Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

[/caption] Wildflowers are in abundance at Mt. Rainier NP and you will find yourself immersed in them no matter where you are within the Park. The snow level is still very high but the wildflowers are literally growing everywhere there is bare soil. I think I lost count at 1 billion and was still counting when I lost count. This photo was taken at Reflection lake with Mt. Rainier in the background and the many arrays of wildflowers in the foreground. I was concerned about the field of view when I was taking photos at the lake, especially since I had the camera mounted on my tripod only a foot from the ground with the wildflowers only about 18 inches from the camera. I made sure to open the lens at its max of 17mm and set the camera mode to program/normal and changed the AF point selection to Automatic Selection hoping that it would ensure that the mountain, trees and wildflowers would be in focus. I had to take a lot of photos but this one turned out pretty good. I did use the sharpening tool in Adobe Photoshop to help with any imperfections. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 due to the glare. This photo was taken at about 7:10pm and the sun was in the left at about a 90 degree angle. The aperture was automatically set at F-5 and the shutter speed was at 1/100 second. Now is the time to visit the park since there is more snow at the park than most states have in December and the wildflowers truly are amazing. The snow is also abundant in the Tatoosh mountain range as well as even further south. You may want to bring some ski poles and traction for your shoes if you plan on being adventurous in the snow.

Bonneville Mountain in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, OR

[/caption] The Bonneville mountains are located in the Eagle Cap wilderness and are located just east of Eagle Cap mountain. Eagle Cap mountain is actually just behind Bonneville mountain but isn’t viewable from the area where I was standing. The lake in the foreground is Aneroid lake but if you want to get a view of Eagle Cap you would pretty much have to hike back towards the Wallowa Lake trailhead and head up the Ice Lake trail. There is another hiking trail past Aneroid lake but that hike takes you towards Dollar lake and I’m not sure if you would have a very good view of Eagle Cap.

Wallowa Lake, Oregon

[/caption] Wallowa lake creates one of the most spectacular photo opportunities in Oregon. You will have to endure a 370 mile and 7 hour drive from Portland in order to enjoy the beauties of the lake and its mountains but it sure is worth it. Wallowa lake and the Wallowa mountains are truly one of the most epic places on the planet and you won’t be disappointed. The best time to photograph the lake and the mountains in the background is in the early to mid morning. This shot was taken from the north side of the lake and it’s also the only place to shoot if you want to include the entire lake and the mountains in the photo. The town of Joesph and the rolling hills are directly behind the north side of the lake. The sun rises just to the left from where you’re standing, which is northeast and you can see the sun rise over the higher elevations as the backdrop of the mountains start to light up like a roman candle. The reflections of the mountains are at there best during the mid morning and luckily the lake is pretty empty until later in the morning. I’ve actually caught fish jumping out of the water or osprey, hawks or eagles grabbing a fish in their talons. There are dozens of predatory birds that nest right along the lakes edge and you will be amazed at the amount of birds you can photograph. Deer are also in abundance as well as horses and cattle, so if you like to photograph animals you won’t be disappointed. I counted so many eagles and deer that I eventually lost interest in them and tried to focus more on the landscape scenery. I took this particular photo at about 8:00am on 7/18/12. On this particular day I took over a hundred shots of the lake and the mountains reflecting off the lake but decided to post this shot since it gives the best view of the surrounding area. I was standing along the lakes edge in order to get as close to the water without getting wet. I took several photos while wading out in the lake or with the rocks in the foreground and I will soon post some of those as well. I wanted to get the most panoramic photos in most of my shots so I set the focal length at 17mm while using my Sigma 17-70mm lens. The camera was in normal/program mode so the aperture was automatically set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0. I considered attaching my ND4 filter and setting the shutter speed at 4 seconds in order to get the ghosting effect from the lake but the lake was so smooth and glassy that it wasn’t necessary.

