[/caption] One of the best views from Smith Rock State Park is from the top of the Park which is about 3,250 feet. You have a 360 degree view and can see as far north as Mt. Hood and as far south as Paulina Peak. You also can see the Crooked River as it winds its way around the park which offers great spots to cool off from the desert heat. The summit of the park also offers several hiking trails that allow you to move about the entire top part of the park including the ability to look down at the rock climbers working their way towards the summit. You can also practically touch Monkey Face but I wouldn’t advise it since the fall would surely hurt. The great thing about this photo is that I was able to frame the photo with the rocks all around and then focus on the Three Sisters in the background. It also shows just how magnificent and diverse the Central Oregon topography is. To get this shot I wedged myself under a small area inside the rocks and made sure to include the climbing hooks in the bottom right in order to show the unbelievable climbing available at the park. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and made sure that I had attached my CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to saturate the sky and the red rocks without having any overexposure. Since I was hiking with my 1 year old and extremely hyper Australian Cattle dog I decided that I wouldn’t bring my tripod. Unfortunately, this meant that most of my photos were taken while only using my right hand and spending most of my time keeping an eye on my dog. However, sine the sun was extremely bright I didn’t have to worry about too much shade to cause underexposure along with camera shake. This shot was taken at about 3:00pm and the sun was bright, hot and creating a strong glare. I just made sure to point my camera in the opposite direction as we hiked around the park in order to avoid too much glare. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.3 and had the camera mode in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/197 second. Since I wanted to create the most panoramic scene I set the focal length at 17mm.
[/caption] Having the opportunity to find water around Oregon’s desert landscapes gives a photographer several opportunities to take a dynamic photo. There always seems to be plenty of water surrounding the entire state of Oregon. I’ve driven and hiked through a good portion of Oregon and the one thing that I always seem to notice is that there is always a river or creek running through its valleys, mountains or even its deserts. Smith Rock state park is no exception to this. The Crooked River winds its way through the park and gives the hiker or rock climber plenty of opportunities to cool down during the sunny and hot summer days. Having a river in a photo with the desert rocks in the background allows for a terrific photo opportunity. I took this photo last June and I have a more detailed article from my 7/15/10 blog post. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. The focal length was at 14mm in order to get as much of the rocks in this panoramic view. The time was 9:22am and the sun was directly behind me so the glare from the rocks and the river was pretty intense. However, my CIR-PL and warming filter was no match for this shot. The blueness of the sky and the warming tones of the rocks and vegetation would have been impossible without using these filters. Since I had the camera in Program/Normal mode the aperture was automatically set at F-6 and the shutter speed was at 1/83 second. I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch so I had to be extra careful to avoid any camera shake. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 due to the sun intense sun glare.
[/caption] I spent only one day visiting the John Day Fossil Beds and even though there are 3 different units throughout the area I only had enough time to visit one of them. The Painted Hills are the closest from Central Oregon and the easiest to get to. I also figured that the Painted Hills were the most interesting to photograph and I wasn’t disappointed. If you haven’t ever been here, I highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t a photographer, this is a spectacular place to visit. There is a hike that takes you about 3/4 of a mile above the Painted Hills and provides a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire area. You would never imagine that you’re in Oregon when visiting this place. It looks more like a colorful image of what the moon might look like. The colorful striped Painted Hills began as ash that erupted from the ancestral Cascades 33 million years ago and eventually settled in a massive lake here. The red color is from iron and the black from manganese and the yellow claystone was colored by trace minerals. Since you aren’t allowed to hike among the Hills, you can see several trails cut by the wildlife that lives in the area. I spent most of the day trying to figure the best position and area to photograph the Hills. In this photo, I made sure to get spectacular Sutton mountain in the background as well as the blue sky hovering above this ancient land. I’m not sure of the elevation of Sutton mountain but I’m pretty sure it’s at about 5,500 feet. I took over 1500 pictures and I’m still going through them but I thought this best shows the color of the Hills as well as the mountains that dominate the Painted Hills Unit. I never used my tripod since the sun was pretty bright and most of my shots were panoramic shot. I also didn’t have the patience to set up my tripod since I was constantly moving. I was like a kid in a candy store on this trip. I was using my uv filter as well as my warming filter and my CIR-PL. I had my 18-55mm lends on my Canon and had the focal length at 55mm. I had the ISO at 100 and I had to have the white noise menu at -1 due to the brightness of the sun. I had the auto setting on and the shutter speed was taken at 1/200 second. I was near the top of the upper part of the plateau when I took this shot and there was no shade to block out the sun. I pretty much had to just mess around with my camera when trying to get the best shots possible. If I had the time, I would have spent an entire week visiting the entire John Day Fossil Beds as well as many of the old ghost towns in the area.