The Rockies — Part 2

Just a few more images from the trip to Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP.  One of the big treats for me on this trip was getting to spend time with my Grand Niece, Suki, both us with cameras in hand.

The one below was taken in early morning light — the Upper Canyon of the Firehole River.

Firehole_Rv_Canyon_BWDetail in Gibbon Falls on the Gibbon River headed toward Norris Geyser basin

Gibbon_Falls_detailLiving and Dying on the edge of a fumarole in the Norris Geyser Basin.

Living&Dying_poolVivid colors in Grand Prismatic Spring on the way to Old Faithful.


Sunset from the Mormon Barn area – Tetons in the background.


A finally a shot I took on the drive home – early morning light on the High Desert of Central Oregon about 70 miles east of Bend.

HD_Sunrise_RbrushComments welcome.  Click for a larger images on your screen.  Prints are also available.

Time in the Rockies

I think many photographers anticipate and plan an autumn trip to the Color Hot Spots around the country.  Certainly true for me. This year was a trip to Yellowstone National Park to meet up with family and then down to the Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming and then back thru Oregon looking for color in the Cascades.

I got to West Yellowstone early in the afternoon and since I knew I could not check into my motel for an hour or so so I headed up into the Park looking locations for a morning shoot.  I came upon a serious traffic jam and a parking lot full of photographers pointing long lenses at a herd of elk wandering around in a meadow but it really did not interest me much and I moved on.  I did come across a herd of buffalo along the road and this one guy was looking at me hard.  So magnificent.

Buffalo1The town of West Yellowstone was a bit of disappointment as it seems these days  to be little more that a series of tacky T-shirt shops, motels and restaurants overrun with loud and rude Chinese tourists.  However by leaving early in the morning I was able to have so much wonderful alone time to compose and shoot.

First an early morning shot of the Upper Madison River with a morning star.  Then an image that was taken at the mouth of the Canyon of the Firehole River with morning light just coming onto the cliff faces.  I then moved up to Firehole Falls – the steam – river warmer than the surrounding air. Madison_morning_starFirehole_Rv_CanyonFirehole_FallsBreakfast was calling which meant a drive back to town to meet up with family – what a treat to spend time with them.  On the way I crossed the Gibbon River and the morning light was filling up a meadow.  As I set up for this shot the elk started bugling – made my morning.

Gibbon_River_meadowSo as not to overwhelm you I will stop now and warn that there will be more posts from this trip – a few more critter shots, geysers etc., morning sunrise, and color in the Cascades.

Thanks for looking and as always comments are more than welcome. If you click on an image you can get a larger view.

An Old Friend

Going back to Ray Atkeson Point over looking Sparks Lake and the South Sister is for me like re-visiting an old friend.  I seem to make the journey up there every year – at least once and sometimes twice.  Last night was the first time I have been back this year and it was not only a treat for me but I got to introduce my friend Dave Hill to the place as well.

I do not think I have ever seen the lake as low as it was this trip.  The lack of rain and the low snow pack last winter combined for very low water conditions.  It is interesting to see the lake at various levels – almost like a different personality – and I think last night may have marked an end point.  At least I hope so.

Dave and I got on-site about an hour before official sunset and while there were some interesting clouds over the mountains there was also an annoying array of contrails.  They just don’t look natural – Hee Hee.

While certainly not the most dramatic evening I have experienced up there there was some nice subtle color toward the last of our time and that combined with interesting textures in the clouds produced a reasonably nice image.   Sort of seemed to match my mood – nice calm evening.

Subtle_Sparks_sunsetIt was nice to have company on the drive home and we made good time along almost empty roads.  Dave made for a really competent deer watcher.

Comments are more than welcome and if you want a larger view just click on the image.

Waldo Lake morning

Started my day yesterday at 0430 on the road to Waldo Lake near the top of the Cascades.  The lake has been described as 6,000 acres of distilled water.  I believe it ranks as the 4th purest large lake in the world – certainly puts Crater Lake to shame.  I drove into the Shadow Bay area with the idea of shooting at a place  called The Point.  I bet your figured out that it extends out into the lake.

The parking lot was relatively full but I only saw 2 other people in my time spend there – quiet, peaceful morning.  Probably way too early for most folks even if camping.  There was a lot of smoke in the basin from nearby wildfires.  The light was very different due to the smoke but I thought it provided interesting images.

I followed the trail down to the lake shore and The Point and started my day shooting this scene.  (Click for a larger view)

Walso_PointI wandered around the lake shore for about an hour and came upon a scene that I really liked.  There was a small semi-vegetated island that was isolated in the big lake.  I spent a lot of pixels trying to get this right but am still not convinced I did a great job.  Time for another visit.

