A Tour in B&W

Spent part of yesterday afternoon with Dave Hill out in the  Willamette Valley just west of Eugene.  There were some interesting cloud formations floating overhead and they are what drew me out.  I was thinking Black and White images the whole time – the black being as much of a shape as the white of the clouds not just a space or filler in between.  The 3 images below were taken using a 10 stop Neutral Density filter resulting in exposure times of around 45 seconds.  The was a wind blowing and that caused some diffusion in the clouds and made the scene a bit more interesting.  IMHO

The fist image was simply noticing what was in front of us as we drove along a cross road.

First_valley_pano_BWDave and I shot on different sides of the road so I am sure ended up with very different compositions plus he was experimenting with a camera converted to take Infrared images so be sure go over and visit his blog – link is included on my listings.

The second image was just a simple farm scene – access road, fence and nice cloud patterns over the fields.

Vallye_Farm_LE_BWWe ended up at a small access beach to Fern Ridge reservoir and I waded out into the water to compose this shot.  Felt good on a warm day!  The wind was moving both the water and the clouds.

Fern_Ridge_LE_BWT’was  a fun afternoon using gear that I normally don’t dig out of my bag – clicking and learning.

Little North Santiam River

I have traveled up this drainage in the past – when I was working as a hydrologist for the Willamette NF – but I had never gone up it with camera in hand.  There are little houses and old abandoned buildings all the way along until you reach the National Forest – it is at that point that you enter the Opal Creek scenic area and the road turns to gravel.  The road Y’s just before that area and I took the fork that lead me across the river and ultimately up and over the mountains and down French Creek on the south side.  I had heard a comment about the road not being for the faint of heart but to me it was fine – little rough in spots and you could tell where a fill had been lost during storms but overall it was nice dusty drive.  The view of Mt. Jefferson down the French Creek drainage would be beautiful as a sunrise shot but yesterday it was just clear blue sky and sunshine. Not very interesting.

My first stop was at a little BLM recreation site named Canyon Creek on the banks of the Little North Santiam.  Since it was still pretty early the sun had not completely blown out the scenes and it was a quiet gentle morning along the banks.  This first image is a small panorama of 3 images stitched to get in the full width of the stream and you can see the wonderful reflected colors from the riparian vegetation.

River_light_panoI spent quite a bit of time just looking and found this simple reflection of bank rocks – there is something almost oriental about image – at least to me.

Bank_reflectionBy 0930 the sun was up and I found myself looking for shaded subjects.  I took some back roads under the timber that did not seem to be traveled all that much yet there were signs of dispersed camping all along.  I did stop at a recreation site named 3-Pools but there was just too much light for good shots but it looks interesting.  The parking area was a mess – trash every where.

On one of the side roads I found some well developed Foxglove – love the color in this wild version

Digitalis_combo Digitalis_combo_2Giving up on photography for the day I decided to drive Forest Road 2307 over the mountains and down the other side.  The basic idea was to scout for future outings and I found 1 or 2.   Coming down French Creek I noticed a small step falls and stopped and dug out the camera to see what I could capture.  For the most part it was in dappled shade.  There was a couple camped beside it – lovely spot for them.

French_Cr_stepfallsIt was a nice outing and I was almost sad to return to the heat of the Valley.

Purple Haze

I do believe there is an old Rock and Roll song or group or something by that name but last night it was a term that jumped into my mind in the lavender fields just north of the town of Harrisburg.

The wonderful folks at Camille’s Black Dog Lavender farm {http://www.camilleslavender.com/} were kind enough to let Dave and I wander around their fields near sunset.  We left town about 7:30PM and got to the fields about 45 minutes later – time to set up and enjoy the sunset to come.  First of all however I will show you an image of this wonderful farm – idyllic.  They are open for lavender sales for the next couple of weekends and I think a trip up there would make a lovely outing for anyone especially families.


It was very windy last evening and I decided rather than fight it I would try to take advantage of it.  There is a lot to be said for crystal clear shots of these beautiful blooms and I have shot them many times like that but last night the waves of color caused by the wind plus a little purposeful camera movement gave me at least two shots that I like.  Not your standard photographs for sure.

I have always admired watercolor painters for their ability to go to the essence of a scene and I have rarely been able to produce similar results.  I’m just saying, but I think these next two ‘made’  images portray the beauty and movement that was in the fields last night.  By ‘made’ I mean that I had in mind the capture of the movement and color and used field techniques that worked toward that aim.  I think I got there.

Purple_wave_comboThis last one is my favorite from the evening.  If you click on the images you can see a bigger size image.


An Open Road

Every year it seems we wait for the snow to be cleared from Old Mckenzie Pass.  It opened to car traffic a little more than a week ago and a trip up there found its way on my agenda today.  First stop was Scott Lake – nice quiet morning with about a bizzilion mosquitoes attacking me.  They made it so uncomfortable to shoot that all I could do was to line up what I hoped would be a good shot and then run for the car.  Just getting in and out let in so many of them.  A strong indication of what was to come.

