pacific Northwest. However, since the weather can be unpredictable, sometimes the foliage can stay dormant well into June depending on the temperatures during spring. The photo that I posted is the most popular viewing area of the waterfall and you can really see just how awesome this part of the gorge really is. The creek climbs several miles past Triple Falls and the trail parallels the creek and offers millions of photo opportunities. I may sound bias but this part of the Pacific Northwest makes any other parts of the world look like a desert. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The viewing area is a very uneven and steep cliff so setting up your tripod can be tricky and only one person at a time can take this photo since it’s so narrow. I set the camera mode at shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The ISO was at 100 and I adjusted the white balance to -0.7. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic view as possible without having any vignetting. The day was mostly overcast and the sun was directly behind the waterfall. It was about 12:30pm but since the clouds were moving so fast I just waited for the best opportunity. If you plan on visiting and expect to get a photo of triple falls without having dozens of people sitting along the waterfall you want to come during a weekday and a very overcast or rainy day since hikers like to sit just above the waterfall and take pictures. I was pretty fortunate to only have to wait for two hikers to eventually move away from the area before I could get to work. the elevation gain to triple falls is only about 600 feet but you could continue all the way to larch mountain if you’re up to the 6.5 mile hike. This is one hike that you will truly be glad you took and you can expect some of the most fantastic views of your life.

Mt. Jefferson, OR

[/caption] If you’re planning on hiking to Jefferson Park anytime soon, during the month of June or early July, I would plan on expecting to come across heavy amounts of snow at about the 2 mile mark. You may even want to bring snow shoes if you actually expect to make it to the park. I was fortunate enough to bring along my snow shoe poles and my ice & snow traction cleats and ended up using them much earlier that I had anticipated. I started to encounter snow along the trail at about the 1 mile mark but didn’t have any trouble staying on the main trail as the snow was pretty light. However, the trail was completely covered and obscured at about the 1 1/2 mile mark. I finally decided to head up along a ridge and I was lucky enough to come across a massive basalt cliff that gave me a birds eye view of the mountain. I’m pretty sure this spot is not accessible when the snow is gone since the underbrush is probably pretty heavy and hard to navigate. If I was really adventurous and somewhat crazy I probably could have continued towards the park but since my supplies were limited I decided not to chance it. I also had my hyperactive 2 year old cattle dog with me and I was pretty sure he would somehow get himself into trouble if I continued any further in the snow covered and unmarked wilderness. Since it was still pretty early in the afternoon I decided to drive to the Pamelia Lake trail head and make the 4.4 mile loop to the lake. However, I was disappointed in the photo opportunities since the mountain isn’t viewable anywhere along the trail that goes along the lake. Apparently you need to hike part way up Grizzly Peak in order to get a view but unfortunately the trail was also covered in snow and not accessible. However, the trail is nice and the amount of creeks, brooks and rivers thundering down the wilderness was very impressive.

Iris flower

[/caption] An extreme close-up of a water droplet hanging on an Iris flower offers a great macro opportunity. I wasn’t using a tripod so I had to be sure and remove my CIR-PL and keep a very steady hand. I was about 1/2 and inch from touching the flower so I made sure to keep a very steady hand so I wouldn’t end up with any camera shake or blur. I was able to keep the ISO at 100 and just made sure that I utilized the histogram each time I took a macro photograph. I did sharpen the photo in Adobe Photoshop and saturated the colors in the Iris to really bring out the colorful beauty of the flower.

Columbia River Gorge

[/caption] This late afternoon shot was taken from the Hood River city park, which is located on the western most part of the city. You can set up your tripod and aim it directly west, which as you can see offers a great view of the river, the cliffs and plenty of vegetation. The best time to visit the park is later in the afternoon and during sunset. The park is very small but the views are pretty amazing and there is enough room to set up for a picnic or just take in the view.

Pacific Crest Trail

[/caption] The PCT cuts directly through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge and allows hikers to immerse themselves in the temperate forest. The PCT requires hikers to cross over the bridge of the Gods which spans over the Columbia River. Both Washington state and Oregon offer some of the most spectacular hiking trails as well as views during this leg of the trail. Some of the most beautiful and spectacular waterfalls and creeks are found along the PCT or just a few hundred yards from the main trail. Whenever I’m hiking in the Gorge I usually find myself hiking parts of the PCT in order to get to one of the many waterfalls. This photo was taken on the Oregon side and is just 1 mile from the river. You will find yourself surrounded by mossy Douglas Fir trees and hundreds of plants that resemble Costa Rica or Brazil. The trail is well maintained and there are several small bridges taking hikers over the fast moving creeks. Water is abundant along the Gorge and hikers will never have to worry about dehydration during this leg of the National trail. I used to always set up my tripod whenever I took photos of the forest but it got so cumbersome and time consuming that I stopped. However, I finally decided to figure out the best way to photograph the lush green forest without ending up with blurry photos. I remove my CIR-PL and attach my warming filter and UV filter. This helps bring out the colors of the vegetation but also eliminates the blurring effect created by the neon green plants. I usually increase the ISO to 200 and then find the correct white balance. I then just check the histogram to see if it came out alright, without too much over or underexposure and no blur or camera shake. I then make sure to use the sharp tool in Adobe Photoshop in order to ensure the shot is tack sharp. Without a tripod you can take thousands of photos as well as get deep into the forest without fumbling around. However, I do recommend having the proper filters and always utilize the histogram. This will eliminate the need to delete several of your photos when you get home.

