This year has been over the top crazy. I was sitting intently in a meeting the other day (ok…I was bored off my butt), and the realization hit me that my image capturing adventures were in the toilet this year. When I got home, I took a gander at my Lightroom data and the point was further driven home. On an average year I shoot 8000 to 12,000 images, at this point in the year, I have only shot 4000 images.
So to be honest, I have spent most of the year working on my first book, which is planned to come out in the coming months. Combined with my continuing to work on my degree and work has resulted in the calendar zipping by like a sweep second hand on the clock.
This calls for action, so onto the next book. I have the concept for the book and the basic structure, now I needed to secure enough images to fill the pages. An 800+ mile road trip with water falls selected along the way should go a long way if not all the way to fill the pages of this new volume.
Last Thursday, I hit the road, heading south toward Bend, Oregon. The first falls I went hunting for was Abiqua Falls. This falls sits on the property of an Abbey, but through a very gracious agreement they allow those brave enough to venture the journey the opportunity to enjoy it. The pavement departed and the last several miles were gravel and I wasn‘t even to the off road portions yet. I found the road leading to an off road area and headed in to find this falls. I made my way down, over a very rocky road, dodging large logging trucks and steep inclines to get to the gate and the trail head. With a quick search I found the trail and made my way down. It became rather steep about half way down and I was thankful for those who left the rope tied to the trees to assist with both the decent and later with the ascent. A short hike along the river ended in a large rock bowl and there in all its amazing presence was the falls. I went to work shooting the images of this falls. I was totally enjoying the light, it was overcast and the light was soft, which was going to allow me to shoot all day. After shooting my fill of a variety of images I made my way back up to the rig and made my way off to the next location.
I was planning on 3 falls on the first day, but as I made my way closer to Bend a few wrong turns (see I was off the main roads, much of it unpaved) it became clear that I was going to be pushing the day to get two falls in. The scenery was fantastic and the journey was relaxing, which was sorely needed. When I arrived in Sisters, I came to realize that I had missed my earlier opportunity to head further south and make my second falls. This required me to back track a bit (about 22 miles), which I did and arrived at the trail head for Proxy Falls very late in the afternoon, actually very early in the evening. With no hesitation and the risk of hiking out in the dark I hustled the trail to arrive at the base of this amazing waterfall. I had wanted to shoot this falls for years and it did not disappoint. I again shot my fill of images in a variety of angles and settings. As would repeat itself hundreds of times over the duration of this shoot, was the constant keeping equipment dry. Just as important keeping the lens free of water spots. So I developed a process, which proved effective and was able to capture some great shots and off I was back to the rig in the dark. I was so excited to shoot the falls, that I had forgotten my headlamp in the car, so was grateful that my night vision is good and had no challenges making my way back. With that I arrived in Bend, found my accommodations and called day one of this shoot complete.
Day two started at first light, a good breakfast and off I went to Tumalo Falls. It lies just west of Bend and was easy to get to. It was quiet and while not as spectacular as Proxy or Abiqua had been the day prior, but was a tremendous site none the less. It did not present as many options as the previous, but I was able to secure a few shots and I hit the road for my next set of falls. I had planned on Ramona Falls, but a longer hike and the presence of ice and snow already, I decided that this falls would wait to a later date. So this would take me several falls along the Columbia River Gorge.
My next falls on my journey was Wahkeena Falls, this could have been a better falls to shoot had it not been for the landslide and closure of the trail made this falls and Ecola Falls unreachable. So I was able to shoot at the base of the falls, but was not pleased with the shot. Then it was a short hop down the road to Multnomah Falls. This monstrous falls is a northwest landmark. Its presence along Interstate 84 makes is a nice rest stop for travelers along the Columbia River. This day was no exception and hundreds were hiking the trails around the falls and the visitor center. I set up pretty easily and knew I would have to wait for just the right moment for the upper bridge to be free of occupants. I was able to accomplish this and was pleased with my shots. So off I went to my next targets.
Just a few miles down the road was Horsetail Falls, this small falls (in respect to Multnomah) did present a quiet restful location. A small pool of water collected the water of the falls and with trees and moss, it was a nice setting and presented a couple of nice shots. From there it was back on the road to the next location.
Next on the list was Elowah Falls, this one was a nice hike though a forest that itself presented some great shots. Once I entered the falls area, it did not disappoint, but it did present with some unique challenges. A significant breeze was moving in this bowl area and the spray of the falls was swirling making capturing an image a split second moment when the lens would be clear enough. This falls presented several angles and options. More time and some technical gear would have presented some additional great shots of the white water and falls (that is a future shoot).
The last falls for day two was to be Wahclella Falls. I parked and assessed that as with day one, it was late afternoon, early evening. Though only a mile or so of pretty easy hiking, the time was getting late and I had to pick up my pace to get there to have sufficient light. I was able to make it, set up and capture some great shots. I also got to play with fill flash and supplemental lighting. But as I made my way out I again got back to the rig in the dark. I called it a day and made my way to accommodations.
Day three had me crossing the Columbia River and back into Washington. I went looking for what research had indicated was a great falls. It took some driving and some luck, but I found Panther Creek Falls. Prior though I had passed it and stumbled onto some smaller unnamed cascades and cool landscapes, which presented some shots. Hiking down to Panther was short, sweet and was perfect lighting. There were small islands in the creek above the falls that presented some great shots. There is a platform that gives great location to shoot the falls at the top. But I was wanting to get below at the base about a hundred plus feet below. This was proving a challenge to the rock face which had to be climbed down (keep in mind at this point it is drizzling rain and everything is wet and slick) in order to get to the optimal shoot locations. So I studied the terrain and noticed what could be a small trail, but it was not accessible from where I was. So I hiked back up to the road and instead of walking toward the rig, I made my way up the road a few hundred feet to a small berm, where what looked like a small game trail led back into the trees. Once over the berm, it was obvious this was a trail, and came quickly to a trail with a rope down the steeper angle. I made my way down slowly and methodically to be rewarded with some great compositions. After quite some time and many…many images, I made my way back out to the rig.
I am heading north at this point and I arrive at Lower Lewis Falls in the late afternoon. I spend quite a bit of time studying and shooting this falls. I also find a small falls (unnamed at this point), actually 3 of them which I have not yet found the names for. I also attempted to shoot Big Creek Falls, but due to the hunters and the government shut down, this falls proved a bit risky to shoot so left for another time. I made my way up the road to the parking area for the Middle Lewis Falls, which is also the launch point for the Upper Lewis Falls. This was the trail I hit, I did have a bit of an uncomfortable feeling on this trail and that small voice was telling me not to linger and consider turning back. I came upon the bridge for Copper Creek Falls, which I crossed and located the right composition. After I secured those images, I made the decision that was getting late, after 5:30 pm and that it would not be a sound idea to continue. I still had several hours of driving to return home. I then decided to stick a fork in it and call this shoot complete.
I turned on the GPS, hit the “home” button and followed the directions through southern cascades to arrive home with a great collection of images captured on my hard drive. I came away with about a dozen falls and an additional couple of dozen landscape shots. It was a relaxing adventure and allowed my mind to get recalibrated….and thinking about that next adventure. I have secured some new equipment for this winters eagle shoot and Yellowstone is calling me for February (unless the economy collapses).