Stock landscape and outdoor adventure photos from Oregon, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest

Oregon waterfalls, lakes and streams.

Sisters Oregon Tourism Guide!

We have recently developed a great relationship with the good folks at The Nugget in Sisters, Oregon.  The staff who puts together the Sisters Oregon Guide is personable, efficient and very professional.  We’re excited to note that two of our images are on the cover of the the guide and that several more are inside of the new Sisters Guide.  I’ve always liked the image that was selected for the cover shot which was taken fro Tumalo Reservoir and features the Three Sisters Mountain in the background and colorful sunset light.  We think the image works perfectly for their needs and it showcases the beauty of the Central Oregon area very well.

Cover Photo for the Sisters Oregon Guide!

Cover Photo for the Sisters Oregon Guide!

On a fun side note, the little girl in the photo in the lower left hand corner of the guide is my daughter Emma who thinks this might be her big break!  Thanks again to the staff at The Nugget and the Sisters Oregon Guide!

Mike Putnam


Autumn Photos from McKenzie Pass and Proxy Falls: Another Epic Day in Central Oregon

This autumn, Central Oregon has had some of the craziest weather patterns that I have ever seen.In just a few days, we went from sweating in 90 degree heat to sweating while shoveling 6 inches of fresh snow.That huge early season snow storm was quickly followed by even bigger thunderstorms (which are unusual for this region), and then finally, we made it back to our typical sunny, 70 degree days and cool, clear nights.All of that rapidly-changing weather wreaked havoc on my fall-time photography plans for a while there, but things seem to be settling down now, and I was recently able to get out and do some exploring around the McKenzie Pass and Proxy Falls areas.

For those who aren’t familiar with McKenzie Pass, it’s one of the most beautiful drives in the lower 48 states.The narrow winding two-lane road follows an old wagon route through an ancient 65-square-mile lava flow with up close views of the Three Sisters Mountains, Mount Washington, and Belknap Crater before finally plummeting 1,200 vertical feet through a series of paved switchbacks and past a number of stunning waterfalls.My morning drive over McKenzie Pass was a bit too sunny to allow for good waterfall photography, so I decided to take a pit-stop at one of the high alpine lakes to do some fly fishing.

Fly fishing near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, just outside of Sisters Oregon. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography

Fly fishing near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, just outside of Sisters Oregon. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography

After an hour or so of fishing my way around the shoreline, I noticed that a good collection of clouds had started rolling in, so I got back in the Jeep and continued down the highway with the hopes of hiking into the waterfalls above Linton Lake.The hike into Linton Lake was bursting with color, but unfortunately the creeks feeding the lake were swollen from our recent snowmelt, which made the unmarked hike to the falls much more difficult than I had anticipated.I could have crossed the knee-deep creeks and made it to the waterfalls, but in the end, I thought it might be best if I saved that adventure for a different day.

As I was hiking out from Linton Lake, I remembered that the Proxy Falls Loop was just a few miles down the road.The Proxy Falls Loop is an easy 1-mile loop that crosses a fiery-red, vine-maple-laden lava flow and then passes through a great old-growth rainforest featuring two spectacular waterfalls that plunge over towering moss-covered cliffs.Upper Proxy Falls drops about 100-feet into a shallow pool that oddly enough has no outlet stream.The water cascades into the pool and then percolates its way down through the underlying lava beds.It’s a very odd sight.

 Photo from one of the upper sections of Oregon’s Upper Proxy Falls near McKenzie Pass. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

Photo from one of the upper sections of Oregon’s Upper Proxy Falls near McKenzie Pass. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

As if Upper Proxy Falls wasn’t enough of a destination by itself, the other waterfall on the loop (Lower Proxy Falls) is even better.Lower Proxy Falls streams its way down a 200-foot glacier-carved cliff, spreading out into a collection of silky bands along the way.This is the type of waterfall that landscape photographers dream about.

To see some beautiful fine art Photos of Proxy Falls, please visit Bend,Oregon landscape photographer, Mike Putnam’s website. Proxy Falls Photos.

Photo of Oregon’s Lower Proxy Falls in Autumn. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

Photo of Oregon’s Lower Proxy Falls in Autumn. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

Lower Proxy Falls is a real jaw-dropper when you’re standing below it, but honestly, I have yet to see a photograph that really does justice to its mammoth size.It’s hard to fight the temptation to photograph the waterfall from its base (as I did above), but that vantage point has a way of fore-shortening the actual drop.After taking the photo above, I decided to try to a new angle and photograph the falls from the side.In the photograph below, you can see that Lower Proxy Falls absolutely dwarfs me standing there in the lower right corner. I feel like this perspective finally begins to capture the size of the waterfall.This is definitely one of my new favorite photographs from the year, and I’m really, really hoping that our good friends who publish the local tourism guides will eventually feel the same way J

The author, Troy McMullin, dwarfed by the size of Lower Proxy Falls. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

The author, Troy McMullin, dwarfed by the size of Lower Proxy Falls. Photo available from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

After leaving the Proxy Falls Loop, I drove a few more miles and then parked my Jeep and jumped on my mountain bike for a quick ride along the McKenzie River Trail.There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe the way I feel about the McKenzie River Trail, but suffice it to say that I think this is probably one of the best mountain biking trails in the entire world.OK, I might be stretching it a bit there, but honestly, if you live in the area, you have to go ride the McKenzie River Trail at least once in your life.It is just about the most scenic ride you could ever hope for, especially in mid-to-late October when the riverbed and forest are overflowing with red, orange, and yellow leaves.Just be careful though because it’s also a very technical ride, especially when the lava rocks and roots are wet and slippery.

I stopped by the McKenzie River Trail because I was hoping to capture some mountain bike photos along the way.Unfortunately, the sun was beginning to set low on the horizon by the time I arrived and there was very little light making its way onto the heavily forested trail.Since the lighting conditions weren’t cooperating with my plans, I just sat back and enjoyed an epic ride and another epic end to a wonderful day in Central Oregon.Mountains, lakes, lava flows, rivers, rainforests and waterfalls all surrounded in awesome fall color and all just a short drive from home.Are you kidding me?How lucky are we?

Posted by Troy McMullin.

NOTE: These photos and hundreds more are available for licensing from Pacific Crest Stock Photography.


Sparks Lake and Early Fall Color along the Cascade Lakes Highway

The shoulder season between Summer and autumn is often a source of frustration for photographers in Central Oregon.  Alpine flowers are brown and dead, and fall color is yet to explode.  Flat gray skies often highlight an unattractive lifeless environment.  The first breaths of autumn always enliven a landscape photographer’ s soul.  One of the locations where I often find these first breaths of autumn is along the Cascades Lake Highway  southwest of Bend, Oregon.

Sparks Lake and its high elevation and its good southern exposure helps alpine ground cover to ripen to the height of its fall glory a bit earlier than the lower elevation hotspots such as the Metolius Basin, the McKenzie River area and the riparian areas along the Deschutes River.  For a small collection of photos from the Metolius River basin, visit this link. Metolius River Photos

Photo of a beautiful sunrise from Sparks Lake

Photo of a beautiful sunrise from Sparks Lake

Any pre-sunrise visit to Cascade Lakes area should start with a visit to the Ray Atkeson memorial viewpoint along Sparks Lake’s shore.  A visit to this location is something of a pilgrimage to a magical landascape photography location.  The lake’s surface isn’t always a glassy and reflective as it was in the picture seen above, but you never know if you are going to see the light show of a lifetime and there is no better place to seen it from than Sparks Lake.  While the photo seen above doesn’t have any fall color in it, it is somewhat typical of autumn in that there is fresh snow on our Central Oregon mountains.

After the pastel colors of this brief light show had faded, I packed up and went to a different area of Sparks Lake for an entirely different perspective and hopefully some fall color.

Frosted autumn colored ground cover along the shores of Sparks Lake in Oregon

Frosted autumn colored ground cover along the shores of Sparks Lake in Oregon

While scouting for a sunrise shot I peered down to capture the above image of frost covered alpine foliage.  I like how the frosty leaves add detail and texture to the interesting and colorful autumn foliage.   Eventually after some extensive frosty scouting and a frightening realization, I set up the shot below.  The realization is that hunting is allowed along the shores of Sparks Lake.  It strikes me as odd.  Sparks is essentially a playground for the city of Bend and hunting is allowed.  I recognize that hunting is a popular activity and it should be allowable on public lands, but Sparks Lake?  Regardless hunters were blasting ducks out of the air no more than 100 yards from me and a parking lot along the busy Cascade Lakes Highway.

Mt. Bachelor at sunrise with a foreground of frosty alpine ground-cover near the shores of Sparks Lake

Mt. Bachelor at sunrise with a foreground of frosty alpine ground-cover near the shores of Sparks Lake

They are subtle but hopefully you can notice the hints of frost covered fall color in the foreground of this image.  The stream channels help to break up the foreground and the sunburst  adds an extra element for the attractive background of Mt. Bachelor.

Fall color won’t last long in the Cascade Lakes area near Sparks Lake so hurry and take a hike before the snows cover this beautiful alpine area for the rest of the season.  for some attractive summer photos of Sparks Lake please visit the following link  Sparks Lake Photos.