Aneroid Lake and Aneroid mountain, OR

[/caption] Aneroid Lake is a 12 mile round trip hike that starts at the Wallowa Lake trailhead and gains a total of 3000 feet of elevation gain. You will experience some of the most amazing and mind boggling beauty that you can imagine. The hike itself is pretty difficult so you will want to bring plenty of snacks and water. It took me about 9 hours to complete the entire hike but I did end up spending several hours photographing the mountains as well as the meadows and wildflowers that surround the higher elevations. There are a few campsites available along Aneroid lake and if you’re a backpacker this is definitely a hike that you won’t want to pass up. Due to the distance of the hike and the elevation gain I decided not to bring my tripod and I’m really glad I didn’t. However, I did bring three of my lenses in order to take advantage of the photographic opportunities. This particular photo was taken just below one of the campgrounds along the lakes edge. 9,702 foot Aneroid mountain and 9,675 foot Pete’s Point mountain is visible behind Aneroid lake, looking south. There are dozens of rivers, waterfalls, ponds and creeks all along the hike. There are also several meadows sprawling with wildflowers so you may want to bring along a macro lens. Since I wasn’t using a tripod I made sure to keep a steady hand and turned on the IS. I kept the camera in Program/Normal mode and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I had the ISO at 100 and adjusted the white balance in order to take advantage of the glare and saturation of the bright sun. I set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible as well as include the lakes edge in the bottom of the shot as well as the blue sky in the horizon. I was concerned that parts of the photo would be blurry or out of focus due to the direction of the shot I took or the fact that I had to position the camera at about a 30 degree angle looking down. Some of my shots did end up blurry and somewhat shaky but overall they turned out pretty good. I noticed that most of my photo that I took vertically were better than most of my horizontal shots.

Burnt Lake and Mt. Hood, OR

[/caption] Burnt Lake is located within the Mt. Hood National Forest and offers great photo opportunities. The entire 6.8 mile round trip hike to Burnt Lake offers spectacular views throughout the entire hike. Plan on keeping your camera close at hand since the forest is teeming with great opportunities to capture an amazing forest scene with the fast moving Burnt Lake Creek following you almost the entire way. You many want to bring your tripod and photograph Lost Creek Falls as well. views of Mt. Hood are at about the 3 mile mark, with the forest surrounding the entire area. Burnt Lake is truly a photographers dream, with Mt. Hood seeming within touching distance and wild trout fishing for insects. There isn’t a beach to set up for your shots but there are some spots along the lakes edge that offer great opportunities. I took this particular shot near one of the few campsites that dot the lake. Mt. Hood is directly east of the lake so you want to be on the west side of the lake. The trail takes you around the small lake but parts of the trail are either too muddy or boggy if the water level is too high. The quickest way to get to the trailhead is by turning left, from Portland, at East Lolo Pass Road and then turning right at FS 1825. Take a right to cross the Sandy River bridge and then follow the signs to the Lost Creek campground. The trail then heads left on a 1.4 mile gravel road to the end. The hike is 6.8 miles roundtrip and the elevation gain is 1500 feet. It’s actually a pretty easy hike with hundreds of places to rest in the forest or along the creek. The quick hike to Lost Creek Falls is worth the extra 10 minute hike in the opposite direction of the trail. I decided not to bring my tripod with me since I knew that I wasn’t going to worry about photographing the waterfall and the sunlight was pretty good. However, I now regret not getting some great photos of the waterfall. In order to get the reflection of the mountain in the lake I just waited for the wind to die down and then kept a steady hand. I turned on the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my CIR-PL and warming filter. I was able to keep the ISO at 100 and then just played around with the white balance. The clouds were a little washed out so I did have to saturate the colors and darken the highlights using Adobe Photoshop.

Herman Creek, Oregon

[/caption] A short hike takes you to the Herman Creek Trail bridge with spectacular views of the swift moving water. The bridge is only a short and easy 2 mile round trip hike but if you’re wanting more adventure and more exercise you can add an additional 1500 miles or so since it connects to the Pacific Crest Trail. However, there are also a few other trails that follow along the creek from the north which offers amazing views of the gorge and the canyons below.

