[/caption] The trail that leads to triple falls is one of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the Gorge. The trail leads you past four beautiful and very photogenic waterfalls, unbelievable views of the gorge and the Columbia River, old growth forest and parallels the creek that feeds the waterfalls. The best time to visit is between May and early July. This is the best time to catch the creeks at their highest level and the foliage is usually in full bloom. The wildflowers are also spectacular and some of the most widespread in the Pacific Northwest. However, since the weather can be unpredictable, sometimes the foliage can stay dormant well into June depending on the temperatures during spring. The photo that I posted is the most popular viewing area of the waterfall and you can really see just how awesome this part of the gorge really is. The creek climbs several miles past Triple Falls and the trail parallels the creek and offers millions of photo opportunities. I may sound bias but this part of the Pacific Northwest makes any other parts of the world look like a desert. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The viewing area is a very uneven and steep cliff so setting up your tripod can be tricky and only one person at a time can take this photo since it’s so narrow. I set the camera mode at shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The ISO was at 100 and I adjusted the white balance to -0.7. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic view as possible without having any vignetting. The day was mostly overcast and the sun was directly behind the waterfall. It was about 12:30pm but since the clouds were moving so fast I just waited for the best opportunity. If you plan on visiting and expect to get a photo of triple falls without having dozens of people sitting along the waterfall you want to come during a weekday and a very overcast or rainy day since hikers like to sit just above the waterfall and take pictures. I was pretty fortunate to only have to wait for two hikers to eventually move away from the area before I could get to work. the elevation gain to triple falls is only about 600 feet but you could continue all the way to larch mountain if you’re up to the 6.5 mile hike. This is one hike that you will truly be glad you took and you can expect some of the most fantastic views of your life.
[/caption] Dry Creek Falls is one of the least visited waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge but it’s one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the area. The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 5.4 mile round trip hike and you will be amazed at the forested canopy as you slice your way through the gorge. Dry Creek falls is a 50 foot water fall that plunges through a 300 foot cliff but you can only see parts of it high above the falls. You will want to hike over the diversion dam when you get to the falls and set up your tripod. I was surprised that I was able to get near the base of the waterfall without getting totally drenched. I noticed that there are sometimes lulls in the wind gusts and you have time to get a few shots off before you need to wipe the water off your lens. I was setting my shutter speed between 2 seconds and 4 seconds, depending on the amount of glare from the sun. I made sure to use my histogram in order to have the best settings as possible in use. I set the ISO at 200 and attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to get the ghosting effect of the water and bring out the colors of the basalt rock and vegetation. Since Dry Creek Falls is known to pretty much dry up you will want to visit during late spring or early summer. The vegetation doesn’t really explode until late spring and if you wait too long in the summer the water level is very low.
[/caption] There are several necessary ingredients when photographing waterfalls or fast moving water: First, you need to find the perfect subject such as a waterfall or area along a creek or river that looks like a photogenic spot. You then need to be sure that the vegetation is at its peak. That means that there can’t be any of the vegetation that is still dormant, dead or brown. This means that you will probably need to wait until late Spring or early Summer. However, you also want to have the water level fairly high since a thundering waterfall is more photogenic than a trickle. Therefore, your best opportunity is to take your photos when the vegetation is at its absolute peak and the water level is high. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you want to go out on a overcast or even rainy day since A bright sun can prevent you from setting a long exposure as well as create too much glare. The photo that I posted is a perfect example. I included some of the overcast sky in order to show that you can set a longer exposure and still include some of the sky in the shot. I positioned myself at a spot where there was plenty of vegetation so I could enhance the effect that a succulent landscape provides. I was able to extend the shutter speed to 4 seconds without any glare, even though it was taken at 12:30pm in the middle of June. There are several things that you can do as well to ensure a good exposure. You want to set your histogram on your camera so you can play back each of your shots and ensure that it’s not over exposed or under exposed. I try to get the histogram in the middle of the grid. Since I always attach my ND filters when taking photos of moving water, I have an advantage of someone that isn’t using them. An ND filter is critical and you pretty much can’t take any descent photos of waterfalls without one. I normally attach my ND4, CIR PL and warming filter. However, I also have an ND8. I then adjust the ISO to 100 and then adjust the white balance. The correct white balance setting is critical and many people overlook the importance since taking long exposed photos during the middle of the day can ruin a good quality photo. Another very important thing to remember is to always use a tripod. I also attach my remote switch and bubble level since I don’t want to take any chances of jerking the camera when I take the shot. The bubble level ensures that it’s not crooked and I don’t trust using the power of thirds grid that’s available on your camera settings. I also never use manual mode since I’ve never had any problems with the automatic setting. I either set the camera in program/normal mode or shutter priority whenever I want to set the shutter speed. The shutter speed on this photo was set at 4 seconds and I’ve found out that any more than 4 seconds isn’t really necessary. You will still get the flowing motion of the waterfall over creek and eliminate the chances of ending up with water spray on your lens or blurry leaves in the photo. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 21mm in order to frame the waterfall with the vegetation surrounding the scene. The aperture was at F-13 and again I set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. As you can see, the vegetation is lush and green with no dormant plants and the waterfall is thundering over the cliff. Waterfalls can be one of the most frustrating subjects to photograph but they can also be the most exciting since the end result can really be spectacular. Another thing to remember is that photoshop is a great tool to use in order to saturate the vegetation but make sure that you don’t overdue it. Rely on your camera settings when your out in the field and only use photoshop to do some cropping and maybe add a little saturation. However, sometimes I will sharpen the photo if needed.