For more beautiful Central Oregon Photos, please visit our main site at Pacific Crest Stock Photography

Thanks for visiting,

Mike Putnam


Oregon Landscape Photos and the life of an Oregon Landscape photographer.

For Oregon landscape photographers like Troy McMullin and I here at Pacific Crest Stock Photography there is a frustrating shoulder season during which the forces of nature conspire against us.  The alpine flowers are brown and dead, fall color has not yet arrived and our beloved Central Oregon Cascades are largely devoid of snow.  This combination is a virtual trifecta of photographic frustration.  We eagerly await fall color to arrive and with a strong dose of good fortune, Alpine snows will arrive simultaneously.  My natural optimism leads to nightly weather analysis.  Will it be cold enough to snow in the mountains? Will there be so much snow that I can’t get to the trail head?  These issues occupy an unhealthy percentage of my time.  My wife can attest to this!  Below is a primer image for you to enjoy while you wade through my story?

Oregon's Mt. Washington in autumn with fresh fallen snow

Oregon's Mt. Washington in autumn with fresh fallen snow

Recent weather patterns turned for the better and I saw a window of opportunity to capture an elusive oregon landscape photo that I have pursued for years.   That night I began my planning process for the next morning.  Winter gear for warmth, loading too much photography gear, GPS, headlamps, rain gear, hiking boots, gas up my truck, set the coffee machine timer to 4:30 AM.  The list of preparatory activities was less than exciting.  While going through my night before check list, I was listening to an IPod mix with the following song on it, Country Music Promoter-OX(the play button is in the upper right hand corner of the page)  It is a great song about the hard-scrabble life of a country music promoter.  Coffee, trucks, bad hours, lots of travel.  The song distinctly reminded me of the less than glamorous but rewarding job of being an Oregon Landscape photographer.  While I don’t pinch waitresses like the promoter in the song does, the feeling of the song is what is familiar.  Hard dirty work doing a job that you love.  Not a bad combination but it is arguably less than glamorous, and it truly is work.  Don’t get me wrong, life as a landscape photographer takes me to some beautiful places, like the one seen in this blog entry but sadly it is more than that.    The above image of Mt. Washington is one I am truly excited about.  Fresh snow, great fall color, interesting clouds, nice warm sunrise light and an awesome mountain make me very optimistic about this landscape photo.

This particular lake is very hard to get to, requiring a long bushwack through thick and in this case wet undergrowth to get it.  Actually getting the shot makes it all worth while, perhaps like when a show really goes well for a Country Music Promoter.  I have to thank Old Mike for accompanying me on this outing.  His company and sherpa like load carrying capacity were both a big help on this backcountry adventure.  Below is a slight rewind in that it was actually the first shot of the morning but I did want to get credit for reaching this spot in time for sunrise!

 Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

The light on Mount Washington was beautiful and the lake had a appealing mist rising off of its surface but unfortunately, it was too windy for any real reflection.  Frustrating.  With time and help from the warming sun, the scene enlivened and the wind even died down allowing me a few images like the following one with a nice alpine reflection of Oregon’s Mt. Washington.

Oregon's Mt. Washington reflected in an alpine lake in the Oregon Casc

Oregon's Mt. Washington reflected in an alpine lake in the Oregon Cascades

I was in my own world during the height of that morning’s light shown not noticing what Old Mike what up to.  Evidently he was busy taking photos of me while I was taking photos of Mount Washington.  Below is a cool image that he took with me and my large format camera silhouetted against the lake’s shore.  I really like the use of contrast and the swirling mist in the background.  Thanks Old Mike!

Mike Putnam and his large format camera during a sunrise shoot.  Photo Credit: "Old" Mike Croxford

Mike Putnam and his large format camera during a sunrise shoot. Photo Credit: "Old" Mike Croxford

I’m no model but I do like the shot and the memory of a great morning, Kind of like when the show really goes well for the Country Music Promoter!

Eventually the light show harshened making the scene less attractive and the glorious part of my day was over.  I gathered my gear after my photographic flurry and Old Mike and I made a long wet inglorious bushwack through dense Cascade undergrowth.  Not he most glamorous part of the day but it was hard work worth doing.

A special thanks goes to Pacific Crest’s very own Troy McMullin for allowing me to pirate this scene and hopefully capture the next great  Oregon fine art photograph.  To see some more work done with my Large Format Camera, visit the following link Oregon Fine Art Photos.  Troy, I’ll buy you a beer!

The images from this blog entry and all of our Oregon stock photos can be viewed and licensed through our stock photo website, Pacific Crest Stock

Thanks for Visiting,

Mike Putnam


Photos of Oregon’s Salt Creek Falls and The Boys’ Big Birthday Bash

I will be celebrating the 24-month anniversary of my 39th birthday in the coming days. Reflecting on this past year reminded me of last year’s big birthday bash when our families and friends threw a surprise party for Mike Putnam (who also turned 40) and me. Looking back now, there were numerous hints that should have clued me in to the fact that everyone around me was planning a party, but like a pawn in a game, I just went blindly through the day enjoying what I thought was a routine day in the life of a lucky man.

For example, I remember waking up that morning and having Julie (my wife) encourage me to go take some photographs. Now bless her heart, my wife has always been very supportive of my photography hobby/habit, but on this particular day, she actually seemed to be pushing me out of the door. That should have been my first clue that something strange was happening, but to be honest, it never even dawned on me. Instead, I hurriedly packed up my camera gear and headed out of the house before she could change her mind. I didn’t even know where I was going when I left the house. I just knew that Julie was giving me a hall pass, and that I wasn’t about to pass that up. Within a few minutes of pulling out of the driveway, I decided that I would drive south to see if there was any fall color around Salt Creek Falls, which at almost 300-feet tall, is the second tallest waterfall in Oregon.

Vine maples at Oregon’s Salt Creek Falls.  Photo available at Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

Vine maples at Oregon’s Salt Creek Falls. Photo available at Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

When I first arrived at Salt Creek Falls, the sun was shining through the trees and directly into my eyes. Shooting waterfalls on sunny days is not exactly ideal photography conditions, and having the sun pointed directly into the lens of the camera is about as bad as it gets, so rather than setting up the camera, I decided to scout around the area for awhile in hopes that some clouds would eventually roll in. I fought my way through a thicket of dense trees and found a good location along the slope at the bottom of Salt Creek Falls, but every time that the sun would move behind a cloud, a small breeze would blow up from the base of the waterfall and shake all of the leaves in my foreground (which makes them appear blurry in timed-release waterfall photographs). I played this little game with the sun and wind for more than hour before finally deciding that this just wasn’t my day, and that it would probably be better for me to start heading back home so that I could help my wife with our kids. I hiked out of the woods and started driving over Willamette Pass when I realized that I had lost my sunglasses somewhere along the way. Then, as I was mentally re-tracing my steps, I remembered that I had actually lost my sunglasses the week before at the coast, which meant that today, I had actually managed to lose my WIFE’S sunglasses!

I called Julie and explained that I was going to be running later than expected because I needed to backtrack to find her sunglasses. Julie seemed almost relieved to hear the news, and she encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. That should have been my second clue that something strange was happening, but I didn’t get it because at the time, I was just feeling kind of bad for losing her sunglasses, and my mind was frantically trying to piece together all of the places that I had gone that day. I turned the Jeep around and started driving back toward the trailhead. I wasn’t exactly sure where Julie’s sunglasses might be, but I figured they were probably laying somewhere on that steep slippery slope near the base of the waterfall. I fought my way through the trees again, and as I popped out onto the slope, I noticed that the lighting conditions had improved considerably since I was there earlier in the day. A thick fog bank had moved into the valley, which created nice soft light on the foreground and waterfall. I quickly set up my tripod and composed a few shots. Then I looked down at my feet, and saw that I was standing about 4 feet away from a nice shiny black pair of Oakley’s. Sweet! I re-packed the camera and stuffed the sunglasses inside my backpack and then hiked back up to the parking lot at the top of Salt Creek Falls.

Autumn fog at Oregon’s Salt Creek Falls.  Photo available at Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

Autumn fog at Oregon’s Salt Creek Falls. Photo available at Pacific Crest Stock Photography.

When I got home, Julie told me that Jake Bell (one my best friends) had called to see if I wanted to go have a few beers at Deschutes Brewery and then go back to his house to watch a football game. Apparently, two other good friends (Mike Putnam, My partner in Pacific Crest Stock and Max Reitz) had already agreed to go and Julie had told them that it was OK for me to go along too. I told Julie that it was nice for her to let me go, but that I didn’t really feel the need to go, especially since she already let me have the whole day off for picture-taking. I told her that I would be more than happy to watch the kids for awhile if she wanted to take a break, but she insisted that it was alright with her—and since I’ve never been one to turn down a little beer and football, off I went . . . completely clueless again.

Autumn color covers the flanks of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack mountain.

Autumn color covers the flanks of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack mountain.

