Photo Cascadia Blog
Posts Tagged ‘Columbia River Gorge’
It’s been hard for me to fully express exactly what impact I am feeling from the Eagle Creek Fire. Those that haven’t experienced the Columbia River Gorge or don’t know it as their backyard like I do may think it’s simply another forest falling victim to the flame. For those that know it like I do, it’s a crown jewel of Oregon. Considering I am not that religious in a traditional sense I say going to nature is my temple; with the gorge being the temple I have spent the most time in.
Certainly, there are much larger catastrophes in recent memory in the states let alone across the globe. Even a storm like Hurricane Harvey that resulted in thousands of homes and business being flooded and loss of life is severe and unfortunate. Now we have Irma. My heart goes to all those impacted. Even in the Gorge there have been changes impacting lives generations before us. Simply look at how the Columbia River changed by building the dams and the impact that had the Native American tribes. We are not the only ones that have ever been impacted by significant changes in the gorge both human and nature caused.
When I first heard of the fire I felt myself starting the rolling coaster of emotions like you would go through for any grieving process. In this case hearing how it started it was anger. Then I moved to shock, then to sadness knowing the fire was growing and going through all these places I planted my feet many times. Places I have enjoyed with good friends, with family or solo for alone time. I even lost sleep a couple nights thinking about it. Again you may not understand but let me tell you a little more.
2017 Eagle Creek Fire – Photo Credit: Chris Liedle
I grew up in the “Gateway to the Gorge” on multiple acres and a creek where I would play outside for hours at a time before the days of many parents worrying about too much screen time and the need to force kids outdoors. This area has been a part of my life for decades. I am convinced it’s what helped put the yearning for nature in my blood at an early age resulting in countless days taking hikes, capturing photos and simply exploring throughout my life.
I have stood in ice cold flowing water with the snow line above my head until my feet went numb and loved every minute of it. I have hiked in the pouring rain with no one around, wondering how much it needs to rain before a tree falls to then see a tree fall. I have hiked to highest point to see the view and almost got lost coming down. I have chased the light up many gorge trails and then back down. I have driven the old scenic highway with half a foot of fresh snow and not a single vehicle track except my own. I have endured the strong East winds that funnel down the gorge like a freight train getting pelleted by ice, snow and rain. I have visited busy scenic areas thick with crowds to off trail locations rarely seen where the only sound is nature itself.
Taken underneath Pony Tail falls looking out into the lush greenery. Many years back a small group of us were photographing along the stream that you see in this scene. One of them, Phill Monson, found a semi buried old wooden sign that said Pony Tail falls. It had fallen from unknown causes from the tree it was attached to and broke apart yet you could still see the name Pony Tail. I have it on my desk to this day.
We are all saddened because we know it’s special to live close to an area like this. An area filled with lush plant life, refreshingly crisp water and magnificently rugged terrain. It’s a place where all walks of life come to escape hectic schedules, connect with nature or simply to reflect. I have come to the Gorge many times where I was reminded that I had too much desk time since my last visit and I walk away rejuvenated to tackle what life brings at me next. The beauty can leave you awe struck on your first visit. I have seen it firsthand. It’s National Park worthy if I can be so bold. It’s a treasured place to be protected.
It’s frustrating to us all how the Eagle Creek fire started and no doubt we would all feel a little bit differently had it started due to natural causes. Instead it was a group of teenagers lighting fireworks in a precipitation starved forest without a single care as to what might happen. We will need to let the law enforcement aspect take it’s course yet I do know it’s not much good spewing out hate towards those that did this as I have seen online. We are better off channeling that energy to do something positive. We all have been or will be a teenager. As a teenager we all had at least one experience (or a few) which, after the fact, we realize was stupid and could have been much worse, where we thankfully learned our lesson with little to no consequence. Unfortunately in this case the consequences were to a level most of us could not fathom. If those that are responsible for the fire are reading this I would tell them to continuously look for ways to spend time volunteering to give back to nature and serve local communities. This will help you move forward yet never forget it.
This was a very memorable day from quite a few years back. Myself, Zack Schnepf, Jeremy Cram and Marc Adamus spent pretty much all of daylight exploring off trail. It was slow going try to go the path of least resistance while minimize impact to our surroundings. Finally after hours we came across this scene. Well worth the adventure.
Like many, I am sadden about the changes that took place to our shrine, The Gorge. It doesn’t come without heartache yet it’s certainly not the end and I have to look at it as a new beginning. The photos seen to date show the gorge was not burnt completely to a crispy blackened wasteland like we might see on a sci-fi show after an apocalypse. Even the areas heavily damaged will come back to life in their own unique way with the eventual signature gorge green sprouting through the ashes. Yes, it will take time but nature always returns and sometimes in ways that amaze and surprise us. I am barely old enough to remember seeing Mount Saint Helens erupt. It’s been decades yet now it’s an impressive place to visit even though it’s different than it was before the eruption. The same will hold true for spots greatly impacted by this fire.
