The Subtle and Often Overlooked….

“As I have matured as a photographer and observer of nature, I’ve come to prefer the challenge of discovering the subtle and often overlooked, of creating compositions out of a minimalist palette provided by nature”

Art Wofe, Earth is My Witness

I happily spent yesterday in the Cascades first driving up Willamette Pass then across the Cascade Lakes Highway through Bend and back home via Mckenzie Pass.  The weather was pretty stormy but I have found that conditions like that can make for some of the best photography.  I stopped at a number of places along the highway for short hikes and to just feel the mountain air fill my lungs.

Near Mt. Bachelor is a large meadow adjacent to Sparks Lake.  The clouds were hanging low and the possibility of shooting the grand landscape, aka, South Sister, Broken Top etc. just did not present itself.  I am as much of a sucker for the grand landscape shots as any other photographer but it just was not going to happen yesterday.

It was snowing lightly as I left the highway and walked out into the meadow.  The textures and patterns that presented themselves were fascinating to me and I spent enough time to get wet and cold trying to frame up interesting shots.  To me these are natural abstracts and I love wandering about searching for them.  These range from a wide shot across the meadow to the tree line in the distance to looking down between my feet.  I am sure they are not to everyone’s taste but they do find a place with me.

I read the above quote last night after I returned and it just seemed perfect for the images I managed to come away with.  Such a wonderful book.

Sparks_meadow_abstract

Color_textureMeadow_grass_colorLots of leaf color still left in the mountains and I hope you can get up and enjoy it in the next few weeks.

PS:  No Bigfoot sightings today.

Aufderheide

I know that sounds like something you say after someone sneezes but it is actually the name of a Scenic Drive that runs roughly between Blue River and Westfir, Or.  and was the name of an early forester on the Willamette N. F.  The route follows the South Fork of the Mcknezie River and the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River crossing the mountains at a place called Box Canyon. http://www.eugenecascadescoast.org/adventure-guide/aufderheide/

I spent my morning on the Mckenzie River  side of the drive.  I have been up this route in the fall over the last few years and one year with Paula Goodbar and Dave Hill was spectacular but last year not so much.  I had hopes for a repeat of a couple of years ago and while that one will be hard to beat it was a very beautiful morning.  My first extended stop was Frissell Crossing.  I knew I wanted to be able to get out in the stream so I cut the bottoms off an old pair of hip waders thus outfitting myself with a cheap pair of Wellington boots and they worked great in the low water conditions.  I shot alone this morning and for me it was almost like a meditation.  Walking, thinking and then after some long set ups and consideration taking a shot.  There are 3 below from this area.  The first shot is a combination of 4 meant to take in the whole stream and the other two are more intimate views of the leaves and the stream.  They all look better if you click on them to get a larger view.

Frissell_Cr_panoFrissell_Cr_leaves Frissell_Cr_bank_overhangI went up the road a few more miles to pull out alongside Roaring River which I think is one of the nicest views of a spring creek stream on the Willamette National Forest.

Roaring_River_portSun came up and filled a blue sky with too much light and I headed home.

P.S. — No bigfoot sightings this morning.

McKenzie color and more…

I got an email from a friend who was spending some time in Bend and he had driven over the Mckenzie Highway and said that the color was really outrageous.  I headed over there this morning and he sure was correct.  My intent was to spend a couple of days shooting the color in Central Oregon but a very sore left knee and a storm that blew in and covered the mountains made me cut my trip short and head for home.  I did manage to get an image or two of the color, aspens and vine maple, and one more that I will tell you about a bit later in this post.

In_the_Aspens Old_growth_color_bushA few years ago there was a very significant forest fire on the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests called The B&B Complex.  I have driven by the burnt snags left throughout the fire zone and had wanted to stop.  Today seemed just perfect.  Fog and some light rain and the blackened snags just stood out.  I went down to what I thought was a meadow but turned out to be more of swamp.  Undeterred I made my way out to an area that allowed me to get a clean shot of the snags.  So with a slight deliberate camera movement and a relatively long exposure I got an image that I think conveys the almost ethereal nature of the scene.  This is a much better shot pulled up large so click on it if you are so inclined.  This is not a B&W conversion.

BB_remainsHopefully if my knee is better later next week I will head back out.