At the pub that night, I learned that Max (who lives in Hood River) and Mike had spent all day hiking around Three Fingered Jack. We had a couple of beers and shared some photography stories, and all the while, Jake kept looking at his watch. Jake seemed nervous as a cat, and he kept prodding us along so that we could get up to his house before the game started. At one point, Mike left the table and Max asked Jake what time we all needed to be up at his house. I had just lifted my pint glass to take another drink, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jake immediately making some sort of awkward hand gestures to Max. Again, that probably should have been a clue . . . . but it wasn’t, at least at the time.

When Mike got back, Jake and Max immediately herded us out of the door and up to Jake’s house. Jake pulled into his driveway, and then he got out of the truck and started acting like he was getting something out of the back, knowing full well that Mike and I wouldn’t wait or offer to help him, but that instead we would head directly for his front door (and his fridge) and make ourselves at home. When Mike and I opened Jake’s door, we were immediately greeted with a big “Surprise!” . . . and then whole day began to a make a little more sense.

Debbie, Mike, Troy, and Julie posing in front of the "Beer Cake" at their 40th Birthday Bash.

Pacific Crest Stock Family: Debbie, Mike, Troy, and Julie posing in front of the "Beer Cake" at their 40th Birthday Bash.

Posted by Troy McMullin


Broken Top Photo Adventure: Oh Dear (Deer), Another Photographic Failure.

Landscape photography is an unpredictable adventure.  Sometimes, everything goes as planned and other times, nothing does.  This story is about the latter.

It was late summer in Central Oregon, and while the flowers in many of our lower meadows had already burned up, I knew that I could still find some huge stands of monkey flowers in the higher elevation meadows on the north side of Broken Top Mountain. I had been to the meadows a few years earlier, but had problems nailing the focus on this dramatically vertical shot. Armed with a new camera and a wider angle lens, I figured I could go back and perfect the photo if I was given a second chance.

Monkey flower bloom on the north side of Broken Top Mountain in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area

Monkey flower bloom on the north side of Broken Top Mountain in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area

I carefully studied my topography map, and calculated that the quickest way into the meadows would be to find the streams running out of Broken Top Glacier somewhere near the Park Meadow trailhead and then follow them cross-country until I got above the tree line. Based on the sun’s recent positioning, I also figured that I should be able to get some decent evening and morning light, and therefore, I planned on hiking into the meadows in the late evening and setting up camp so that I would be there for sunset and sunrise.

I drove up to the Three Creeks Area, and as I steered my Jeep onto the narrow, rutted road leading into the Park Meadow trailhead, I found three backpackers hugging the side of the road. Knowing that it was a long way to the trailhead (and guessing that they must be from out of town), I stopped and asked them if they wanted a lift. They were somewhat surprised to hear that they weren’t actually on the trail yet, so they happily climbed in. On the drive to the trailhead, I learned that they were here visiting for a few days from Idaho, and that they had read somewhere that Park Meadow was a nice hike. I tried to be polite, but I also felt somewhat compelled to explain to them that the Park Meadow trail is perhaps one of my least favorites in all of Oregon. While the meadow itself is beautiful, the approach is absolutely horrible. Hikers are basically stuck in the woods on a deep, dusty, horse-trodden trail for 4 viewless miles until they finally reach the meadow—which this late in the year probably wasn’t even going to have flowers.

I reviewed several other trail options with them during the drive, and explained that I had found a new way into some different meadows which were equally pretty. I invited them to tag along with me if they wanted, but I also warned them that the route would be almost entirely off trail and that I wasn’t actually 100 percent sure where I was going. They quickly weighed their options and decided that since they only had one day of their vacation remaining, a dusty viewless hike was probably going to be better than getting lost in the wilderness with some stranger. I can’t really blame them for that.

Backcountry photo of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains (South Sister, Middle Sister, and North Sister).

Backcountry photo of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains (South Sister, Middle Sister, and North Sister).

The Idahoans and I wished each other luck and then we parted ways at the parking area. I was still thinking about what a nice conversation I had with them when my views opened up from the back side of Broken Top all the way across to the Three Sisters Mountains. I had walked less than a half-mile, and I was already getting good views confirming that I had indeed made the right choice. In another mile or so, I found the stream that I was looking for and began my cross-country trek up to the meadows.

The stream was much prettier than expected. There were Indian paintbrush and monkey flowers flanking both sides of the stream and although this was not my primary destination, I knew that the scene was just too beautiful to pass up. I swung my backpack around, unloaded my tripod, and then tip toed across the water to a large collection of flowers situated in the middle of one of the upstream forks.

Indian Paintbrush bloom along a cascading stream in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Indian Paintbrush bloom along a cascading stream in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Recognizing that the sun was dropping low on the horizon, I snapped a few quick pictures and then started hiking briskly up toward the meadows. When I arrived in the meadow, I saw the same large stands of monkey flowers that I had found on my last visit. I hurried over to them so that I could get my camera set up before the light faded, but unfortunately, the closer that I got to them, the more confusing the whole scene became. The stands of monkey flowers were at least 3 feet across, but all of their blooms were gone. I just stared at them for awhile, dazed and wondering why in the world someone would pick all of the flowers from the bushes when it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t the first one to find the flowers. Deer had obviously gotten to the stands before me and they had eaten every last bloom off of my precious bushes. I searched around the area and found a few small stands of flowers that the deer had apparently left behind for a midnight snack so I did the best I could with the scene and then started adjusting my plans.

Sunset photo from the north side of Broken Top Mountain in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Sunset photo from the north side of Broken Top Mountain in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Knowing that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to spend the night in this area, I decided that I would hike across the high alpine meadows and then drop down into Golden Lake, which is a somewhat secret spot located above the Park Meadow area. The hike was longer than I remembered and by the time that I started my descent into the meadows around Golden Lake, the sun had already sank into the ocean on the backside of the mountains. I set up my tent in the pitch black darkness and quickly fell asleep, exhausted and somewhat frustrated that the day had not worked out as planned—but also hopeful that when the morning arrived, I would be able to shoot Broken Top mountain reflecting in a calm Golden Lake.

The next morning, I awoke with a chill. I stepped outside into the below zero temperature and shivered over to the lake’s shore only to find that my reflection picture was not going to happen either. The lake’s surface had frozen solid over night. Determined to find something worthy of shooting, I worked my way down the lake’s outlet stream to a spot that has been reliably good to me in the past, but again, I found that the normally abundant monkey flowers were mostly missing.

Photo of Broken Top Mountain near Golden Lake in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Photo of Broken Top Mountain near Golden Lake in Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

The light that morning wasn’t really as good as I wanted either, so I went back to camp, swallowed a few cups of coffee, and then started working my way back to the Jeep via the dreaded Park Meadow trail. The hike out was at least as bad as I remembered and by the time I reached the parking area, I began to wonder whether I had sufficiently described the disappointing nature of the trail to the backpackers that I met on my way in. Then, as I approached my vehicle, I could see something scrawled into the dust on my back window. As I got closer, I could see that it was the panhandle shape of Idaho and that it had a huge smiley face in the middle of it with a note that read “We had a wonderful time. Thanks for all of your help.”

That’s when I remembered just how lucky we are to live in Central Oregon. We have so many wonderful hiking options here that even some of the places that don’t rank among our favorites will still be considered beautiful by people who live in other areas of the country. I climbed smilingly into my vehicle and then realized that actually, I had managed to have a pretty good time too. I didn’t get the money shot that I was hoping for, but I was lucky enough to spend another night in the mountains and that’s nothing to complain about—even if it requires a hike down the Park Meadow trail.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: After my trip, the road leading to the original Park Meadow trailhead was closed. Hikers are now required to park along Three Creeks Road and walk down the rough, dusty road to the old trailhead. The new trailhead location adds about 2.5 miles of suffering to what is already a very arduous hike, and I suspect this decision will significantly reduce the number of people willing to hike on this trail (or ever recommend to anyone else). If you’re not happy about the new trailhead location, I strongly urge you to contact the Forest Service and let them know how you feel.


Photos from Three Fingered Jack and the Canyon Creek Meadow Trail

Three Fingered Jack has always been one of my favorite Central Oregon Mountains. Its accessibility, its interesting form, it’s location near to Bend, Oregon, and its sometimes stunning wildflower displays. Central Oregon’s easiest access point for Three Fingered Jack is through the Metolius Basin. For a more thorough trail write up for the Three Fingered Jack/ Canyon Creek Meadow trail visit the following link, Bend Wild.  When I visit Three Fingered Jack, we usually enter the high country through Canyon Creek Meadows and the Jack Lake Trail head. This particular trip was with my little family of Debbie(Mommy/Wife), Emma, and Me on one of our family backpacking trips/photography expeditions.

The Putnam Family eager to hike the Jack Lake Trail head into Canyon Creek Meadows

The Putnam Family eager to hike the Jack Lake Trail head into Canyon Creek Meadows

We quickly covered the two miles into the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow despite the many down lodgepole pines on the trail.  Sadly, this will probably be a recurring theme on this specific trail because of the recent fires and because of the mountain pine beetles which are devastating pine forests across the western United States.  We spent the night at the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow which was overflowing with wildflowers and has a couple beautiful streams flowing through it.  I spent most of the evening scouting in the upper meadow for the shots I’d work on the next morning.  I returned in time for the best freeze dried dinner(aren’t all meals in the backcountry the best ever?)  It was Chili Mac with beef made by Mountain House.  Delicious!  Fortunately, I also returned to the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow for a stunning sunset which is pictured below.

