After living in Central Oregon for about a decade, Mike Putnam and I have managed to compile quite a collection of photographs for our Pacific Crest Stock photography company. As 2010 starts, it’s fun to look back and think about some of our favorite photographs from the last ten years. The New Year also marks the end of our first year of being in business together. It was an exciting year to say the least, and thanks to readers like you, our blog site has steadily grown through the months to the point that we are now getting nearly 4,000 visitors per month. We are very grateful for all of the clicks you’ve given us through the year, and for all of the other support and feedback that we’ve received from our friends, families, and customers. We truly appreciate it.
Although it’s nearly impossible to pick out our true favorites, the following photos have a certain level of sentimental value as they often represented significant milestones from our early photography careers. We hope you enjoy them.
1. Summit Sunrise
2. Strawberry Mountains
3. Sparks Lake Sunset
4. Skier on Three Fingered Jack
5. Mount Jefferson Wildflowers
6. The Monument at Smith Rock
7. Aspen Leaves
8. Mount Hood from Lost Lake
9. Basalt Columns
10. Oceanside Sunset
Thanks for all of your support through the year, and we’re looking forward to another exciting year in 2010. Cheers!
Posted by Troy McMullin
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Earlier this spring(2009) My daughter, Emma and I had one of our many Daddy/Daughter days when My wife, Debbie was working . As is often the case, we decided that a hike would be a pleasant way to pass the day. I noticed some interesting clouds in the area slightly northwest of Bend, so I decided that a drive to Tumalo Reservoir would be a worthwhile journey for both Emma and I. The views of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains are great from Tumalo Reservoir and from some areas of the reservoir, the Sisters are nicely reflected in the water.
The above photo of Tumalo Reservoir taken on a different morning shows the Three Sisters nicely reflected.
Part of the reason that I felt Tumalo Reservoir would be a good destination was because Emma enjoys playing around water and the last time she and I had been there, we had seen several snakes which frightened but intrigued her. She’d been pining to see the snakes again but from a distance.
As we drove into the area, we crossed over a bridge at the east end of the reservoir where I stopped and captured the following image.
Pleasant clouds and an interesting shoreline had already made this a worthy day-trip. Only one thing troubled me. There was a mother and two children playing along the shores of the lake, occasionally interfering with my landscape photography. They seemed to be pleasantly playing but they weren’t helping my cause. Emma and I hiked along the southern edge of the reservoir until the mother and children were out of the way. The photos from that part of the hike were not inspirational but we did have a bit of excitement. First, I’ll give you a bit more background. My daughter, Emma is definitely a Girly-Girl. I mean this in the sweetest way possible. She loves clothes, she loves dolls, she fusses with hairstyles constantly. To sum up, she is no Tom-boy. Despite her girly ways, she does enjoy controlled adventures. Well on this day, the banks of the Reservoir were especially muddy. While I was taking pictures of the Three Sisters, Emma got bogged down in mud and lost a shoe. We were both entertained and decided it was best to not get too close to the water’s edge. After I’d gotten the photos I wanted, we worked our way back to where we’d parked. Along the way, I scouted some more photos. While taking one last shot, I heard a feminine screech, which could only come from one person and it could only mean one thing. Emma had seen a snake! She was simultaneously terrified and thrilled. Unfortunately, I was too slow with my camera and I missed this hilarious photo opportunity. With my moral support, she wanted to find another snake. She soon got her wish! As this snake wasn’t a surprise, there were no shrill screeches to fill the air!
As we approached the canal at the east end of the reservoir, we once again saw the Mother and her two children, the oldest of which was a little girl about Emma’s age. They were on the opposite side of the muddy canal when the older child said what I thought was “should I catch them a snake, Mommy?” Knowing that my ears had deceived me, we continued on towards the car. The little girl began scurrying along the the shore and in the water with a flurry of activity. Emma and I were intrigued. The little girl then proceeded to wade waste deep across the mud bottomed canal. The same canal that held shoe-sucking quick sand and flesh eating snakes! She was absolutely intrepid and totally indifferent to any aquatic obstacles in her way. As she neared us, Emma’s eyes widened to unprecedented widths! The little girls hands were full of sticks, No……They were full of snakes!
Keep in mind that I don’t have any kind of snake phobia, but I don’t like them surprising me either. Well this enchanting and fearless little girl was completely unfazed about the snakes writhing around her arms. As she shared her find, the snakes became completely calm in her hands. She explained that they were very friendly and that we should hold them. Emma almost had a heart attack! Eventually I worked up the courage to hold one snake and indeed it eventually calmed in my hand. Emma took a little more cajoling. Below is a photo of Emma building the courage to touch one of the snake charmers’ pets.
Obviously, Emma is excited and hesitant while the snake-handling nymph is completely at ease with the snakes. I was astounded! After many minutes of confidence building exercises, Emma eventually summoned the courage to hold a solitary snake.
I was very proud of her and I was simply amazed by the unknown little girl who was fearless and charming at the same time. For entertainment purposes, scroll up to the snake charmer and back down to Emma to assess their different comfort levels.
If anybody who reads this blog entry happens to know who the snake charming nymph of Tumalo Reservoir is, please contact me as I’d like to thank her and her mother for sharing with us. She was enchanting, charming, polite, personable, fearless, and entertaining. She truly brightened our day and the whole event was something that Emma and I will remember forever. Thanks!
To view more Central Oregon landscape photography of the Three Sisters and Tumalo Reservoir, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock Photography
by: Mike Putnam
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Troy McMullin
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 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.
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.
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.
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.