Scott_Lake_HDRThere is a small wet meadow just to the east of the Scott Lake turnoff and today it was filled with Jeffery Shooting Stars and Marsh Marigold.  I was lovely.

Marsh_marigold_spyder Shooting_stars1 Shooting_stars2_dropsOn the way up the road I noticed that there is an abundance of Beargrass in bloom – actually more in one place than I have ever seen in my time in the mountains.   These are just a couple of the images I made as it seemed one could point the camera anywhere and there were fields of them – actually they were under the old growth and seemed to just be like candles in the darkness.  There are many more that are not in full bloom and I am sure that after a week or two has elapsed a return trip would yield additional images.

Beargrass_HDR_CRBeargrass_2_HDR_CRFinally walking back to the car – the mosquitoes were still horrible – there was this lovely columbine growing by the side of the road.  Such a treat.  The beauty of the flowers more than made up for the annoyance of the bugs but it would be nice to have flowers without the bugs – probably too much to ask.

Columbine_combo (I put a couple of these images up on Google+ so if you follow that site you may have already seen them and I apologize for the duplication.)

A Solitary evening

When you drive to the end of a road and there are no cars in the parking lot – save yours – it is a pretty good bet that you will have the landscape to yourself.  Such was the case last night at the wetlands just west of Eugene.  Had the place to myself – well, it was me, lots of ducks, geese, bull frogs and no-see-em’s but not another human in sight.

What follows is a set of 3 images that more or less make up a time sequence starting from when I first walked up the road leading to the reservoir to the last shot as the sun set into a bank of clouds on the horizon.

Looking_north_HDRA few meters up the road and a few more ticks on the watch.

Looking_north_HDR_goodFinal set of shots before heading back to the car.  Just a tinge of red in the clouds – was hoping for more but it did not materialize.   Still and all t’was a lovely evening.  It had been a while since I visited these wetlands – forgot what a joy it is to wander around in them – watching and listening.



Mountain Rhodies…

It was 0315 when I left the house this morning anxious to get to Salt Creek as I heard the wild rhododendrons were in bloom.  They can be so beautiful against the dark old growth timber and that was the aim of heading out so early.  Turns out I was a bit earlier than I really needed to be and I ended up walking with my headlamp on down the trail to the Salt Creek overview.  It was simply too dark to photograph the rhodies.  I have many shots of Salt Creek Falls but I think this one shows its’ grace and elegance in early morning light.

Salt_Creek_earlyOn the way down the trail I noticed that a lot of the trailside rhodies were not in bloom and I was pretty disappointed thinking I had come too early.  On the way back up the trail there was running through my head a quote from Edward Weston “You should be able to look at your feet and find a photograph”  so I looked over at the adjacent slope and there was small group of Canadian dogwood.  What a nice find. The image below was taken with my wide angle lens, 16 mm, and took a bit of processing to get the distortion out of it.  I was laying on my stomach with the tripod legs spread out nearly flat.

Canadian_dogwood_wideI crossed Salt Creek on the bridge above the falls and started down the trail toward Vivian Lakes and noticed the pattern in the False Hellebore growing along the path.  Nature’s patterns.  Another nudge to look from Mr. Weston.

Hellebore_pattern_BWStill feeling sort of let down about the lack of blooms on the rhodies I started back to the car and turned a corner near the road and there they were – just as I had hoped.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did photographing them.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Rhodies1 Rhodies_stackedDecided to drive up the highway to see if I could find some more blooms.  Took the turn into Gold Lake and got there in time for morning light on the lake.  Made for a really nice scene.  Yes there is a fisherman rowing his boat in the far upper right reaches of the image.

Gold_lake_morningI stopped for coffee and eggs at the Mountain Lion Bakery in Oakridge – topped off a wonderful morning – I need to get out and about with camera in hand.


Let’s See What Happens

“Failing is assumed.  It’s our best, and most faithful, teacher.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that it doesn’t hurt like hell, our pride especially smarts from this”

David duChemin, A Beautiful Anarchy

I have been experimenting/learning/failing at doing Black and White photography over the last year or so.  I have been very reluctant to post images for fear – nasty word – of the feedback I will receive or not receive.  Ahh the deafening silence.  After reading the above book, written by a Vancouver-based photographer that I greatly admire I realized that the person I am protecting, me, needs to stick his out and see what response comes from these initial attempts.  After what seemed, at the time, a crushing rejection from a local gallery it has taken me some time to rethink the gift that I was given by them and to try once again.

“Do not fear mistakes, there are none,”

Miles Davis

When I was growing up it was a treat to go to the Rexall Drug store and pick up a small packet of black and white images – about 2×2 with deckle edges. Remember?  Black and White was the norm and it was only with the development of good color film and relatively easy processing that color became the standard.  Now it seems as it Black and White images only gambol about in the rarefied realm of ART!!  Yikes!!

I must thank Dave Hill for loaning me a Canon film camera and it has been constantly loaded with Black and White film (Ilford and Kodak). It has been a joy to use.  I love the sound of the mirror flying up, the shutter opening and the movement of the film as it winds to the next frame.  Granted it is a bit more advanced technically than my old Canon F1 and the product is amazing – clean and finely detailed images.