This should give you a general idea of what to expect in areas that are heavily damaged. This is in the vicinity of Angel’s Rest and was taken about 7 years ago which was about 20 years after this fire happen. I had visualized this photo on a prior hike without camera gear and bad light. I came back about a year later to make this along with a similar one in winter you can see here.
Those that know me know I tend to live my life with the glass half full as it’s too short to think otherwise. Even after my initial stages of disbelief and grief I am now moving on and look forward to the regeneration of our beloved gorge. I feel fortunate to be close enough to continue to have more experiences not only personally but for my wife and me to do the same with our young children who have only started to explore the many areas the Gorge has to offer, even if some of them will be different now.
As a side note, I have seen a number of comments online from individuals very eager to help the gorge come back to life again by taking on the task of figuring out what to do next. It’s great that many of us want to give back now more than ever. I would suggest that we leave the determination what needs to be done for damaged areas up to forest professionals and Mother Nature. We should look to donate our time, and or money if inclined, to organizations that support the gorge like Friends of The Columbia Gorge as one example.
Lastly, lest I forget to say thank you to the many firefighters, police and first responders that worked tirelessly, and continue to, on the Eagle Creek Fire to avoid losing lives, homes and historic structures as the fire is not yet contained as I write this. Your efforts are immensely appreciated.
This was one of those rainy days, that we frequently get between October and June. I stood here in the water with my feet and hands pretty close to numb while water was dripping off my head and camera. I probably should have protected my camera better yet it survived while I thrived.
I believe this was the first time I met Sean Bagshaw in person, before we started Photo Cascadia and became good friends. Myself, David and Sean were exploring Eagle Creek trail on this day. I remember thinking this scene was better with someone in it as it helped provide scale so I was glad he was “in the way” for this photo.
The gorge after fresh snowfall. Looks beautiful dressed in all white. This is not your iconic scene but hiking deeper into the gorge to find the more rugged and wild side. This is where peaceful scenes can be found in any season.
I found this wandering the forest near Larch Mountain on a day thick with fog and melting snow from the trees. Anytime a slight breeze would come I ended up doused with water from the branches as they ensured I didn’t leave the scene dry.
I was hiking I believe in the area of Triple Falls for the afternoon. I was taking my time coming down because the sky was pretty socked in and wasn’t planning to take a sunset photo. Somewhere I glanced a break up in the clouds that seemed to be increasing. I jogged the last 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile with heavy backpack to get to the car, drive here and take this photo before the light faded.
This was taken close to a decade ago. I crossed the bridge and almost thought about not taking a photo because I was nearing the end of my day of hiking and photography, telling myself “next time”. I am glad I took a few minutes to capture this. Since that year I have not seen this canyon devoid of large logs or trees. It’s above Oneonta Falls.
Photo and Text By: Sean Bagshaw
The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area has been the backdrop for many of my favorite outdoor photography experiences. I have found few other places on the planet as beautiful, mysterious, rugged and alive. Over the years I have hiked many of the canyons and creeks, alone, with my family and often with other photographers. I took this photo of Gorton Creek while exploring above Wyeth with several of my Photo Cascadia colleagues a few years ago. I remember it was a life affirming day. I think this small scene does a good job of sharing the essence and the magic of the entire area. I hope it recovers quickly.
Photo and Text By: Zack Schnepf
Here is one of my favorite locations in the Gorge. I think of Oneonta Gorge as Oregon’s green slot canyon. It’s another unique and special location to me. The lush green moss and ferns coat every surface and the steep walls rise up into a lush forest. I love how the trees grow right out of the steep walls. It truly is an incredible place to experience in person.
I did a blog post a number of years back on abstract nature photography yet it’s been a long time and thought I would revisit this topic. I really enjoy this type of photography especially when you find hidden gems that others may not have seen or might have passed over many times before you. Often what ends up being the final photo doesn’t jump out at you without surveying a scene for potential compositions. Sometimes I dig in and strike it rich finding those gems and other times I come up empty handed which is part of the fun.
Rather than a lot of typing for this post I will let the video do most of the talking this time around. I am not normally the video tutorial kind of person yet I am getting myself to branch out into this type of work. Below is the video and three photos I discuss in greater detail. For each scene I show several compositions I took leading up to the final to help understand my thought process to build a compelling abstract or intimate nature photo.
