Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spring in the Columbia Gorge, 2017

Deluge only begins to describe the weather here in the Northwest from October, 2016 to June, 2017. One of the escape areas from the city hum is the Columbia Gorge, and this winter greater escape from rain was often provided by just driving further east to the rain shadow east of Hood River.

 Lovely Oak and pine trees, rolling grasslands and billowing clouds.

Oregon Oak, Columbia Hills State Park, Washington

There was also quite a bit of water there at times as well.

High water through a narrow gorge, Washington
When we had some nice breaks and when it was possible, heading to Hamilton Island for the open and expansive views was a welcome investigation.

Beautiful sun beams on the Oregon side, Columbia Gorge
Checking Photographer's Ephemeris, the moon would be making an appearance over the ridge. Time for the long lens to capture this ridgeline in front of the moon. This is one of those type of images where it is good to go a day or two before the full moon so that there is light on the hills.

 
















Moon rising, Columbia Gorge, Oregon



 Images can be seen here>>

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kayak Photography Trip to Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Canada


Desolation Sound in British Columbia, Canada, was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 while he was carefully surveying and charting the B.C. coast, in search of the mysterious Northwest passage and to claim the area territory for the crown. He stated "...there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye". Normally he named locations after people. Few places are so named here.

Today Desolation Sound is far from desolate. In the summer it is a bustling, busy place with every type and size of vessel plying it's waters. In the autumn, the rains really start settling in and most everyone leaves, leaving it quiet and peaceful. This is when I enjoy coming here.

Desolation Sound on the final day
Photography and kayaking are idyllic here; soaring granite mountains descending into the sea, beautiful forests, wildlife in the water and on the shore, interesting people close to the land and sea. I beg to differ with Captain Vancouver's assessment.

Goals are tempered by the vagaries of weather. Here in the Northwest, storms can come at any time, with the likelihood of challenging weather increasing as September comes to a close. Temperatures are falling, but hopes rise of the chance for beautiful snow on the upper peaks.

Jervis Inlet exhales in the morning, between storms

After weathering a few strong storms, a break came to paddle the oyster laden Okeover Inlet to Malaspina Inlet, camping at Hare Point, part of the Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park. I frightened a scrambling family of River Otters upon my arrival. No one else was there. A condition that remained for the duration of my visit.

Malaspina Inlet from Hare Point

Spending days waiting for the weather to improve, continuous entertainment was provided by Steller Sea Lions catching salmon. Sitting on the Point with my chair, camera and umbrella, I watched them chasing down, flinging, chomping and swallowing whole, large Chinook Salmon. Along with the Salmon attempting to head upsteam, every day 6-10 Sea Lions would arrive with the incoming current. The Harbor Seals were also making quite a showing. Bald Eagles watched from the trees.

Sea Lion Salmon breakfast at Malaspina Inlet
Stellar Sea Lions are big. Very big. Their heads are the same size as a Brown (Grizzly) Bear, and they have no shortage of very large, nasty looking teeth. They look especially large when they are grunting 10 feet from your little boat. They come right up to you, sometimes making rather loud blowing sounds, sometimes following you around, but they never felt seriously threatening, yet. They are big, fast and dangerous. I always talk to them. In times past, we were a major predator of them.

Large teeth 10 feet from my kayak-deemed curious, not threatening
 After a cold front past in the evening, there was some clearing in the morning, so I packed up and headed for the Curmie Islands, which were about 6 miles away. Greeted by a 15+ knot north head wind, there was also plenty of distance to the north for the wind to build a rather large sea. Hard paddling for 2 hours netted 1 mile of forward progress. The waves were reflecting off the cliffs beyond the headland to create quite a show of breaking waves and chaos, known as clapotis. Retreating from this growing concern brought relief, and I was back with my Sea Lion friends at Hare Point in 20 minutes. Time for chocolate.

Majestic Bald Eagle taking a rest

Milky Way from Malaspina Inlet
The next day was clear and beautifully calm. I paddled out a few miles to the main part of Desolation Sound to photograph the islands and Coast Mountains. It was infinitely easier than the day before. Fog banks created some very beautiful patterns.  Fresh water was a disappearing commodity at camp with no fresh water source nearby, so I needed to head back to Okeover. It was a long day of paddling, but a satisfying one. It was further enhanced by another delicious meal at the Laughing Oyster

Oyster boat on Desolation Sound in the early morning
 I explored some areas near Okeover Inlet that were recommended to me by first nation folks, then headed back via ferry to Jervis Inlet, making note of next year's destination, Hotham Sound. Paddled out to the photogenic Harbor Seals in Sechelt Inlet, then out to Jervis Inlet for the wonderful peaks descending into the depths of the sea. 

No snow on the peaks this trip. Guess I'll have to return!