Dry Creek Falls, Oregon

[/caption] Dry Creek Falls is one of the least visited waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge but it’s one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the area. The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 5.4 mile round trip hike and you will be amazed at the forested canopy as you slice your way through the gorge. Dry Creek falls is a 50 foot water fall that plunges through a 300 foot cliff but you can only see parts of it high above the falls. You will want to hike over the diversion dam when you get to the falls and set up your tripod. I was surprised that I was able to get near the base of the waterfall without getting totally drenched. I noticed that there are sometimes lulls in the wind gusts and you have time to get a few shots off before you need to wipe the water off your lens. I was setting my shutter speed between 2 seconds and 4 seconds, depending on the amount of glare from the sun. I made sure to use my histogram in order to have the best settings as possible in use. I set the ISO at 200 and attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to get the ghosting effect of the water and bring out the colors of the basalt rock and vegetation. Since Dry Creek Falls is known to pretty much dry up you will want to visit during late spring or early summer. The vegetation doesn’t really explode until late spring and if you wait too long in the summer the water level is very low.

Extreme close-up of a flower

[/caption] One of the best ways to get a really good and tack sharp close-up photograph of a flower is by attaching a macro/prime lens and utilizing your cameras settings in order to ensure that you take only the best photos as possible. I have a 50mm lens and never attach it to my tripod when I’m taking macro photos of flowers or insects. You always want to be sure and use your histogram since it’s one of the most important things that you can do in order to eliminate photos that you will just end up deleting when you get home. The histogram also helps you learn ways to change settings in order to take a good photo. You will also want to attach a warming filter and remove the CIR-PL if it’s attached. I almost never use a tripod since I want to be able to move around a lot and get into some very peculiar positions in order to get the best and most unique photos. A tripod is too cumbersome and can limit the angles that you can get the best photos. However, sometimes it’s appropriate to use a tripod but 95% percent of the time I won’t use a tripod when I’m taking photos of flowers or other close-up shots. Since you also want to try and keep the ISO at 100, you will want to get comfortable with the white balance setting since it’s the best way to brighten the photo without having to increase the ISO. I also set the camera to Program/Normal mode in order to make sure the camera focuses on the spot I want to ensure is in focus. The close-up setting won’t always focus on the part of your subject that you will want to focus on and will hamper your abilities. It’s also important to attach a battery pack on the body of your camera so you can have a large grip for vertical shots. I have a Canon T1i and I purchased the battery pack and only use it when I’m taking macro photos. And last but not least is to ensure that you keep a steady hand and always make sure that you take advantage of the lighting, background noise and color format of your subject. I normally put the sun in the back of my subject in order to get full light but look for shade in the subject that I’m photographing. This increases the chances that your subject will evolve into a great photo opportunity and have an awesome personality that will catch someones eye. Normally the pedals or the body of the flower will shade some of most of the direct sunlight but still allow the light to shine on the area of focus.

Iris Flower

[/caption] If you had the chance to visit the Schreiners garden, located just between Brooks and Keizer, Oregon, you were lucky enough to photograph some of the most unique Iris flowers in the world. They have mastered the art of hybrid’s and there are dozens of Iris’ to photograph. You will want to make sure and bring your macro/prime lens and leave your CIR-PL in the bag since you won’t want to have any camera shake or blur. I don’t use a tripod and I get as close as I can to the flowers in order to get the most brilliant photo as possible. Just make sure that you utilize your histogram and try to keep the ISO at 100 in order to keep the photo as tack sharp as possible.

Colorful and spiny flower

[/caption] I’m not sure of the name of this flower but it caught my eye while visiting the Iris garden near Keizer, OR. The Schreiner’s Iris gardens, located between Brooks and Keizer, OR is one of the most amazing Iris gardens in the United States. They have a large garden with every possible type of hybrid Iris flower that you can think of. They also have several acres throughout their farm and I spent part of my morning walking my dog along the trails. I spend hours looking for the best photo opportunities and I usually end up taking over a thousand pictures within just a few hours. However, they also have several other types of flowers growing in the garden and this particular type of flower was growing as a 10 foot tall bush and had hundreds of these spiny flowers. Whenever I take close-up photos of flowers I always attach my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens and make sure to remove the CIR-PL but attach my warming filter. I almost never use a tripod since you don’t always need one and you can take a lot more photos without fumbling around with a tripod. I can get as close as 1 centimeter from a flower and get some pretty amazing shots. You just want to make sure and turn on your IS if your lens has one and be sure to keep a steady hand and utilize the light in order to ensure that you avoid any camera shake or blur. I also utilize the sharpening tool in Adobe photoshop to make the photo as crisp as possible. To get this shot, I attached my warming filter and UV filter in order to enhance the colors but remove any excess glare and noise from the bright sun. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0. Since the camera was in program/normal mode the aperture was set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/166 second. You can set your camera to the close-up setting but you won’t be able to adjust the white balance and the camera will automatically focus itself so I almost never use the close-up setting. I was facing towards the sun and it was about 12:30pm so I was able to take advantage of the glare and use it to my advantage. The lens was almost touching the flower but was far enough away to get the entire foreground in focus but kept the background out of focus. The backlight also created shadows in the inner part of the flower but kept the tips of the needles over saturated with sunlight. Again, I always use my histogram so I can review the shot I just took and then make any adjustments if needed.