[/caption] One of the best places to get some spectacular views of the Three Sister’s and Broken Top are from the patio of Faith, Hope and Charity winery. Not only are you given great views of the Central Oregon mountain range but you also have some spectacular views of Smith Rock State Park. And not to mention the grounds of the winery are perfectly manicured and host several events like a blues concert that we attended as well as some opportunities to play several lawn games. There is even a large pond that the owners stock with Rainbow Trout and if you’re lucky, you may witness an osprey, hawk or even a bald eagle hovering high above. The tasting room is a renovated barn that houses several events and offers even better views of the landscape from the upstairs patio. The winery is nestled in a 315 acre private valley and they specialize in growing hybrid varieties in their 15 acre vineyard. Since there are so many variety of wildflowers dotting the vineyard, there are several opportunities to get some really cool shots of the high desert landscape and you may even be able to get the mountains in the background. The winery is located in Terrebonne, Oregon and is located amongst rolling farm grounds, canyons and ridges that will surely provide ample photo opportunities. If your visiting Central Oregon and you’re looking for some great wine, mountain views and great atmosphere, I would recommend Faith, Hope and Charity Winery.
[/caption] One of the best and easiest places to get some great shots of the Central Oregon Cascades is right in the middle of the small town of Sisters. You don’t need to even get your shoes dirty of break a sweat. However, you do want to make sure and pick the right time of day to take advantage of the lighting. Normally, early morning or early evening is the best time since the sun passes towards the south of Broken Top and the Three Sisters and if it’s during mid afternoon it can look washed out. I took this photo at about 11:41am and you can see that the photo is fairly washed out and there is very little personality in the shot. The trees look pretty cool but unfortunately the mountains seem a little lifeless. However, I could have picked a worse time to get this shot. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Canon 23-135mm lens and made sure to attach my CIR-PL, warming and UV filter. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0. The aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed was at 1/250 seconds since I had the camera mode in Program/Normal.
[/caption] Beautiful view of Broken Top from crater meadow in the Three Sisters Wilderness area. If you’re looking for a great area to get in some great hiking and have an opportunity to get some great photos and take in some great views, you won’t want to pass up the chance to hike near Broken Top mountain. However, if you’re going for only a day hike and you want to avoid the killer up hill elevation gain that you must endure via the Green Lakes trailhead, you may want to cheat a little by driving to the Broken Top trailhead. However, you will need to endure over 4 miles of a rugged dirt road that calls for a high clearance vehicle and lots of patience. Once you get to the parking lot you will find yourself with having to deal with only about 500 to 1,000 feet of elevation gain, depending on what you want to do. You are pretty much smack dab in the middle of Broken Top and you can continue along the trailhead or span out in several different directions once you get to a well marked intersection of trails. This photo was taken along the crater meadow with two lava cones in the foreground and on both the right and left of Broken Top. There are plenty of wildlife in the area as well as dozens of alpine flowers dotting the landscape. You will also walk across several small to medium sized creeks as well as see several waterfalls. Even during mid Fall, you will find yourself hiking through snow as well as several snow bridges.
[/caption] Beautiful view of Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson from Central Oregon. This photo was taken while looking west and between Sisters and Bend, Oregon. I took the shot at about 5:20pm, which just just before sunset so the sun was pretty much on the other side of the Cascade mountains and the light was pretty soft. However, I did still have my CIR-PL and warming filter on due to some of the harsher light reflecting from the snowy mountains. The focal length was at 85mm and I was about 35 miles from Mt. Jefferson so I had a hard time keeping a strong field of view. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. The camera was in normal mode so the aperture was at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/128 second. I also used my tripod and remote switch to avoid any camera shake and took several shots in order to eliminate too much camera blur due to the distance from the mountains and the field of view.
[/caption] Western storm clouds hovering over Mt. Washington as Central Oregon basks in sunny skies! This photo pretty much sums up why Central Oregon gets over 250 days of sunny weather while the Willamette Valley and the rest of Western Oregon gets so much rainy and cloudy days. Mt. Washington was holding the storm clouds at bay as the rest of Central Oregon was sunny. The storm clouds were literally being turned away by the Cascade mountains like a giant upside down u-turn. The clouds were lucky to make it a few hundred yards from the mountains and then only to be turned around and stuck behind the mountains. There are several areas to get this shot but you can just pull off highway 22 and get some great shots from the pull off area. You can see the North and Middle Sister on a sunny day, which offers some great shots. The bare looking stands of timber in the foreground were caused by a massive forest fire that devastated the area about 10 years ago.
[/caption] Smith Rock State Park is located in Central Oregon and is a short drive from Highway 97. If you plan on hiking around the trail system that encompasses the park you will want to bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and lots of camera gear.
[/caption] One of the best parts of the Misery Ridge trail is that once you’re at the top you can venture around parts of the summit and explore the unique geology and vegetation as well as look for some pretty spectacular photo opportunities. This photo was taken near Monkey Face and looking directly west towards the Cascades. The drop off just past the shrub is several hundred feet and you can see the cliff edge in the shadows just above the shrub. I wanted to create a very unique and dynamic shot so I tried to incorporate as many subjects as possible. There aren’t a lot of shadows but the shadows from the cliff and shrub create the perfect image. The blue, green and brown colors are almost in perfect harmony with the snow capturing the essence that is truly Central Oregon. There are several desert wildflowers that bloom during summer as well as dozens of raptors soaring high above. If you’ve never visited Smith Rock State Park I would plan on spending at least 2-3 days in order to experience the entire park as well as the high mountain desert that surrounds the park.
[/caption] Smith Rock State Park is located in Central Oregon and offers some of the most diverse and breathtaking geology in America! Smith Rock offers over 8 miles of hiking trails with dozens of switchbacks as well as marathon trails that will suite anyone’s needs. You will also enjoy hiking along the Crooked River and taking in views of the snow capped Cascade mountains. The best way to take advantage of the lighting is to start the hike no later than 8:30am and take a left along the river trail once you cross the river bridge. The sun will now be at your back and you can take photos of the rocks with the sky looking as blue as a tropical ocean. As you hike along the trail it will eventually curve around the park, which will put you on the north side of the rocks with the sun being blocked by the massive rocks. This will allow you to take some great shots of the park looking north and northeast and you won’t have to worry about the glare. This shot was taken just about a 1/4 mile from the main trail and I hiked to the rivers edge in order to get this shot. I was facing north with the sun behind me at about a 90 degree angle. I didn’t bring my tripod so I made sure to keep a steady hand and turned on the IS in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I also set the camera mode to Automatic focus in order to have several subjects in focus since there was a large field of view and lots of subjects in the photo. I just made sure to constantly check the histogram and reviewed each photo before I settled with the best one and then moved on.
[/caption] Crater Creek flows down the alpine mountains near Broken Top with Ball Butte in the background. Hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness offers several opportunities to visit many of the creeks flowing from the nearby glaciers as well as seeing the cluster of alpine lakes that dot the wilderness. The wilderness offers one of the most memorable experiences and provides the outdoor adventurer everything that a wilderness should. There are dozens of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, creeks, lakes, waterfalls, alpine flowers, wildlife and of course some amazing views. However, you will want to visit during the weekday or off seasons since summer and weekends can really get busy.
[/caption] Sparks lake is one of the best places to visit in Central Oregon if you’re wanting to get an amazing photo of South Sister and its reflection. If you visit the lake during the early morning or just before sunset you will most likely be able to get a perfect reflection of the mountains as well as the foothills in the lake. One of the best views from Sparks Lake is the view of the ancient lava flow spilling over the foothills in front of South Sister.