Spring is officially here and it will only be a few more weeks until the gorge will be ready for some serious photography hunting. I only say that because the gorge usually doesn’t become completely prepared for a photography hike until all of the foliage has come out of its dormancy and begins to clog the landscape with a sea of green. Early May or even as late as mid June is the best time to take advantage of the intense green landscape but it really depends on the weather. If we are lucky enough to get a more mild spring, then the gorge is more likely to see it’s foliage come out early. However, if we get a colder and wetter spring, then the foliage won’t come out until late May or mid June. However, you can always expect to still have a great waterfall and creek in your shot no matter what the weather is like. The water levels will still be high and you can expect some pretty thunderous waterfalls cascading through the basalt cliffs as they carve their way through the lower elevations. The photo that I posted is of Elowah Falls and it’s pretty easy to get to. It’s also a very popular waterfall since it’s only a short hike and it’s pretty awesome to look at. You can expect to get a little wet while crossing over the bridge and you can even take a swim in the fresh water pool that is directly under the waterfall. Since the trail can get pretty busy you may want to visit during the weekday, if you want to get some shots of the waterfall without having dozens of people in the foreground. You will also want to plan on drying your lens fairly often since the water spray is pretty intense and if you don’t you will end up with a bunch of photos with nothing but water droplets on your shots. I would also recommend that you bring along your tripod, bubble level and a remote switch. You would also be doing yourself a favor if you attach some ND filters. I normally set the shutter speed between 3 and 5 seconds and since the light can get pretty high, you don’t want to end up with any overexposure. A tripod will also allow you to ensure that they don’t come out blurry and uneven. Using a tripod along very uneven and a tricky landscape is a lot of work but you don’t really have a choice. Try doing this with a dog with you as well and this will really test your patients. Not only does the trail that leads to Elowah falls offer great shots of the waterfall but there are great opportunities to photograph the old growth forest, wildflowers, wildlife, creeks, moss, lichen and dozens of other photo opportunities.
[/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.
[/caption] Sunday was nothing but sunshine and huge crowds along the Columbia River Gorge. I normally avoid the gorge on weekends when the weather is nice but I had a childhood friend visiting that also enjoys photography. So, I decided to take him to some of Oregon’s best waterfalls closest to Portland. Since we got such a late start I figured that we would start at Multnomah Falls. The crowds were outrageous but the sunlight was pretty awesome. Even with the crowds, the almost perfect sunlight made for a worthy experience. The sun was just far enough west that you could capture the glow of the neon greens and still be able to use your shutter to capture the movement of the falls. We eventually drove to Elowah falls where we hiked along the gorge trail via Yeon Park and again took advantage of the great lighting. We also stopped at Cascade Locks to photograph some of the sailboat racers cruising a small course on the Columbia River. I decided to post this shot since I rarely get many chances to post pictures of the forest. Forest shots always seem to elude me. However, this time the soft light and ample greenery of vegetation made for a great opportunity. I used my 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 29mm. I set the ISO at 100 and kept it in Auto Exposure. The F-stop was at 4.5 and I was using my tripod. The exposure time was at .125 seconds. I had my warming filter along with my CIR-PL to create a subtle appearance.