Photo of a stunning sunset from the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Are

Photo of a stunning sunset from the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area

Landscape photography was unrewarding the next morning because of the heavily overcast skies and the very flat light.  It’s the curse of the Oregon Landscape Photographer.  Great effort combined with poor light is a frustrating.  It was also very windy, making it impossible to shoot any of the amazing flower scenes in the upper meadow.  As the photography conditions were poor, the day was dedicated to family.  We moved to a great campsite in area of the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow(but not in the meadow)  and spent most of the day playing in the frigid waters of Canyon Creek.  Below is a picture of Emma balancing above Canyon Creek, an activity that entertained her for hours.

Photo of Emma balancing high above Canyon Creek and Three Fingered Jack

Photo of Emma balancing high above Canyon Creek and Three Fingered Jack

Between the activities of balance beam competitions, chasing frogs, swatting mosquitoes, and lounging in the Alpine glory of Three Fingered Jack, the day quickly passed.  The next morning started a little windy and overcast, but the clouds blew over and the wind died down making for a landscape photographer’s nirvana.  Amazing wildflowers at their seasonal peak with the awesome backdrop of  the towering Three Fingered Jack.  Below are a few of the Landscape photos I captured that morning.

Photo of a wildflower laden alpine stream with Three Fingered Jack in the background

Photo of a wildflower laden alpine stream with Three Fingered Jack in the background

I shot the above scene extensively with my large format camera in hopes of capturing a winning fine art print.  To see some of my finished large format photographs from this trip to Three fingered Jack hike Canyon Creek Meadow.  The film isn’t finished developing but I’m optimistic!  The Following scene, was a little simpler, but no less rewarding because of its interesting clouds, excellent textures, colors, and impact.

Picture of Central Oregon's Three Fingered Jack with a colorful foreground of Lupines and Red Indian Paintbrush.

Picture of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack with a colorful foreground of Lupines and Red Indian Paintbrush.

I took dozens of other photos of the amazing lupine meadows in the Upper Meadow.  If you are interested in seeing more of those images, please visit my personal website by visiting, Bend, Oregon Photographer.   After I finished photographing the Upper Meadow, we reluctantly packed up camp and headed for home in Bend, Oregon.  Below is one last photo of our little family leaving our camp site and hiking back home.

The Putnam family leaving camp and the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow.

The Putnam family leaving camp and the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow.

The Canyon Creek Meadows are not always as flower filled as they were this year, but they are always a beautiful destination.  If you care to backpack into this wonderful alpine basin, please respect the meadow and wildflowers and do not camp directly in the meadows as they are very fragile and will quickly perish with the pressure of camping.  Instead camp in the hills located east of the upper meadow or in the Lower Meadow of Canyon Creek. To view another more recent photograph of  Three Fingered Jack, captured in autumn, visit, Three Fingered Jack.

If you  are interested in licensing any of the images in this blog entry, or you would like to see more images from Canyon Creek Meadows, please contact us through our Pacific Crest Stock Website.
Thanks For Visiting,

By: Mike Putnam


Photos of Tumalo Falls and the Waterfalls of the Tumalo Creek Basin

We at Pacific Crest Stock have always considered ourselves fortunate to live in Central Oregon where it is beautiful and where there is immense environmental diversity.  From the badlands east of Bend to the rainforests west of Bend with old growth Ponderosa forests and snow capped volcanoes in between.   Bend, Oregon is on the edge of the high desert which is considered to extend from the Cascade Mountain Range to the Rocky Mountain Range.  Perhaps, the important thing to remember is that we are on the edge of the high desert and not in the middle of it.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t have huge trees and many waterfalls near our fair city.  We had lots of hits on our website looking for waterfalls and specifically waterfalls of Central Oregon, so finally we’re going to give a little information and several photos of some of those waterfalls.  We have great photographs of some of these waterfalls and others, well, we know we need to go back to at some point! Arguably, the foremost waterfall in the minds of most Central Oregonians is the majestic Tumalo Falls.   Tumalo Falls is no stranger to visitors and it shouldn’t be as it is quite awe inspiring and very visitor friendly.  Located only 10 miles west of Bend, on Skyliners road which is a westward extension of Galveston Road.
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In the winter, the road to Tumalo Falls is closed for the last 2.5 miles and a snow park is located at the closure.  In Summer, the road is open all the way to the falls where there is parking, a restroom, and some informational kiosks about the 1979 Bridge Creek Fire which raged through the area. Additionally, Bend’s famed water source Bridge Creek, is nearby.

Photo/picture of Central Oregon's Tumalo Falls in autumn

Photo/picture of Central Oregon's Tumalo Falls in autumn

This photo of Tumalo Falls was taken in autumn several years ago during a driving rain at the height of fall color.  In other words, don’t expect the Tumalo Falls area to be this colorful when you visit, because in the hundreds of times I’ve visited it’s only looked this good once!  Below is another photo of Tumalo Falls that I captured in summer requiring a long exposure and a total absence of wind in order to keep the purple lupines in the foreground from fluttering about.

Picture of Tumalo Falls and Purple Lupine in Central Oregon

Picture of Tumalo Falls and Purple Lupine in Central Oregon

I re-visited this site this summer and noticed that most of the purple lupine in this photo have been replaced by native grasses which is too bad for photography purposes.  Tumalo has several possible name derivations, one of which is from the Klamath Indian word “Tumallowa”  meaning icy water.  This is appropriate as Tumalo Creek is largely composed of glacial melt from high off of the Central Oregon Cascade Range.  This waterfall has one 97 foot  drop and two great viewing points.  The lower view point is obvious but the upper viewpoint is a real gem as it gives a real sense of the flow and power of this particular waterfall, making it worth the short 1/4 mile climb to the top of the falls.

Below is an image of Bridge Creek Falls which is located near to Tumalo Falls and is along the aptly named Bridge Creek Trail.

Photo of Bridge Creek falls in Central Oregon.

Photo of Bridge Creek falls in Central Oregon.

The exact location where I shot this image of Bridge creek Falls was quite scary to get to and , frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I had to carefully balance on a slick, wet log while Bridge Creek raged below.  This waterfall  is located about one mile from the Tumalo Falls trail head.  To get there, start climbing the trail to the top of Tumalo Falls and take a left onto the Bridge Creek Trail and proceed about one mile where Bridge Creek will be raging on the left side of the trail.

The following waterfall, “Double Falls” is located above Tumalo Falls on Tumalo Creek.  It is one of many attractive waterfalls that are upstream of the the more well known Tumalo Falls.  Double Falls is located about 1.25 miles up stream  along the North Fork Trail which for Mt. Biking purposes is up hill only.  It is a relatively easy hike but beware of mosquitoes in summer.

Photo of Double Falls located above Tumalo Falls on Tumalo Creek.

Photo of Double Falls located above Tumalo Falls on Tumalo Creek.

If you continue hiking or biking uphill on the North Fork Trail for 3.5 miles, you will pass several other impressive waterfalls.   The next waterfall is about a mile above Double Falls.  You will then cross a bridge about half-mile later, at which point you almost get bombarded with waterfalls.  There are least 5 more waterfalls within a half-mile of the bridge.  Keep hiking because the last waterfall is probably the best.

 The grand finale waterfall on the North Fork Trail above Tumalo Falls.

The grand finale waterfall on the North Fork Trail above Tumalo Falls.

We plan on some more waterfall blog entries in the near future so stay tuned!  If you have an interest in licensing these or any of our other Central Oregon waterfall images, please visit our stock photography website at Pacific Crest Stock.

by Mike Putnam


Elk Lake, Sparks Lake, and Todd Lake. Stock photos from the Cascade Lakes Highway

I made several trips to the Cascade Lakes Highway this spring, as I do every spring.  For those of you who haven’t made this short drive(about 20 miles from Bend, Oregon) you should do it.  The highway is lined with beautiful lakes such as Todd Lake(the highest of the Cascade Lakes), the famed and very photogenic Sparks Lake, and the often under appreciated Elk Lake.  While my father in-law, Kenny Scholz was in Bend earlier this spring, I coerced him to join me in an evening photo shoot which involved Sparks Lake and Elk Lake.  One of the earliest and best photography scenes to develop along the Cascade Lakes Highway, is along the exposed shores of Sparks Lake.  This area gets lots of sun and in its marshy areas, it usually has a profusion of yellow buttercups covering that area.  Well, I think that is changing.  This particular marshy area along Sparks Lake is changing rapidly.  The buttercups are being replaced by grasses which I assume is part of an evolutionary process.  Regardless, I didn’t get my yellow buttercup flowers this year!

