Portland, Oregon

We are now just one day away from Thanksgiving and while the rest of the United States is experiencing some of the worst weather in decades, Portland, Oregon is experiencing some of the sunniest weather on record. Most of the Pacific Northwest has been enjoying some of the best November weather in decades. This photo of downtown Portland with Mt. Hood in the background pretty much sums up what I’m talking about. As you can see, there are no clouds and nothing but blue sky. It also helps that Mt. Hood is still resembling a giant snow cone without any hints of bare rock exposure. This is largely due to the fact that we have been getting some pretty chilly temperatures, which helps keep the snow in place. Old man winter is expected to make a brief appearance this weekend but we will then be introduced to the sun miser for a few more days before the nasty winter weather again returns. Nothing says winter like seeing some snow fall in the high Cascades in order to take advantage of the ski resorts and snow parks.

Portland, Oregon

What’s going on in Portland’s Lloyd district and parts of the Pearl District as of today! Currently a massive construction project got under way and as I drove by the construction zone I noticed a crater about 30 feet deep and an area about the size of 5 football fields being torn up. They are in the process of building a 21 story apartment high rise as well as 3 additional 5 story buildings which will include parks and walking areas. This is probably the Lloyd areas largest and most extensive building project in it’s history. This is especially true since it’s primary reason is for residential housing. If you look at the photo, the tower will be located just behind the green glass spire that’s part of the convention center. Another major construction project that is supposed to start soon is the Portland convention center hotel that will be between the convention center and just east of the I-5 freeway. If you look at the photo, it would be almost right in the middle of where you see the Moda center and the convention center. This high rise is expected to be at least 22 stories and have 600 rooms. It’s also expected to attract several smaller construction develops around the hotel. For anybody interested in what’s going on in the Pearl District, they are almost finished with a 6 story hotel that they have been working on and it’s located along the train tracks and across the street from the Encore building. There is also a lot of buzz about two different towers that they are planning to build near the Encore. One is slated to be around 26 stories and the other around 24 stories. I’m not holding my breath on these but if they do build them, it will really change the entire face of the Pearl District. This is especially true since there are several residential building currently under construction on the north end of the neighborhood.

Government Camp, Oregon

Another spectacular shot of Mt. Hood taken from the Fanning, Oregon. Just another example of how photogenic Mt. Hood is when you have a stunning blue sky in the background and snow covered trees in the foreground. It also helps when the mountain is completely white and resembles a giant vanilla snow cone. This photo pretty much sums up that if you want to enjoy an epic snow journey, you only have to drive about 1 hour from downtown Portland, Oregon. However, the best kept secret is to visit one day after a massive snow storm blankets the Cascades and then check the weather and see if Government Camp is expecting sunny skies. Since the forested trees sometimes have a difficult time holding up the weight of the snow, you have to be pretty quick or you may have some spotty snow covered trees. I usually try to get up as early as possible in order to avoid the afternoon sun or the rising of the temperatures. However, even if you can’t get up at the best possible time you are still going to have a great time skiing, snow-boarding, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing, sledding or any other winter activity that you enjoy. Either way, Government Camp is a great place to visit and it’s especially magical during the winter months.

Snow covered trees in the Cascade mountains

Even though parts of the Pacific Northwest has been experiencing some sunny and warmer than expected weather, we are still on track to have some pretty good snow pack this winter. There early storm that brought snow to the higher elevations over the past week have offered some pretty spectacular views as well as some angst to get the winter started. This photo was actually taken last winter and is just a few yards from one of the ski runs at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. Sometimes you can get some pretty cool photos by just wondering just a few feet from the hustle and bustle of the winter traffic. I actually went out looking for this type of photo and ended up spending several hours snow shoeing through the powder until I was satisfied. The only thing that makes it really difficult is if you plan on snow shoeing with your camera attached to a tripod. This makes it especially difficult if you have to use your poles to keep your balance as you trudge through deeps pockets of snow. To avoid this type of hassle or pitfall, I suggest that you instead remove your CIR-PL and turn on the IS. You then just need to plan on utilizing your histogram in order to ensure that you’re only saving the photos that aren’t blurry, shaky, level or over/under saturated. Leaving your tripod behind allows you more time to explore and really put on some miles. However, sometimes I still pack my tripod and store it in my pack and then only take it out when I come to a spot that I really think deserves it. Practice can sometimes make perfect and learning how to take a good shot without using your tripod can surely help make that happen.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

This is one of the most iconic winter scenes ever…. Blue sky, volcanic snow capped mountain and snow covered trees in the foreground. This photo pretty much wraps everything up in a perfect little bow. There aren’t very many places in the lower 48 states that offer this type of landscape but the Pacific Northwest will always offer the best. The best thing about this photo is that the mountain is completely covered in snow, with no bare spots and the sky is as blue as a tropical ocean. I would never argue that this photo is my best work but I just wanted to add this photo to my blog so I can try to explain that it includes all of the ingredients that make for a perfect winter setting as well as the most iconic photographic opportunities. To get this shot, I stood on the west side of the mountain and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle in the upper right of the photo. Days like this are pretty common in the Cascade mountains, especially after a massive snow storm. You just want to get out before any of the snow has enough time to fall from the trees. Snow covered trees are one of my favorite things to photograph and unfortunately it doesn’t take long for the weight of the snow to cause the snow to fall from the branches.

Portland, Oregon

This is the official last sunny and somewhat warm day in Portland, Oregon 2013. The cold and blustery weather has arrived and the creeks and rivers are beginning to become swollen with rain water and leavers. Even the mountains are preparing for a long and snowy winter. There is nothing more awesome that taking advantage of the very last day of perfect autumn weather and capturing it on film. You can attest by noticing how the trees are roasted in red, yellow and orange with just a dash of green holding out. The blue skis provides the perfect back drop with the low flying sun casting early afternoon shadows below. As I was walking along the east esplanade I noticed someone fishing down on the dock and decided to try and get a shot while he was casting. Since I didn’t have my tripod I was concerned that my shots wouldn’t be aligned so I ended up taking several shots as the fisherman continued to cast his fishing pole into the Willamette River. Luckily, most of the boaters had wandered off, so I wouldn’t have to worry about too much ripples in the water. Due to all of the wind and rain over the last few days, even if we are blessed with another sunny and cloudless day, you can bet that most of the leaves are off the trees. Therefore, I can almost guarantee that this is the last photo of a sunny autumn day in Portland, Oregon.