Beautiful photo of Oneonta Falls and bridge in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. This particular trail will take you to four spectacular waterfalls and provide you some of the most awesome views of the Columbia River as well as views of the thick forest and lava cut gorge. One of the best hiking destinations is above Triple Falls and if you continue past the falls, you can expect to hike alongside the creek that feeds the waterfalls. There are thousands of photo opportunities and if you’re up to a really long and strenuous hike, you can continue for another 7.7 mile to reach Multnomah Falls. On this particular hike, to Triple Falls, I was sadly turned away due to the fact that there was a mud slide that took out a portion of the trail just a few hundred feet from the waterfall. The forest service was working on the trail but it was a mud soaked mess and I wasn’t interested in slogging through three feet of mud. The trail was still open and passable but it was pretty muddy and you can expect to endure a very muddy mess for at least another month before it dries out. I decided to turn back and head towards Oneonta Falls to see if I could get some descent shots. The switchback that continues past the bridge was also damaged, so you can expect to get pretty muddy as well. However, if you park on the other side of Horsetail Falls parking lot, you can come in from the west and avoid the muddy part of the trail. Because the snow in the mountains are melting and with all of the rain that we have received lately, you can expect the waterfalls to be at their peak. The water is thundering through the gorge and you will find yourself immersed in fresh water chaos. The vegetation is at it’s peak and the rivers, streams and creeks are swollen to their brim. Now is the absolute best time to visit the gorge, if you want to see the gorge at its best as well as having the best opportunities to get some great shots. To get this shot, I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I set the camera mode to shutter priority and set it at 2.5 seconds in order to get the flowing motion of the waterfall. The water was moving so fast that I never set the shutter priority past four seconds all day. The waterfalls were literally moving at light speed and anything over four seconds washed out the water. I set the ISO at 100, white balance at -1.3 and the aperture was at F-4. The skies were completely overcast and it was sprinkling all day. However, since the water was moving so fast, it caused the pictures to become too bright, so I had to reduce the white balance to offset the highlights. If you have a descent telephoto lens you can get some great opportunities to get some shots of the raptors flying around the gorge. While hiking near the main trail I saw two juvenile bald eagles jump from their perch and start hovering just above where I was standing. I also saw several bald eagles and osprey flying near the Columbia River gorge. The gorge is a raptor gold mine due to all of the fish in the river. If you have the patience, you can expect to get some great photos of them.
Hood River, Oregon has some of the best wind for kite surfing and windsurfing! With warm and dry wind tunneling through the Columbia river gorge, you can pretty much expect some great conditions. Hood River, Oregon pretty much has the best of both worlds. It isn’t as dry and hot as The Dalles, which is just a few miles in the east but enjoys much better sun drenched days than Portland in the west. It literally sits right at the cusp of the cool west and the dry east. Mt. Hood is just to the south of the city and Mt. Adams is just to the north. Hood River was rated as one of the best river city’s in America and one of the most outdoor oriented cities. There are several rivers that flow near the city as well as epic mt. biking and hiking trails. You are only a few miles from some of the best waterfalls in the state and only a short drive from year round skiing. Agriculture and vineyards make up the biggest part of their economy but manufacturing of kite surfing and windsurfing gear are also a dynamic part of the economy. There are also several breweries that make up the economy. The population might be small but most of the homes are owned by families that live as far away as the east coast. There aren’t a lot of places that have what Hood River has during the summer months and a quick trip will show you why. Nothing better than spending the day catching some of the best kite surfing conditions on the planet and then relaxing at a brewery taking in the views of the gorge. There are also a lot of points of interests just a short drive from Hood River. If you’re planning a trip, I would plan on spending at least a week during the summer time and plan on getting a pretty good work out. Don’t forget your kayak, bike, hiking gear, skis/snowboard, windsurfing/kite board and rock climbing gear. It’s pretty much required that you love the outdoors and really want to get a work out but if not, there are dozens of wineries and fruit stands that you can gorge on. If your into bird watching, you may also want to bring a good pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens since you are sure to see dozens of osprey, hawks, eagle, falcons and turkey vultures. The agriculture and vineyards attract every rapture you can imagine and you’re guaranteed to see them soaring above the Columbia river as well. I’v spotted several osprey catching fish in the river and then see an eagle steal it right out of their talons or coercing them to drop it from the sky. There are also several rapture nests lining along the river in the gorge.
