Dahlia Pedals

[/caption] You can get very creative with your shots when photographing flowers with a prime/macro lens. This is a photo of a Dahlia flower and I was only about 6 cm from the flower. I was using my Sigma 50mm prime/macro lens. The great thing about prime lenses is that you don’t need a tripod or even IS when getting ultra close to your subject. The trick is to make sure that you remove your CIR-PL and attach a warming filter and a UV filter. It’s also an advantage if you find the right angle as well as finding the best saturation and angle of the sun before taking your shots. I usually just move around and look through the lens to see if it looks like it may be a keeper or not. Since I don’t have to hassle with a tripod, I can just as easily delete the shot and move on to my next one. Utilizing the histogram is necessary and I always adjust the white balance whenever needed. I try to keep the ISO at 100 and keep the camera mode at Program/Normal. One thing to always remember is that you want to be sure that you find the focal point and ensure that you either have the entire subject in focus or just the part that you’re interested in. This is one of the best parts of a macro/prime lens. Having the creative instinct to just play around with your subject and get some really cool shots can be very rewarding and usually unexpected.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

[/caption] Fast moving Tanner Creek carves its way through the moss covered basalt boulders that line the Gorge! Tanner Creek offers one of the most scenic and easiest 2 mile round trip hiking trails in the Gorge. The entire trail parallels the creek with several opportunities to photograph the fast moving creek as well as stop to admire some of the waterfalls. The trail ends at the foot of Wahclella Falls and then makes a short little loop before catching up to the same trail that you came in on. If you like to scramble up basalt rocks that are fairly steep, you can hike up about 500 feet to get a more panoramic view of the steep and intimate gorge that engulfs the area. There literally is no way out of this part of the gorge without turning back and returning the same way you came. I took this shot by making a short hike from the trail and set up my tripod just above the creek. I set the shutter priority at 4 seconds and made sure to attach my warming and ND4 filter.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

[/caption] The northwest part of Mt. Hood offers some of the best views and hiking trails inside the Mt. Hood wilderness. If you want to avoid most of the crowds and find yourself immersed in the alpine splendors, you may want to make the extra effort to visit Mt. Hood on its northwestern flanks. You will have to drive a bit on some dirt roads but you will be amazed on the true alpine experience that you will find. There are dozens of trails that take off from several different parts of the wilderness and you can hike to one of two stone shelters that dot the alpine area. This photo was taken from the southern part of Bald Mountain and the beginning of the Sandy river is born just below the mountain. You can literally get lost in this ecological masterpiece with dozens of wildflowers and an endless amount of creeks and waterfalls cascading below the mountain. There are dozens of viewpoints as well as several resting areas that will convince you to take an afternoon nap as Mt. Hood looms in the short distance. Depending on the winter snow pack, you may want to bring a pair of hiking cleats and a pair of walking poles in case you find yourself sinking in the snow well into the month of July. However, the trail is mostly free of any snow by mid July but you never know if Oregon’s late Spring will allow the snow to hang on until August. You may even see some Hawks soaring high above or catch a glimpse of a black bear or deer foraging along the ponds or meadows that dot the wilderness. When visiting during the summertime, you will get some of your best photos of the mountain and the landscape after 5:00pm. Because the sun rises directly behind the mountain and moves in a southerly direction, most of your morning and afternoon shots will be more over exposed due to the strong sun glare. However, by around 5:00pm, the sun is at about a 90 degree angle and the sky will appear more blue and the contours of the mountains landscape is more clear. Unfortunately, this photo was taken at about 1:00pm and as you can see the sky looks hazy and there is less contrast along the forest.

Columbia River Gorge

[/caption] Several trails along the Columbia River Gorge traverse high above the waterfalls and allow hikers some pretty spectacular views of the Columbia River far below. I took this photo from a vantage point just above Yeon Park. A part of the trail meanders along the basalt rock with a long stretch of iron railing protecting hikers from a 300 foot fall below. The trail might be a little scary for hikers that are afraid of heights or if you’re afraid of narrow paths that were scraped from the rocks and allow no protection from the elements. However, the view is amazing, with Washington State standing behind the Columbia River with an island standing in the middle of the river. The hiking trail actually ends just a few hundred feet from where I took this photo with Upper McCord Creek Falls your ultimate destination and turning back point. I actually took this shot without my tripod or CIR-PL due to the overcast skies. There was absolutely no sun and it was raining most of the time, which made it hard to hike along parts of the trail that were open to the elements. On a clear and sunny day Mt. Adams would be just to the right of this photo with more views of the foothills of the Washington Cascades.