 

Looking for color

I have been hawking the websites that purport to give up to the minute status and location of the autumn color in Oregon and additionally I am sure I have been a nuisance to many especially those who live in Central OR with questions as to conditions.  This morning I headed up the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River after a friend who lives in Westfir told me that there was some color showing up along the river.  I found it and while I am sure it is a week or two and perhaps some cold and rainy weather away from full glory it was fun to see the beginnings of my favorite season — The Color Season.

The first image below is of the main river just below what is called the Canyon.  As you can see the river is very low and color is just coming on.   The sun had not found its way into the canyon so the light was very subtle and just what I was looking for.

NFMF_color1I drove down the road and came across a small tributary to the main river that still had water flowing in it.  Many of the tribs are dry.  This little stream seems to have found its way through what I am sure was an old debris flow which made for very tricky walking.  I took a pretty serious tumble and was so glad that I had the camera in my tough and well padded camera bag.  Just a hint to all of you walking over rough ground – unpack when you get where you want to shoot and pack it back up for the trip out.

These images are pretty much the same section of stream just a different camera orientation.  Click on the image for a larger view if you desire.

NFMF_trib NFMF_trib_portP.S. — No Bigfoot sitings!

Moisture…

I got to use my windshield wipers on my way to the Oregon Coast Range this morning.  Seems like forever since I have had to turn them on and the cool dampness was a treat.  My goal was to re-visit another favorite spot, Sweet Creek which is about 10 miles from the town of Mapleton.  On the way I stopped at Whittaker Creek just for a look.  The streams are so diminished due to the long period of no rain we have had but I did manage to find one scene that set off the stream and surrounding vegetation.

Whittaker_Cr1I moved on to Sweet Creek only to find that it too was extremely low.  I don’ think I have ever seen it or photographed it in such low water conditions.  It is still such a beautiful stream and is an easy and enjoyable hike.  I hope you can go over for a hike some time.

Sweet_Cr_1st_fallsAs you hike up the trail there is a series of step like waterfalls that I spent a lot time looking for ways to display.  The image below was about as good as I could do.

Sweet_Cr_step_falls
The edge of the trail in places is rimmed with Maidenhair Fern – certainly one of my favorites and I found one that I knew I wanted to photograph and convert to a Black and White image.  I have to admit to doing a bit of gardening,  aka, cleaning the scene before really setting up to shoot but this one just seemed so perfect to me and was what i was looking for.  I will post this on Google+ as well – I always seem to get better quality images on that service.  You can click on any of these images to get a larger view. It was a really fun morning – time in woods always raises my spirits.  Now on to fall color which is just beginning in the Coast Range although there is a quite a bit of leaf fall due to moisture stress.

Maidenhair_fern_BW_goodP.S. No bigfoot sitings.

Morning on the Mohawk

To say that I am anxious for the weather to change and the leaf color to come on would be an understatement.  I am so ready for it and it is all I can do to wait.  I went on a desperation morning outing up the Mohawk River above the town of Marcola just to see what I could find.  I had nothing  much in mind except I knew I wanted to stop at the Earnest covered bridge and found it to be freshly painted and looking so iconic.  Earnest_Bridge_MohawkThe river was very low and the sky was filled with some clouds and lots of smoke which darkened the scene.  There were a set of trees growing along the bank forming a reflection in the slow moving pool and I think it made for the shot I was searching for this morning.

Mohawk_Rv_Band_reflection

Alter spending some time framing the above shot I was started back up the bank and just looked down into the small cobble making up the river bed.  Found a leaf that was colored bright red but I chose to develop it to B&W and I think it sets off the stark nature of the shot better than the color did.

Mohawk_Leaf_BWNice to be out and about but it did not fulfill my need to shoot aspen color.  Perhaps a few more weeks of cooling my jets.  Be sure to click on the images if you want a larger view.  They are sometimes better that way.

Another Favorite…

A couple of weeks ago I stopped for an evening shoot at one of my favorite places – Ray Atkeson Point overlooking the South Sister and Sparks Lake.  Today I visited another favorite — Proxy Falls.  As my friend Bruce McCammon once said “These places have been shot to death” and it is true and we both have contributed to that moniker.  Today for me the task was to find something unique or at least a different view from the grand landscape shots that take in the whole waterfall.  I was only partially successful.

