Years ago, as part of our honeymoon, my wife, Debbie and I passed through Mt. Rainier National park. It was very early in the summer season and despite the fact that the road to Paradise visitors center was open, snow was absolutely everywhere. The weather was dreary but the thing that most impressed me was the fact that Mt. Rainier is absolutely enormous. I later read that Mt. Rainier has more glacial volume than all the mountains combined in any other state in the lower 48 . I believe it! At 14,410 vertical feet and with an enormous mass and the fact that it is one of the snowiest places on earth, it is an impressive sight. Well, because I recently heard that the wildflowers at Mt. Rainier were very good this year and my wife has always wanted me to get some good images from Mt. Rainier, I made a road trip. Below is one of my best images from Mt. Rainier National Park. This image was captured shortly after sunrise from near the Paradise Park visitor center.
The clouds you can see at the base of Mt. Rainier, quickly grew and completely covered the mountain. Shortly thereafter, the rain and snow commenced! I wasn’t able to capture any images with my large format camera because it was simply too windy. I suppose this offers inspiration for a return visit to Mt. Rainier next summer! Mt. Rainier Fine Art Photograph. Below is an image I captured the night before at the tail end of the 6 hour drive to Mt. Rainier from Our Pacific Crest base camp of Bend, Oregon.
Great colors and textures made it well worth while to stop despite the fact that I was frantically looking for a camp site and I was almost out of daylight.
The morning of my Mt. Rainier visit I awoke before 4:00AM and began hiking. I traversed the Mazama Ridge in the dark and along the way I saw two red foxes and countless deer. Not finding any remarkable scenes along this part of Mt. Rainier National Park, I continued uphill back towards Paradise. I passed through the Van Trump area and the Edith Creek Basin which is pictured below.
Weather reports from the visitor center predicted rain and heavy clouds for the next two full days in the Paradise area so I hastily retreated to the Columbia River Gorge area where the weather forecast was more promising. I got some great new stock photos from the Coulumbia River Gorge National Scenic area but they will have to wait for another blog entry.
Mt. Rainier National Park is truly amazing and offers much more than just the mountain. There are countless waterfalls long the way as well as the gorgeous Tatoosh range, and the Grove of the Patriarchs and it’s 1,000 year old cedar and Douglas Fir trees. Below is Sunbeam Falls, a whimsical little waterfall along the roadside near the Paradise area.
For more information about the remainder of my Mt. Rainier road trip, and some great images from the Columbia River Gorge, Double Mountain Brewery, and Elowah Falls, please check back soon! Thanks for reading and if you would like to license any of the images in this blog entry, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock.
We’ve recently uploaded some new landscape photographs to our Main Pacific Crest Stock Photography website. Please visit the following link to visit our New Oregon Landscape Photography Gallery. Below you can find a sampling of some of our newest additions. Enjoy and please let us know which are your favorite landscape photographs in the comment section at the end of this entry. Many of these Oregon Landscape Photographs are available as fine art prints at the following links. Bend Oregon Photographer- Mike Putnam
There are several different crops available for the above Mt. Washington Image including ones with plenty of text space if necessary.
The above macro image of swirling autumn ground cover taken at high elevation in the Central Oregon Cascades offers a more intimate view of autumn in Oregon.
A more thorough description of how I captured the above Sparks Lake Sunrise Photograph is available at the following link. to Purchase this Sparks Lake photo, visit my personal site, Sparks Lake Photo.
The above picture of Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack was taken at one of my favorite back country location at the peak of summer wildflower season.
The above photo of Bend Oregon’s Shevlin Park can currently be seen in a fine art version at the Sage Cafe in Bend Oregon’s Northwest Crossing neighborhood. Finally one last image of Central Oregon’s beloved Three SIsters Mountains during a beautiful winter sunrise.
The above photo of the Three Sisters Mountains near Bend Oregon, can be seen at the Mountain Gallery of our Main Pacific Crest Stock Photography site by visiting the following link. Oregon Mountains. Please do visit our site to see more of our new images. Pacific Crest Stock Photography
As Always, Thanks for visiting,
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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?
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!
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.
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!
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Troy McMullin
One half of the Pacific Crest Stock Photography team, Mike Putnam, will be displaying his work at Pandora’s Backpack in Downtown Bend, Oregon tonight, Friday September 4th. The First Friday Art walks in Central Oregon tend to start at 5PM and quiet down by 9PM. Pandora’s Backpack is located at 920 NW Bond St, in the St. Clair Building. Mike has had a running display of his work for several years now at Pandora’s Backpack, which is a Patagonia concept store. They offer almost a complete line of Patagonia clothing in a beautiful surrounding.
Mike will have lots of his work displayed there and collectors will also get a chance to examine Mike’s hand made cherry wood frames which are utilized on all of the fine art prints that will be displayed At Patagonia tonight. Below is a picture of one of my framed images ready for sale that will be present at Pandora’s Backpack tonight.
the above fine art Photograph of Central Oregon’s Broken Top Mountain can be yours(I’m not selling the photos of my daughter or the wooden elephant!) if you just stop by Pandora’s Backpack tonight between 5pm and 9pm at 920 NW Bond St in wonderful downtown Bend, Oregon.