Photo/picture of Mt. Bachelor as seen from along the Cascade Lakes Highway

Photo/picture of Mt. Bachelor as seen from along the Cascade Lakes Highway

While I didn’t have great flowers for this shot, I did have nice clouds, making this photo worthy of this beautiful area of Central Oregon.  Mt. Bachelor with a fair amount of snow makes for a pleasant backdrop for this photograph.      Next up for Kenny and I was a quick stop at Elk Lake where, years ago , I shot the following photo with my 4X5 camera.  To read more about this beautiful image captured along the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway, Visit, Elk Lake  Photo.

Photo of Elk Lake with South Sister in the background, along Central Oregon's Cascade Lakes Highway.

Photo of Elk Lake with South Sister in the background, along Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Highway.

Unfortunately, this scene no longer exists, as this particular flower meadow has largely been replaced with non-flowering grasses.  Instead of visiting this changing meadow, I took Kenny to the Elk Lake Resort.  Elk Lake has a long history of boating and particularly sailing, which I understand my photo partner, Troy has taken up since his recent housing move.  Below is a photo of the marina at Elk Lake with Mount Bachelor in the background.  As you can see, Mount Bachelor was well covered with a rapidly changing cloud cap.

Photo of the Elk Lake resort and marina, along the Cascade Lakes Highway

Photo of the Elk Lake resort and marina, along the Cascade Lakes Highway

I like the texture and color that the canoes and kayaks lend to the foreground of this Elk Lake photo.  The sail boats in the mid-ground also add another attractive element.  I’m not sure which sail boat is Troy’s.  Kenny and I thoroughly enjoyed our stop at the marina which is a great place to visit for kids and families when driving the Cascade Lakes Highway.

Another of my favorite locations along the Cascade Lakes Highway is Todd Lake.  Todd lake is the highest of the Cascade Lakes at 6,150 feet of elevation.  It requires a short and non strenuous 1/4 mile hike to view its 29 acres of alpine beauty.  It is stocked with Brook Trout and can offer some exciting fishing for 8-10 inch fish.  My most recent visit to Todd Lake was made with my daughter and hiking buddy, Emma.  She and most kids are fond of Todd Lake because of it’s many streams, and the proliferation of small toads along it’s shore line which I believe are referred to as “Western Toads”.  Not a terribly exciting name but they are cute and fun for kids.

Me holding a small Western toad along the shores of Todd Lake.

Me holding a small Western toad along the shores of Todd Lake.

Regardless of photographic conditions along Todd Lake, it is a beautiful and simple Lake to explore.  During our visit, we found some pleasant clouds hovering about Mt. Bachelor, so that was the object of much of my photo efforts.  While were there, it was still fairly early in the wildflower season, so some of the species we saw blooming included Marsh marigolds Jeffrey’s Shooting Stars, and lots of buttercups.

Photo of a small stream meandering through the meadow adjacent to Todd Lake, with Mt. Bachelor in the background

Photo of a small stream meandering through the meadow adjacent to Todd Lake, with Mt. Bachelor in the background

Along the southern edges of Todd Lake, there are often thick stands of marsh marigolds, an early indicator of spring in the Oregon Cascades.

Picture of marsh marigolds along the shores of Todd Lake

Picture of marsh marigolds along the shores of Todd Lake

Marsh Marigolds are one of my favorite early spring flowers because of their delicate appearance and because they suggest that dramatic alpine flower meadows will soon start to bloom.  If anyone knows what kind of bug is in the above photo, please let me know.  After cavorting around along Todd Lake’s shores, Emma and I hiked upward for an overview of Todd Lake.  Because of the large number of dead lodgepole pine trees  around Todd Lake and all of the Cascade Lakes, it is becoming more and more difficult to capture great photos in this area.  These pine trees are being killed by the mountain pine beetle which bore through and under the pine tree’s bark, weakening the tree’s natural defenses.  These beetles are considered to be part of the natural life cycle of the lodgepole pine.  They are not considered to be part of the life cycle of the ponderosa pine and we are beginning to see a few ponderosa trees killed by this destructive creature.  This is a huge concern for foresters and any outdoor advocates that enjoy healthy stands of native trees.  Below is a photo largely devoid of any dying or infested lodgepoles.  Unfortunately, I anticipate that this rather pristine scene will become less common in the next couple years as the mountain pine beetle continues to infest a wider area.

Photo of Todd Lake and Mt. Bachelor in the Central Oregon Cascades.

Photo of Todd Lake and Mt. Bachelor in the Central Oregon Cascades.

The following set of photos was captured at Sparks Lake while I was being swarmed by flesh ripping mosquitoes.  If you go to Sparks Lake or any of the Cascade Lakes, bring some heavy duty mosquito repellent as they are horrendous this year.  The following image of Broken Top Mountain has a foreground of Jeffrey’s shooting stars in the foreground.  I’m fond of their vibrant colors and distinctive shapes.

Photo of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain with a foreground of Jeffrey's shooting stars near Sparks Lake

Photo of Central Oregon’s Broken Top Mountain with a foreground of Jeffrey’s shooting stars near Sparks Lake

Part of the beauty of exploring Sparks Lake is that one can make a new discovery with every new visit.  I had intended to shoot from the Ray Atkeson memorial trail on this particular evening but it was somewhat windy, eliminating any chance of a reflection in Sparks Lake, and there were no clouds around South Sister to lend interest to the scene.  Extensive exploring and wading through very cold waters eventually led me to this scene, one I wasn’t expecting but that I enjoyed very much, despite the ongoing mosquito assault on my DEET covered skin.  Wading through some of these streams did take some commitment.  As any man can attest, wading in cold water beyond a certain depth can become acutely uncomfortable.  Well I exceeded that depth!  In other words, I earned these shots with some level of physical suffering.  The following shot of Mt. Bachelor was captured from the same general area of Sparks Lake. To view a gorgeous sunrise shot that I captured from the shores of Sparks Lake, visit my personal website, Bend Oregon Photographer.

Photo of Mt. Bachelor at sunset along the shores of Sparks Lake

Photo of Mt. Bachelor at sunset along the shores of Sparks Lake

If you have any interest in licensing these or any of our many other images from the Cascade Lakes Highway area, please visit our primary stock photography website at Pacific Crest Stock .

Thanks for Visiting,

By:  Mike Putnam


Off-Season Photo Expeditions: The Red Shirt Days of Winter

This winter in Central Oregon has been fairly unpredictable and uneventful for me in terms of photography.  I’ve gone out with good intentions on several days, but I just haven’t been able to capture many landscape photographs worthy of including on our Pacific Crest Stock photography pages.  After a couple of failed attempts early in the season, I decided to try out some advice that I received from Dan Bryant, a good friend of mine who works in the advertising world.  Dan and I have been best friends since we were kids.  Today, he owns make-studio in Portland, Maine.  Make-studio has worked with some of the country’s best photographers and they have done advertising and branding for many high-profile companies like Simms Fly-Fishing, Orvis, Nike, Nikon, Nordstrom, BMW, MTV, Timberland, Telluride Tourism, and the American Skiing Company.  Given that Dan has had a very successful career as an art director, I figure that I should probably listen carefully to any and all advice that he offers.  In one of our conversations this year, he mentioned that I should start trying to incorporate the human element into some of my stock photographs.

This concept of putting people into my shots is not something that comes easily for me.  I’ve always been a nature and landscape photographer, and in fact, I have often gone to great extremes to make sure that I haven’t accidentally framed any people into my photographs.  But then again, I haven’t had any other luck this winter, so I figured that I might as well give it a try.  Since I’m not really sure what I’m doing at this point, I’ve basically just started dressing myself in a red or orange shirt for every photo expedition, just in case the conditions or locations don’t lend themselves to nature photography.  I realize that the whole red shirt concept is a little trite (kind of like the requirement that all canoes used in advertising need to be red), and even though I’m certainly not ready to be America’s Next Top Model yet, I am starting to have some fun experimenting with this idea. 

On my first “red shirt day,” I drove over to Santiam Pass in hopes of hiking into the slopes of Three Fingered Jack, but when I got there, the clouds were not cooperating.  A large collection of fluffy clouds seemed stuck on the mountain’s pinnacles, so rather than spending six hours hiking through knee-deep snow just to get blanked by low-hanging clouds, I decided that I would take a shorter ski into the backcountry areas near Mount Washington.  Once again, the clouds moved in and obstructed my views of Mount Washington, but since I was prepared with my nice shiny red shirt, I decided to set up my tripod in the snow and start experimenting with ways to incorporate myself into the shot.  My favorite advertising photos are the ones where there is a hint of someone being there or doing something, but where the picture itself is not necessarily focused on the person.  That was the main idea that I played around with while I was skiing, and although I didn’t get anything too magical, the chance to experiment with different positions at least opened up some photo opportunities that would not have otherwise been there on this particular day.

 

Backcountry skiing near Oregon’s Mount Washington Wilderness Area.

Backcountry skiing near Oregon’s Mount Washington Wilderness Area.

 

After skiing back to the Jeep that day, I decided to take advantage of the clouds—and our unique Central Oregon geography—by leaving the mountains and driving into some nearby desert rock formations for a few more shots.  I found a nice collection of rocks above the Crooked River that provided open views back toward some of Smith Rock’s most dramatic cliffs.  I balanced my tripod on one of the larger rocks, set the 10-second timer, and then scrambled out onto one of the other rocks overhanging the river.  It took me about 11 seconds to get there on my first few attempts, but with some perseverance, I eventually got fast enough to get fully into frame.  I didn’t really capture anything all that original in the desert either, but still, I wasn’t too disappointed since it was just my first day playing with this idea.