Harbor Seals at Sechelt Inlet


Soaring peaks in Jervis Inlet
A collection of images can be seen here>>

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One Day Misty Oregon Coast Workshop in Oceanside

Greeted by misty conditions, we rounded Maxwell Point with lots of surf, a deserted beach and nice sand and rock areas at low tide. The beautiful sea stacks were playing hide and seek in the morning fog.



Carol Enyart, ©2016
Moving water around the rocks was one of themes, and using slower shutter speeds to capture it's motion. A bevy of gulls and cormorants were in the air and on the rocks.

Birds and Sea Stacks. Andrew Kaplan, ©2016
As the tide returned and the fog lifted a bit, the scene changed to more blue skies and sun, bringing with it the throngs who were escaping the heat of interior Oregon. We headed to Roseanna's Cafe for a very nice lunch and a window seat.


After lunch we visited Will Dixon and his gracious wife Betsy in their lovely home perched near a cliff on overlooking the Pacific at Cape Meares. Will is a master wood carver who often works in the traditions of the Native Northwest woodcarvers, as well as carving some of his own lovely imaginary creations. He is also and noted author.

Will Dixon. Kira Bartlett, ©2016
Will is a fountain of stories, so he related some of his experiences with working with tagging raptors, as well as telling some of the famous NW native legends that inspires his carvings. He also graciously provided shortbread crab cookies he had made that day for us.

We then headed to the Bayocean area to explore the beach and the cliffs on the north end of Cape Meares. The persistent fog finally came ashore to this lovely beach, but we were treated to some beautiful light before the fog descended.

Cape Meares Mist, Katrina Gustafson, ©2016

The advent of seeing a sunset was not be, as the heavy fog moved in. After a very busy day, we decided to have a relaxing evening inside!

A collection of participant photographs from this workshop can be seen here>>

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Vistas Workshop

Although many visits and workshops have taken place over the years in the Gorge, every visit has unique and interesting aspects. This June workshop was focused on visiting familiar areas as well as some beautiful and less well known areas to photograph.

We started the workshop at one of finest vistas in the Columbia Gorge, Women's Forum Overlook. This gives everyone a chance to meet, discuss gear and other make adjustments while taking in the view and scouting different compositions along the Overlook. This is a place worth visiting time and again, as the light and clouds are always changing. The view of Vista House is an added bonus.

Here are two versions of the same scene from different angles, with different light and processing.

Kira Bartlett, ©2016
Larry Holmes, ©2016

The first waterfall visit was to the unusual and varied Panther Creek Falls north of Carson. After a very short walk, one can shoot from the well placed platform, or venture along the creek for a wide variety of compositions.

Many falls and streams to photograph at Panther Creek

Steve Synder, ©2016
After lunch at Skamania Lodge Cafe, we headed back to Oregon and visited Starvation Creek with it's falls and variations in compositions in the creek. It seemed the creek had been scoured a bit, with a very humble amount of vegetation this visit. Participants found their own unique and intimate views of this lovely creek, as well as the falls.

Back in Washington via the Hood River Bridge, we stopped at one of my favorite small falls in the Gorge, Dog Creek Falls. With some very nice late afternoon light, the falls was quite charming. Chinook Salmon spawn here in the fall.

Suzanne Michalik, ©2016
Our last area was Hamilton Island, overlooking the Gorge to the west. Although sunset was a bit demure, we still had some pleasant light on the clouds, promenades and features around St. Peter's Dome. Pearson Island, Beacon Rock and the surrounding bird sanctuary are a most pleasant place at sunset.

Photographing along the Columbia River

 
Steve Synder, ©2016

Photographs from this workshop can be seen here>>

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Short Addendum to the Olympic Workshop, May, 2016

After returning to the cabin at 11pm after a very long but fine day of instructing, driving and dinner making, it seemed like a good idea to get in some photography before ending the day. There is little or no personal shooting while teaching, but the night sky was interesting and it can be very peaceful and relaxing shooting at night....

Retrieving my camera and tripod and heading to the shoreline, there was an amazing glow of lights over Pyramid Peak. It was very bright and beautiful, but my first thought was the military was doing some kind of odd testing. Part of the display was a giant beam of white light that one normally does not see in these latitudes.

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016
 Rushing to the shore, the light was changing subtly every moment. It was quite spectacular. One detail that was missed was not fully tightening one section of the tripod leg sufficiently. While taking an exposure with the waves pounding right next to me, I heard the dreaded sound of my camera landing in the water. It was so dark, it fell over without me even seeing it fall. The cable release was just long enough to give a tug on my hand.

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016
Completely upset and tired, the camera and lens were promptly tested (comatose), so were placed in a warm oven to (hopefully) revive. By the next morning (with not very much sleep for me), they came slowly back to working order. A big sigh of relief!

Aurora Borealis, Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park. Byron Will, ©2016