I’d like to note that Ultrarunner extraordinaire, and Pandora’s Backpack owner, Rod Bien(and his talented staff-Love Ya Mo) has been very accommodating to me during these First Friday Art Walks and it might also be helpful if you stopped in and bought a fleece jacket or a pair of socks. Stimulate the economy!
For those of you who are photo enthusiasts with a sense of history and an appreciation of craftsmanship, I’ll also have my 4×5 large format camera on display. It is the exact camera that I used to capture every image that will be on display at the show tonight. Below is a photo of my camera affectionately know as the “Big Rig”. It is a Wista 4×5 cherry wood camera with all brass fittings. It really is art in and of itself!
There are very few Oregon Landscape Photographers who still use these large format cameras any more. Please come visit and I’ll tell you why I still use mine.
In addition to fine art photography, there should be some top notch wines available tonight. Rod Bien, family man, gifted endurance runner, retail guru, and all around great guy is also quite the wine aficionado of fine wines. I’d expect some world class chardonnays from the Bien cellars to be available tonight. Yet another reason to visit Pandora’s Backpack tonight for the First Friday Art Walk.
I hope to see you there!
We quickly covered the two miles into the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow despite the many down lodgepole pines on the trail. Sadly, this will probably be a recurring theme on this specific trail because of the recent fires and because of the mountain pine beetles which are devastating pine forests across the western United States. We spent the night at the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow which was overflowing with wildflowers and has a couple beautiful streams flowing through it. I spent most of the evening scouting in the upper meadow for the shots I’d work on the next morning. I returned in time for the best freeze dried dinner(aren’t all meals in the backcountry the best ever?) It was Chili Mac with beef made by Mountain House. Delicious! Fortunately, I also returned to the Lower Canyon Creek Meadow for a stunning sunset which is pictured below.
Landscape photography was unrewarding the next morning because of the heavily overcast skies and the very flat light. It’s the curse of the Oregon Landscape Photographer. Great effort combined with poor light is a frustrating. It was also very windy, making it impossible to shoot any of the amazing flower scenes in the upper meadow. As the photography conditions were poor, the day was dedicated to family. We moved to a great campsite in area of the Upper Canyon Creek Meadow(but not in the meadow) and spent most of the day playing in the frigid waters of Canyon Creek. Below is a picture of Emma balancing above Canyon Creek, an activity that entertained her for hours.
Between the activities of balance beam competitions, chasing frogs, swatting mosquitoes, and lounging in the Alpine glory of Three Fingered Jack, the day quickly passed. The next morning started a little windy and overcast, but the clouds blew over and the wind died down making for a landscape photographer’s nirvana. Amazing wildflowers at their seasonal peak with the awesome backdrop of the towering Three Fingered Jack. Below are a few of the Landscape photos I captured that morning.
I shot the above scene extensively with my large format camera in hopes of capturing a winning fine art print. To see some of my finished large format photographs from this trip to Three fingered Jack hike Canyon Creek Meadow. The film isn’t finished developing but I’m optimistic! The Following scene, was a little simpler, but no less rewarding because of its interesting clouds, excellent textures, colors, and impact.
I took dozens of other photos of the amazing lupine meadows in the Upper Meadow. If you are interested in seeing more of those images, please visit my personal website by visiting, Bend, Oregon Photographer. After I finished photographing the Upper Meadow, we reluctantly packed up camp and headed for home in Bend, Oregon. Below is one last photo of our little family leaving our camp site and hiking back home.
The Canyon Creek Meadows are not always as flower filled as they were this year, but they are always a beautiful destination. If you care to backpack into this wonderful alpine basin, please respect the meadow and wildflowers and do not camp directly in the meadows as they are very fragile and will quickly perish with the pressure of camping. Instead camp in the hills located east of the upper meadow or in the Lower Meadow of Canyon Creek. To view another more recent photograph of Three Fingered Jack, captured in autumn, visit, Three Fingered Jack.
If you are interested in licensing any of the images in this blog entry, or you would like to see more images from Canyon Creek Meadows, please contact us through our Pacific Crest Stock Website.
Thanks For Visiting,
By: Mike Putnam
The stars recently aligned in a strange and unexpected way. My wife (Julie) and Mike Putnam’s wife (Debbie) both planned trips to take the kids out of town during the same time period, and in an unprecedented move, Mike and I actually got organized enough to plan a vacation of our own. It just so happened that one of our favorite musicians (Josh Ritter) was playing a concert at the Egyptian Theater in Boise so we talked a few more friends (Mike Croxford and Jake Bell) into joining us for a road trip across the Idaho border and then we all headed up north to the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon. The Wallowa Mountains—also known as the “Oregon Alps”—are quite different from the mountains we have in Central Oregon. While the Central Oregon Cascades are formed by a chain of distinct volcanoes, the Wallowa Mountains are an honest-to-goodness mountain range, like the Rocky Mountains, Sierras, or North Cascades.
