The weather along the Oregon coast this winter has been epic and the sunsets have been even more spectacular than the sunny and warm days. I guess you can call it a trade off since the mountains don’t have any snow and the ski season was finished before it even got started. It may seem like a bitter sweet trade off but at least we have something to enjoy as we put our winter gear away until next year. This shot was taken at Hug Point beach and it’s located just a few mile south of Cannon Beach. The best time to got is late in the afternoon, when the sun is low and its rays reflect and absorb into the steep and rugged sandstone. You will also want to pick a time to visit when the tide is low. You won’t be able to walk half of the park if the tide is in. As you can see the tide has receded, which makes for some great beach combing and longer strolls along the beach. You will also be able to see more of the rocks that get A chance to catch some air before they are submerged by the next high tide. One either side of the beach you can walk inside several small tunnels that have been carved out by the relentless waves. You can also walk up to a really cool waterfall that drops onto the beach. The photo opportunities are endless but if you go during high tide or when the sun is too high, you will be disappointed. Time of day is everything in photography and Hug Point beach is no exception! The parking lot can get pretty full and it usually fills up during the late morning so that is another reason why you will want to visit later in the day. I’ve never stayed for any sunset shots but it’s one of the best places to take photos when the sun is low and the tide is low.
Just another sunny, warm and gorgeous day in Seattle, Washington during the month of February. This has pretty much been the norm in the Pacific Northwest all winter. The days are getting longer as well as sunnier and warmer. No need for snow in the mountains when you can relax and enjoying some awesome California warmth up north. We actually broke some pretty sweet temperatures all along the Pacific Northwest and it looks like we will be breaking some more this week. We may even break some more next week. Not really sure if this means that the entire west coast and the mountain states are on par to break all kinds of records with record setting sunny and warm days as well as record dry days without any snow fall. March and April can be a dark horse in the Pacific Northwest but I’m not sure about the mountain states. This shot was taken from the Alaskan Highway and on the top of the viewing deck of the cruise line entrance.
The 2014-2015 winter may be a total waste in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Western Rockies but at least we can still hope for a descent spring in the Pacific Northwest. I am totally convinced that this winter will go down as the worst snow pack ever recorded from every Western State, including Alaska and even Western Canada. Looking at the current snow totals, from around the western part of North America, I can confidently predict that we will break all recorded totals in history. This is bad news for ski resorts, the economy, water tables, fire season and countless others. However, since the Pacific Northwest is still getting plenty of rain I can only hope that we will still enjoy a good spring. We may not have the thunderous waterfalls rolling down from the snow covered mountains but we may be blessed with lots of rain totals where snow would otherwise dominant the landscape. We may even be able to venture out along the western slopes of the Cascade mountains earlier than normal and bask in the glory of extreme beauty of the colorful vegetation and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately it’s to the dismay of the bankrupt ski resorts and broken economies that rely on the heavy snow totals. I know that we have recouped a lot of snow totals in late February and March but it seems that this pineapple express is pretty ruthless this time and it isn’t looking good for a comeback. I’m not going to put away my snow shoes and remove my snow tires just yet but I am already getting ready for some sweet waterfall shots earlier than expected.
After years of refusing to utilize photoshop to distort any of my photographs I finally decided to take some time and see what I could do in order to make some of my photos look more creative and obscure. I was surprised to find out just how hard it is to do anything with landscape photos. It seems that it’s more difficult than I thought that it would be. I ended up going through hundreds of different patterns and never really ending up with anything that I liked. Usually the photo would end up just looking like it was a horrible photo or I wasn’t able to keep the photo from becoming so obscure that you couldn’t even make it out. I finally just decided to go with it and pick a few different patterns and see how it looked. I ended up using the ceramic tiles for most of my photos but I was again disappointed with the result. However, I was told by someone that they looked really cool and I should do more like that. I guess it’s hard to judge your own work and it’s sometimes good to work outside the box and take some chances. I chose to post this photo since it’s pretty easy to make out the the city landscape but you can easily see that I used the ceramic theme to change the photo. I ended up enhncing the photo from a raw picture and then just utilized the ceramic application to enhance and then feed off the photo. It was fun to play around with your photos as well as create a whole new market or appreciation for the technology available. However, I wasn’t impressed with most of the photoshop applications available and I will probably end up utilizes the same ones over and over.
