Aneroid Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness

Fourth of July weekend was spent at Aneroid Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon.  Though I did not take a large amount of pictures, my goal was to use the 24mm TSE lens to capture some different views of the lake.  The two shots shared here are each composites of two images.

The first image was taken in the evening with the sun setting behind the mountain ridge in the frame.  I wanted to include the clear water of the lake and the rocks below.  I used a circular polarizer to mitigate the reflection on the lake.  I do not believe tilt was involved since the foreground was not very close to the lens.  I had forgotten my bubble level so had to eyeball the lake’s horizon.  Each image was shifted up/down and overlaps over 50% resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect ratio image.

Another aspect of this image I want to point out is the use of a circular polarizer.  Too often I read online people dismissing the need of a circular polarizer on a wide angle lens.  Yes, the effect it could have would not deepen the blues within a sky evenly.  However, I most enjoy the reflection-cutting ability polarizers have on water.  I could not see the bottom of the lake with my own eyes as well as the camera-lens-polarizer combination could.  For me, a polarizer on a wide angle lens makes complete sense when shooting water (or wet objects).

Aneroid Lake Evening

The second photo was taken in the morning.  Dawn light was nice but I have no regrets missing the light by a few minutes.  Just a few clouds; I’m ok with the result I got anyway.  This shot required tilting to maximize DOF.  I even took three different exposures with a plan of an HDR panoramic stitch.  However, the detail in the “normally” exposed image of the three files had enough detail to rescue the highlight data.  Again, this is two photos with 50%+ overlaps resulting in a nice 4×5 aspect rato.  Using the tilt-shift at the lake was a fun experience.

Aneroid lake Dawn

One last image to prove I explored beyond the lake.  This area sits above Aneroid Lake along the Tenderfoot Pass trail.

Along the Tenderfoot Pass Trail

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Silver Falls, Cannon Beach and the Gorge

These three places were the primary stops during my recent honeymoon. I had never been to Silver Falls and my wife’s love of waterfalls made it that much of an easier choice. We hiked to six waterfalls along the main trail. Cannon Beach was a great experience as usual. Ecola State Park, especially Indian Beach, is amazing! The conditions in the Gorge were clear skies and lots of sunshine…not the most ideal conditions for waterfalls shots but the sunset over the river our one evening there was very nice. Here’s a handful of photos from the trip.

North Falls in the rain

Winter Falls

Middle North Falls

Indian Beach Detail (3 shots from 24 TS-E)

Indian Beach Barnacles

Indian Beach Tidepool (2 shots from 24 TS-E)

Columbia Gorge Sunset

Bridal Veil Falls stream

Middle Fork of the Owyhee River

I’ve recently spent some time on the Oregon coast and need to finish those pictures and get a post written. Actually, it was my honeymoon so it was pretty memorable trip!

A holiday weekend trip to Boise was in my plans over Memorial Day. More specifically in the plans was an overnight trip to Little Jacks Creek in the Owyhees. Heavy rain in the Boise area and throughout most of southwest Idaho forced a contingency. Fortunately the radar seemed dry but cloudy in neighboring Malheur County, Oregon. That immediately turned my mind to the Three Forks.

I have previously been to the Three Forks once. My hiking and photography was done just north of the campground. The spectacular canyons and deep silence were both wonderful to behold. After more patrolling of the area with the aid of Google Earth, I discovered that the canyons to the south seemed even more impressive; they immediately went on my list.

Bad weather had lead me to suggest this area. The remainder of the camping trio (Matt and Trevor) agreed to this idea. We all hoped the rain would subside so we could enjoy a dry hike. Though it started out dry, the rain soon came. Being in the wide open spaces of the Owyhees, one can see rain well before its upon you. The first round of rain was light but soaked all the grass thoroughly thereby soaking my hiking shoes. I had unwittingly left behind my Goretex boots since the forecast just a day and a half ago seemed more pleasant.

The view of the Middle Fork canyon seemed perpetually over the next draw. When we finally made it to the mouth of the canyon we were all impressed. I snapped a handful of photos once in view and then the rain came. First it was rather light, but after I repositioned myself a few feet away the wind picked up and the rain began falling sideways and harder. Fortunately I was wearing rain gear (except my boot!) so I was relatively pleasant, but Trevor and Matt were a little less prepared. I put up my gear after trying to shoot since the rain was falling directly in my line of sight. I packed up and head about a quarter mile away to get another view and hope the rain would stop. The view, though nice, was still hampered by the downpour. It was at this point we decided to head back to the pickup and not attempt to camp overnight.