Elowah Falls in the Gorge, Oregon

[/caption] Elowah Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge and it’s only a short drive from downtown Portland, Oregon. However, you may want to visit during the week in order to avoid the crowds during the weekends since it’s hard to get a photo without having dozens of hikers standing on the bridge or anywhere else near the falls. Another problem is that you want to pick a day that’s overcast as well as a day that the spray from the waterfall isn’t drenching the trail. So this pretty much allows only a small window of opportunity and I would recommend going during late spring or early summer since you also want the vegetation to be nice and lush. To get this shot I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I also attached my ND4, warming and UV filter. I set the camera mode at shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. Because I set the ISO at 100, reduced the white balance to -0.7 and was using the ND4 filter, the aperture changed to F-20. I kept the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as I could since there weren’t any hikers or other photographers along the bridge or trail. I was standing on a rock in order to get the best shot so I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. Elowah Falls is a very popular and well photographed waterfall but you have plenty of opportunities to think outside the box and look for unique shots. However, since the sun is always directly behind the top of the falls, you want to make sure and visit when it’s overcast or you will end up with your shots being over exposed.

Portland, Oregon

[/caption] A very unique and rare view of Portland, Oregon. I took this photo from just below the hospital in the west hills of downtown. There are several viewing spots along the winding stretch of road that leads to the hospital but most of the views are obscured by the trees that line the hills. You pretty much have to choose a line and then try to take a more unique photo, which is what I did for this shot. This photo includes the east part of Portland with parts of the Hawthorne bridge and the Willamette river in the lower part of the foreground. The buildings make up the east industrial part of the city with the foothills of the Cascades in the distance. There are hundreds of photo opportunities that you can only find in this part of the city but you have to get pretty creative since you don’t have any opportunities to take any panoramic photos due to the thick vegetation that pretty much requires you to think outside of the box but offers some great rewards once you find a great opportunity.

Portland, Oregon

[/caption] Dragon boats tied up along Portland’s marina with downtown Portland looming in the distance. Portland’s Rose Festival is just a few weeks away but there is plenty of traffic along the Willamette river as dragon boats racers gear up for the June 8th races. I was lucky to find a dozen of the boats moored along Portland’s marina without anyone inside them. I just walked around and looked for the best shot as they calmly swayed in the slow moving current. It also helped to have a sunny sky with absolutely no clouds or glare to hinder my photo opportunity.

Portland, Oregon from Mt. Tabor

[/caption] Panoramic view of Portland from Mt. Tabor offers some great photo opportunities as well as some great exercise hiking the winding trails. The water in the foreground is one of the three reservoir’s found in the Mt. Tabor park. The west hills are directly behind Portland and the houses in the foreground is part of east Portland or better known as the Hawthorne district. If you do decide to visit the park and expect to take some pictures of the city, you may want to be aware of the sun glare and the relative distance between you and Portland. Due to the distance and the sun, you will find that taking a photo with your camera in a horizontal position can and will probably create a more drab image than if you position your camera in the vertical position. By turning a camera sideways, photographers achieve a vertical photograph in order to further limit the field of vision. Having the camera in a horizontal position won’t achieve the same effect. Basically, the light that enters your camera sensor in the vertical position is more ideal than in a horizontal position. This isn’t always true in other settings, and mostly just the opposite but due to the fact that the sun is at a left angle, at about 90 degrees, and due to the distance between the foreground and the background, vertical photos have a much better chance of looking more crisp. You should try it out for yourself and find out. I’ve been visiting Mt. Tabor for several years and I’ve concluded that my vertical shots look a hundred times better than my horizontal shots and I’ve pretty much concluded that it’s due to the reasons I just explained. I’m sure that someone else has a different theory but this is the best that I could come up with.

Portland, Oregon

[/caption] A great view of Portland and the St. Johns Railroad bridge as well as the foothills of the Cascades, the Willamette river and the Port of Portland. You can also get great views of Forest park aw well. I took this photo from the St. Johns bridge, which offers some awesome and interesting views of Portland that no other bridge offers. You can also get a great view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Rainier from the bridge. The park that sits just below the bridge, in St. Johns, is a great place to photograph the grander of the bridge. Since you are facing south when viewing Portland, you may want to visit during the early morning or later afternoon since the glare of the sun can really wash out your photos as well as too much back light can really ruin your shots. Even though the St. Johns bridge is pretty long, you can access it pretty easily and you can walk to the middle span in just a few minutes. There are two large and very safe viewing platforms that you can set up a tripod or just enjoy the views without having to stand too close to the big rigs blaring by you. However, you may want to watch out for bicycles since they also use the platform as they ride across the bridge.