Island_bush_close Island_weedsI have heard it said that what you concentrate on determines what you miss and I almost missed this wonderful natural bonsai tree on the lake shore.  Spent some time circling it with tripod and camera and determined I liked the view that set it off against the lake with the Cascades in the background.  Given the size of the trunk I would think this beauty is very old.  Seems like it is right out of a Japanese woodblock print.

Waldo_BonsaiStill praying for rain and no more fires.  Sending good thoughts to all the Washington State folks dealing with the fires.

Meteor search

I have not put up a post in a while so I thought I would share a couple of images from last week. Mid-week was the height of the annual Perseus meteor shower and I found my way in the middle of the night to Dee Wright observatory at the top of Old Mckenzie Pass.  Not much light pollution and that is what was desired.   Over the course of the evening there were about 12 other photographers that came and went.  I stayed about 6 hours and managed to get 2 images that I sort of like.  Don’t look too close as there are many ‘issues’ with these two.

Mt_WashingtonThe one above is looking north from the observatory and the pointy mountain silhouette is Mt. Washington.  The next image was taken later in my stay – just when the morning light was beginning to touch the 3-Sisters.  I was not able to capture any meteors – you have to have the camera open and pointed in the right direction and meteors are sporadic at best.Sisters_night_WB

I have a lot to learn about this style of photography and a bit of noise removal software to purchase as the one I purchased separately from the NIK software package works well to remove noise but is such a heavy treatment that it tends to blur detail.  There are parts NIK Dfine – the advanced options that marginally work – but I am ready to explore some other tools.  Recent reading has pointed me to some better options and some solid techniques.  Now to get them to work in the field.

It was a long day with lots of road time and not enough coffee but I love being out in the early morning when the world is just waking.  You are always welcome to join me – bring your tripod and a cable release.


Brownsville morning

I was reading Art Wolfe’s blog yesterday and he mentioned that he had taken the participants in his Palouse Workshop into the town of Palouse on a clear hot sunny afternoon and told them to go out and shoot somethings that they normally don’t do.  I got to thinking about that this morning and realized that the town of Brownsville up in the Valley – about 20 miles north of Eugene – held great potential for finding interesting subjects way out of my normal landscape shots.

I teamed up with Dave and Sally Hill and I think we had a wonderful morning just wandering in this charming little town.

I came across a bright eyed figure sneaking a peak out the window across the street.

Maniquin_lookWe kept on roaming about and I found a set of old rail cars.  The rust and staining from years of weathering made for what I found to be interesting abstracts.

Railcar_siding_abstract_color Railcar_siding_abstract_color2We packed up the car and headed out for a leisurely drive home starting with a cruise around the back streets of town and came across a house that was so eclectic and whimsical it demanded a stop for some shots. What fun!!  This image is what I think is the front door.

Eclectic_Door_BWWe headed out into the valley on the backroads and I noticed a field of sunflowers in bloom with booming clouds in the distance.  Almost did myself in getting out of the car and setting up the camera to get this image. (Click on the image for a larger view which helps a lot.) This is a 15 shot panorama.  Just topped off a wonderful morning.  The Willamette Valley is tough to beat.   As always comments are welcome.  (Again my thanks go out to Dave for the loan of his spare camera or I would not have been able to capture any of this shots)


Kentucky Falls

I realized yesterday after mailing my current camera to Adorama in Elizabeth, N.J. that I would be without a camera, save my little film one, for the next ten days at least.  That is the approximate time it will take to finalize a trade-in deal with Adorama and get the new one.  Indicators of addiction withdrawal started almost immediately but I was rescued by my friend Dave Hill who graciously loaned me one of his spare cameras.  I got it before the DT’s set in and I headed out this morning to the Coast Range with the idea of photographing Kentucky Falls on the Siuslaw National Forest.

The access road initially runs adjacent to what I think is Whittaker Creek and the shade and morning light made for some very interesting patterns and scenes.

Whitacker_Creek_low_waterIt has been a while since I was at Kentuchy Falls and I have never seen it or photographed it at such a low water level.   The first image below is of the entire drop and then, as usual, I focused on the details that I could find.

K_falls_port_low_water K_falls_port_detailAfter enjoying my time at the base of the falls I started up the trail to the parking lot.  That is when I discovered a nest of bees or perhaps they discovered me but either way we had a confrontation that resulted in some strong language and much swatting with my hat.  I was on a very steep section of trail so much running was out of the question.  The sting that hurts the most is in a joint on my thumb.  BTW:  Tripods do not make good swatting tools!!

After catching my breath and topping out along the trail I saw reflected morning  colors in the bedrock pools below me and I took the following natural abstract.

Bedrock_abstractIt was fun being back and seeing it in such different flow conditions opened up lots of new views.  As always if you click on an image you can get a larger view on your monitor.

