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

Posts Tagged ‘cascade lakes highway’

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


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


Three Sisters Sunrise Photos and a Frigid Winter Morning on Tumalo Mountain

     It’s been quite some time since I visited one of my favorite winter photo locations, Tumalo Mountain near Mt. Bachelor off of the Cascade Lakes Highway.  Tumalo Mountain has long been a favorite of  backcountry skiers and snowshoers for winter time fun and it’s also no secret amongst photographers.  It’s location is key for all of these outdoor enthusiasts in that is located right next to Dutchman Flat snow park which incidentally is very close to the Mt. Bachelor ski area.   Because Tumalo Mountain is very accessible by backcountry standards there is a common perception that it is an easy hike to the top and therefore a pleasant little stroll to the summit.  For my purposes, this could not have been more wrong.  Because I’m naturally an optimist my mind always manages to block out all the difficulties associated with stock photography in this or any winter location.  I’ll walk you through what I consider to be a successful winter landscape photography outing and start off with the first image I captured last weekend.

 

Image of Broken Top and the Three Sisters at sunrise as seen from Tumalo Mountain

Image of Broken Top and the Three Sisters at sunrise as seen from Tumalo Mountain

It all starts the night before with checking my film supplies, laying out lots of extra layers of clothing, checking batteries, hand warmers, and most importantly setting the coffee maker timer to start brewing at 3:00 AM.  I had been following the weather patterns for over a week and this appeared to be the only clear day in the immediate future so if I over slept, there would be no re-shoot for quite some time.  This is why coffee was so important.  I find that having the aroma of coffee emanating from my kitchen, I’m much more likely to get out of bed in a timely fashion.  I call this an “Alpine Coffee Start”.

The wake-up went as well as can be expected with a 3:00AM alarm.  I woke, embraced my favorite mug full of heavenly Java roasted by the good people at Strictly Organic Coffee right here in Bend and checked the weather. Yikes, it was Zero degrees at the base of Mount Bachelor where I’d start snowshoeing up Tumalo Mountain.  I fought the urge to hop back in bed and drove to Dutchman’s Flat and started my climb.  I knew it was cold when I climbed with all my layers, a fourty pound camera pack through 25 inches of cold,dry,fresh powder up hill and still couldn’t get warm until I put on my Down Jacket which is usually held in reserve until I stop climbing and start getting cold.  I also activated three different handwarmers which were almost as pleasant as my coffee from 20 minutes before.  I huffed and puffed and eventually sweated, perhaps cursed and kept climbing until the snow on the trees got better, making for an eye catching foreground.  Luckily I’d given myself 90 minutes to climb and scout a location and set up my first shot of the day.  It took every one of those 90 minutes to find my first and only photo location of the day which is not too bad for an 87 year old man in those difficult and frigid climbing conditions.  The embarrassment lies in the fact that I’m not 87 years old!    Below is probably my favorite composition from that morning on Tumalo Mountain.

 

Alpenglow warming the summits of the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain as viewed from Central Oregon's Tumalo Mountain.

Alpenglow warming the summits of the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountain as viewed from Central Oregon's Tumalo Mountain.

 

 

 I like how the sunlight had changed to a warmer, more yellow color between the first and second images from this morning.  I also prefer this second image because of how nicely the snow flocked tree frame the distant mountains but most of all I like the trees themselves.  A secret of winter photography is good snow.  I know this sounds obvious but it is very true.  Anyone can take a winter photo but it takes work and planning or lots of luck to get a great winter photograph.  Most great images need a foreground of some sort.  Winter images need a winter foreground.  If the snow has melted off or blown off of the trees then you lose much of the punch in any winter image.  This means that your best chance of a great winter image is probably immediately after a winter storm and hopefully not too windy of a storm.  It should also be at sunrise or before as the sun will quickly warm the trees and melt off the snow that helped complete the image.  

     Minutes after I composed and captured this landscape image a heavy cloud bank began to swirl around Tumalo Mountain and obscure my view of both Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters.  With the clouds came a stiff, frigid wind and rime ice began forming all over my outer layers of clothing.  An already cold outing developed into what my in-laws from New England would call a “Wicked -Cold” outing.  I quickly snapped the following image of Broken Top in between cloud swirls and retreated down the mountain as I began loosing the feeling in both my fingers and toes.

 

Snowy picture of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain filtered through swirling clouds in the Oregon Cascades

Snowy picture of Central Oregon's Broken Top Mountain filtered through swirling clouds in the Oregon Cascades

I had hoped to capture a few photos of Mt. Bachelor that morning but it was not meant to be as the only cloud in Central Oregon was positioned between Tumalo Mountain and Mt. Bachelor, completely obscuring my view.  As I descended the hand warmers brought a tingle back to my fingers but my toes continued to be lifeless bricks.  At that point I vowed to get some warmer boots for snowshoeing.  I made the parking lot as the first few backcountry skiers of the day were pulling into Dutchman Flat snow park.  With my photo day complete, I headed home excited about the images I’d just captured and about getting the feeling back in my toes!

