Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest


Normally, it’s roughly a 40 foot drop from the top of Willamette Falls. The falls mark the crossing between Oregon City on the east bank of the Willamette River and West Linn on the west. Located 26 miles from point where the Willamette splits off and heads south from the Columbia River, boats must negotiate this obstacle via a system of locks and canals if they wish to head further south into the valley.

Recent rainstorms, snowmelt and subsequent flooding, however, did their best to fill in that formerly 40-foot plunge (above) as the river reached flood stage last month. Not surprisingly, that brought crowds of sight-seers to the Falls, with lines of cars sticking out into the busy 99E roadway on a recent Saturday afternoon. Many were armed with cameras of all descriptions, and I’m sure some of them captured more compelling images than the one above.

What I do like about this shot, however, is the sense of motion and turbulence lent by the slow shutter speed and ferocious water action. Shot at 1/10th of a second at f22, it was just slow enough to give an interesting effect, particularly on the lip of the waterfall as it pours over the edge. In addition to the locks and canal, the vintage power plant (bottom) on the West Linn side of the river can provide plenty of fascinating detail when viewed through a telephoto lens. Oregon never is short of fantastic sights, places and people to photograph, that’s for sure.


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