Dee Morning

Started setting up the camera at 0500 on the observation path around Dee Wright Observatory at the top of the Old Mckenzie Scenic Highway.  That means that I left Eugene about 0300.  I do love driving at night with classical music on the radio and I was able to tune it in all the way up and back.  I read in a recent Outdoor Photographer magazine that most landscape photographers spend a lot of time alone – good news, back news – today was an alone trip.

I was not happy with the morning light on the 3-Sisters mountains – really pretty flat but there was a mildly interesting sunrise going on in the east.  Sun_pilar1I ran into a fellow photographer who was from Sisters and a member of the Sisters astronomy club and he told me that the bright object just to the right of the stand of trees was called a sun pillar.  Made the scene more interesting and I learned something new.

After the light came up a bit and the interest dropped off even more I packed up and headed down the road to Craig Lake.  Paula, Dave and I have all shot at this magical little lake.  For some reason creating natural abstracts always comes to mind when I am shooting there and today was no different.  These are done using a long exposure – 6 seconds in the two cases below and then moving the camera vertically while it is solidly attached to a tripod.

Craig_reflection_blur Craig_reflection_blur2When doing this you are never sure in the field what the results will be and it is not until you get back to the digital darkroom that you sometimes find one or two that portray what you were after.  Such are two above.

I also spent some time shooting reed patterns against the water.  The reflected color from the sky, trees and brush created a pastel pallet to shoot the reeds against and the sun just lit up the stalks.  I think this is my favorite from the morning.

Craig_reflection_pastel_reedsIf you click on the image you can get a larger view and as always prints are available.


Gooch (a.k.a. Gatch) Falls

The primary reason and goal for a trip up the North Fork of the Santiam River was to photograph wild rhododendrons as I got a tip that they were in bloom and abundant.   I could not find them save for a couple of scraggly bushes along Marion Forks road.  I drove up to Brientenbush Hot Springs and could not find any there and I saw only one bush on my way back down the mountain. However I did get some reasonably decent shots and hiked into a gorgeous waterfall that was new to me. As I slowly drove along the Marion Forks road looking for rhodies I noticed the morning sun pouring down into the old growth timber lighting up a vine maple.  Seemed almost biblical!! Forest_lightMarion Forks road is designated Road #2255.  To find the route into Gooch Falls you need to find a turnoff – poorly marked – designated #2255/850 about 3.5 miles from the highway junction.  About 100 yards up that road there is a substantial steel gate – you are not driving past it.  The trail to the falls starts about 1/4 mile up the road.  Pretty easy hike.  The trail is not marked at all and I found it just by wandering around a bit – plus I could hear the waterfall in the distance so when I did find a rough trail it seemed to be going in the right direction and off I went.  Pretty easy to follow.  When you get just above the overview there is a steep, slick from the spray section leading right to the edge of a cliff on which the overlook is perched – no railing of any kind.  Luckily some previous visitor tied a section of nylon webbing to aid going down and coming back up.  Bless them for that. The waterfall is gorgeous and huge.  It is at least 100 feet high if you count the  upper section above a cascade. Gooch_fullAfter a number o shots I got a little nervous about sunlight filling the canyon and blowing out all the great color so I concentrated on shooting the detail.  What fun.  The two below are of parts of the waterfall that caught my eye.  You can just see the light catching the edge of the water. Gooch_detail2 Gooch_detail1It was wonderful morning and I loved being out there – partially new country for me.   Now to find some rhodies. Comments are always welcome and as usual if you click on an image you can get a larger view.


I have been reading Jay Maisel’s book “It’s Not About the F-Stop” in which he says in the Introduction “Most instructive photographic books tend to dwell a great deal on technique and equipment.  This one doesn’t”   — that is probably why I was drawn to it. (Not for the techies and gear heads)  Additionally, I was walking down the street during the last First Friday Art walk and ran into a friend who told me about the retrospective show of images by Bill Anderson.  I stopped, looked, went on, returned and looked some more.  Wonderful simple images that were crafted with great care. Such inspiration.

So the two sources just seemed to mesh for me and I found myself out and about early this morning  – just looking  – as Jay suggests in one of his chapters.  “…., there is always something to shoot, you just have to be open to it.  It’s always there.”

I wandered over to a local mall and spent some time just looking – it was treat to do that – strong morning light, clear sky, hardly any other folks about. No two hour drives.  Here are a couple from the morning outing.   VRC_entrance_sliceVRC_HM_SliceThis last one is called “Waiting to Unload” VRC_waiting_unloadNow back to Bach on the stereo, more morning coffee and reading. (I know some of you may find these images odd and certainly different from my normal landscape images but I loved doing them and it felt like creatively stretching so I know I will be doing more. )


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