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’.


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.

To Escape the Heat

For the last few days and for the next ones to come the Willamette Valley has heated up to the mid-90’s and for us soggy souls that is a bit much to take.  To escape I headed for the Oregon Coast this morning following my workout.  I certainly was not alone.  Lots of traffic.

There was the promise of overcast sky in the forecast and that can often help to soften the images.   I went specifically to photograph using a 10 stop ND filter thus producing long exposure times giving what can often be a pleasing effect.  The 3 images below were all taken near the town of Florence, OR along the banks of the Siuslaw River.  They were all long exposure times — ranging from 30″ to 1’10”.  It is a bit tricky using this filter and it requires setting up and resetting a few times to get the shot you want.   I have a lot of useless images on the card but a few that turned out just as I had hoped.

{Prints are available for all three of these images.}

Siuslaw_upstream_LELooking upstream

Siuslaw_mouth_posts_LENear Cushman – sun just coming thru the clouds ( my favorite of these 3 – simple minds like simple things)

Siuslaw_mouth_dock_LERailroad bridge piling near Cushman

It was interesting to watch the car thermometer gradually rise from 57 in Yachats to 90 here in the Valley.  Think I will stay home and stay cool for the afternoon.   Some of you are probably saying I have never been cool in my life – probably true.


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.



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