Unless you plan on wading out in a foot of frigid water to get this type of shot, I wouldn’t plan on making the trek until the water level starts to drop. The water level is so high that the rocky beach is almost completely underwater. I have never seen the water level in the gorge this high since I started hiking the gorge over 20 years ago. As you can see from this photo, Punchbowl Falls is beyond swelled. In order for me to get this shot I had to take off my socks and shoes and wade out in about a foot of water before I could get a clear shot. The water is moving pretty fast so you need to steady your tripod as firmly as possible and hope that it doesn’t move. In case I did lose my footing and found myself swimming in the frigid creek I made sure to leave my photography bag, with all of my other lenses, at the safety of the creeks edge. The creek was so cold that after about 30 minutes I completely lost feeling in both of my legs from the knees down. The pebbles and rocks that you are forced to stand on are pretty jagged and hard but once my feet became numb I lost all feeling and was forced to rely on my tripod to steady myself as I scrambled back to the edge. Next time I will bring my Teva’s so I don’t have this problem again. Though the vegetation is starting to spring there are still several plants that still haven’t bloomed as well as several of the old growth trees that have only just begun to show their buds. This created a challenge since I wanted to take advantage of the swelling creeks and waterfalls but not include any of the shots with the bare vegetation. The harsh winter and cool and rainy spring has really made it tough on the gorge this year. The wildflowers are even somewhat confused. Several of the flowers are growing along the high cliffs but most of the wildflowers that grow along the creeks are barely out. I chose this shot in order to show just how much water was thundering over the falls as well as ensure there were no bare branches. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. This was especially difficult since the tripod was in the middle of the fast moving creek. I attached my ND8, warming filter and CIR-PL so I could have the camera in Shutter Priority mode. The focal length was at 21mm and I had the shutter open for 5 seconds. The aperture was at F-13 and I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. I spent about 45 minutes in the creek so I had plenty of time to adjust the focal length and the shutter speed and white balance but I was forced to basically just adjust and shoot as quickly as possible. The morning and afternoon was overcast so the sky was perfectly covered and it never even tried to rain. The trees should start blooming within the next week so I hope that my next trip here will offer more color but still plenty of water.
[/caption] Every time I visit the Gorge, I always look for ways to get a different perspective of the many waterfalls in the area. Wile visiting Wahclella falls I decided to take my chances and leap to a rock in order to get this photograph. It was a little sketchy since the water level was at it’s absolute highest level that I had ever seen and the rocks were pretty slippery. However, I decided to chance it even though I was carrying my tripod and all of my lenses. The rock that I was standing on was big enough to allow me to set up my tripod with all three legs extended and I was able to move around as I looked for different photo opportunities. This shot was especially interesting since the perfectly round boulder was pretty much directly centered in my photo with Wahclella falls just above it. The creek was completely surrounding the boulder as well as the massive walls that created the waterfall. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible. However, since I had attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter there was some vignetting so I had to crop parts of the edges out. I had the camera in shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds in order to get the right amount of ghosting from the fast and swollen creek. The aperture was automatically set at F-11 since the ISO was at 100 and the white balance was at -1. I used photoshop to increase the saturation of the vegetation and removed some of the glare from the water.
[/caption] I am now starting to look forward to an early spring this year. I have all but lost hope in a snowy and amazing winter in the Northwest as they had predicted. Therefore, I am starting to give my attention to one of the most amazing places to visit during spring and that is the Columbia River Gorge. Both Washington and Oregon share in its beauty but the Oregon side has a lot more waterfalls and creeks to hike along. I snapped this photo last spring on 4/30/10 and it was later in the day around 4:15pm. The sun was out for most of the day and there weren’t many clouds to shade the gorge. However, since I waited until later in the day I was able to get this great shot of Tanner Creek with the unbelievable greenery surrounding the creek. However, I was only able to set the shutter speed to 1/2 second due to the light and glare still being created by the fast movement of the water. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my 18-55m lens. I set the focal length to 24mm in order to allow the vegetation and rocks to frame the photo. Since I was using shutter mode while in Program the aperture was at F-11. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 in order to prevent too much glare but still get some of the blur from the movement of the water. I was using my tripod, bubble level and my remote switch as well as attaching my ND4, warming and CIR-PL filter. This allowed even a smaller amount of light to enter the lens. I can’t express how amazing the gorge is during spring. Especially since the snow is melting in the Cascades which creates a thunderous amount of water spilling through the waterfalls and engulfing its creeks. The vegetation explodes with neon greens and the flowers turn to all colors imaginable. Clearly a most epic scene that one must enjoy every year.