Juniper and Rocks along the hike

Fortunately, the rain lifted before we completely left the mouth of the canyon. I frantically took shots with only the 24-105 lens on my camera. It was still overcast and another rain system seemed to be threatening. After we all sated our photographic appetite we trudged back through the soaked bunchgrass and sage. Another light rain fell upon us but our spirits were already dampened.

Owyhee River Middle Fork Canyon

The River Down Below

Taking it all in…

The trip back to Boise was a little adventurous with an otherwise nice road becoming a slick, muddy mess. Add dodging cattle while fishtailing and we had quite an interesting 10 mile or so stretch from the campground area back to the Owyhee Scenic Backcountry Byway. I was disappointed that such whether had been encountered, but both Trevor and Matt were pleased with the views and the overall adventure. I, myself, would do it again in a heartbeat.

Photography and Chopin

A few years ago, at the outset of my interest in landscape photography, I read Ansel Adams’ autobiography.  I was already familiar with some of his work but was not aware of his classical piano ability.  Unlike Adams, I haven’t had to choose between the camera and piano.  However, my skill in either area doesn’t approach his.  Nonetheless, I’ve been playing piano for about 15 years; I’ve been a serious amateur photographer for only five years.  Listening to classical piano music is very enjoyable.  It’s akin to viewing photos online or in books or on television shows like Planet Earth.  I see sights that I’d love to capture with my camera.  Likewise I hear compositions that I could only wish to play as effortlessly and skillfully and some pianists.

This is where the parallel between the two lie.  The pieces I can play are at an intermediate level.  Pieces such as Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven) and Paderewski’s Nocturne in B flat major are among my favorites.  However, Frederic Chopin is my most favorite composer and I can play some Nocturnes and Preludes.  His grandest pieces by far are his Ballades.  These pieces have beautiful simple sections as well as lightning fast sections; quiet sections as well as thunderous sections.  I know more technically different pieces exist.  To proclaim these pieces as the altogether acme of piano music might be an overstatement.  For me, they are the most relaxing and grandiloquent pieces to hear.  Below are links to Krystian Zimerman playing the four Ballades.

Ballade No. 1     Ballade No. 2     Ballade No. 3     Ballade No. 4 Pt 1     Ballade No. 4 Pt 2

On the photographic-side of this idea I have the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.  I’ve never visited either nor had the privilege to photograph them.  Photographers for many years have been visiting and even living in these areas to capture the beauty in all seasons and in all weather.  Innumerable images have been captured displaying natures grandiloquence.  I would love the opportunity to visit both of these places and drink the views with my eyes and camera lens.  Though luck is at time involved in photographs, immense time and knowledge of a place usually leads to the most dramatic and intimate of shots.  Knowing when the weather might be right, or the sun, or the moon, and subsequently spending the time necessary to capture all the elements precisely and perfectly leads to some of the most breathtaking images.  I’m sure there have been iconic images captured that are not a result of such assiduousness but that is beyond the scope of this analogy.

Imnaha River Canyon

In my five years in the West I’ve visited some of the iconic areas:  Moab, Death Valley, Zion, Yellowstone and the Pacific Northwest just to name a few.  However, I’ve spent innumerble days and hours in the Owyhees, Sawtooths, White Clouds and Hells Canyon.  Most of this traipsing has been done within Idaho but some has been done in Oregon’s dry side.  Many National Parks lie within a day’s drive but my choice is to drive to the Imnaha River rather than Rainier; to spend a weekend backpacking in the Sawtooths rather than exploring the Tetons or Glacier NP; to camp along a random canyon deep in the Owyhees rather than Canyonlands or Bryce.  Time and money has definitely influenced my ability to experience the more extravagant locales.  But the more time I spent throughout my immediate region I’ve found numerous photographic spots that are quicker to access and that hasn’t been overshot my anybody with an SLR.

Sawtooth Sunrise, Goat Lake

All of this is to say that I’ve become satisfied with having all the opportunities I’ve had regionally rather than traveling to any place ending in “National Park.”  (Don’t get me wrong, I’d jump at any such opportunity, but I don’t strain my time and wallet to do so.)  I currently live in the Palouse; it’s gaining great popularity with photographers.  Still there is so much to know about this area and so much to see that cannot be seen in one weekend.  I’m content with waiting for the right conditions at sunrise from Skyline Drive or spending a weekend revisiting any area of Hells Canyon to recapture it’s beauty in different light.  Likewise, I’m content with playing a crescendo or diminuendo of a simpler classical piece or learning how to time my fingers while playing triplets with the left hand and a melody with the right.  I may be far from Carnegie Hall but I’m satisfied with my private performance; I may be far from a national-renowned art gallery but I’m satisfied within the slice of America I live and the images I’ve made.

Owyhee River, near the Three Forks