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

Central Oregon Fall Color Photos

Come Experience Central Oregon’s Autumn: A Planning Itinerary from Pacific Crest Stock

 

Although Central Oregon is probably best known for all of its winter and summer fun, we think it might actually be at its best during autumn. Between the months of September and October, the Central Oregon towns of Bend, Sisters, Camp Sherman, and Sunriver are blessed with reliably sunny days, cool clear nights, and absolutely spectacular fall color. If you haven’t experienced autumn in Central Oregon, you’re really missing out on a special time. To help get you get started on planning next year’s vacation, the Pacific Crest Stock Photography team has pasted some suggestions below with photos from some of our favorite fall-time trails and activities.

Ten Things to Do During Central Oregon’s Autumn Months

1. Go hiking in the lava flows around the Three Sister Wilderness Area. There are many different lava flows to choose from within a short drive of Bend, Sunriver, or Sisters. Most of the lava flows are interspersed with vine maples and other vegetation, which turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow during the autumn months.

 

Backpacker standing on a lava flow near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Backpacker standing on a lava flow near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

 

2. Go biking through a grove of aspen trees. Some of the best groves of aspen trees are found along the Deschutes River or Tumalo Creek Basin near Bend, the Ochoco National Forest outside of Prineville, the High Desert Museum between Bend and Sunriver, or near Black Butte Ranch along the outskirts of Sisters.

 

 Biking through aspen trees outside of Sisters, Oregon.

Biking through aspen trees outside of Sisters, Oregon.

 

3. Go hiking or biking on the Deschutes River Trail. The Deschutes River Trail is a real gem of a trail that runs through the Deschutes National Forest and connects the towns of Bend and Sunriver. It contains several beautiful waterfalls and large groves of Ponderosa pine, larch trees, and aspen trees. This is a perfect place to hike or bike with small children.

 

Fall color along the Deschutes River Trail near Bend, Oregon.

Fall color along the Deschutes River Trail near Bend, Oregon.

 

4. Go explore the forest service roads bordering the Mount Washington Wilderness Area. There is a wonderful network of roads that runs between highways 126 and 242 just outside of Sisters, Oregon. The roads provide access to the Mount Washington Wilderness Area and also provide great wide-open views of Black Butte, Three Fingered Jack, and Three Sisters Mountains. In September and October, the roads explode with fall color. For more information and photos from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, see our previous entry.

 

Fall color around one of the many lakes near the Mount Washington Wilderness Area.

Fall color around one of the many lakes near the Mount Washington Wilderness Area.

 

5. Go biking or rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park. Smith Rock State Park is always a magical place to visit, but it is especially nice in autumn when the banks of the Crooked River are alive with color. Because of its desert location, Smith Rock also tends to stay a few degrees warmer than the surrounding mountain towns of Bend, Sunriver and Sisters. This makes it an especially nice road trip on cooler October days. For more information and photos from Smith Rock State Park, see our previous entry.

 

 Mountain biking at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon.

Mountain biking at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon.

 

6. Go visit the Camp Sherman Store and the Wizard Falls trout hatchery on the Metolius River. The world-famous Metolius River and the locally-loved Camp Sherman Store are two of the most special places in Central Oregon. The Metolius River puts on one of the most colorful autumn displays in the region, and between the fly fishing and hiking opportunities along the banks of the river, the trout-viewing at the Wizard Falls hatchery, and the awesomely huge sandwiches and well-stocked selection of local microbrews at the Camp Sherman Store, this stop belongs on your list of “must-do” activities. This is also a perfect place to hike with small children, and if your little ones need a little extra motivation, it might be nice to know that the Camp Sherman Store offers a large selection of penny candy (yes, a penny!). For more information and photos from the Metolius River, see our previous entry.

 

Wizard Falls on the Metolius River near Camp Sherman, Oregon.

Wizard Falls on the Metolius River near Camp Sherman, Oregon.