 

Hiking among the boulders at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon.

Hiking among the boulders at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon.

 

One of the nice things that I’m beginning to appreciate about this experiment is that it allows me to get out and photograph on days that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise tried.  For example, I had some free time on one cold and rainy weekend in February, and even though there wasn’t really much of a draw to do anything outside, I decided to drive into Lake Billy Chinook and explore around some of the cliffs overlooking the lake.   I knew that it was much too early in the season for pure landscape photography, but I loaded up my camera equipment anyway and went out with the idea of experimenting with the human element concept a little more.  While I was there, I found several nice scenes that I would like to shoot later this year when the balsamroot flowers are blooming, and before I left, I took a few photographs of myself perched on the edge of one of the steep drop-offs.  The composition isn’t quite as interesting as I would have liked, but then again, I didn’t trip and launch myself off of the cliff during any of my hurried attempts to get into the photograph, so I figured that was enough of a success.

 

 The cliffs above Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

The cliffs above Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

 

One of the other good things about trying to include people in my images is that it opens up some locations that I would not have otherwise gone to because the scene itself would have felt too empty without someone in the picture.  For example, there are several areas along the Middle Deschutes where I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but the scenes are not quite “full” enough for a good landscape photograph.  They’re absolutely beautiful when you’re there, but they just don’t photograph that well unless you add something else interesting to the scene.  The next two photographs were taken in one of those areas on the Deschutes River.  I wish that I would have brought my fly rod with me (which I will do when I go back to re-shoot these later in the year), but I think these initial attempts are at least a good start, and they help demonstrate the value of adding the human element to an otherwise average-looking scene.

 

Overlooking one of the waterfalls on the Middle Deschutes River.

Overlooking one of the waterfalls on the Middle Deschutes River.

 

 

Hiking along the Deschutes River canyon in Central Oregon.

Hiking along the Deschutes River canyon in Central Oregon.

 

Sadly, this is just a small sampling of my winter failings.  There were many more days this winter where my red shirt ended up being the only interesting thing in the scene.  It happened again last weekend, when I tried once more to climb up onto the shoulder of Three Fingered Jack.  After 4 hours of climbing up through deep, soft snow I ran out of time and I had to turn around.  I was less than a mile from the top, but that last mile was straight up, and I knew there was no way I could make it to the summit and then back to the Jeep before dark, so I just took a couple of bad photographs of me and my red shirt standing in front of the ridge and headed back home. 

That day at Three Fingered Jack would have been much better from a photography perspective (and probably from a safety standpoint) if someone else had been there hiking with me.  The more I play with this experiment, the more I realize that it’s really difficult trying to be the photographer AND the model.  My 40-yard dash time isn’t quite what it used to be, and there are many times that I simply can’t shoot the scene the way I would have liked because I can’t get to where I need to be in the 10-second time lapse before my shutter releases.  If you live in the area and you feel like you would like to get in touch with your inner Zoolander, please send me an email.  It would be really nice to have someone else to work with as a model.  I suspect that it will involve a fair amount of suffering, and I can’t promise that you will end up on the cover of Outside magazine anytime soon, but I am fairly confident that we will at least have some fun.  All you need is a red shirt.

 

Photo of my good friend, Jake Bell, doing the classic jump scene near the base of Mount Washington.

Photo of my good friend, Jake Bell, doing the classic jump scene near the base of Mount Washington.

 

Posted by Troy McMullin


A Few Photos for Jewel: Paulina Creek Falls, Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater Area

The Pacific Crest Stock photography team recently received a very special request from one of our biggest fans, Mrs. Jewel Carmody. Jewel is a wonderfully nice 85-year-old lady who used to live in Bend, Oregon many years ago. Although she now lives in Arkansas, she still has a great love and admiration for all of the wilderness areas in Central Oregon and she frequently visits our blog site and main gallery pages in an effort to stay connected to the area. Jewel has sent us several complimentary messages over the last few months, and in a recent correspondence, she mentioned that she would like to see some photos from Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater area, which was one of her favorite places to visit when she and her husband, Dewey, lived here in the late 1950’s.

For those of you who are not familiar with Central Oregon, Paulina Lake and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument are located just a few miles south of Bend and Sunriver. Although lesser known than nearby Crater Lake National Park, the Newberry Crater area actually shares many similar features with Crater Lake and was also once considered a leading candidate for National Park status. This geological wonderland was formed thousands of years ago when the 500-square-mile Newberry Volcano erupted and collapsed on itself, creating a huge caldera. Today, the caldera contains two incredibly deep and beautiful snow-fed lakes, a scenic creek with dozens of drops and waterfalls, and one of the largest obsidian flows in the North America. Despite its unique characteristics and the fact that I have hiked, biked and camped in the Newberry Crater area many times in the past, I have rarely gone there specifically for photography purposes, and unfortunately, I have a surprisingly small collection of pictures from this area to share with Jewel.

One of the lower waterfalls along Paulina Creek and the Peter Skene Ogden Trail in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

One of the lower waterfalls along Paulina Creek and the Peter Skene Ogden Trail in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

One of my favorite destinations in the Newberry Crater Area is the Peter Skene Ogden Trail. This wonderfully scenic trail is open to hiking, mountain biking (uphill only), and cross-country skiing. It climbs rather steeply for about 8 or 9 miles along the north side of Paulina Creek, passing many small waterfalls and natural rock waterslides (including the famous “Paulina Plunge” slide and swimming hole). The photo above was taken last year on one of the rare occasions that I happened to have my camera with me. In order to capture this photo, I had to take off my boots and wade out across the slippery rocks with bare feet through a thigh-deep, ice-cold creek. I’m not really sure what compelled me to carry my non-waterproof camera out into the middle of the creek, but I can tell you that I definitely second guessed myself—and the general soundness of my decision-making skills—several times as I was standing in the middle of the frigid water, fighting to prevent the current from sweeping me, my tripod, and camera downstream with it. After a handful of awkward and wobbly shots, I quickly decided that it would be wisest for me to take my camera back to the safety of dry land.

The Peter Skene Ogden Trail passes many impressive waterfalls along its path, but none of the others quite compare to Paulina Creek Falls, which is the final waterfall at the top of the trail. Paulina Creek Falls has an impressive 100-foot drop that comes off the ledge in two different spots creating a “double falls.” The photo of Paulina Creek Falls that is posted below was taken the same evening as the lower falls photo above. When photographing, I always like to find new and unique compositions that no one else has shot before. In this case, I happened to arrive while the fireweed was blooming and so I fought my way across the stream and up along the far edge of the waterfall to create this Pacific Crest Stock “original.” I like the composition of this photo a lot, but I’m not entirely happy with the lighting in the scene. Since we always strive to capture the “best possible” images for our Pacific Crest Stock galleries, I’ll probably go back later this year and try to re-capture this scene when the lighting is a little softer.

Fireweed blooming near Paulina Creek Falls in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Fireweed blooming near Paulina Creek Falls in Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Just past Paulina Creek Falls, the Peter Skene Ogden Trail reaches the outlet from Paulina Lake. From here, hikers can enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch at the rustic Paulina Lake Lodge or continue hiking along the 7.5-mile trail that circles Paulina Lake. The mostly-level Paulina Lake Trail is a popular place for trail running and/or hiking. Despite its popularity, the trail can provide some well-earned solitude in the more remote areas of the lake and it frequently offers great shore-side views of Paulina Peak toward the south. There is also a natural hot springs located half way around the lake, which is the perfect place for a short break or a relaxing soak.

The Paulina Lake Trail is also a great place to take the kids for an easy out-and-back family hike. My wife, Julie, and I took our oldest daughter here for a hike when she was a toddler. Ella fell asleep while she was riding on my back in a Kelty Kid Carrier and when she woke up, we realized that Ella’s pacifier had fallen out of her mouth while she was napping. Ella was very distraught at losing her favorite thing in the entire world, and so we quickly diffused the situation my telling her this long convoluted story about how we saw a mother squirrel pick up something from the trail and climb up to her baby, which was sitting on a high branch in one of the trees overhanging the lake. We thought the mother squirrel had a nut in her mouth, but as she got closer to her baby, we could see that the mother squirrel had actually picked up Ella’s pacifier and was trying to give it to her baby. During the transfer, the baby squirrel dropped the pacifier, which landed in the lake and was then immediately swept up by a huge rainbow trout. The trout sucked the pacifier into his mouth . . . smiled . . . and then swam away with it. To this day, Ella makes us tell her that story every time that we hike at Paulina Lake and she asks every fisherman she sees whether they have caught any fish with a pacifier in its mouth. So far, no one has caught that magical fish, but one day we’ll get Ella’s grandpa to bring his fishing gear out here with him. Ella is absolutely convinced that her Poppa can catch that fish because he is the best fisherman in the whole world.

Photo of a Central Oregon sunset on Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake.