Standing Tall – In cold wet forest of the Columbia River Gorge in early winter
Desert Lizard – In the dry cool desert Southwest in Fall inside Zion National Park
Final Flames of Fall – Above a forest in the Columbia River Gorge during the final days of fall
Video covering the three photos above in much more detail. Happy viewing!
Tips for Photographing Waterfalls
By David Cobb
Last fall I spent the day with Outside Explorer in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. The finished video below supplies a number of tips and tricks to photographing waterfalls.
The View By David Cobb
There is a place I go to photograph off a non-descript pullout on Highway 14. It’s found along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, it’s easy to get to, and I keep returning for the view. Mt Hood stands over the town of Hood River, Oregon and windsurfers and kite boarders ride the winds to skip across the summer swells of the Columbia River. Osprey, bald eagles, and vultures fly overhead and an occasional wild turkey gobbles from the nearby woods. It sounds idyllic, but it’s not. Cars speed by to someplace unknown, semi-trucks roar through with a blast of wind at their backs, and litter is scattered about the land. I come here to watch fireworks in July and I arrive for the view, but mostly I keep returning to photograph.
I love the view from here looking west down the Columbia River Gorge. I usually frame my image of the scene with 20% land and 80% sky, capturing the receding buttresses of the Gorge dwarfed by the skies above. In this transition zone from wet to dry, the heavens paint a different canvas each and every day—and so I return. Some days I arrive for sunrise, sometimes sunset, and other times to catch the drama of spring showers and rainbows, but everyday it’s about the view that is forever changing.
Do you have a place you keep returning to? Let me know in your reply.
By Adrian Klein
As the greens in the Columbia River Gorge start really showing their spring green glow I thought I would take a few minutes and share a few of my favorites along with some technical details to help provide some insight on how they were created. I might add a part II down the road with more favorites yet I thought narrowing it down to the top three was a good start. Hopefully this helps you out whether you are planning to photograph the Columbia River Gorge or any other lush rain forest. Happy reading and viewing.
Name: Geometric Nature
Location: Off trail deep in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Finding the right composition in many cases is like putting together pieces of a unique puzzle, all of them different from the last. In this case the blocks or geometric shapes of the mossy rocks are what inspired me for this particular composition. There is green everywhere you turn in the Gorge yet not every image shows the endless sea of green as good as it can. I think this is one image that achieved this very well.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Induro Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 19mm, f/13 and 8 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image has spots of the water blended from a 5 second exposure where 8 seconds washed it out. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.
Name: Forest Rain
Location: Creek along the trail to Gorton Creek Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? Standing in the cold wet rain with not a soul around is what inspired to keep me here until I captured something I was truly happy with. The heavy rains rolling through the area with water rolling off my hat, nose and camera gave the mood I was looking for. My feet completely numb after exiting the creek and my face filled with a smile knowing that I caught a keeper. I am sure this will remain near the top of my personal Columbia River Gorge favorites for years to come and remind me that although the rain can be cold and miserable, the outcome can certainly be worth it.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 17-40L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 200, Manual Focus, 23mm, f/16 and 3.2 seconds
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: Final image was created by blending the same RAW file several times over. The heavy overcast day allowed me to get away with only one file. These were blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels. Very slight glow effect added using Gaussian Blur.
Location: Metlako Falls in Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Why this image? This waterfall has a perpetual fog cloud hanging over it for what seems like 365 days a year. That alone is beautiful yet when you have been here as many times as I have you are looking for more to take out the camera. When I saw the sun was trying to poke through I knew this was the “more” I was looking for. It did not last long however it was the inspiration I needed to make a more unique image from this popular location. Many say winter streams and falls images are not nearly as nice as spring. This image proves all season have potential. This was taken on a quiet winter morning when I was the only one around.
Camera Equipment: Canon 5D, Canon 70-200L lens, Hoya Polarizer and Gitzo Tripod
Camera Settings: ISO 100, Manual Focus, 73mm, f/18 and ¼ of a second
Processing Software: Adobe ACR and Photoshop
Processing Details: With this scene I had about 4 stop range of exposure from the dark areas to the sunlit fog. This required parts of three images to be merged together. These were hand blended with layer mask techniques in Photoshop. Localized adjustments for color and contrast using Levels.
You can find more of my work from the Columbia River Gorge and beyond at Adrian Klein Photography
By the Photo Cascadia team
Before the Photo Cascadia group takes a short break for the holiday season, we’d like to share a few photos of our favorite waterfalls from around this region called Cascadia.
Zack: Wahclella Falls has been a favorite of mine since I was a teenager. It’s not nearly as crowded as some of the more popular trails, and it’s one of the most beautiful falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I particularly like the view from up high, but there are a couple other good vantage points as well.