Although we had some idea of where we wanted to go when we got there, we didn’t actually formulate a complete plan until we were a few miles outside of Joseph, Oregon. After looking at the map and several guide books, we decided that we would start the trip by heading into Aneroid Lake via the trail along the East Fork of the Wallowa River. We started hiking from near Wallowa Lake in the late afternoon and arrived at Aneroid Lake just before sunset. Mike and I quickly dropped our backpacks and started scouting for sunset pictures. Unfortunately, the light was a little quicker than us and it faded before we found a decent location. We spent the rest of night swatting at mosquitoes and watching Jake catch trout with his newly purchased Snoopy Zebco fishing rod.
The next morning, Mike and I rolled out of the tent about 5 a.m. and headed off in opposite directions in hopes of finding good locations for sunrise photos.
Mike started circling the lake in a clockwise direction and I took the counter-clockwise approach. Mike shot the image above in a nice big meadow at the south end of Aneroid Lake and I took the image below from the north shore.
After the sun got higher, we spent a few more hours fly fishing and then we packed up camp and started heading for Tenderfoot Pass. The hike up and over Tenderfoot Pass went without a hitch, and after a short break at the top, we continued along the trail toward the top of Polaris Pass. I’ve been to a lot of pretty places in Oregon, but I think the view from Polaris Pass is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. The entire Wallowa Mountain range spreads out before you, with Cusik Mountain and Glacier Lake off to the left and Eagle Cap Mountain and the Lakes Basin off to the right.
It’s a spectacular sight, and one that is relatively easy to stay and stare at because, as it turns out, there isn’t really a trail down the back side of Polaris Pass. Oh sure, it looks like there’s a trail on the map and the guide books talk as if there’s a trail there, but don’t be fooled. There is nothing even closely resembling a trail, at least not at the very top. You can see that a trail starts several hundred vertical feet below the summit, but unfortunately there’s no obvious way to get down to it. Determined to find a route, the four of us started precariously making our way down the steep rocky slope, taking short careful steps and always keeping an eye downhill at the edge of the cliffs that were sure to be our death should we slip. We slowly zigzagged our way down the rock slides for the better part of an hour before we finally got to solid ground and were able to remove the handfuls of boulder-sized rocks that had collected inside our boots. The grade eased considerably once we got below the rock slides, but the trail was still fairly spotty and was frequently overgrown with bushes and a huge display of wildflowers. There were meadows clearly visible in the base of the valley a few thousand feet below us, but even after several additional hours of hiking, it seemed as if we weren’t getting any closer to them. The trail would run the entire width of the ridge, and then drop by maybe two or three inches with each switchback. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and we all started thinking that we were never going to get to the bottom.
After more than 10 miles of parched hiking with no fresh water source, we finally arrived at a stream and were able to re-stock our water bottles. Everyone soaked their sore feet in the stream for a while, and then we continued down the evil, never-ending collection of switchbacks until we eventually made it to Six Mile Meadow and set up camp for the night. The next morning, our group took a short hike up to Horseshoe Lake and while the rest of the guys hung out swimming and fishing, I decided to forge ahead for another 11 miles of hiking so that I could see the other parts of the Lakes Basin. I have wanted to see Mirror Lake and the Lostine Valley ever since I moved out to Oregon, and even though I was fairly exhausted from the prior day’s adventure on Polaris Pass, I felt like my trip wouldn’t have quite been complete if I didn’t’ get to visit this part of the Wallowa Wilderness Area.
The Lakes Basin definitely held up to the hype. The area contains a beautiful collection of granite-lined lakes and meadows, all set up against the base of Eagle Cap Mountain. Just past Mirror Lake, the trail either drops down into the classic U-shaped, glacier-carved Lostine Valley or returns via the Hurricane Creek drainage. I spent some time exploring each of these areas, and I’m not really sure which one is prettier. They are both fantastic.
After several hours of backcountry bliss, I started making my way back to Horseshoe Lake. I drug myself into camp just before sunset, and just in time to try out some of Mike’s freshly-caught (and Cajun-spiced) trout. While I was gone, Mike apparently set the world record for the most trout ever caught in a single day . . . while Jake’s Zebco was not quite as prolific this time around. Luckily, someone in camp stayed focused on our photography mission and Croxford was able to document the entire experience with his trusty camera.
We all turned in early that night, and then Mike and I got up the first thing the next morning to scout for sunrise photos around Horseshoe Lake. We split up again so that we could cover more ground. Mike set his sights on a nearby pond that had a nice collection of lily pads and I stayed along the main shore side trail. There’s no shortage of scenery in any direction within the Lakes Basin so it didn’t take too long for us to capture a handful of new stock photos for the Pacific Crest Stock site.
Then, we packed up camp and started heading back out to Jake’s truck via the long dusty trail that follows the Western Fork of the Wallowa River. Having covered more than 40 miles in 4 days, it’s probably no surprise that we talked incessantly that morning about what kind of food and beer we were going to have when we finally got out of the woods, and sure enough, our first stop involved a pitcher of Red Chair IPA and a couple of half-pound hamburgers from the Embers Brewhouse in downtown Joseph. We then made our way over to Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise, Oregon and finally to Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City, Oregon. After that, we did a little breaking-and-entering (not really, but we definitely surprised an unsuspecting house-sitter in one of our friend’s houses in Baker City), and then we headed back home the next day . . . putting an end to one of the best road trips I’ve had in a long time.
