[/caption] A panoramic view from the Oregon side looking across the Columbia River into Washington State. This photo was taken at a viewpoint spot along the Oneonta trail that’s just down the road from the Horsetail Falls parking lot. The parking lot is on the old Columbia River Highway but just west of the Oneonta Gorge. You can get to triple falls much quicker if you start from this part of the trail head but you will miss the majority of the waterfalls unless you double back towards horsetail falls. However, the viewpoint is well worth the short hike since you get a birds eye view with unlimited views of the Columbia River and Washington State.
[/caption] The trail that leads to triple falls is one of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the Gorge. The trail leads you past four beautiful and very photogenic waterfalls, unbelievable views of the gorge and the Columbia River, old growth forest and parallels the creek that feeds the waterfalls. The best time to visit is between May and early July. This is the best time to catch the creeks at their highest level and the foliage is usually in full bloom. The wildflowers are also spectacular and some of the most widespread in the Pacific Northwest. However, since the weather can be unpredictable, sometimes the foliage can stay dormant well into June depending on the temperatures during spring. The photo that I posted is the most popular viewing area of the waterfall and you can really see just how awesome this part of the gorge really is. The creek climbs several miles past Triple Falls and the trail parallels the creek and offers millions of photo opportunities. I may sound bias but this part of the Pacific Northwest makes any other parts of the world look like a desert. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The viewing area is a very uneven and steep cliff so setting up your tripod can be tricky and only one person at a time can take this photo since it’s so narrow. I set the camera mode at shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The ISO was at 100 and I adjusted the white balance to -0.7. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic view as possible without having any vignetting. The day was mostly overcast and the sun was directly behind the waterfall. It was about 12:30pm but since the clouds were moving so fast I just waited for the best opportunity. If you plan on visiting and expect to get a photo of triple falls without having dozens of people sitting along the waterfall you want to come during a weekday and a very overcast or rainy day since hikers like to sit just above the waterfall and take pictures. I was pretty fortunate to only have to wait for two hikers to eventually move away from the area before I could get to work. the elevation gain to triple falls is only about 600 feet but you could continue all the way to larch mountain if you’re up to the 6.5 mile hike. This is one hike that you will truly be glad you took and you can expect some of the most fantastic views of your life.
[/caption] I was finally able to pick the perfect day to visit Punchbowl falls. The day was overcast and there was a light sprinkle as I photographed the waterfall. The neon green vegetation was at its peak as I was able to gently wade out to the middle of the creek so I could get in to the best possible position as I photographed the waterfall. The creek wasn’t as full or nearly as cold from the last time I visited this same spot. I even made sure to bring my pair of Teva sandals so I could have an easier time navigating the rocks below as well as the swift current. This was by far one of the most epic times to visit the falls since there was no other hikers and I was able to move almost anywhere along the creek before setting up my tripod. With the water level still very high and the amount of water thundering over the falls you probably haven’t seen this much water going over Punch bowl falls in a while. The water was absolutely piercing as it raged over the falls. I was also surprised that I was able to pretty much set up my tripod anywhere along the creek without the fast moving water causing my tripod to move as I set the shutter priority to 4 seconds at a time. My 11 month old Australian Cattle dog puppy was having a good time chasing small sticks and drinking in the creek as I took photos. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to get the correct blur effect without having too much overexposure. I had the camera mode in shutter priority so the aperture was set at F-11 since I also had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1. Since it was sprinkling the whole time I was forced to wipe my lens after every shot since I was setting the shutter priority at 4 seconds each time I took a photo. I took this particular photo at about 11:10am and the sun was pretty much non existent due to the cloudy skies. The waterfalls does create a strong glare in the foreground so you have to watch how you place your camera. I had the focal length at 28mm and I was standing about 50 yards from the waterfall.
[/caption] The Oneonta trail offers some spectacular views of 4 waterfalls along with several places to rest along the creek to take photos. Now that the creeks are at their full potential you can really get some terrific photos of the water thundering over the waterfalls or the creek. There are endless amounts of photography opportunities on this particular trail. I took this shot on 5/14/11 at about 2:10pm and since it was on a busy Saturday I was limited on the amount of places that I could take photos without having people in them. Therefore, I decided to really concentrate on taking photos along the creeks banks well above the waterfalls. I’ve been coming to some of these same spots for years but this spring has been especially dynamic due to the amount of water spilling out from the Cascades. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure to attach my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter so I could set the shutter priority to 8 seconds. I really wanted to blur the water as much as possible without having too much exposure since the focal length was at 17mm. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I had to wait for the sun to hide behind some clouds since the sun was directly above me. The aperture was at F-22 since I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0-.7. With Oneonta trail providing 4 amazing waterfalls along with awesome creek views this is surely a hike worth exploring.
[/caption] Aside from photographing the many waterfalls in the Gorge I think that photographing the tree lined forest is the second most impressive thing about the area. However, it can be very difficult and challenging to take a really good photo of the forest. Whenever I’m photographing a waterfall I take several minutes if not hours setting up my tripod and looking for the many angles that I can shoot the falls. I normally use a waterfall as my destination so during my hike I sometimes don’t take the time to see the forest through the trees. But when I decide that I want to concentrate my photos on the forest it can take a lot of time hiking with my tripod and camera attached as well as setting up on some really uneven ground. The rewards can be well worth the effort but getting really good shots of a tree lined forest is very challenging. I took this shot while hiking the Herman Creek trail. There is an area that is exposed to the cliffs and tree lined forest. You can see the trees climbing up against the basalt rock cliffs with other species scattered about. The weather was partly cloudy with the sky partly backlit. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL due to the overexposed sky and the desire to capture the warm tones of the trees and basalt cliffs. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to ensure no blurring of the landscape. I learned very early that you can’t take landscape photos of the forest without using a tripod if you don’t want any camera shake to appear. A forest filled photo can really confuse the sensor and the different lighting effects will guarantee a blurry photo.
[/caption] Hiking inside the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the most spectacular views you will ever experience. You will never be let down no matter which hike you decide to take. You will most likely encounter several waterfalls, steep canyon walls, creeks, brooks, steep drop offs and plenty of wildflowers. I took this photo using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I was using my warming filter and CIR-PL along with my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. This shot was taken around November so the forest was lush and green due to the recent rains. I had the focal length at 34mm in order to narrow the field of view and frame the trail and forest in the shot. The camera mode was in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-4.5 and the shutter speed at 1/3 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the late morning glare from the sun high above. There was a huge drop off behind the trees in the foreground and the sun was shinning just behind them. I have never been disappointed when visiting the Gorge no matter what the month is or the season. However, Spring is probably my favorite with Fall a close second.