 

7. Go for a drive over McKenzie Pass. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the drive up and over McKenzie Pass is one of the most scenic drives in North America. It offers a fascinating tour through the middle of a huge lava flow that is surrounded on both sides by touring Cascade Mountain peaks. There are tons of short hikes and explorations that can be accessed from the road over McKenzie Pass. After the highway closes in late autumn, the McKenzie Pass area also becomes one of region’s premier biking destinations. For more information and photos, see our previous entries about McKenzie Pass or the McKenzie River.

 

Autumn color around Tamolitch Pool (also known as the Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River Trail.

Autumn color around Tamolitch Pool (also known as the Blue Pool) on the McKenzie River Trail.

 

8. Go hiking or biking on the North Fork Trail above Tumalo Falls. Although many visitors know about Tumalo Falls, few people venture beyond the top of the first waterfall. The real secret about this area is that there are at least another half-dozen impressive waterfalls hiding just a short ways up the trail. Hikers usually make the trip as an out-and-back adventure. Bikers are allowed only on the uphill section of the trail, so if you’re on a bike, continue past the last waterfall at the 3.5 mile mark, ride through the wide open Happy Valley and then cross over the stream to your right. After crossing the stream, the path continues along a section of the Metolius-Windigo Trail before dropping back down to the parking lot on the opposite side of Tumalo Falls via the Farewell Bend Trail. The entire loop is about 11 miles. For more information and photos from the Tumalo Falls area, see our previous entry.

 

Autumn color at Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon.

Autumn color at Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon.

 

9. Go fly fishing at one of Central Oregon’s many high alpine lakes or spring-fed streams. Central Oregon is blessed with a huge collection of high alpine lakes and spring-fed trout streams, which makes it a fisherman’s paradise. You could spend years visiting all of the lakes and streams hidden in the woods along the Cascade Lakes Highway, Santiam Pass, or McKenzie Pass, and never have to fish the same place twice. Grab your fly rod and go exploring. You know there’s a lunker waiting for you in the ripple.

Fly fishing near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

Fly fishing near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.

 

 

10. Go for a drive over Santiam Pass. In autumn, the drive over Santiam Pass looks like something from a fairy tale. The windy, two-lane highway hugs the shoulder of the Santiam Rivers’ North Fork for many miles, and there is a splendid display of bright red vine maples nearly the entire way between summit of the pass (4,800 feet) and Detroit Lake (1,400 feet). This is definitely the route of choice if you’re coming to Central Oregon from Salem or Portland.

 

Autumn moss and maple leaves on the Santiam River.

Autumn moss and maple leaves on the Santiam River.

 

NOTE: Many of the activities above involve hiking or biking through our region’s National Forest areas. In autumn, it is important to remember that hikers and bikers are often sharing these areas with big-game hunters. As always, appropriate precautions and good common sense are highly recommended when venturing into the forest during hunting season.

To license these or any of our other stunning Central Oregon images, please visit our Oregon stock photos site, Pacific Crest Stock

Posted by Troy McMullin

 


Late Pictures of Fall Color in Central Oregon

As is usually the case I made a long list of fall color images that I wanted to capture this year and time flew, weather was uncooperative and I missed many of my dream shots but did get some Oregon fall color photos worthy of sharing.  The following group photos have little to with one another aside from the fact that they are all from Central Oregon’s High Desert vicinity.  In general, I didn’t find this fall color season to be remarkable.  The early snows dampened expectations but some late color did burst out, especially in the riparian areas of lower elevation.  The first group of photos is from a location where I’ve never gotten any worthy images and frankly This fall offered the best color I’ve ever seen along the Crooked River.  These images are from the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint, which is located where Highway 97 crosses the Crooked River North of Terrebonne, Oregon.

Fall color in the riparian area along Central Oregon's Crooked River.

Fall color in the riparian area along Central Oregon's Crooked River.

According to my keen recollection of American History(and the big sign in the parking lot) Peter Skene Ogden was working for the Hudson’s Bay  Company in 1825  when  he led the first recorded journey into the Crooked River Basin not far from the current Crooked River Bridge.  I presume that is why this viewpoint is  named after Ogden rather than something catchy like “Pacific crest Stock Scenic Viewpoint”!  The yellow fall colors were more vibrant than I’ve ever seen in this location and the reds weren’t bad either!  The rock pattern also helps with this otherwise simple image.  Facing in the opposite direction and downstream, the Crooked River Canyon  carves a deep serpentine path through 300 foot tall basalt cliffs.  Some great clouds, the distant Black Butte, and the previously mentoned fall color make this a worthy photograph.