Posted by Troy McMullin
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Along the southern edges of Todd Lake, there are often thick stands of marsh marigolds, an early indicator of spring in the Oregon Cascades.
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.
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.
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.
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
Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” If Thoreau was correct, then I think Oregon’s Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area could be considered a virtual fountain of youth, because in my experience, it is almost impossible to visit this area without being overwhelmed with enthusiasm. In fact, anyone who peruses our photo galleries on Pacific Crest Stock probably can’t help but notice that Mike Putnam and I have a great deal of enthusiasm for the meadows and valleys surrounding Mount Jefferson. It really doesn’t matter if you are hiking into Jefferson Park, Coffin Mountain, or the Cathedral Rocks Canyon, there is almost no way to go wrong . . . as long as your camera works when you get there.
A few years ago, I was hurrying around in preparation for a day hike into Jefferson Park. It was mid-August and I knew that the meadows around Russell Lake would be overflowing with flowers. As I ran frantically from room to room in the house gathering up all of my equipment, I set my camera backpack on the kitchen counter. On one of my passes back through the kitchen, I quickly filled a Nalgene bottle, and slid it into the mesh pocket on the side of my backpack. The weight of the water bottle immediately caused my backpack to shift and tumble from the counter top down to the hard slate floor. I lunged to catch the pack, but by the time I had a grasp on its top strap, the bottom of the bag had already crashed into the ground. I said a few choice words and then gave my camera a quick inspection. Everything looked fine. Whew!
I loaded my gear into the Jeep and started making my way to the Whitewater trailhead just up the road from Detroit Lake. I ended up starting the 10-mile round trip hike later than anticipated and after a steep climb to the top of the first ridge, I realized that I needed to run if I wanted to make it to the meadows and still have time to get out of the woods before dark. NOTE: Now is probably a good time to mention that I really despise running. Many of my friends are exceptional runners; they actually claim to love it. But me, I’m just not a runner. Give me a bike or some skate skis, but please never ask me to run.
I reluctantly jogged a few hundred yards up the trail and then I temporarily slowed to a brisk hike as I contemplated whether or not I really had enough time to cover all of the ground in front of me even if I was able to run the whole way. But then, images of Jefferson Park in full bloom consumed my thoughts and convinced me that I could definitely make it . . . as long as I would be willing to run. And with that, I picked up my trekking poles and started the very miserable task of trail running up 1800 vertical feet of backcountry trails with a heavy backpack and worn out boots. Up over the ridges; around the corners; and through the creek crossings. I ran the whole way into Jefferson Park.
As soon as I got to the meadows in Jefferson Park, I could see that my timing was perfect. The purple lupine and Indian paintbrush were in their most glorious states. I rushed through the maze of flower-filled trails that lead to Russell Lake and found the perfect spot along one its tributaries. Mount Jefferson was being gently lit by the westerly sun, and with that majestic mountain looming directly overhead, I carefully set up my tripod, composed the shot, and pressed the shutter button. But nothing happened. I checked the power button; the camera was on. I took the camera off of the tripod and checked the battery compartment; the battery was where it belonged. I took the battery in and out and turned the power switch on and off multiple times, but nothing could bring my camera back to life. Then, as I was spinning the camera around, I noticed that one of the bottom corners was badly dented and I remembered how my camera had fallen off the kitchen counter earlier in the day. Realizing that the camera had been ruined and that I jogged all of the way into Jefferson Park for nothing, I took my cell phone out of my pocket, pointed it at the mountain, hung my head in disgrace and clicked a single low-resolution digital phone picture.
Then, I started walking—not running—back to my Jeep.
NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area, you can browse our pictures in the Mountain gallery on Pacific Crest Stock or search the site for “Mount Jefferson.”
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
OK, I know that the title of this blog entry doesn’t totally make sense, but hopefully you get the idea. We’ve recently taken some new Smith Rock State Park Photos that I’m very proud of and we haven’t been able to find a simple way to fit them into our blogging schedule. These images haven’t ben shared with the public and therefore they’ve never been licensed and seen in print. I strongly suspect that you will soon see some of these images in local ad campaigns and tourism offerings as they are great pictures of a special and unique Central Oregon Location. First I’ll start with a couple of my images.
For quite some time now I’ve wanted to add a “Monkey Face” photo to my fine art print collection. The above image is definitely my best effort to date. I plan on printing it in a large format version and adding it to my fine art offerings. Mike’s Fine Art Prints I’ve seen hundreds of different Monkey face images but most offer washed out noonday light and plain blue skies. Those are fine for snap-shots but not for fine art prints or great stock images. I knew I wanted a shot with interesting clouds and warm late evening light. I also got the Crooked River in the scene as a bonus which adds another attractive element. The above image was captured with my large format 4×5 camera in hopes of making it into a fine art print. I also shot many other great images on that beautiful evening with my canon 5D camera. The following picture is a closer view of Monkey Face with some interesting cloud formations to liven up the scene.
On the enlarged version of this photo, you can actually see climbers in the mouth of “Money Face”. Cool! I like how my relatively wide angle lens slightly distorted the scene giving it an abstract feel. I also like how the hiking trail in the foreground leads the viewer to the base of Monkey face.