Photo of a Central Oregon sunset on Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake.

Mountain biking is not allowed on the Paulina Lake Trail, but there are also plenty of biking opportunities in the Newberry Crater area. For the more adventurous types, I would recommend biking from the lake up to the top of 8,000-foot Paulina Peak. The views into the 250-foot deep, azure-colored Paulina Lake below and out toward the Three Sisters Mountains can’t be beat. On a clear day, you can see all the way across Oregon and into California to the south and Washington to the north. If you still have lots of energy in your tank after climbing to the top of Paulina Peak, drop back down a few hundred feet and turn left onto the Crater Rim Loop Trail. This 25-mile single-track trail circumnavigates the entire caldera, including Paulina Lake, East Lake, and the Big Obsidian Flow. The Crater Rim Loop Trail can be fairly exhausting (especially if you started at the Peter Skene Ogden trailhead more than 10 miles below), but this trail provides an absolutely epic day of Central Oregon mountain biking and the final descent back to Paulina Lake is one of the best down-hilling experiences in the entire area.

Sunset photo from the top of Paulina Peak, overlooking Paulina Lake, Newberry Caldera, and the Crater Rim Loop Trail.

Sunset photo from the top of Paulina Peak, overlooking Paulina Lake, Newberry Caldera, and the Crater Rim Loop Trail.

Well, that’s just about the extent of my photo collection from Paulina Lake and the Newberry Crater Area. I’m not really sure why I haven’t taken more photos from this area in the past, but thanks to Jewel’s request, I think I will try to focus more on this part of the region in the coming year. I guess that illustrates one of the reasons why Jewel loved living in Central Oregon so much. There’s just so much to do here, it seems like you couldn’t possibly cover everything this area has to offer, even if you had two lifetimes to do it.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: To really experience Paulina Lake at its best or to learn more about the history and geology of this area, I would highly recommend scheduling a day trip through Wanderlust Tours. Their excellent tour guides provide a wealth of fun information and a unique perspective that will leave you with a much greater appreciation for the area than what you would have been able to otherwise experience on your own. I have heard many families say that the day they spent here with Wanderlust Tours was the best day of their entire vacation.


New Central Oregon Winter Image Gallery

     We just opened a new image gallery on our main Pacific Crest Stock Photography site titled Oregon Winter Landscape Images.  Because we’ve had some requests for scenic Oregon winter landscape images from photo editors, graphic designers and photography lovers we decided we’d better oblige.  Some of the winter images are recent and some are from previous years but few have them have been licensed with any restrictions so if your interested in usage please contact us.  Below are a few teaser images with some background information regarding what sacrifices in sleep, limbs, marital bliss, etc went into making the images.  Below is one of the scenic stock images found in our new online gallery at Pacific Crest Stock.  I captured this image at Tumalo State Park after a heavy winter snowfall.  I chronicled this image in a previous post but the salient fact is that there were lots of big snow covered boulders and they frightened me.  Frankly I don’t think I’d do it again especially since I already covered the scene pretty well during that expedition and  dying alone is not my thing.  If I do go back I would probably take Troy and have him go first.

 

Stock image of Central Oregon's Tumalo State Park after a heavy winter snowfall

Stock image of Central Oregon's Deschutes River in Tumalo State Park after a heavy winter snowfall

The snow coverage on the trees and riparian bushes is great, the curvature of the Deschutes River adds an artistic touch and the ponderosa trunks in the background add some color and texture to the scene.

The following image requires a sad story, one of obsession and a forbidden lust for a familiar location.  This image is Troy McMullin’s, my partner in Pacific Crest Stock.  It’s a very attractive image of  ”The Monument” at Smith Rock State Park.  That’s not the sad part.  The sadness lies in the fact that Troy has captured over 1,000 images from this exact same location over the last 9 months.  It’s not healthy.  He’s living in a self imposed photographic version of the movie Groundhog’s day and he doesn’t want the movie to end.  I’m considering an intervention of some sort.  If anyone has any suggestions as to how I might help my good friend Troy, please leave a comment at the end of this entry.  Here is the image of beauty and sadness.

Stock image of Troy's mistress, "The Monument" in winter at Smith Rock State Park

Stock image of Troy's mistress, "The Monument" in winter at Smith Rock State Park

Enough of sadness and unhealthy obsessions.  The following image is one of mine from near Sisters, Oregon.  It is my favorite grove of ponderosa trees.  They’ve got great color to their bark and have grown in a nice arrangement and  the snow around them gives a great wintry feel to this scenic winter photo.  

Winter Stock Picture of snow covered ponderosa grove near Sisters, Oregon

Winter Stock Picture of snow covered ponderosa grove near Sisters, Oregon

 This shot was actually more difficult to capture than one might think.  It was snowing very hard at the time I was taking pictures of this ponderosa grove and I was constantly fighting snowflakes and fog on my lens. because my exposures were relatively long the snow falling snow isn’t visible.  This image and all of my images included in this entry are available as fine art prints on my print site at Mike Putnam Photography.

The next shot is another one of Troy’s which he captured high on the flanks of Mt. Washington.  You might recognize it as it was previously included as a banner shot on the front page of this website.   It is a very unique stock image in that very few people have ever been to this area of the Mt. Washington in winter.  In fact, Troy’s image is the only one I’ve ever seen from this location.  The reason that few if any other shots have been taken from here in winter is that it is really hard to get to and there are no good trails accessing the area.  Troy gave a good accounting of what went into capturing this image on a previous blog entry, Troy’s Mt. Washington Story.

Troy's stock Image of Oregon's snow covered Mt. Washington

Troy's stock Image of Oregon's snow covered Mt. Washington

 It really is a pleasure to discuss one of Troy’s images that don’t make me worry about his psychiatric health.  The image above was simply an instance of Troy exploring a dangerous alpine area off trail in winter without telling anyone where he was going after taking my canon 5D camera without telling me.  No need to worry about him , his lovely wife, or his adorable kids, right?

The following Oregon stock image is a hard earned photo of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters mountains and Broken Top as seen at sunrise from Tumalo Mountain, near Mt. Bachelor.  I recounted what went into capturing this stock image in a recent blog entry  Three Sisters Sunrise.  

 

Stock image of alpenglow on the Three Sisters and broken Top as seen from Oregon's Tumalo Mountain

Stock image of alpenglow on the Three Sisters and broken Top as seen from Oregon's Tumalo Mountain

Last up is one of my not at all crazy image of a Red Osier Dogwood along the Deschutes River.  I actually scouted this shot several times(not an unhealthy number of times) before I captured it in the middle of a winter snow storm with my large format 4×5 camera.

Image/picture of snow covered red osier dogwood along the Deschutes River in Central Oregon

Image/picture of snow covered red osier dogwood along the Deschutes River in Central Oregon

All of the images in this gallery are available for licensing as are many other great winter photos in out new Winter Stock Photos Gallery at Pacific Crest Stock.  Please visit to see how beautiful our little corner of the world is in winter!  

By:  Mike Putnam


Metolius River and Wizard Falls Photos

This past weekend I took the family to one of my favorite day hiking and family-friendly areas, Camp Sherman and the Metolius River.  We arrived in Camp Sherman hungry so we conveniently stopped at the Camp Sherman store which is a slice of rustic americana heaven. (They have some of the best lunch sandwiches you can find anywhere, piled high with ingredients of your choice).  The setting is beautifully sylvan with large cinnamon barked ponderosa trees everywhere and quaint rustic cabins along the shores of the famed Metolius River which is one of the most attractive Rivers anywhere.  It’s crystal blue-tinted waters emerge abruptly out of the ground at the appropriately named “Head of the Metolius River.”  I’ve seen hundred of photos from the head of the Metolius, most of which are bad because the contrast is difficult to control there.  The combination of a heavily wooded scene and exposed skies tend to play hell with a landscape photo.  I didn’t even attempt a visit to the head of the Metolius due to time constraints.

We did manage a hike along the banks of Lake Creek in the Metolius Preserve, which is  well managed by the Deschutes Land Trust.  For more info about the  Metolius preserve, it’s hiking trails and accessibility, please visit the Deschutes Land Trust’s website.  Photography was poor on this day as the light was very flat, there was no real color to be found, and not enough snow to be interesting.  Despite all of this the Metolius River basin still casts a magical spell.  The towering ponderosa , fir and larch trees along pristine waters of the Metolius and its tributaries give the area a special feel.  One of my favorite times of year to visit the Metolius is in the fall when the larch trees and vine maples are putting on their annual color display.  The following photo of the Metolius River was taken several years ago with my 4×5 camera.  That seemed to be an especially vibrant year for fall color along the Metolius.

Picture of rushing water of the Metolius River in fall

Picture of rushing water of the Metolius River in fall

A fine art print of this image of the Metolius River can be seen at the Bend Brewing Company in downtown Bend, Oregon.  If you are in the area, stop by the brewery, check out my photography, and have a beer.  The head brewmaster there, Tonya Cornett is exceptionally talented.  She currently has a seasonal black IPA on tap which is very good and if you are lucky they will also have Hophead, an imperial IPA which has won multiple awards at the Great American Brewing Festival and the World Beer Cup, where she was named small brew pub brewmaster of the year.  Hophead  is a hop lovers dream.