[/caption] I have now posted my second photo that isn’t of the snow in the Cascades. I am really getting tired of all the rain/snow mix that has been falling in the Cascade mountains. I am beginning to think that this winter is going to be as bad as last years winter. I know that they are predicting the colder temperatures and snow to arrive by next Wednesday but I am starting to lose faith in their predicting ability. We Oregonians know that we normally get a cold snap with some early snow that allows the ski resorts to open but then to be sidelined by a quick and nasty warm and rainy event. However, I thought this winter was supposed to be different. How many times do we need to hear about La Nina. In fact, we usually have sunny but much colder weather in December. This month has turned out to be warm and very rainy. This is nothing like they predicted. I will now stop complaining about our winter in the Pacific Northwest and write a little something about this photo that I took along the Columbia River Gorge on 5/18/10. Last spring was one of the better springs that I have ever experienced in the Northwest. On this day, I was able to take several photos of the many waterfalls that string along the old Columbia Highway. I took this photo at about 6:45 pm. I was heading back from the east side of the gorge when I decided to stop at Lower Latourell Falls. I was pretty sure that I would have a great opportunity to get a good shot since the sun was lowering and the shadows were just starting to appear. I was using my Canon Rebel T1I along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. Since the sun was still rather bright I attached my ND 4 as well as my warming filter. I was only able to adjust the shutter speed to about 1.3 seconds due to the brightness of the sky. I set the ISO to 100 and the F stop was at F-14. I had the camera mode on shutter and the white balance at -1.3. The Latourell Falls trailhead is one of the closest waterfalls from Portland and it’s a short drive along the Historic Columbia Highway. The hike is about 2.3 miles and it’s a very easy loop to hike. The lower falls is 249 feet and the upper falls is 100 feet. Upper Latourell Falls is about 1 mile from the parking lot and the trail winds around the falls and brings you back to the road which directs you under a really old 100 foot arch that is part of the historic highway. The trail is paved and its a great hike for kids and for taking photos.
[/caption] Thursday was the perfect day to take advantage of the nicer weather by hiking back in to the Gorge and along the Herman Creek Trail. This trail takes you along one of the most scenic trails in the area. You can hear the rumbling of Herman Creek and witness some of the most spectacular tree lined forests around. I keep expecting to run in to Big Foot whenever I’m on this trail. The entire trail is completely covered by a canopy of bigleaf maples and Douglas Fir’s, which is good if it’s raining. There are several areas that expose you to the awesome views of the canyon below and the forest on the other side. You can hear Osprey and Red Tail Hawk’s flying above you. There is only one smaller, less spectacular waterfall on the trail but the overall beauty makes up for that. However, there are several brooks that cut along the trail as well as several photo op’s to take of the creek. Spring and summer flowers grow along the trail whenever it’s near the canyon cliffs. I also always seem to run in to several snakes during the later part of the afternoon. I took this shot just .8 miles from where I parked. This area is one of the best spots to take of the huge basalt and tree lined cliffs that are on the other side of the creek. Because of the intense neon green vegetation and the numerous trees, I always use a tripod. If you don’t, your pictures will almost always come out blurry. The cameras sensor always seems to get confused by all of the greenery and camera shake doesn’t help either. Since the sun was directly in front of me, I set my exposure to just above 0 and had the ISO set at 200. The F stop was at 6.4 and the shutter speed was at 1/83 second. I was using my warming filter along with my CIR-PL. I was using my 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 39mm. I had the camera set at auto exposure. I highly recommend this hike if your interested in hiking along a tree lined trail and enjoy witnessing some of the most intense colors the Gorge has to offer. There is also a popular campground near the parking area. However, you can hear the noise coming from I-84 and it’s very loud.