[/caption] If you find yourself hiking along any of the hiking trails throughout the Columbia river gorge, you will find yourself in a scene just like this the photo portrayed here. Almost every hiking trail follows a creek with several small or large waterfalls emerging from the canyons and rocky creek beds. Just make sure that you bring your tripod, bubble level and remote switch or you won’t be able to take any photos that aren’t blurry. The tripod will enable you to get a pristine photo of the fast moving water barreling through the narrow, steep and rocky creek beds. If you are also wanting to include the wispy movement of the water, be sure to attach an ND filter so you can leave your shutter open for a minimum of 4 seconds so you can eliminate the glare from the water and light but end up with the blurred effect with the water cascading over the bedrocks. I actually had the shutter open for 10 seconds on this photo and attached my ND4 and CIR-PL to eliminate any glare. You will also want to open your lens to a wide angle view so the field of view is large. This will help ensure that the entire scene is in focus. I set the focal length at 17mm and was standing about 2 feet from the creek. It’s also important to take photos of moving water on only overcast or rainy days in order to reduce the strong overexposure elements the sun creates as well as the high glare emitted from the water.
[/caption] Punchbowl Falls may be one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon but when you have a view like this it’s not hard to see why. Whenever I find myself hiking to Punchbowl Falls I know that if the weather is right I can spend hours there as well as take hundreds of photos within a 25 foot area. I normally wade out into the frigid waters and position myself in the most precarious ways in order to get the most dynamic photo possible as well as get a photo that hasn’t already been duplicated 500 times. Late Spring or early Summer is the best time to visit since the vegetation isn’t in full bloom until later and the water level is at it’s highest when it’s warming up in the mountains. You also want to make sure that you visit on a cloudy and rainy day in order to eliminate any glare from the water. I normally try to set my shutter priority between 4-6 seconds in order to get the flowing movement of the waterfall without getting too much movement of the vegetation. This photo was taken on 6/29/11 and it was about 11:30am. I was fortunate to be here when it was completely overcast and it started to rain as I waded out in the creek with my tripod in hand. The water was about 39 degrees so I lost all feeling in my feet and legs since I spent about 30 minutes shooting the waterfall. I set the shutter speed at 4 seconds and had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.7. The aperture was at F-10 since I had attached my ND4, warming filter and CIR-PL. I wanted to get more of the rocks laying on the bottom of the creek so I lowered my tripod and tilted my camera towards the ground at about a 60 degree angle. This allowed me to get a great shot of the small rocks without losing my field of view of the background. I set the focal length at 23mm, which was just enough to ensure the view of the waterfall and vegetation were in focus but parts of the foreground were somewhat distorted and out of focus. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave anything out in this photo.
[/caption] The Lewis River offers several views of some of the most amazing and scenic waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. There are at least 5 waterfalls along the easy 7 mile round trip hiking trail, which is located along the Lewis River. There are also two other waterfalls that are worth a short trip from the main road. However, plan on getting up really early and getting home really late if you plan on making it a day trip. The drive is about 100 miles, one way, from Portland and even further from Seattle. The Lewis River Campground is just yards from the river and it’s worth staying in order to have more time to enjoy the outdoors. You can hear the water from your campsite and its also pretty peaceful and clean. I didn’t camp there but I noticed that there were hardly any campers and even less tourists since it’s so far out and only a few people know about this jewel. The entire trail follows along the river and there are several viewpoints available to view the waterfalls. However, some of the falls are hard to view due to the vegetation and the steepness of the canyon. There are a couple of beaches that allow you to stand in front of the falls and photograph them as well as go for a swim. I visited the Lewis River on 5/12/10 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was using my Canon 18-55mm kit lens and I made sure to attach my ND8 and warming filter. The sunny skies made it challenging to leave the shutter open so I was only able to leave the shutter priority open for 2 seconds. That was enough to get the flow of the water and stop the movement just enough to create that wispy look. I was standing along one of the more popular viewing areas since the water was too high to hike along the river bank. I set the focal length at 24mm and adjusted the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -2 in order to reduce the exposure. My only place to hide from the direct sunlight was behind some trees. The waterfall was completely exposed to the sun. Due to my filter choices and settings, the aperture was at F-25. Plan on seeing some wildlife since you are likely to see some small herds of elk grazing in the meadows as well as seeing osprey and even bald eagle along the river as well as the lakes along your drive.