The following Smith Rock State Park picture was taken on a different evening but helps to show the diversity of our Smith Rock portfolio. I took the following shot at the end of a long photography day during which I chased clouds all over Central Oregon.
It may have been good fortune that allowed me to catch this scene with the colorful cloud formation hovering over Smith Rock’s summit but I certainly don’t mind being lucky! I’ve seen countless photos taken from the viewpoint at Smith Rock, most of which are uninspiring, but I couldn’t resist on this evening.
Now for the grand finale of our mini Smith Rock State Park tour. I’d like to give you a preview of what I predict will be the next great cover shot for the Central Oregon tourism industry. My good friend, Troy McMullin took the following outstanding Smith Rock State Park photo. I think it might be the best Smith Rock photo I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen thousands of them! I’ll be very surprised if it isn’t licensed for a cover shot in the very near future, and whoever licenses it will have the good fortune to associate themselves with this stunning image.
There are countless reasons why I think this image makes a great landscape photo but I’ll just cover a few of them. 1. Great subject matter. Smith Rock is veery recognizable and obviously stunning. 2. excellent composition. 3. lots of interesting elements including the impressive rock formation, awesome clouds, great color in the sky, the gently arcing Crooked River below and the distant South Sister to the left of the rock formation and Mt. Jefferson to the right. Wow! Like I mentioned, I’ll be very surprised if this image isn’t licensed in the near future. Please leave any comments in the comments section at the end of this entry, and don’t forget to tell your photo editor and graphic designer friends that you’ve just seen the next great Central Oregon cover shot! For some more great Smith Rock State Park Stock Photos, please visit our new Smith Rock gallery at Pacific Crest Stock.
Posted by Mike Putnam
I just made a trip down to the Visit Bend Office in downtown Bend, Oregon to pick up a copy of their new Bend, Oregon visitor’s guide. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, one of our photographs graces the cover of this year’s guide and the whole thing looks great! To visit the previous blog entry regarding the cover shot which is of Mt. Jefferson and a gorgeous meadow of alpine wildflowers high up in the Mt. Jefferson wilderness area please click here. Mt. Jefferson cover shot . A sincere thanks goes out to Doug, Lynnette, Laurel, and the rest of the team at Visit Bend for selecting our image for their cover shot and for being great people to work with during this project. They have all proven to be personable, efficient, and talented people to work with and to know. I also mentioned in a previous blog entry that this cover is a special honor because both Troy and myself are both such big boosters of Bend and the entire Central Oregon area. For people like us who love the outdoors, there is no finer place to live and to represent the area we love in some small way is a huge honor.
The Visit Bend offices are located at 917 NW Harriman St. in Downtown Bend Oregon. They are a great resource for information about the whole Central Oregon Area so stop by say hello to their friendly staff, view some of their beautiful art work (My Fine art prints are displayed there!) and grab a copy of their new bend area tourism guide with one of our Pacific Crest Stock images on the cover. We hope they are as excited about the cover as we are. Also you can visit their very attractive website at Visit Bend. to see more of our grat landscape images, please also visit our main stock photography site at Pacific Crest Stock. Thanks for visiting!
We just opened a new image gallery on our main Pacific Crest Stock Photography site titled Oregon Winter Landscape Images. Because we’ve had some requests for scenic Oregon winter landscape images from photo editors, graphic designers and photography lovers we decided we’d better oblige. Some of the winter images are recent and some are from previous years but few have them have been licensed with any restrictions so if your interested in usage please contact us. Below are a few teaser images with some background information regarding what sacrifices in sleep, limbs, marital bliss, etc went into making the images. Below is one of the scenic stock images found in our new online gallery at Pacific Crest Stock. I captured this image at Tumalo State Park after a heavy winter snowfall. I chronicled this image in a previous post but the salient fact is that there were lots of big snow covered boulders and they frightened me. Frankly I don’t think I’d do it again especially since I already covered the scene pretty well during that expedition and dying alone is not my thing. If I do go back I would probably take Troy and have him go first.
The snow coverage on the trees and riparian bushes is great, the curvature of the Deschutes River adds an artistic touch and the ponderosa trunks in the background add some color and texture to the scene.
The following image requires a sad story, one of obsession and a forbidden lust for a familiar location. This image is Troy McMullin’s, my partner in Pacific Crest Stock. It’s a very attractive image of ”The Monument” at Smith Rock State Park. That’s not the sad part. The sadness lies in the fact that Troy has captured over 1,000 images from this exact same location over the last 9 months. It’s not healthy. He’s living in a self imposed photographic version of the movie Groundhog’s day and he doesn’t want the movie to end. I’m considering an intervention of some sort. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I might help my good friend Troy, please leave a comment at the end of this entry. Here is the image of beauty and sadness.
Enough of sadness and unhealthy obsessions. The following image is one of mine from near Sisters, Oregon. It is my favorite grove of ponderosa trees. They’ve got great color to their bark and have grown in a nice arrangement and the snow around them gives a great wintry feel to this scenic winter photo.
