[/caption] Wagon train mural painted on a historic building in downtown Joseph, Oregon. One of the coolest things to do when visiting the Wallowa mountains and Wallowa lake is to take some time to walk the streets of historic Joseph, Oregon. You are literally transformed back into the 1800’s and you will find yourself immersed in the old west whether you like it or not. There is a large number of historic old buildings in this tiny town but you won’t run out of photography opportunities as you wind your way through the streets. This mural was painted on the side of a historic building right in the middle of downtown. There is a small restaurant that has outside seating just below the mural and there are several relics and old antics littering the courtyard. Joesph is truly a magical place that belongs in the history books as one of the most photogenic small towns in America. It also doesn’t hurt that the Wallow mountains tower over the town and you can get some great shots of the mountains standing behind some of the old buildings.
[/caption] Wallowa lake creates one of the most spectacular photo opportunities in Oregon. You will have to endure a 370 mile and 7 hour drive from Portland in order to enjoy the beauties of the lake and its mountains but it sure is worth it. Wallowa lake and the Wallowa mountains are truly one of the most epic places on the planet and you won’t be disappointed. The best time to photograph the lake and the mountains in the background is in the early to mid morning. This shot was taken from the north side of the lake and it’s also the only place to shoot if you want to include the entire lake and the mountains in the photo. The town of Joesph and the rolling hills are directly behind the north side of the lake. The sun rises just to the left from where you’re standing, which is northeast and you can see the sun rise over the higher elevations as the backdrop of the mountains start to light up like a roman candle. The reflections of the mountains are at there best during the mid morning and luckily the lake is pretty empty until later in the morning. I’ve actually caught fish jumping out of the water or osprey, hawks or eagles grabbing a fish in their talons. There are dozens of predatory birds that nest right along the lakes edge and you will be amazed at the amount of birds you can photograph. Deer are also in abundance as well as horses and cattle, so if you like to photograph animals you won’t be disappointed. I counted so many eagles and deer that I eventually lost interest in them and tried to focus more on the landscape scenery. I took this particular photo at about 8:00am on 7/18/12. On this particular day I took over a hundred shots of the lake and the mountains reflecting off the lake but decided to post this shot since it gives the best view of the surrounding area. I was standing along the lakes edge in order to get as close to the water without getting wet. I took several photos while wading out in the lake or with the rocks in the foreground and I will soon post some of those as well. I wanted to get the most panoramic photos in most of my shots so I set the focal length at 17mm while using my Sigma 17-70mm lens. The camera was in normal/program mode so the aperture was automatically set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I attached my CIR-PL and warming filter and set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0. I considered attaching my ND4 filter and setting the shutter speed at 4 seconds in order to get the ghosting effect from the lake but the lake was so smooth and glassy that it wasn’t necessary.
[/caption] One of the best panoramic views of the Wallowa mountains can be found along the northern banks of Wallowa Lake. There are numerous miles of hiking trails that travel deep within the mountains but if you’re short on time or energy you can get some fantastic photos by driving just south of Joseph, OR and then stopping along the lake for some great views. I would recommend spending a few days in this part of Oregon since it’s very hard to get to and the drive from Portland is over 6 hours. However, you will be amazed at the sheer beauty and solitude of the Oregon, cowboy and very western feeling, part of the state. You can expect to see a lot of wildlife such as black bear, deer, elk, bald eagle, hawk and maybe even a wolf. You don’t have to travel to the Rocky mountains to see some of the most amazing and isolated mountains in the country.