Zack: My favorite waterfall in the Gorge is Fairy Falls. It’s also my favorite teaching spot in the Gorge. It’s the best example of how slow-shutter speed affects the look of an image—and you can zoom in for many abstract compositions of the falls. It’s a steep (but relatively short) hike up Wahkeena Creek, but definitely worth the effort.
Chip: “Palouse Falls Sunset” is my title for this dramatic sunset sky over Palouse Falls in eastern Washington State.
Chip: “Mossy Elowah” is the title for this misty capture of one of my favorite waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Kevin: This foggy-day photo was taken in autumn at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. I had seen this waterfall before and it can be difficult to shoot in terms of composition. Positioning myself at the vantage point seen here in this photo was somewhat dangerous, but it was worth it. I was also lucky to be there just as the sun was breaking through.
Kevin: Myrtle Falls is an iconic waterfall located in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park in the Paradise area. I like this waterfall because it shows the majesty of Mount Rainier and its surroundings. To get this photo I had to stitch two images vertically to better capture depth and sharpness.
Adrian: “Enchanted” is the title for this image of Metlako Falls in the Columbia River Gorge on a chilly still winter morning as sunlight pierces its way through the thick fog. I have photographed this scene many times with only fog, but this was the first time I was able to include sunbeams. It’s one of my favorite Gorge photos.
Adrian: “Forest Rain” is the title to this Columbia River Gorge shot of Gorton Creek in the cold spring rain. For me, it’s not only the flow of the image that works (pun intended), but also the falling rain. It adds additional mood and feeling to the scene that would not be there otherwise.
David: I loved photographing Outlet falls along the Klickitat River of southern Washington, because it is so dramatic and remote. There is no “official” parking area for this falls and no directional sign. A steep descent gets you to the bottom of the canyon, and some added fall color brings out the best in these falls.
David: Salt Creek Falls is another favorite of mine, located in southern Oregon in the midst of the Cascade Range. There are a few view points for this waterfall, but I prefer a bushwhack to the bottom for this front-on view.
Sean: Since I’m based out of Ashland, Oregon that means I don’t have the quick access to the well-known waterfalls of Silver Falls State Park and the Columbia Gorge that the guys from the north do. While the waterfalls of the southern rivers, the Rogue, and the Umpqua aren’t as numerous or as grand, there are still some very beautiful cascades. Best of all, there aren’t the crowds of people that you get in the upper part of the state.
Near Union Creek on Hwy 62, the Rogue River spills into the narrows of the Rouge Gorge in a series of rapids and short drops, with one final big plunge. I love photographing at this Gorge because there is a lot to see in a condensed area. Over time, the river has carved a deep channel in the volcanic basalt and connected a series of lava tubes to create the gorge. The resulting eroded rock formations make excellent foreground elements. At the top of the gorge, the river fans out over the basalt and spills into the narrow chute in multiple locations. There are many different compositions that can be made from various spots along the rock shelf next to the river.
Light at the Rogue Gorge can be challenging, and I waited several years to get my chance to be there during this spectacular sunrise. The bright red and orange sky shed a warm glow across the entire scene and completely transformed it. Using a polarizer helped cut reflections and saturate the color on the rocks. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another chance to photograph the Rogue Gorge with light like that, but that one experience is etched in my memory.
Sean: Another favorite waterfall of mine is Triple Falls in Montana’s Glacier National Park. I first became aware of this falls from Galen Rowell’s iconic image of it. In a high alpine bowl, several small creeks converge and drop over the edges of a narrow canyon carved out of the red stone commonly found in Glacier. With sheer Rocky Mountain peaks as a backdrop, it is a uniquely beautiful natural formation. The falls isn’t located on a trail, nor is it marked on any maps that I have seen. In order to reach it by sunrise requires a cross-country hike through grizzly country in the dark. The day we photographed it, David Cobb and I walked cautiously through the pre-dawn gloom. We stuck to patches of snow and exposed rock so as not to walk on the delicate alpine foliage. We were sure that every boulder and bush along the way was a bear. We arrived just before sunrise and prepared for the light to come. Earlier in the summer when the snow is melting, there are three distinct waterfalls that plunge into the canyon. When I photographed it in the autumn, one of the falls was nothing more than a trickle so my image is titled “Double Falls.” The stormy sky that morning added shadowy dramatic light to the scene. At that time of day, the sky was so much brighter than the depths of the canyon that two exposures needed to be blended in order to contain the wide dynamic range.
There you have it, a few of our favorite waterfalls from Cascadia. We’ll be back with more blogs and information in the New Year, so until then have a happy Holiday season, from all of us at Photo Cascadia.