[/caption] There are so many waterfalls within the Mt. Rainier National Park that it would be impossible to count them all or even visit all of them. However, some of the most beautiful waterfalls are just a short hike or found near the main road. This particular waterfall was coming from the Tatoosh Range and was just a few yards from the road. I attempted to hike along the cascading water but the rocks were so slick that I ended up positioning myself along its edge and took several photos. The sun was already behind the Range so I was able to set the shutter priority at 8 seconds and the white balance at -0.7. Since I had my CIR-PL attached the aperture was at F-16 since the lighting was so dark. The sun was just enough in the foreground that I was able to stand in the sunlight as the majority of the waterfall and vegetation were completely in the shadow’s. The forest was teeming with so many creeks and small waterfalls that you could spend an entire season photographing just the water.
[/caption] The best time to visit Silver Falls State Park is either in late Spring, when the water level is at is maximum or during Fall when the leaves are peaking. I always try to visit during the middle of the week since the crowds can be unbearable. It’s also impossible to get a photo of the waterfalls without ending up with several hikers in the photo. This is especially frustrating when you are trying to set your shutter priority at 15 seconds. You will also find crowds of photographers on weekends. I normally get here as early as possible and leave just before dark. I also plan my trips when the weather is overcast and is calling for rain showers. This ensures the best photos and keeps many of the hikers at bay. You will need to plan on doing some serious hiking since you may end up wanting to hike to the waterfalls during the morning and then again in the early evening since the sunlight is dramatically different. I usually end up hiking up to 12 miles so I usually take a power nap in the afternoon since the lighting isn’t as good and I’m exhausted during the ride home. This photo of 93 foot Lower South Falls is one of the most photogenic since it’s fairly wide and has lots of foliage surrounding it but without hiding the waterfall. There are several areas to set up your tripod but you just need to be aware of hikers since the trail cuts directly behind the falls. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my ND4, CIR-PL and warming filter in order to get the movement of the water. The camera was in shutter priority and I set the shutter at 4 seconds. The aperture was set at F-16 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.3. I wanted to get the most panoramic photo so I had the focal length at 19mm. I also made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The lighting was pretty low since it was well overcast and it was about 4:20pm. I actually took this photo on 6/10/11 and the vegetation was absolutely brilliant. The foliage was incredibly neon green due to the insane amount of rain the Willamette Vally had received during Spring. I also made for an above average amount of fast moving water cascading down from the Cascade Mountains. This is a must place to visit for all photographers.
[/caption] Metlako Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Gorge but unfortunately it’s also one of the most difficult to photograph without having any blur or camera shake in the picture. This is largely due to the fact that you have to climb over the guard rail and set up your tripod and hold on to the only tree while you hover just inches from the 200 foot canyon wall. The tree is literally hanging from the edge of the canyon and the creek is 200 feet below. As you can see in this photo you’re also in a very precarious spot since the waterfall is behind the vegetation but the forested trees blanket the entire photo. It’s very hard to get the camera to focus on the waterfall and the vegetation without causing the camera sensor to blur. It also doesn’t help that Metlako Falls is positioned deep in the canyon with trees elbowing for the camera. The viewpoint is about 200 yards from the 100 foot waterfall and you have to position the camera at a slight 30 degree angle since you’re standing above the falls. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and attached my warming, CIR-PL and ND4 filters in order to reduce the glare and increase the shutter speed. I had the shutter speed at 4 seconds and the aperture was at F-16 since I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -1.7. The weather was rather cool and the skies were raining so I lucked out on the exposure. I had the focal length at 50mm in order to take advantage of the lighting and the neon green forest. The water level was especially incredible since it was early Summer and the winter had some of the highest snow pack in decades. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch since you can’t get this waterfall to be in focus without a tripod.
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.