This shot was actually more difficult to capture than one might think. It was snowing very hard at the time I was taking pictures of this ponderosa grove and I was constantly fighting snowflakes and fog on my lens. because my exposures were relatively long the snow falling snow isn’t visible. This image and all of my images included in this entry are available as fine art prints on my print site at Mike Putnam Photography.
The next shot is another one of Troy’s which he captured high on the flanks of Mt. Washington. You might recognize it as it was previously included as a banner shot on the front page of this website. It is a very unique stock image in that very few people have ever been to this area of the Mt. Washington in winter. In fact, Troy’s image is the only one I’ve ever seen from this location. The reason that few if any other shots have been taken from here in winter is that it is really hard to get to and there are no good trails accessing the area. Troy gave a good accounting of what went into capturing this image on a previous blog entry, Troy’s Mt. Washington Story.
It really is a pleasure to discuss one of Troy’s images that don’t make me worry about his psychiatric health. The image above was simply an instance of Troy exploring a dangerous alpine area off trail in winter without telling anyone where he was going after taking my canon 5D camera without telling me. No need to worry about him , his lovely wife, or his adorable kids, right?
The following Oregon stock image is a hard earned photo of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters mountains and Broken Top as seen at sunrise from Tumalo Mountain, near Mt. Bachelor. I recounted what went into capturing this stock image in a recent blog entry Three Sisters Sunrise.
Last up is one of my not at all crazy image of a Red Osier Dogwood along the Deschutes River. I actually scouted this shot several times(not an unhealthy number of times) before I captured it in the middle of a winter snow storm with my large format 4×5 camera.
All of the images in this gallery are available for licensing as are many other great winter photos in out new Winter Stock Photos Gallery at Pacific Crest Stock. Please visit to see how beautiful our little corner of the world is in winter!
By: Mike Putnam
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.
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.
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.
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
I have genuinely loved Bend and the Central Oregon area ever since moving here more than 10 years ago. I enjoy our Central Oregon mountains, the Deschutes River, the high desert, old growth ponderosas, Drake Park, the local trail systems, Downtown Bend, the restaurants, and the breweries (not necessarily in that order). The natural beauty of Central Oregon is what inspired me to take up photography on a professional level. To have so much geographical diversity in the same region is truly wondrous. My partner in Pacific Crest Stock, Troy, is also a big fan of Bend. Many friends have suggested that we should be on the payroll for the Bend Chamber of Commerce or one of the tourism boards because we are both such big boosters of Bend and the whole Central Oregon area.
When we first conceived of Pacific Crest Stock, we both thought it would be a tremendous honor to have one of our stock photos appear in one of the Central Oregon tourism publications because it would be an honor to represent the area in print. Well, with that thought in mind, we have a big announcement to make. It has recently been formalized and one of our landscape images will grace the cover of the Visit Bend‘s tourism publication, which is due to be released this spring. The exposure of having the cover shot will be great, the link on Visit Bend’s very attractive website which has been promised will certainly be helpful, but most of all, it is an honor to represent Bend and Central Oregon in a more formal way. Having met with Lynnette and Laurel at Visit Bend several times, I can confidently say that it is a well run, personable and efficient organization. Lynnette is clearly a skilled Web master, and graphic designer. She was courteous enough to provide me with the following image file, which will be the cover of their glossy magazine style publication.
Yeah that’s my Mt. Jefferson Photo and yeah I’m pretty excited!
Mt Jefferson is one of the most photogenic mountains anywhere and because it is visible from much of the city of Bend, it has long been one of my favorite photography destinations. This image, like most great images, required lots of work. I’ve been to Jefferson Park and the Mt Jefferson Wilderness many times before and have always been moved by its beauty, but. I had often been frustrated in that I always thought there was a shot I was missing in this beautiful area. The year I shot this photo, Troy and I went backpacking in the Jefferson Park area and we captured lots of good Stock photos including the following shot of Troy’s ,which is a fan favorite on Panoramio and Google Earth.
It is clearly a great shot. Mt Jefferson towering high above the mid-ground clouds with a stunning foreground of Troy’s favorite flower and the only one he knows the name of, the Red Indian Paintbrush. During our trip, we scouted and shot on and off trail from many different locations including the one that will serve as Visit Bend’s Cover shot. When we arrived at the “cover location” the light was harsh and the alpine wildflowers hadn’t quite peaked for the year but the location was clearly special and I knew I had to return in a few days so I did. To see more great Mount Jefferson images, please visit our stock site’s Mountain Gallery.
On my return trip, I made a day trip of the outing carrying my heavy pack nearly 10 miles and several thousand feet of vertical gain to the same location as a few days before. I quickly set up my tripod and my 4×5 camera and composed a beautiful scene at a stunning location when something unexpected happened. A small wisp of clouds appeared over Mount Jefferson’s summit and it gradually evolved into the awesome lenticular cloud cap that you see in my cover shot from that second day. The scene went from a great one to one of the best fine art landscape shots I’ve ever taken. It is one of my favorite images because Mount Jefferson’s amazing presence, the outstanding wildflower combinations (the equal of which I’ve yet to find in Oregon) and the mystical cloud cap which really brings the whole image together. I hiked out the last six miles with my headlamp beaming and my mind reeling with excitement about the great shots I’d just captured. Without the cloud cap it’s a great stock photo, but with the cloud cap, it becomes a great fine art print. So I worked hard and I got Lucky. I’ll take that combination any time!