I have learned that Black and White photography is not just the absence of color.  There is a way of composing images that requires one to think and see in Black and White.  You don’t have the gorgeous colors to make the image pop thus the way things are composed/positioned in the image and the gradation from black thru numerous shades of gray to white is what makes it all work – or not!!

So – directed to me!  “Suck it up, Buttercup”  and put them out there.  Here are a few images that I have been working on.  They are mostly local and all taken with film and if you click on the images to get a larger view I think it is better.  The first one was from a morning drive on Spencers Butte.

Country_road_morningThese next 3 were all taken on River Road north of town when a ‘sucker hole’ opened in an afternoon storm front.


River_road_tree River_road_field

An Open Road

A quick look at Trip Check on-line told me that the Cascade Lakes Highway was open and another quick look at the weather forecast indicated that it was going to snow up near Sparks Lake on Wednesday so Dave and I headed out with the hope of a good day of shooting.  While it was not the best day photographing I have had in the Cascades it certainly ranks among the top 10.

The shot below is of a snow storm working over the top of Devils Lake.  Amazing how cold it got when the wind came up.  This is near the end of Spring after all!!Devils_Lake_storm_HDR_combo We moved up toward Sparks Lake – the road into the campground and Ray Atkeson Point is still heavily snowed in.  To our delight the sky opened for about 10 minutes and there was the South Sister with fresh snow, blue sky and sunshine.  So rare to see this right now.  We were very lucky to be there.

Sparks_flat_comboWhen the sky around the mountain closed up we moved back down the road to a spot that looked promising prior to our quick rush to photograph the mountain and again the storms formed a dramatic sky against the simple landscape.

Sparks_Lake_storm_BWI recently listened to an audio interview with Nevada Wier at the Teluride Film festival and she talked about having The Luxury of Wilderness and that sure seemed true yesterday.  What a real luxury to be able to roam about this wonderful country.


A Travelogue

This posting will be a set of images to accompany a trip from Eugene to Burns and then along the High Desert Scenic Route in south eastern Oregon.

The first stop for me was the dogwood that are in bloom right now along  Mckenzie Pass – on the westside.  The one below was taken near Koosah Falls.  They glow like little lights against the dark green of the old growth forest.

Dogwood_bough_closeHeading out from Burns you travel east about 65 miles toward Nevada until you come to the Fields-Denio Road.  The first and last ~10 miles of this 60 miles are paved and the rest is well maintained gravel.  I stopped a number of times but  one area early on in particular caught my attention – I think it was a drying lake bed and was covered with small yellow flowers.  Great contrast.

Yellow_flowers_lake_bedAs you drive south you will come to the one sort of camping development run by the BLM along this road.  It is at Mann Lake – pretty primitive but there are toilets.  This image below is a bit of a postcard but shows you how great the setting is and with some interesting weather could make for a nice morning or evening shot.  Clear blue sky – the bane of photographers.

Steens_Mann_LakeThe next stop of note is the Alvord Desert and the images from yesterday’s post are from there.  There is a hot springs located here that used to be free and relatively undeveloped but the folks at the Alvord Ranch have put in a small store – gratefully they sell bottled water – and there are some camping spots – mostly just tables and far too rocky for tent camping – if you have an RV you could do fine – $20 fee, $5 fee to soak in the hot springs. Times they do change.

The morning found me headed out toward Denio, intersecting Hwy 205 and then driving back toward Frenchglen.  There were these wonderful open long valleys that were just catching the morning light and to me are so characteristic of the interior West.

Long_Valley_BWAbout 15 miles south of Frenchglen I came upon an abandoned shack with a great stream along one side – just catching the morning light.

House_streamBreakfast at the Frenchglen Hotel – which is on the National Register of Historic Places – and then a few hours trying to photograph birds on the Center Patrol Road in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Those image are for tomorrow’s post.

Morning on the Alvord

I spent a couple of days in Eastern Oregon – east of the Steens Mountains on the Alvord Desert.  I went over specifically to shoot a full moon rise and it materialized but was less than I had hoped for.  I spent the night near the playa – below is my home away from home – what a quiet night!

Home_awayFeeling a bit down because of the tepid moonrise I decided, for no particular reason,  that the morning would bring me better fortune so I got up at 0430 and headed back out onto the playa.  The first shot below was just as the sun started to brighten up the morning…

Alvord_morning_portthen I concentrated on getting a panorama of the playa with the morning light coming on – this is 6 images stitched together and 5 images at various exposures went into each of the 6 that ended up being combined.

Alvord_morningAs the sun topped the distant mountains I took one more set of images and headed back to camp.

Alvord_morning_lastI really don’t have a lot to write about with this set of images as I think they speak for themselves.  It was a soul filling morning – quiet, save for one lone coyote.  I was alone but not lonely.  Nice way to start the day.

I have many more images from this outing including some birds but the ones above really worked for me. Click on an image for a larger view.


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