The Crooked River carves its way through basalt cliffs with a distant Black Butte in this photo

The Crooked River carves its way through basalt cliffs with a distant Black Butte in this photo

Looking back upstream from the same Crooked River Bridge which is closed to cars but open to people( this made me nervous at first!) One sees the obvious yet attractive Rex T. Barber Memorial Bridge.  Rex was something of a Hero during world War II.  He was born in nearby Culver, Oregon and was drafted into World War II.  Rex T. Barber was an ace fighter pilot who is widely credited with shooting down and killing Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who was the planner of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thereby initiating WWII.  In other words, Rex really was a hero.  Rex served in the military for 20 years and after a very successful stint flying P-38 lightnings, he was eventually shot down over China.  He survived the crash and five weeks later he was escorted back to allied forces by Chinese civilians.  Rex returned to Central Oregon after the war where he was an insurance agent, judge, mayor of Culver and a huge civic booster.  I don’t usually get moved by these Memorial plaque tales by this one really was somewhat touching to me.  I also am hesistant to include man made objects in my landscape photographs, but for Rex T. Barber I’ll make an exception.  Below is the handsome Rex T. Barber Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River canyon and it’s luminous fall color.

Picture of the Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River Canyon, in Central Oregon

Picture of the Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River Canyon, in Central Oregon

Another High desert Photography favorite , Smith Rock State Park also had some great fall color this year.  Below is an attractive sunrise casting a delicate pink glow on one of the main rock formations at Smith Rock.  It may not be as stunning as Troy’s sunset image from this same location found in this blog entry  Smith Rock Photos but the delicate predawn light works well with the fall color in the riparian areas at the base of Smith Rock’s massive rock formations.

Picture of early morning light at Central Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Picture of early morning light at Central Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Slightly to the North of this scene lies the famed Morning Glory wall and “the Dihedrals”,  favorites of rock climbers around the world.  I’ve been to the morning glory wall area many times but I’ve struggled with lighting there.  The following image of the Morning Glory Wall and the dihedrals with fall color and cumulous clouds makes for a good stock photo.

Photo/Picture of Morning glory wall and the dihedrals at Smith Rock State Park

Photo/Picture of Morning glory wall and the dihedrals at Smith Rock State Park

On the same pleasantly cloudy day I shifted over a touch and took an obligatory photograph from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park.  Normally I avoid this spot as it is a bit cliched but I couldn’t resist because of the great clouds that were floating above the scene.

Picture/Photo from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park

Picture/Photo from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park

Finally We’ll leave Smith Rock behind after one more image.  This rock formation is referred to as “the Monument”  Stunningly vertical, is calls to some like no other rock formation in Central Oregon.  I merely think of it as the scene that launched a thousand psychiatric evaluations for my Pacific Crest partner, Troy.  To learn more about Troy’s struggles, visit this previous blog entry.  Smith Rock Photo phychosis.  It’s a good shot but mostly I included this image in this particular blog entry in an effort to torture Troy.  He’ll be back at the monument later today nervously composing scenes and incoherently mumbling to himself like Milton in the classic movie, “Office Space”.

Troy's Folly, sunrise light on the  monument at Smith Rock State Park

Troy's Folly, sunrise light on the monument at Smith Rock State Park

I’ve included this next and final photo of aspen trees with some great color not so much because I love the image but because I felt obligated to mention it.  I’ve been there so many times that it feels like a distant cousin who I feel obligated to invite to Thanksgiving dinner because they live two blocks away.  Anyway, here are my distant cousin aspen trees!

Central Oregon aspen trees in full fall color

Central Oregon aspen trees in full fall color

If any of our blog readers have fall color suggestions for next year please let us know.  For some of our other fall color images, please visit our main Pacific Crest website by following the following link Pacific Crest Images .   Thanks for visiting our photo blog!

All the Best,

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


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.”