Yesterday, I made my second outing this spring into the Columbia River Gorge. I paid a visit to Multnomah Creek, which feeds the world-famous Multnomah Falls before it plunges over 600 feet down to the Columbia River itself. Because of the that, the waterfalls above the main falls, such as it is, are often overlooked by photographers and hikers. But they are absolutely worth the visit, even if you don’t have a camera in hand.
In the photo above, Weisendanger Falls is shown in the background, with the onrushing creek coming straight at the viewer. Weisendanger is a 50-foot waterfall that pours into a beautiful little ampitheater, while just upstream sits the even taller Ecola Falls, which tumbles off a basalt ledge and around a sharp corner past the splash pool.
Downstream from Weisendanger, probably no less than another 200 yards, sits the multi-tiered Dutchman Falls. It’s one of the most scenic stretches of water that Oregon has to offer, and that’s saying something. In this shot, I played around with shutter speeds a little bit to get the detail in the water I was looking for. I used speeds ranging from 1/8 second to 15 seconds in an attempt to find as wide a range of looks as possible.
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.