Sweet Creek Falls

There is something very intimate about walking in a Pacific NW Old Growth forest on a rainy day.  Such was this morning as I hiked along the trail leading to Sweet Creek Falls.  Pouring rain, alder and vine maple bursting bud, the first of the year trillium blooms and a wonderful stream dancing its way to join the Siuslaw River all quieted my mind and made me glad for where I was.

I parked at the upper trail head which made for an easier walk to the falls but I was soaked when I got there.  Luckily I had a rain shield for my camera which while rather clumsy to use it kept the rain off while walking.

I think this waterfall is one of my favorites and the soft morning light and moderate flows help to set it off in its little grotto.

Comments are always welcome and appreciated.  Click for a larger view




Smith Rocks Eagle

A few years ago I was with Dave and Sally Hill and Bruce McCammon at Smith Rocks near Terrabonne in Central Oregon and we were delighted to come across a pair of nesting Bald Eagles.  We all vowed to come back and photograph them.  I know Bruce gave it a try with little success and I have been back a number of times only to find the nest empty.  That all changed yesterday.  Picked up my friend Leslie in Sisters and headed out – walked in and with binoculars we spotted a mature bird on the nest.  There may have been chicks in there as well but we did not see any tiny heads sticking up but the adult was certainly firmly nested and really did not move while we were there.

This image was shot with my Canon 400mm with a 1.4 extender.  Not the extensive rig that George Lepp showed in Outdoor Photographer but I think mine got the job done.

Just in case you are going over there they have installed a set of rules for photographers and you must sign an agreement to abide by them  The viewing area has become very popular and the Park is trying to protect the nesting birds.  An example of how it got out of hand was that at one point there were 14 photographers set up on the rim with chairs and dogs all within a direct line of sight of the birds.  We were the only ones shooting yesterday despite the Park being overrun with people – Spring break and a Friday afternoon I guess plus given the popularity of climbing movies lately and that Smith Rocks is famous in the rock climbing world.  Tough to get a parking spot.

Back to the Row

There was a bit of mental tug-o-war going on for me this morning – head to the mountains or the gym.  The mountains won.  I was perusing The Waterfall Lovers Guide book the other night and realized that there was a complete set of waterfalls up the Row River that I had never seen let alone photographed.  With those in mind I left early hoping for morning light.

The recent snow storms caused a lot of damage to the timber stands along the road and Brice Creek itself.  The Forest Service has done an admirable job in clearing the road but only got as far as Champion Creek and where I wanted to go was well beyond the barricade set up at the bridge.

I had noticed a number of interesting cascades and chutes on the way up so decided to make the most of what was available to me and set about shooting my way down stream

First stop (above) was below Hobo Camp.  Nice little cascade.

Went to the next big pullout/access point and found two images.  One was of a still bare bit of brush standing against the turmoil of the flow….

… and the second was looking downstream – as you can see the spring flows are filling the channel.  Click for larger views.

Had a great morning in a wonderful watershed.


Shooting the Moonlight

Noted and commented on the near full moon (98.6%) yesterday morning to a friend at the gym and realized that I needed to be out early to take in the morning moonlight.  Went out to Shore Acres on the banks of Fern Ridge reservoir and the moon was settling into a mix of clouds and reflecting off the water.  Rain on the way for the next few days so this was the time to be there.

What a nice way to start a day and glad to be here to enjoy it.  Been a month since I had my heart attack as I am one grateful guy to still be here to gather in the beauty of this world.

Comments more than welcome.


Up the Creek

Spent part of this frosty morning on Shotgun Creek just north of Marcola.  I love exploring these small streams and I got there in time to have a bright morning sun come thru the frozen riparian zone.  {Lots of damage to the trees along the road and the stream from the recent storms}

So nice to be back behind the lens feeling somewhat competent.

I spent some time just wandering the banks and found what I and many others have come to call an intimate landscape.  Caught in the flow.

Comments are more than welcome and you can always get a larger view on your monitor by clicking on an image.


Went out and about this morning in the snow speckled hills around town – a return to the lens. Feeling well enough to go out and shoot a couple of images and being in the hills made me feel even better. Nothing special for sure – almost have to apologize for them but to me they are a celebration of being able to shoot again. Thanks again to all of you for your support.



Yesterday I got a message out of the blue from an old friend who I worked with in the Forest Service on the Packwood Ranger District, Gifford Pinchot NF.   Back to back summers on a wilderness trail crew with my partner, Bill Chase, and serviced by the “old packer”  Don Bowen.  We were always so happy to see Don coming up the trail with the packstring- meant we were moving camp or were at the end of our  tour – 10 days on and 4 off – plus somebody new to talk to.   I cannot think of a better way for a young person to spend a summer – good friends, hard work and wonderful country.

Just to keep y’all up to date on my condition – so kind of you to ask – I got my first real restorative sleep last night and while I still feel pretty weak my strength is coming back slowly.  Perhaps in a week or so I mite try a very simple easy gym workout  — guaranteed – not much.

Diamond in the Cascades

A Winter Storm Advisory was posted for the Cascades this morning with snow, wind and cold making up the prediction.   Seemed like a really good time to head for the mountains.  Following a tip/advice from my friend Tim I headed to Oakridge and then up Highway 58 and Salt Creek.  Above 2,500 feet the fresh snow painted the trees but the driving was easy – bit icy but nothing too drastic.  I went over Willamette Pass toward the town of Crescent and on the way dropped down thru the snow to gather this image.

The sun was breaking thru the eastern sky and brightening Diamond Peak.  You can tell that the view did not last long – that dark cloud settled in after about 30 minutes – worked for me as I was really cold from the 21 degree weather and stiff breeze coming over the lake.  It was a winter wonderland.

Comments are more than welcome.


Morning Thoughts from Morning Reading

My friend John Simpkins lives and works in the old eastern Oregon ghost town of Andrews and I make a point of stopping for a visit each time I am over there.  I sent him a message the other day about an upcoming visit just to be sure he would be in the area.  He generously responded and part of his response was:

Deigh, it’s amazing that I hardly ever leave the driveway of this place! I used to travel all the time! But there is something about being in one place and watching the changes each day…. like a long meditation.”

This morning I read an article by Guy Tal about photography as being almost a meditative or at least contemplative activity for some of us.  I guess there is still a place for snap shots (phones) and street photography but it does not appeal much to me these days.  I have slowed down a lot and come back from a solitary day in the field with very few images.  Sometimes that means composing the image in my mind, taking the shot(s) with all the attendant technical camera adjustments and then processing it to get what gelled in my mind in the field.  Such was the case with the image below.  Two shots – one with deliberate camera movement and the other shot crystal sharp.  Combined in post processing.

Still so much to remember and think about as I feel like a Beginner most of the time.

Thanks for looking and reading and as always I welcome your comments.

John Simpkins website:  http://www.johnsimpkins.com/