There’s nothing quite like snow for the holidays, especially here in Oregon where there’s never a guarantee that you’ll get any for Christmas. This year, I took a quick trip up to Mt. Hood the other day to shoot the Zigzag River and ensure I have some nice, snowy images to share at the proper time of year. I figure most proper landscape photographers in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest will be doing something similar, so here is my small contribution to the mix. Just getting out in the snow is pretty refreshing when you’re cooped up in an office way too often. I suspect that’s why so many folks in tech fields get into shooting landscapes in the first place. Aside from the ease of transition to modern digital cameras and software, that is.
The Zigzag River features a great little waterfall, too, but I barely shot any frames there during this trip. The snow seemed to make everything glow, and also added blue tones to everything that needed a bit of subduing. But hey, nothing’s perfect.
I hope anyone who reads this is having or had a great 2012 and Christmas season. Thanks for viewing and have a wonderful new year!
Lower Lewis River Falls is just one of several noteworthy Pacific Northwest waterfalls on the Lewis River west of Mt. Adams in southwest Washington, but it’s probably the most widely known because of its unique geology.
This provides it with its distinctive multi-cascade appearance, as well as the mossy rock shelf that allows one to walk out into the river until you reach the edge of the splash pool. A virtual black hole, the pool beneath the falls is full of currents that could potentially disappear the unwary.
Oregon and Washington landscape photographers both flock to this waterfall in the autumn, when the fall color is at its height. It’s hard to find a poor vantage point, either, whether you’re sitting in the middle of the river (above) or up on top looking downriver. Long exposure or short, it’s an extremely photogenic area.
Perhaps the dark emerald water provides the drama in any photograph of this amazing location. Maybe it’s the sheer drop from the top over the falls in all directions. More likely it’s all that and more. At any rate, this is a spot not to be missed.
For more information check out this Lower Lewis River website.
For landscape photographers it’s often true that the more difficult it is to reach a destination, the more rewarding the images turn out to be. Spirit Falls in Skamania County, Washington, definitely falls into this category. With no real established trail, and a demanding hike down into the canyon carved out by the Little White Salmon River, it is hard on the knees but very much worth the effort.
This spot is a favorite of extreme kayakers, who like nothing more than to run the 35-foot waterfall before plunging downstream through a notorious section of Class 5 rapids known simply as Chaos. The beginning of this section is shown above earlier this month after a heavy rain, and it’s easy to see where the name came from. It’s mesmerizing to watch the river plunge, churn and spit streams of water in all directions. Capturing this required faster shutter speeds than I normally use for waterfalls, but the resulting explosions of water made for some pretty captivating images.
In the photo above, shot at f/8 and 1/8th of a second, it’s easy to almost feel the icy water about to drench the camera’s lens. That’s what happened, and I was pretty thankful for the handy rain cover over my D700. Shots like this made the 600 foot vertical climb back out of the canyon a bit easier to manage, and I’m definitely looking forward to returning here when the water level is a bit lower.
Thanksgiving Day at the central Oregon Coast involved heading down to the beach at Spanish Head in Lincoln City and shooting a fantastic sunset. It looks a bit far away in this image, but that’s because I’m shooting with an ultra-wide Tokina 11-16mm lens. It’s one of my favorites for this type of work, and it’s steadily become a workhorse for me even when I’m not shooting landscapes.
In this shot, the tide is coming up a bit, providing me with a steady supply of gorgeous water motion flowing over the basalt that decorates the beach at this spot. The reflection of the sunset on the wet sand is the icing on the cake, kicking off what turned out to be a great Thanksgiving holiday. I’m going to be shooting more at the beach as the new year comes around, weather provided, so this is a little taste of what the future holds in store.
Thanks for viewing!
Lower Lewis River Falls in Skamania County, Washington, is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Northwest, especially in the fall. I recently visited this spot with a fellow photographer (Gary Meyers, shown above) just before a particularly severe rainstorm raised the water level several feet and made impossible some of the images we made. When the water level is low, however, you can walk out into the middle of the Lewis River and shoot from perspectives like the one shown above. It’s an amazing sight, and the sound of the rushing water is even better.
I waited over an hour for any sort of large-ish boat to cross my path last night. And when it finally did, it was so slow it only left streaks across half the frame over the course of a 30-second exposure. Ah well, that’s why I enjoy Portland so much. The downtown skyline is modest, but attractive, and the array of bridges we have here mostly photograph very well. Throw in the remains of the east side’s old waterfront and I think it adds up to a pretty compelling image. This is the Hawthorne Bridge across the Willamette River facing west. Thanks for viewing!
Weisendanger Falls can be found as one follows Multnomah Creek in the Columbia River Gorge. This half-mile stretch of the creek contains three significant waterfalls, all of which are amazingly photogenic in their own right. Weisendanger is the middle of those three, which also include Dutchman and Ecola Falls.
I’ve learned a lot about shooting waterfalls this summer from the amazingly skilled landscape photographers that inhabit Oregon. It’s not surprising our state is home to some of the world’s best shooters, including Darren White and Gary Randall, who constantly amaze me with the images they turn out. They are living representation of the fact that patience is key when it comes to landscapes. Their ability to wait for the right light, even it means sitting on an exposed, wet sand dune or mountainside for hours on end.
In the same vein, I’ve come through experimentation to find that most waterfalls and streams look fabulous when shot at exposures ranging very roughly between one-quarter of a second and two seconds in length. These are long-ish exposures to be sure. But in this case, I wanted to take advantage of the low water flow this time of year to make exposures of up to 30 seconds to see what resulted. The image above is a 20-second exposure at f.22, and it resulted in a very dream-like water surface that I actually find quite attractive because of the way it fills in some of the gaps in what would otherwise be a much darker foreground.
It’s an image that you cannot possibly see with the naked eye. And to me, one of the biggest attractions of photography is the ability to use a camera to create what hasn’t been seen before.