[/caption] Beacon Rock State Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for access to the water along the Columbia River or if you are interested in enjoying some grueling hiking trails. Beacon Rock is an 848 foot Basalt Monolith that has 47 switchbacks and several railed catwalk bridges. The views of the summit are stellar but there is limited standing room at its summit. It’s actually a small volcano that erupted over 57,000 years ago with deep Native American history. I took this shot while using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. There are limited spots to get a photo looking directly up at the rock so I stood just above the highway and looked for a spot where the sun wouldn’t overexpose the landscape too much. I wasn’t using a tripod since the sun was very bright and I found myself moving several times looking for the best photo opportunity. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-7.1 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. Because the sun glare was so intense I was able to have the ISO at 100 and reduce the white balance to -1.7. I took this photo at 4:00pm and the sun was pretty much directly overhead and just to the right. The hike to the summit is a fairly simple hike but if you’re afraid of heights you may want to avoid this hike. There are plenty of other scenic hikes available around the park. You will have the opportunity to see bald eagles, hawks and osprey at almost any time of the day.
[/caption] All of the Cascade mountains still have so much snow that they look as though its the middle of winter after a huge snow storm. Photos like this, that was taken on 4/30/, is why we love the Pacific Northwest and especially the Cascade mountain range. From the summit of Tom McCall point you can see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams as they loom over the surrounding topography. I took this shot of Mt. Adams at about 4:15pm and the sun was pretty much directly behind me which didn’t allow for and shadows in the photo. It pretty much lacks any character because of this but at least you can see the entire mountain without any dark areas. This isn’t my best photo of Mt. Adams, especially since I wasn’t using a tripod and the focal length was almost maxed out at 229mm. It also didn’t help that the wind was blowing at 40 mph and I had no cover to help block the wind. I was forced to crouch as low as possible and try to keep a steady hand. This is where IS and photoshop helps tremendously. Because the sun was blinding me from behind I made sure to attach my warming and CIR-PL filters. I was using my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens and set the camera to Normal/Program mode. Luckily the shutter speed came out to 1/200 second and the aperture was at F-5.6. This allowed me to keep the ISO at 100 and even adjust the white balance to +0.3. Mt. Hood was more difficult to photograph since it was due south and it was directly below the sun. Early morning and late evening would be the best time to visit the summit in order to get the best photos. Your photo opportunities at the summit offer some of the most epic opportunities. These include: Two snow capped mountains, wildflowers, The gorge, cliffs, wildlife, rolling topography, farm land, the historic and winding Columbia river highway and small ponds.
[/caption] If you are prepared to see some of the fastest moving water in the Columbia River Gorge I would recommend going very soon. The waterfalls and creeks are absolutely thundering right now and you will not be disappointed. Even though the foliage isn’t completely out yet, you will at least be able to see more of the waterfalls before the dense vegetation covers them up. The spring wildflowers are amazing right now even though they haven’t peaked yet. I spent the day trying to visit as many parts of the gorge as possible in order to capture as many epic photographs that I could. I took this photo while visiting Wahkeena Falls. This photo was taken under the small foot bridge that takes you over the creek. While I was photographing parts of the Wahkeena Falls I noticed this rock shelf and the speeding water was going so fast that you could see some of the water actually bounce backwards and against the rock wall. the foot bridge above created the perfect shadow effect but also allowed the foliage to reflect some light from the fast moving creek. I had to crouch in a very peculiar position but it was well worth it. To get this shot I used my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter. I was about 3 feet from the creek and I set the focal length to 28mm. I put the camera mode in TV/shutter priority and set the speed at 20 seconds. I was trying to capture as much movement as possible in order to show every nook and cranny in the rocks below the water. As you can see, I was pretty successful. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at +0.7. It was about 5:35pm and the sun was still pretty strong, even though I was nearly under the bridge and was completely shrouded in the foliage.