I left town well before sunset – had to wait for Starbucks to open.  Driving up the Mckenzie River corridor is always such a treat and this morning I rounded a corner to find the newly refurbished Goodpasture Bridge lit up and glowing in the morning light.  I think I may enter this image in the Covered Bridge category of the Lane County photography contest.  Can’t hurt!Goodpasture_BridgeA quiet drive and an easy hike into the base of Proxy Falls left me reminding myself to not get taken in by the standard shots that seem to be everywhere.  I did however plan and managed to shoot a panorama of the basin with the lower part of the waterfall.  (I personally don’t care for the images that show the whole waterfall from top to bottom)  This is a big image – 40×12 and took 4 stitched shots to compose.  Be sure to click on the image to get a larger view.

Proxy_PanoI did spend some time looking for detail in the waterfall – so many options and the shot below is just one of many and I have to admit reminds me of many of my past shots.  Oh Well still a magical place.

Proxy_Falls_detailAfter an hour or so in which I managed to end up with wet feet – always a sign of having had a good day shooting waterfalls – I headed back up the hill and down the trail.  I came across the following old survivor in the lava flow with a casualty adjacent to it.  This was the kind of detail and ‘different’ I was looking for today and I think is my favorite shot of the morning.  I am finally beginning to be able to see in B&W when I am out shooting and I count that as progress on a long learning curve.

Survivor_BWPS:  No bigfoot sightings this morning!!

 

A Favorite Place

I was asked recently what my favorite place was to photograph and I had to say that I really do not have a single favorite place.  There are so many that I love going back to year after year and I hope to add many new ones in the years to come.  One such place is Ray Atkeson Point overlooking Sparks Lake and the South Sister and Broken Top.  Sunsets up here can be dramatic and I have seen, although never photographed, wonderful sunrise images from this location, as well.

After spending most of the day floating the Deschutes River with my niece and her family and then dinner at the Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend I headed up toward Sparks Lake hopeful for a good evening.  I began to notice these very interesting waves of clouds forming over the meadow adjacent to the lake and moving toward Mt. Bachelor so my first stop was along the Cascades Lakes Highway.  Gave me hope for a great evening.

Bachlor_wavesI walked down the trail to the overlook and was greeted with a very nice display of clouds working around the summit of the South Sister.  These clouds still had a bit of the wave action going on.  This was the first shot from the overlook last night.

SSister_Summit_wavesAfter about 30 minutes the cloud began to soften and I had high hopes for a lot of color from the setting sun but alas it just got less dramatic.  I have called this image “Dancing on the Summit”  – nice hip action!!

Dancing_on_the_SummitAnd finally the last image for the night – about 5 minutes later the cloud turned gray and that was about all there was for the evening.

Dancing_on_the_Summit2It was a nice evening and I got to share it with a very nice couple from Northern CA  who were so enthusiastic and committed to photography so I hope to maintain a correspondence with them.

Time in the Studio…

Spent time on Monday in the studio shooting portrait and torso shots with a wonderful model, a good friend Demetra Kalams, and the help and gear of Paula Goodbar – a friend and phenomenal photographer whom I have photographed with in nature but never in a studio.  She has a wealth of studio experience and it showed.  It was real learning experience for me and I am grateful. My intent was to capture images that work in B&W.

I have one shot that I want to share with you.  I do not have a name for this image and sure am open to suggestions. Right now I am thinking of calling it ‘Contrast’.

Deme_back

Surreal Evening light

Dave Hill and I spent part of last evening at the wetlands west of Eugene.  The weather made for a very strange sort of evening.  With all the haze and smoke from the wildfires burning in the state the sky seemed almost ominous.  We spent about 2 hours out there and the images below are pretty much a timeline starting from when we first walked out the access road to the last shot just before we packed up the gear and headed for the car.  There is something sort of surreal about the color in the images – almost like the covers you sometimes see on a book of science fiction.

Just walking into the wetlands :

Sunset_first_HDRThe next two are about 30 minutes apart.  There was a short time when the sun seemed to almost disappear in the haze but then dropped down into a layer of clearing just above the mountains for a spectacular sunset.  At one point the sun got so strong just before dropping below the hills that it was painful to even take a glimpse at it.

Sunset_starburst_2_HDRSunset_starburst_HDRAnd the last shot before heading home.

Sunset_lastt_HDRReally nice evening and the wind helped to cool things off which for me was more than welcome.

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