[/caption] The Upper McCord Creek waterfall is located just above Elowah Falls. The trail scrambles up a fairly steep part of the gorge and is located directly above Elowah falls, which is fed by the same creek. The elevation gain is about 620 feet and the top of the trail was dynamited in order to allow hikers to access the falls. There are steel handrails that prevent hikers from falling to their death but there are still some areas where the handrails aren’t located and the drops are just as dangerous. The view from the top is amazing with bald eagles, osprey and turkey vulture’s soaring just below. Very few people know about this hike and most of the people that do decide to hike here usually hike to Elowah falls rather than make the steep ascent to the top of the cliffs. The hike starts at Yeon park and there are no facilities and only limited parking. The best view of the waterfall is right off the main trail and there are a few amazing spots to set up your tripod. It almost like the forest intentionality set up the spots for photographers to camp out. Above the waterfall is McCord creek and you can see it winding through the forest as it disappears in the distance. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod in order to avoid any camera shake or blur. I attached my warming filter, ND4 and CIR-PL. I made sure to turn off the OS on my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 21mm. I had the camera mode in shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 2 seconds. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 which made the aperture automatically set at F-10. It was about 3:50pm when I took this photo and the sun was well hidden behind the forest and cliffs. There are several wildflowers along the trail so you may want to bring along your macro/prime lens as well. I wanted to completely frame the waterfall with the neon green vegetation surrounding it and this photo pretty much shows that.
[/caption] When the storm clouds rumble through the Columbia River Gorge you can get some great photos when standing along one of the many cliffs that surround the gorge. This photo was taken on a very overcast and rainy early summer late morning last week. The clouds were so thick and abundant that I could have spent all day photographing them. Unfortunately I was wanting to beat some of the rain and try to photograph as many waterfalls as possible before I got soaked. However, I ended up getting soaked anyways but was fortunate to get some great shots of the gorge and the waterfalls. This is exactly why the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most spectacular places on earth… it offers some of the most amazing and abundant waterfalls as well as the most amazing cliff views in America. This photo was taken near the Horsetail falls trailhead and is only about a 1 mile hike from the old highway. You pass two awesome waterfalls on your way to the viewing area and there is plenty of room to set up your tripod and wait for the clouds to open up. However, on this particular day I was moving pretty quickly so I didn’t bother setting up with my tripod. In order to ensure that I wouldn’t end up with any camera shake or blur I removed my CIR-PL and made sure to turn on the IS. I was still able to keep the ISO at 100 and set the white balance at -1. The light was still pretty bright since it was about 11:30am and the clouds were somewhat thin above me. I did make sure to attach my warming filter and positioned the camera at about a 30 degree angle in order to avoid too much glare in the background. The camera mode was in Normal/Program so the aperture was set at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/197 second. This helped prevent any camera shake or blur. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 38mm in order to keep the foliage from entering in the foreground. You just want to make sure and keep a steady hand and lightly press down on the shutter or you will end up with blurry photo.
[/caption] The water is a thundering in the Columbia River Gorge and the waterfalls won’t disappoint. The wildflowers are out as well as all of the vegetation that had been mostly absent. If you have been putting off your hiking trip to the gorge now is the time to lace up those hiking shoes and pack your snacks because the gorge has awaken. If your ears are sensitive to the piercing sounds of huge waterfalls plunging towards earth I would also pack some earplugs. I took another one of my road trips while visiting as many waterfalls as I could in one day and this was the first day that everything was perfect since there are plenty of wildflowers, green neon vegetation, overcast skies and plenty of water. This photo is of Multnomah Falls and I decided to post it since I was amazed with the amount of water as well as the color. I normally don’t even stop here due to all of the traffic but I decided to stop this time since I knew that the falls would be spectacular. I took this shot on Monday 6/6/11 at about 11:50am. Because the sky was overcast I was able to keep the shutter open for 4 seconds without having any overexposure. I had the camera in Shutter Priority with the aperture at F-14. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I had to tilt my camera at about 75 degrees so I was concerned about sun glare since the sun was directly behind the falls. However, since I attached my ND8, CIR-PL and warming filter I was able to increase the shutter speed to 4 seconds. Unfortunately, there was one person standing on the bridge which kind of ruins the photo but at least they were wearing brown clothes so its less distracting. The waterfall was creating a pretty strong wind as you can see in the movement of the trees in the right and left corners of the photo. The water spray from Multnomah Falls causes a lot of water spray so I normally choose to stand as far back as I can. However, I was able to get somewhat close to the falls and open the lens to 17mm in order to photograph the entire waterfall as well as the splash below. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch to avoid any camera shake or blur.
The creeks high above the Columbia River Gorge are so swollen that much of the vegetation that grows along the creeks banks haven’t been able to grow their leaves. The many wildflowers that usually come out in May have also been unable to bloom due to the cold weather. It looks like another record event in the Pacific Northwest. It’s still snowing in the Cascades with record snow falls along with the Willamette and Columbia river at record levels. However, this makes for some spectacular waterfalls and raging creeks all over the Northwest. This photo was taken about 3 miles up from the Columbia river as I was standing along the creeks edge. The water is moving so fast that it’s hard to set your shutter priority due to the high volume of water raging over the rocks. The fast moving water tends to create a glare as well as hide the rocks that normally create a barrier for the water to wind around. However, you can look for parts along the creeks that are otherwise non photogenic. I have photographed along this creek for several years and have never seen this type of scene before. I ended up spending over an hour photographing the water carving around these boulders as some small plants started to flourish along a wet rock. Normally these boulders are high and dry but since the water level is so high you can see the nook and crannies flooded with moving water. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I had the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic photo as I could without having too many distractions in the frame as well as create a high field of view. In order to create this type of image I stood right along the creeks edge and stood directly over the creek while balancing myself and my tripod above a very slippery rock. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake or blur since the shutter priority was set at 15 seconds. Luckily, the sun was shrouded in a low layer of clouds and it only drizzled for a short period of time. The aperture was at F-22 since I had the ISO set at 100 and the white balance at -1.7. It was about 2:30pm and the sun was positioned directly in front of me.