There is a secret spot, along the Oregon coast, that offers some of the most spectacular views and photography opportunities that you can ever imagine. I won’t tell you where it’s located but I will tell you that it’s between Manzanita and Cannon Beach. You will find yourself standing on the top of a cliff that is about 100 feet above the Pacific Ocean and you can view the treacherous rocks below as the pounding surf crashing along the rocks. However, if you go on a calm summer day you may find yourself experiencing one of the most calming and tranquil days of your life. There is ample space to set up your tripod as well as all of your equipment. However, you will want to watch your footing since one wrong move and it could be your last. You would literally fall to your death since the rocks are jagged and it’s pretty much a straight shot to the pounding surf and rocks. There is also a small creek that crosses through the trail and spills into the Ocean, so you have the ability to cool off a little bit if you get too hot while basking in the summer heat. Hundreds of sea birds hover above as well as rest along the rocks protruding out of the surf and also nesting along the high and rocky cliffs. if you’re lucky you may be able to spot a whale during their annual migration. I took this photo during summer so you can see just how calm it can be but if you visit during fall or winter you can expect to witness the surf pounding the rocks below and sometimes the salt spray can reach just below from where you are standing.
This is what a sparse looking Mt. Hood looks like during the month of January. This photo was taken from about 5,000 feet and the date of the photo was January 13th, 2015. If you have ever visited Mt. Hood or anywhere else along the Cascade mountain range, during January, you would expect to see about 10 feet of snow blanketing the surrounding area. However, with the current climate collapse, you are looking at a very bare bones view of what the Cascade range currently looks like. I never thought that I would be experiencing a winter that was worse than last year. This winter is so bad that last years winter looked twice as good. That’s taking it pretty far since last year I thought that it was the worst on record. If we don’t start getting some snow the ski resorts will be lucky to avoid bankruptcy and our alpine glaciers will soon be a thing of the past. I also really hate to think that this summer may be more dangerous than last year. Normally, the photo that you see in this post would look like a photo from May, not January. I still want to think that it’s not all doom and gloom but I’m seriously getting nervous about the impact of another horrible snow pack. It’s hard to imagine that I could have hiked to nearly 9,000 feet without even needing my snowshoes. I ended up stopping at about the 7,000 mark and I was surprised to find even more loose gravel and dirt blanketing the higher elevations. I could see and hear several rocks cascading down the steep slopes that otherwise would be mostly snow covered until late April. It’s hard to imagine that the exposed rocks and soil nearly doubles the rate of erosion.
One of the best places to snow shoe inside the Mt. Hood forest is along the Barlow Trail. There is a small ski park just off of Hwy 35 and it offers some of the best terrain within the area. You can cross country ski, snow shoe or if you feel up to the task, you can carry your snow board or skis to one of the many higher elevations and make some fresh tracks. The trail system will take you as far east as you can go but if you plan on heading west, you will find yourself standing along Hwy 35. However, you won’t have any problem getting some great shots of Mt. Hood as long as you can work your way to an open clearing or higher elevation. You will pretty much be engulfed inside the forest so you can expect to be standing below some pretty spectacular trees. There are also hundreds of small creeks that wind throughout the area so you will want to be prepared to cross a few of them as well as navigating through some of the underbrush that grows along the creeks. However, if the snow pack is deep enough, you may not have to worry about any of the creeks or underbrush since they could be several feet below the snow pack. If you plan on taking some photos you will want to keep in mind that you are directly south east of Mt. Hood and since the sun will most likely be at about a 90 degree angle from the mountain, you will want to be sure and attach your CIR-PL and plan on looking for ways to avoid too much glare. This is especially true if you encounter clear blue skies like the one I posted. The direct sun along with the intense glare from the mountain and snow can really make it difficult to get a good quality shot without too much overexposure. Normally I would bring my tripod on days like this but since the trek is so strenuous and difficult due to the trees, you would be better served if you leave the tripod in the car and just plan on taking a lot of photos and utilizing your histogram as much as possible. Since I took a lot of photos of the trees, covered in snow inside the park, I made sure to remove my Cir-PL in order to maximize the limited light penetrating the forest. You can end up passing some pretty spectacular shots without even knowing it while trekking through the snowy forest if you’re not careful. I try to remember to look up as much as possible in order to take advantage of every opportunity. Because the snow park if pretty small you can expect it to fill up on weekends but if you get a spot you can expect limited crowds. The best thing about the Barlow snow park are the views of Mt. Hood and the forested trees so you may want to pick a day when the skies are clear and just after a big snow storm blankets the trees.