To view more Central Oregon Mountain Images, please visit our Stock photography Website, and check out the mountain Gallery at Pacific Crest Stock.

By Mike Putnam


Mt. Bachelor snow photos and summer photos

 

    As part of our launch of Pacific Crest Stock, I thought that a small photo review of Central Oregon’s favorite alpine ski mountain might make an appropriate blog entry.  The images in this entry were obviously not captured on the same outing.  In fact, they required many separate outings for their capture.  All of you who are photo editors or image buyers have seen countless wintery images of Mt. Bachelor clad in snow but you may not know what goes into capturing those images.  Start with about 40 lbs of camera equipment, a 4AM wake up call, and sub zero temperatures (coffee is a vital element in this equation!).  Then proceed with 28 inches of fresh powder at Tumalo Mountain and a grueling and sweaty hour long snowshoe climb to get yourself into position.  Then you cross your fingers and hope that you can find an acceptable foreground.  After you stop climbing, your sweat quickly freezes on any exposed skin so an extra layer of clothing is a necessity.  Once you are in position for nature’s grand light show, you hope that there are no low clouds on the eastern horizon that will block the pink alpenglow from illuminating Mt. Bachelor’s eastern flanks.  You will struggle to keep your tripods legs from shifting because the powder snow is so deep that you can’t find a solid base to stabilize your camera during the long exposures required by a low light capture.  If you are lucky, you get to enjoy the warm pink glow of morning’s first light bathing you and everything around you.  If you’re really lucky, you skillfully expose the scene, you don’t get any snow on your film plates, you get to enjoy a beautiful Central Oregon Cascades sunrise and you get to share an image like the one below with your friends.

Mt. Bachelor in winter bathed by the pink alpenglow of sunrise

Mt. Bachelor in winter bathed by the pink alpenglow of sunrise

I shot this image with my trusty but heavy (explaining my 40 lb pack weight) 4×5 camera.  The finished prints of this image are so detailed that one can actually see several snow cats grooming Mt. bachelor’s ski runs.  It gives me a greater appreciation of the hard working people who do the grooming every winter morning so that we can have a better down hill experience.  Cheers to the groomers and may they always have warm fresh coffee!

     The next two images are taken from the Three Sisters Wilderness area.  Summer photos of Mt. Bachelor have their own set of challenges.  Everyone has seen summer scenes of Mt Bachelor shot from the sides of Tumalo Mountain but you rarely see any of those images with an attractive foreground.  Finding those attractive foregrounds takes lots of exploration, which I love, but frankly it is physical work as it always involves a heavy pack.  The following image was captured with my intrepid daughter, Emma.  I’d been to this same area several times in the preceding few days and realized that sunset would provide the best light quality, so I loaded up Emma, lots of bug dope, camera gear and enough snacks to keep up with Emma’s speedy metabolism.  I love the fullness of the foreground, flowing with red Indian Paintbrush.  I also enjoy the lines of the small streams threading through the scene and the one large boulder in the mid-ground.  Perhaps the most rare and un-repeatable part of this scene is the cloud caps over Mt. Bachelor.  Plain blue skies tend to be a bit boring while a pleasant cloud formation tends to add to an image and make it a bit more unique.

Central Oregon's Mt. Bachelor with a foreground of Red Indian Paintbrush as seen from the Three Sisters Wilderness Area

Central Oregon's Mt. Bachelor with a foreground of Red Indian Paintbrush as seen from the Three Sisters Wilderness Area

The next image was also taken from the mountainous area adjacent to Mt. Bachelor.  This photo required a long off-trail hike with some accurate GPS coordinates to find and capture.  The hike was a little too far and rugged for Emma, so I went solo on this particular shoot.  Once again, I was fortunate to have some interesting clouds that added interest to the scene.

 

Mt Bachelor and wildflower meadow in the Central Oregon Cascades

Mt Bachelor and wildflower meadow in the Central Oregon Cascades

 The following image was taken at Central Oregon’s beloved Sparks Lake near the Cascade Lakes Highway.  It is an exceptional location for both spectacular views and mosquitos the size of small aircraft.  If you visit in the early spring, take lots of bug dope and your camera.  This corner of the lake has lots of small islands covered in mountain heather, and at sunset, it can offer some stunning color on Mt. bachelor.  

Mt. Bachelor sunset reflection as seen from Sparks Lake near the Cascade Lakes Highway

Mt. Bachelor sunset reflection as seen from Sparks Lake near the Cascade Lakes Highway

If you have any interest in licensing these or any of our other Cascades  Mountain images, please visit the  Mountain Gallery of our new stock photography website, Pacific Crest Stock.  If you have any comments or questions about these images, you can contact us through the contact information at the top of this blog or through the comments area at the end of this blog entry.  

Posted by Mike Putnam