After Debbie, Emma and I finished our hike at the Metolius Preserve, we drove down river to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery, where we fed the huge trout in their holding pond.  Just before arriving at the fish hatchery, the road crosses the Metolius and immediately to your left is the famous Wizard Falls which is more of an attractive water feature than an intimidating waterfall.  It’s composition is quite lovely and is has lured photographers and flyfishing enthusiasts from around the world to its beautuful blue waters.  There is also a non-technical trail that crosses the road  near the fish hatchery which offers pleasant hikes , especially in autumn.  Below is a photograph of Wizard Falls in autumn as seen from the bridge to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery.

 

Picture of Wizard Falls on the Metolius River in Autumn near Camp Sherman, Oregon.

Picture of Wizard Falls on the Metolius River in Autumn near Camp Sherman, Oregon.

The above Wizard Falls image was taken the same year as the previous Metolius River photograph.  As I mentioned, the Falls themselves aren’t necessarily spectacular but they are artistic, especially on a colorful fall day when the reds of vine maples are counter balanced by the turquoise blue of the Metolius.  Further down stream are some other very photogenic locations that are a little more seasonal and difficult to find.  Campgrounds that mostly cater to fly fishermen are spread for several miles along the river in the area of Camp Sherman.  The following photograph of the Metolius River was taken downstream of Wizard Falls in the evening with my large format 4×5 camera.Picture of the Metolius River and ponderosa trees at sunset

I enjoy the gentle “S” curve of the river, the late evening sun in the background and the red bark of the ponderosa trees on the left side of the river.  As the Metolius basin is truly a beautiful area, I always feel like there are more good stock and fine art photographs to be taken there.  Even if the light is disappointing like my last visit, there is always enough beauty to stimulate my wife daughter and I.

If you are interested in seeing more stock photos of the Metolius River, please visit our website at Pacific Crest Stock.

If you interested in my fine art prints of the Metolius River, please visit Mike Putnam Photography

Posted by Mike Putnam


McKenzie River Photos: The Summer’s Life

I was driving around the other day scouting for some new winter photographs and listening to my iPod when a song shuffled on by The Shaky Hands, one of my favorite local bands from Portland, Oregon.  The song is called “Summer’s Life.”  It is a happy little tune that leads off with simple strumming, some well-timed handclaps, and the following lyrics:

The summer’s life is good . . . We ran down on the path in the woods . . .

To that old swimming hole . . . where we laugh and sing . . .  and stories are told.

We lived like children do . . . . kind  . . . . and so brand new.

With my thumbs drumming along on the steering wheel, I started thinking back to last October when I hiked into Tamolitch Pool, perhaps the most scenic swimming hole in all of Oregon.  It’s also the day that I met Jim Blanchard, an older retired photographer who was genuinely living a youthful “summer’s life.” 

That day, I had checked online and saw that it was raining in the Willamette Valley.  Knowing that the fall foliage always looks best when it’s saturated with rain, I loaded up my camera gear and headed over to the McKenzie highway hoping to get some new fall-time pictures.  Mike Putnam and I usually make this trip at least once each year.  If you look at Mike’s collection on Pacific Crest Stock, you can see that he has been quite prolific at capturing Autumn’s colors—some might even say he’s a little bit obsessed with it.  In fact, Mike has so many colorful shots from previous years that I could probably just slip my name onto some of his cull shots rather than worrying about getting any photos of my own. 

 

One of Mike Putnam’s autumn photos that I plan on stealing when he’s not looking.

One of Mike Putnam’s autumn photos that I plan on stealing when he’s not looking.

 

The rain was flooding off my windshield wipers as I veered onto Highway 126.  It was raining so hard that I could barely see well enough to drive–much less effectively scout for stock photos.  I could tell that tons of color had started to emerge along the roadside, but I couldn’t really make out any of the shapes or textures through my fogged up windows, so I decided to pull off the highway and take a closer look at one of the lava flows just north of Clear Lake.  This particular lava flow has a nice smattering of vine maples and lichen-covered Fir trees, and while it normally has plenty of potential this time of year, the rain was coming down so hard that I opted to not even take my camera outside with me as I scouted around. 

 

A great autumn photo of vine maples and lichen-covered trees.  This photo is temporarily credited to Mike Putnam, but if all goes well, it will soon have my name attached to it.

A great autumn photo of vine maples and lichen-covered trees. This photo is temporarily credited to Mike Putnam, but if all goes well, it will soon have my name attached to it.

 

Cold and soaking wet, I climbed back into the Jeep, and drove another mile or so down the road until I spotted another potential shot along the bank where the McKenzie River crosses under the highway. I got back outside and braved the weather for awhile, but after scouting the scene closer, I decided that the bank’s pitch was going to be too steep and slippery to get to where I needed to be for a satisfactory shot. As I started back toward my truck, I spotted an older gray-haired gentleman hiking out from the other side of the highway.  He had a heavy backpack and a big, bright yellow umbrella and I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy is hardcore.”  We had a brief conversation outside in the rain and then I offered him a ride down the road.  Given the current downpour, he accepted my offer.

In the dry confines of the Jeep, we started talking about the weather outside and at some point, it became obvious that we both happened to be there on photography missions.  That is when Jim introduced himself, and told me that although he is partially retired, he still occasionally teaches photography through Oregon University’s Outdoor Pursuits Program.  In addition to decades of experience working as an outdoor photographer, Jim tells me that he also teaches a variety of backcountry survival and mountain rescue classes, and in the summertime, he leads tours though the Alps.  I remember thinking, “Holy Cow! I want THIS guy’s job.”

Given all of his years of experience in photography Jim asked me my name (as if he was going to recognize it).  I kind of laughed and explained that I was actually just an amateur hack of a photographer, but that I did occasionally hang out with some non-posers like Bruce Jackson and Mike Putnam.  He knew Mike’s work and explained that Mike’s fine art website is one of the sites that he references in his Outdoor Photography class.  I then mentioned the fact that Mike and I were hoping to start Pacific Crest Stock, and I explained our general mission of trying to offer only the highest quality images—rather than uploading thousands of mediocre shots like most stock agencies.  He offered me some good advice about the stock business and gave me a few helpful hints about how to effectively photograph in adverse weather conditions (e.g., to keep one of those little hand warmer packs in your bag next to your camera so that your lens doesn’t fog up every time you remove the cap).

It was a fascinating conversation, and before I knew it, I had driven many miles farther than anticipated.  I think Jim started to feel a little bit bad about me abandoning my goal of shooting that day, and with the rain letting up a bit, he politely offered to hike the rest of the way downstream.  We shook hands and wished each other luck.  Then, I turned around and backtracked up the road to a place where the McKenzie River Trail bisects one of the forest service roads.  I knew that Tamolitch Pool was a just a few miles upstream from this spot so I finally got out of the truck and started hiking.

Tamolitch Pool, which is also known as the “Blue Pool,” is one of the most unique places in all of Oregon.  After cascading over several famous waterfalls (Koosah Falls, Sahalie Falls), the McKenzie River actually disappears and runs underground for awhile before finally re-surfacing at this spot.  I suspected there would be good color around the shores of the pool, and with it overcast and raining hard all day, I knew that the blue water and fall colors would be completely saturated.  However, as optimistic as I was about the picture, I was also quite worried that the rain was going to be hammering down into the pool, keeping me from getting a decent reflection of the trees that surround the pool.  Without the reflection, I knew the picture would be incomplete.  But still, I started hiking through the drizzle hoping for the best. 

Within a few minutes of leaving the Jeep, the drizzle turned to downpour, and my hopes for Tamolitch Pool began to fade.  There were many other pretty spots along the trail, but with the heavy rain, I was reluctant to even pull my camera out of the backpack.  I continued along the waterlogged trail, trudging through ankle-deep puddles and over slippery roots and rocks until I finally made it to the pool.  I was sitting on the cliffs above the pool, catching water on my tongue as it dropped off the brim of my cap and wondering how much longer it was going to rain when the magical moment finally arrived.  The rain stopped and the trees’ reflection began to take shape in the pool. 

 

Tamolitch Pool (aka: The Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River

Tamolitch Pool (aka: The Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River

 

Altogether, I had less than 5 minutes of dry time, and then, the rain started again just as quickly as it had stopped.   But that was enough of a break.  I captured the image above and grinned all of the way back to my vehicle. 

I was still feeling fortunate about my timing at Tamolitch Pool when a few miles down the highway, I looked over at the trail and noticed that big, bright yellow umbrella again.  I swung the Jeep around and saved Jim from another cold, soaking rain.  We talked about the photos we had taken in the last few hours and then I dropped him off at the McKenzie Ranger Station.  I drove away inspired, thinking about what a lucky life Jim was living.  He was in the golden years of retirement, and even on this rainy October day, he was out taking pictures and living the “summer’s life.” I can only hope that I am lucky enough to have someone rescuing me from rain on this same hike another 30 years from now.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the McKenzie River area, you can browse the pictures in the Trees gallery on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “fall foliage.”