This is a photo of sparsely snow capped Broken Top with Sparks Lake in the foreground. Things again are looking pretty grim for parts of North America as far as snow pack goes. You know it’s bad when it’s December and it’s warmer in Utah than in parts of Florida and it’s even more dire when Washington’s Northern Cascade mountains get over 10 inches of rain in December. If this pattern continues, 2015 may be even warmer and worse than 2014. That’s pretty hard to imagine but by looking at statistics and witnessing the current climate, it’s looking more like reality. I personally wouldn’t want to be an owner or an investor in a ski resort or even have any type of business that relies on tourist traffic in the mountains. Currently, the entire Pacific Northwest is experiencing a pineapple express and it’s bringing over a foot of rain, which is very scary since it’s melting all of the snow that we did receive earlier and it should be coming down in the form of snow rather than rain in the higher elevations. Last years winter was so bad that I didn’t even put my snow tires on until almost February and I can’t imagine having a winter that bad again but unfortunately, we already are having an even crappier start than last year. I’m still pretty hopeful that I will be able to make some new snow shoe tracks but I am getting very anxious and pretty depressed about another crummy start to winter.
You may think that this photo was taken in July but I actually took it in November. You wouldn’t think that the Oregon coast could produce such awesome weather in November but fortunately we are blessed with some pretty amazing weather during Fall and Winter. However, the storms have rumbled back in and we are looking at about 2 to 3 weeks of rainy and unsettling weather. If you’re able to check the weather forecast on a daily basis you might be lucky enough to find that small window of opportunity and find a sunny day along the coast. This would be the best time to get an amazing sunset shot as well as have the ability to stroll along the beach like it was summer. I took this shot while visiting Ecola State Park and I was pleasantly surprised that there was absolutely no wind and no clouds. The temperatures were even descent. However, once the sun started to go down, the temperatures started to drop and the wind picked up. The photo from my previous post is what the sunset looked like. The colder months are much better at producing better sunsets, than at any other time during summer, and I would highly recommend visiting during Fall or Winter since you can also avoid the crowds and get a much better deal on a place to stay.
This photo may be the last clear sunset shot at the Oregon Coast for 2014. Oregonian’s know that Fall and Winter bring the most dynamic and amazing sunsets but unfortunately they are hard to come by and you have to ask for a little luck. One of my favorites reasons for going to the beach, during the cold months, is that sunset is between 4:30 and 5:00 pm but if you go on a day when the skies are clear you will wish that you had more time to explore and take in the sights. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. However, I didn’t bring my ND filter so I wasn’t really able to set the exposure time for more than two seconds. I did attach my CIR PL, warming filter and UV filter in order to take advantage of the warming tones as well as remove any unwanted noise. The one thing to remember is that when you are taking sunset shots, during the month of November, the sunset comes and goes lightning fast so you want to be sure and keep on your feet. Luckily, there are usually less people so you will normally have the opportunity to move about more freely without running into people or finding them standing in your way. The tides are also much more aggressive and the swells move in and out pretty quickly so you will want to keep that in mind since you may find yourself getting caught in a fast moving swell as you take that epic shot. The most important thing to remember is to think outside the box and stay creative since you can sometimes get that perfect shot when you least expect it. I was really impressed with the crashing waves moving left to right once they reached the beach so I waited for the best chance to get this particular shot. I really liked the way the water was dancing just above the beach but at a very fast pace. Even though I couldn’t set my camera to shutter priority, I was able to keep the aperture at only F-4, which allowed me to get the movements of the waves as well as the colors of the skies drenched in reds, yellows and orange. I also made sure to keep the ISO at 100, the WB at 0 and held the shutter speed at 1/60 second. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 42mm in order to frame each of the rocks in the shot. Since I only shoot in jpeg mode I was able to keep the photo at only 1.67mb, which keeps it from being too big. The next several days is calling for some pretty rainy weather but I would recommend checking the weather for the next sunny days and take advantage of sunset opportunities like this.