[/caption] Nothing more exciting than getting totally drenched while hiking along one of the most scenic trails in the Gorge. Tuesday offered some of the most unexpected weather of my Spring so far. I spent about an hour hunched under a very large basalt rock along Tanner creek and near the base of Wahclella Falls. Even the heavy moss over me had a hard time absorbing the relentless rain. At least I was able to get some really good shots of the creek while I waited out the rain storm. I initially planned on only photographing the creek just yards from my car. Unfortunately, I was lured farther along the trail by the periodic sun that made several unexpected appearances. Too bad I left all of my rain gear in my car and made the mistake of wearing only shorts. However, I was able to get some of my best shots so far this Spring. Sun and rain make for some great photo opportunities. I took this shot at about 6:00pm. I was driving home along I-84 when I noticed that the sun was creating some really awesome sun streaks near the Vista House. I decided to check it out and was very surprised and not at all disappointed. I was able to get several panoramic shots while the clouds and the sun fought for space along the gorge. This shot shows how the sun was piercing the forest as the storm clouds swirled along the Washington side. I set my camera to Auto Exposure and the Exposure time was at 1/83 seconds. The Lens Aperture was at F-6.4 and the ISO was at 200. I was using my 55-250 telephoto lens and had the focal length at 55mm. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL in order to take advantage of the clouds and the green vegetation. I always recommend using both of these filters when photographing landscapes. I also used my tripod to get a crisp shot. Can’t wait to go out on another drenching photo trip.
[/caption] This hike along the Washington side of the Gorge is one of the best trails along the northern part of the gorge. There are two amazing waterfalls and the scenery from the top of the trail are stunning. You can see Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood as though you can almost touch them. The trail to the summit of Hamilton Mountain is a grueling 7.6 round trip hike and gains a total of 2,000 feet of elevation gain. There are several sure drop views along the trail and you are welcomed with some of the most stunning views of the gorge. I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you’re afraid of heights or get dizzy easily. You can sometimes hear the distant sounds of gun fire from the nearby shooting range and the Bonneville Dam can be somewhat of an eye soar. Though I still think that the views are still worthy of this challenging hike. Hardy creek is one of the most scenic creeks and I really enjoy photographing this area. On this hike, I decided to only hike to the bridge that crosses Hardy Falls since I was planning on an additional hike the following day. I had climbed down from the bridge and carefully navigated my down along the creeks edge. The rocks and moss made it challenging and I eventually found out that my hiking shoes still keep my feet dry when I slipped into the creek. I ended up planting both feet in the creek when one of the many rocks rolled as I stepped on it. The morning was mostly overcast and it rained periodically but the sun eventually came out as I settled on this photo to post on my blog. Again, the water was thundering from high above and the moss was just starting to show its neon green that makes it famous around the gorge. I had to set up my tripod on a very narrow rock and plant my feet at the very corner of the creek. I used my 18-55mm kit lens and set the range at 18mm. I set the shutter speed to 1 second and the F stop at 18 since the glare from the creek was pretty high. I set the ISO to 100 and kept the sensor at Program mode. I used my warming filter as well as my ND4 and CIR-PL filter. I have hiked this trail several times and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to get a grand view of the gorge as well as two volcanic mountains.
[/caption] I spent a fantastic day at the gorge yesterday. This time I wanted to take some pictures of the falls while the sun was out. I was hoping to get some great shadow features in my shots and I wasn’t disappointed. I decided to post this picture since it shows just how fast the water was moving and it details how diverse the vegetation is. This isn’t my favorite shot but I thought it summed up my day pretty well. The water was moving with so much force that I had to reduce the shutter speed in order to avoid the heavy glare from the sun reflecting off of the water. The water is currently thundering down from the Cascades with unbelievable force. If you look closely, you can see that the creek has spread to every nook and cranny of the basalt, winding it’s way towards the Columbia river. Now is the best time to see this in it’s rawest form. However, some of the vegetation still hasn’t come out. Also, many of the spring flowers are starting to bloom. I would give it another week or two before all of the neon greens break through the soil. To get this shot I stood behind a tree in order to block some of the suns light. I set my shutter speed to one second and set the F-stop to 8. I used my 18-55mm lens and had to use the 55mm focal length since I was standing high above the falls. I set the ISO setting to 100 and used my tripod, as I always do when photographing moving water. I’ll be posting several more shots on my business facebook page.