[/caption] A short 3 mile hike around Lost Lake is a great way to take in the views of Mt. Hood. One of the most peaceful parks that I have ever visited in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. It can get pretty crowded on summer weekends but at least they don’t allow any motorized boats on the lake. I took this shot during the month of October while the vegetation along the lake were turning bright colors. The glare from the lake created an amazing photographic opportunity. I took this photo at about 4:00pm so the sun was almost directly behind me. There were more clouds during the morning and afternoon so I was lucky enough to be at this side of the lake in the later part of the afternoon. I had just finished hiking around the lake when I decided to eat the last of my snacks and wait for the clouds to move out. There was almost no wind and the clouds created a perfect setting along with the shadows and spots of sunlight. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Canon 18-55mm kit lens. I set the focal length at 40mm in order to get as much of the mountain in the shot but also making sure that the glare of the mountain appeared in the lake. The camera made was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-5 and the shutter speed was at 1/15 second. I kept the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -2. I was also using my warming and CIR-PL filters in order to bring out the blue sky, contrast of the clouds and the colors of the trees.
[/caption] Wizard Island looks as though it’s floating above the teal blue lake known as Crater Lake National Park. I’ve added several photos of Crater Lake to my blog but I what I really liked about this photo is that 80% of this shot has the lake in it and it really shows just how magical and beautiful the lake truly is. I wanted to keep any vegetation out of the foreground so I could keep the field of view limited to lake in the foreground. It’s hard to believe that the sky is actually less blue than the lake. I visited Crater Lake on 6/30/10 and wrote an extensive article about the National Park on 7/6/10. In this photo you can see Wizard Island, Llao Rock which stands at 8,049 feet and 9,182 foot Mt. Thielsen. I took this photo while visiting the south eastern part of the Park and was hiking towards 8,054 foot Garfield Peak. It was about 4:15pm and the sun was just to my left. The sun was still pretty high since it was late June. I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch since I was hiking at such a fast pace. I attached my warming filter and my CIR-PL since the lake and sky were so blue and the warming filter helped bring out the contrasts in the cliffs along the volcano. I had the camera setting at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-5.6 and the exposure speed at 1/60 second. I also set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7 since the glare from the sun as well as from the lake was pretty intense. In order to maximize the field of view I made sure to focus on Llao Rock in order to avoid any blur due to the huge field of view in this photo.
[/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] Here is a shot that I took last July while hiking in the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I had visited the Park from the east, which is a long drive that takes you through Cougar and then north up the 131. The drive from Portland is very long and twisty but you are more likely to see herds of elk than people. This was my first trip along the east part of the mountain and I have to say that its one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of the wilderness. The Park reminded me of a National Park but minus the thousands of visitors and campsites. You can make it a day trip from Portland, during the longer days of summer, but I highly recommend you leave before sunrise and pack a lot of food since there are no places to eat. I took this shot with my Canon EOS T1i and my Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter to bring out the colors and tame to intensity of the glaring sun. I took this shot looking south at about 6:35pm and the sun was just to the right. I had to set my ISO to 100 and the white balance to -2 due to the glare. The focal length was at 15mm and the shutter speed was 1/100 second. I was standing directly in the path of the explosion that destroyed all of the timber in its path. There were several pumice fields directly below where I was standing and you can see that some of the vegetation was just beginning to come back. I was amazed at the amount of pumice that littered the entire north side of the park. It was like walking through time and you could physically see the destruction from the wrath of the volcano. You can hike to Spirit lake and view the thousands of trees littering the lake and photograph dozens of species of wild flowers that grow among the pumice fields. I highly recommend visiting the park from the north east side. There are dozens of trails to hike and the park is very well kept and there are numerous areas to picnic. You are also guaranteed to see some wildlife. I startled a herd of elk while hiking on one of the trails and watched as they scurried up the mountain. This was truly an epic day.
