[/caption] This may be the last photo showing a sunny and cloudless day along the Columbia River Gorge until next Spring! This photo was taken at the Women’s Forum, which is just above the Vista House and on the Oregon side of the Columbia river. The foothills of the Cascade mountains were dusted with snow and just a few days after I took this shot, the foothills got hammered with lots of snow. There are only a few more days left to view the fall foliage, along the Gorge before the leaves are completely gone, so now is the time to enjoy them.
[/caption] Springtime offers some great photo opportunities along the Gorge and only the vegetation decides when it’s time to take pictures. The one deciding factor that designates the best time to travel along the Columbia River Gorge in order to photograph the pristine waterfalls and neon green vegetation is when the vegetation decides to come out of its dormant stage. It becomes a waiting game as you find yourself hiking along the tall trees and view the many different ferns that create the perfect canopy below the massive forest. However, you never know when the forest will come out of its dormant stage and usually it’s only after the weather warms up and the rains begin to subside. Sometimes you have to wait until mid June but sometimes you’re lucky enough to start in April. this doesn’t only apply to the Gorge but to the entire areas west of the Cascade mountain chain.
[/caption] Crown Point or best known as The Vista House is one of the best spots along the Columbia River Gorge to take some terrific sunset or sunrise photos. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you really need to have the perfect cloud cover, which will allow you to take advantage of the color and personality that they will bring. Fall and late Spring are also the best times to photograph from this spot since you can take advantage of the many trees far below. I have very rarely found myself keeping any pictures that I take between November and April since the lighting is somewhat drab and the foliage is limited. Crown Point also allows you to get a 180 degree view of the river below and watch for the clouds to crowd along the gorge on the Washington side. This photo was taken on 5/3/11 at about 6:25pm and the sun was beginning to set just as the clouds were coming in from the west. As you can see, the water level was very high and the foliage was just about to pop. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and you can see how the upper left corner is overexposed, which helped bring out the personality of the clouds due to the glare from the water below. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the CIR-PL and warming filter attached in order to saturate the sky and warm the foliage below. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since the light was pretty low and I didn’t want any camera shake. I wanted to get the most panoramic photo as possible and ensure that the field of view was large so I set the focal length at 17mm. I just made sure to stand at a place where I didn’t have any unwanted tree limbs in the corners of the photo. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-5.7 and the shutter speed at 1/125 second. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 since the glare was very high and I was worried about too much overexposure.
[/caption] An early evening view looking across the Columbia River Gorge as an impending storm looms over the Gorge. I was standing near the Vista House parking lot when I noticed that the storm clouds had inundated the Gorge but were allowing some sunlight over parts of the hills. The vegetation was extremely lush since the photo was taken on 5/8/10 and the Spring weather was unseasonably wet and mild during this time of the year. I was more interested in getting the storm clouds in the shot rather than the Gorge but I wanted to include some of the landscape in order to show just how impressive the clouds were. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens along with my Canon EOS T1i camera. I wasn’t able to open the lens to 12mm since the guard rails at the parking lot would have been in the frame so I ended up increasing the focal length to 24mm. It was about 6:20pm when this shot was taken so the light along the River was low but the light in the clouds were overexposed due to the intensity of the sun directly behind me. The photo is looking directly east as the sun is lowering almost directly behind me. Because the storm was moving in from the east there weren’t as many clouds behind me which caused some overexposure in the clouds. However, I was forced to set the ISO to 200 and the white balance to +1.3 in order to prevent the hills from coming out too grainy and underexposed. The camera mode was set at Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the exposure time at 1/80 second. I was also using my CIR-PL and my warming filter in order to calm down some of the glare that was created by the overexposed clouds as well as from the glare from the river far below. The warming filter helped create a great contrast between the clouds and the green vegetation.
[/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.