My thanks go out to Lynette at Visit Bend for the image file and to my loving wife for letting me go out and take photos in places I love.
To view my fine art prints, including the soon to be cover shot, please visit my fine art site at Mike Putnam Photography where you’ll see this lucky Mt. Jefferson Photograph and many others.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
As winter starts to drag in the High Desert area of Central Oregon around Bend, I tend to day dream about photo trips elsewhere in Oregon where the winter season doesn’t seem to extend quite so long. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Bend but our relatively high elevation make for consistently cold nights which seems to extend our winters longer than my perpetually cold wife would prefer. One of our favorite getaways involves visiting our friends, the Reitzs in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River tends to be more gray than Bend in the winter but spring comes considerably earlier there and the wildflowers in the Hood River are often stunning. The Hood River area simply has a better climate for spring flowers. One of my favorite Hood River Photography locations is the East Hills area of the Hood river Valley. The wildflowers in the east hills vary from year to year, they don’t last very long but they are absolutely phenomenal in some years. The first year My good friend, Max insisted that I consider taking some photos from the east hills area, I reluctantly obliged. I initially felt that I would have already been familiar with the location if the wildflowers were as attractive as Max suggested. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were simply amazing. I drove into the ill defined parking area for sunrise and I was so impressed that when I returned to our home away from home at the Reitz home I insisted that we all go back for a hike in the East Hills where I’d just returned from. For another adventure that we shared with Max and Chris Reitz, check out our Italian Adventure photos. The following image is one of my favorites from that morning photographing in the East Hills of the Hood River Valley. Mt. Hood is seen in the background the flowers in the foreground include balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, and lupines. Doesn’t it seem like this wouldd be a perfect cover photo for a Columbia River Gorge tourism brochure?
I like the contrast between the agricultural Hood River valley and the wild and beautiful east hills wildflower display which were pretty amazing during that year. Mt. Hood is always a photo worthy mountain, especially when snow covered as in this image. Part of what makes the Hood River valley so scenic is the fact that it is near sea level and that Mt. Hood is visible high above at 11,240 offering some very impressive vertical relief. The following photo is one I’ll include simply because it makes me happy. It is of my daughter, Emma and JoJo Reitz . I love their laughing and smiling faces and all the happy wildflowers surrounding them. I took many family photos this morning but this one seemed especially playful and captured the feeling of spring the best.
Another one of my favorite photo locations lies slightly east of Hood River in an undisclosed location. It has a slightly different photo appeal to me because it is distinctly less developed than the Hood River area. I tend to avoid man made structures in my landscape images but that can be very difficult in Hood River because of its famed agricultural production. The following photo is also of Mt. Hood. I find the vast flower meadow with little indication of farming or agriculture makes for an attractive picture.
This Image and the previous photo were both taken with my large format 4×5 camera which necessitated fairly long exposures that can be frustrating because of the famed Columbia River Winds which can wreak havoc on a large format landscape photograph. I was fortunate to avoid the winds on both of these photo outings. The next image is one of the first I ever took as a professional photographer. I also captured this image with my 4×5 camera on a rare windless day. At the time I was still struggling with focus, perspective control and exposure balance associated with using my old Wista 4×5. Most of the images from this morning ended up in my circular file but this one photo came out nicely and is still a part of our Pacific Crest Stock Wildflower Gallery
This last image takes me back to the Hood River Valley. The wildflowers are a little ragged in this image but I still love it because of the sweet expression on the face of my favorite model, Emma.
If you would like to see more images from our many visits to the Hood River area of Oregon, please visit our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock . To get licensing information about any of our images, please contact us through email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (541) 610-4815
Posted by Mike Putnam
All images are copyrighted and exclusively the property of Mike Putnam/Pacific Crest Stock
One of my favorite and lesser known Central Oregon destinations for hiking and Photography is the Whychus Creek canyon, which is best accessed from the Alder Springs trail head south east of the city of Sisters, Oregon. This beautiful area is monitored and maintained by one of my favorite non-profit groups, the Deschutes Land Trust. It offers classic high desert views of sagebrush seas, the Three Sisters Mountains, and the Whychus Creek Canyon. Below is an image of the Three Sisters and Broken Top as seen from near the Alder Springs Trail head.
This area is accessible for much of the year because it is lower in elevation than many of the more popular hiking areas of Central Oregon. Trail details are available from many different local hiking guides and from the Land Trust’s website. Parking is available at the trail head and the trail is easy to navigate but is not handicap accessible. Initially the trail skirts along a high desert ridge with some views of the surrounding buttes, the distant Oregon Cascades, and Whychus Creek far below. Below is an image of the Whychus Creek Canyon from the Alder Creek Trail.
I’ve been to the Alder Springs area many times but I’ve rarely seen the dark and moody skies like those in the above image which help to add interest to this photo. In addition to the brooding skies, I love the big western feel of this photograph with its raw and rugged canyon zig-zagging into the distance between high desert mesas and the sparse details of junipers and sagebrush dotting the scene. In early spring during certain years, you might be lucky enough to find a floral gem of the desert, the ephemeral Bitterroot flowers. Below is one of my favorite groupings of Bitterroot blossoms seen along the Alder Springs trail.