[/caption] The Pacific Northwest received its first early winter storm of the year and I wanted to make sure and capture the aftermath. the weather service was calling for partially sunny skies on Wednesday so I decided that it would be the best day to try and get some great photos of the fresh snow along with untouched powder. I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how awesome the day was as well as surprised that the east side of Mt. Hood was completely untracked. The temperatures were rising as the day moved along but the snow was still hanging on to the trees and the snow was still pretty solid. Earlier in the day, the wind was howling near 50 mph on the west side of Mt. Hood and the snow was thick from Timberline to the summit. However, as the day progressed, the snow started to melt a little, which caused several of the jagged rocks on the volcano to show several bare spots. The morning was the best time to get shots of the mountain when it still looked like an ice cream cone. The snow was as low as Government Camp as well as Trillium Lake. The gate at the Trillium Lake entrance was open so we were able to drive right to the lakes edge. I felt as though I had cheated some great shots of Mt. Hood and Trillium Lake in the foreground since I normally have to make the 5 mile round trip trek from the sno-park. We later traveled east and found that the wind on the White River East trail was non existent and the conditions were epic. Fresh powder, snow covered trees and a great view of the mountain. Our tracks were pretty deep since the temperature was rising and we were the first to snow-shoe the area. As the day progressed, the clouds started to roll in and the winds started to pick up. We finished the day at Timberline lodge where we warmed up with some great strong hot drinks at the Ram’s Head Bar and watched most of the snow near the summit disappear. I hope that the next storm brings in even colder temperatures and more snow to the Cascades. I took this photo near the White River East Sno-Park at 1:05pm. The sun was fairly low in the background, which created a nice glare along with some shadow’s from the trees as well as the clouds just starting to approach. The snow is completely un-tracked and the trees are still pretty well covered by snow. I was using my Canon T1I Rebel along with my Canon 18-55mm lens. I was using my UV, warming and CIR-PL filters since the glare was pretty intense and the filters helped create a much softer image. I set the White Balance to -0.7 and the ISO at 100. The shutter speed was at 1/200 second and the F stop was at F-9. I also had the focal length at 27mm. I brought my tripod on my snow-shoe trek but I didn’t end up using it while snow-shoeing. Therefore, this photos was taken without a tripod. Nothing is worse than carrying your tripod on your pack while you’re snow-shoeing. I did lighten my load by only taking two of my lenses but I always end up with additional weight once I factor in all of the survival gear and additional clothes that you carry with you when snow-shoeing.
[/caption] I finally had the opportunity to visit Seattle and take some photos of the city. Just before my trip I read that Travel+Leisure 2009 had rated the top 100 cities in the world with the most scenic skylines. Seattle was rated #10 in their magazine. I was surprised to see them get such a high ranking. After all, their #10 ranking was for the world, not just for the United States. I figured that I really needed to take some good shots in order to really show the beauty of the Seattle skyline. I did my homework and found several areas throughout the city that were known for the best city views. I went to every scenic viewpoint that I could find and made sure to return for the best sunset shots. I drove to almost every neighborhood in the city so I could really take in the personality within the city limits. West Seattle is where I took this photo on the blog page. I first arrived to this spot in the afternoon and I knew that this would be the best place for sunset and twilight shots. West Seattle is the best place to get an entire panoramic photo that really shows just how massive and beautiful the skyline is. You can also watch all of the boats enter Elliot Bay. I was fortunate to find great vantage points from the north, east, south and west sides of the city. It would take several weeks to really capture all of the photography areas within Seattle. To get this shot, I removed my CIR-PL and my warming filter since the sun had already set and the color of the scene was calm. I set my camera to Program mode. The F stop was at 10 and I had the ISO setting at 200. The White Balance was at 0 since the color was almost perfect. I was using the shutter priority and I had it set at 20 seconds in order to maximize the glow of the lights. Since the bay is so busy it can be hard to use a long exposure without have a moving boat in the photo. This is especially true if you don’t want to show the movement of the boats in the foreground of your shot. I plan on returning again as soon as possible so I can continue to get some great photos of the city.
[/caption] I wasn’t sure the name of this flower but I believe it’s called a tulip tree flower. Most of them weren’t open but there were a few that had. I took this at the Portland International Rose Garden on Friday. However, while driving near my house I noticed that there were 5 of the same trees just 800 feet from my front door. I will be photographing more of flower since it’s so interesting. I can’t believe that I never noticed this before. Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees. I took this with my 18-55mm kit lens. I removed my CIR-POL so I wouldn’t have camera shake since I didn’t use my tripod. However, I did use my warming filter to bring out the vivid colors. I had my lens at 55mm focal length and I was about 6 inches from the flower. I kept my camera in Auto Exposure with an F-stop of 5.6 and my ISO was at 100. I had taken several pictures while in Flower mode but this one was taken in Auto.