The Needles at Cannon Beach, OR

[/caption] Summer is usually the best time to witness an awesome sunset along the Oregon coast. However, sometimes a cloud front moves in very unexpectedly and causes photographers to panic and scrambling for ways to take advantage of on otherwise wasted sunset opportunity. This is exactly what happened last weekend in Cannon Beach. The entire day was sunny without a single cloud in the sky but eventually a large cloud bank had built near the horizon out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I knew that I was in trouble so I decided to try to take advantage of the extremely low tide that created many of the rocks to become exposed that are otherwise completely submerged even during most low tides. However, I was really impressed with the photos that I was able to get of the Needles much farther out. I was able to get into a position that is almost impossible and was able to take this shot. I was impressed with the exposure since Haystack rock, which was just feet from me, was completely blocking out the sun but the Needles were glowing from the intense sun glare. The photo was taken at about 8:15pm and the sunset wasn’t until 9:15pm. However, the shade from Haystack rock allowed me to switch the camera mode to shutter priority and set the shutter speed to 3.2 seconds. You can see the froth and ghosting effect from the waves crashing into the rocks in the lower right part of the photo. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch and also turned off the OS in order to eliminate any camera shake or blur. I also attached my warming filter, ND4 and CIR-PL. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 which caused the aperture to automatically set at F-28. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 46mm in order to frame the rocks as close as possible to the edge of the photo. I was fortunate that there weren’t any blurry sea birds in this shot since there are usually dozens of sea birds flying around and near the rocks. If you look closely, you can see several of them resting on the rocks.

Oregon waterfall

[/caption] Another iconic but little known waterfall high above Multnomah Falls! It’s official! July temperatures in Oregon have reached the 80 degree mark just like clockwork. Every summer the temperatures reach into the 80’s and unfortunately if you were hoping to get great photos of the lush and green Columbia River gorge time may just have run out. Once the hot temperatures reach into the gorge, the foliage begins to stress and wilt and the spring run off becomes much less predominant. In many of the creeks it becomes nothing more than a trickle and even some of the waterfalls dry up. However, there are hundreds of swimming holes that are ideal to cool off from the heat.

Waterfall in Oregon

[/caption] Another picture perfect setting in the Columbia River Gorge! This is just another waterfall in the Oregon gorge that you see when you hike near the same creek that thunders over Multnomah Falls. I set up my tripod on the trail and just made sure to leave enough room for other hikers to pass by without having to move. I made sure to use my bubble level and remote switch and turned off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I wanted to get the most extreme ghosting effect since the water was traveling through slick basalt and the white water was pretty long. I set the shutter speed at 6 seconds and just made sure to attach my ND4 and CIR-PL.

Upper McCord Creek Falls, Oregon

[/caption] The Upper McCord Creek waterfall is located just above Elowah Falls. The trail scrambles up a fairly steep part of the gorge and is located directly above Elowah falls, which is fed by the same creek. The elevation gain is about 620 feet and the top of the trail was dynamited in order to allow hikers to access the falls. There are steel handrails that prevent hikers from falling to their death but there are still some areas where the handrails aren’t located and the drops are just as dangerous. The view from the top is amazing with bald eagles, osprey and turkey vulture’s soaring just below. Very few people know about this hike and most of the people that do decide to hike here usually hike to Elowah falls rather than make the steep ascent to the top of the cliffs. The hike starts at Yeon park and there are no facilities and only limited parking. The best view of the waterfall is right off the main trail and there are a few amazing spots to set up your tripod. It almost like the forest intentionality set up the spots for photographers to camp out. Above the waterfall is McCord creek and you can see it winding through the forest as it disappears in the distance. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I attached my warming filter, ND4 and CIR-PL. I made sure to turn off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 21mm. I had the camera mode in shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 2 seconds. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 which made the aperture automatically set at F-10. It was about 3:50pm when I took this photo and the sun was well hidden behind the forest and cliffs. There are several wildflowers along the trail so you may want to bring along your macro/prime lens as well. I wanted to completely frame the waterfall with the neon green vegetation surrounding it and this photo pretty much shows that.