These delicate flowers seem to glow from within as if they have their own inner light source. They are a favorite of my farrier friend, Big Todd, because I think they appeal to his delicate and sensitive side. High along the canyon you can find all sorts of surprises. I’ve made many trips there in early spring to capture the flamboyant accents of Balsamroot in full bloom. If you want to enjoy these early season beauties, you should arrive before the deer herds as they seem to be a favorite snack for these foraging ungulates. Perhaps, more importantly, you should only venture off trail to view these flowers with the knowledge that you will have a good chance of encountering Rattlesnakes fresh from their winter slumbers! In all seriousness, I’ve noted a very strong correlation between these balsamroot being in bloom and Rattlesnakes coming out of hibernation. On the day that I shot the following photograph of Balsamroot and basalt columns, I was “rattled” twice by the local serpents. I was hiking off trail along a steep slope near a big drop down into the canyon floor. As I crossed a rocky area, I heard a faint rattling noise. A primal impulse triggered my flight or fight mechanism and I quickly chose the flight option! As panic ensued I quickly leaped out of the area. During my less than grand exit, I spotted the fluttering tail of the rattlesnake disappear into a rocky crevice directly beneath my dancing feet! Please keep in mind that I am not especially afraid of snakes, unlike my mother who seems to think they are the devil incarnate. I simply don’t like being surprised by poisonous snakes while crossing rocky and exposed slopes. After I’d cleared the area and my heart rate dropped to a reasonable level I rounded a canyon edge and saw another rocky slope I had to cross. I conjured unhealthy visions of Indiana Jones in Raiders surrounded by viscous asps in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I mentally gathered myself and selected the least exposed route across what the dark side of my imagination perceived as a giant rattlesnake breeding ground. Mid route I stepped on a loose rock which toppled into an adjacent area and sure enough, RATTTTTTLE! Panic! To make matters worse, I was unable to spot my angry foe amidst all the plate sized rocks surrounding my nervous ankles. I blindly bounded out of the area never seeing the offended serpent. Perhaps, understandably, it took me a bit longer to compose myself after my second scare of the day. Eventually I gathered myself and captured the following image of Balsamroot flowers backed by some beautiful lichen covered basalt columns high above Whychus Creek.
One of my favorite images from this area also involved an adventure into this rattlesnake infested location. The following image captures some of the most colorful rock formations I’ve ever found. The brilliant orange and yellow lichen growths are simply stunning and when combined with the vertical accents of the basalt columns they make for a very surreal scene. I’ve seen few images from this area probably because of the very real threat of rattlesnakes and because of the treacherous locations in which these beautiful rock formations seem to be found. During the process of capturing the following scene, I was precariously balanced on the very edge of a 50-foot cliff with my left foot and two legs of the tripod holding my 4×5 camera balanced on loose rocks. On multiple locations my tripod slightly slipped allowing me to experience a different form of terror than that offered by the hidden rattlesnakes! Eventually I captured the following photo and then took a longer but rattlesnake-free route out of the Whychus Creek Basin.
The stunning color combinations, the vertical accents and the warm evening light make this one of my favorite fine art images.
In regards to the Alder Springs Trail, it really is quite special. From desert mesas to cold flowing springs, beautiful sights are everywhere. The trail passes through a spring laden oasis of plant life and eventually to the confluence of Whychus Creek and the mighty Deschutes River. The take home message from this trail is that if the balsamroot have begun to bloom and you are wary of rattlesnakes, you should consider staying on the trail! If you are interested in licensing any of these images, please visit the High Desert Gallery of our stock photography site, Pacific Crest Stock.
By Mike Putnam
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Approximately mid-way through this hike, I began to think that it might have been optimism that killed the cat rather than just curiosity. After all, that cat must have been more than just a little curious. I suspect that he—like me—was simply a bit too optimistic that somehow the reward was going to be worth the risk.
Any time that thoughts like these begin to creep into my head, I know that I must be having fun, and indeed, I was definitely having a blast on this beautiful winter hike along the Crooked River canyon that runs through Terrebonne, Oregon. Suspecting that the desert rock formations were going to be blanketed with snow, Mike Putnam and I decided to make a quick trip to Smith Rock State Park in hopes of expanding our High Desert Gallery on our new Pacific Crest Stock website. The sun was higher than expected when we arrived, so we decided to split up in an effort to maximize the limited amount of remaining good light. Mike would work around the ledges on the top of the canyon, and I would go explore around the Crooked River and the meadows in the bottom of the canyon.
My unexpected adventure started about 50 feet from the truck when I realized that I was not going to be able to find the normally easy trail that traverses down from the top of the cliff because everything on the ground was covered with several inches of fresh powder. After spending a few futile minutes searching for the trail, it became obvious that I would need to find my own way down the 30 percent grade, all of the while trying to carefully pick my route through the hidden rock fields. It took much longer than expected to reach the river’s edge and on more than one occasion, I found myself in an awkward telemark-like position, using my poles for balance as I clumsily boot skied down the slippery slope.
After I had safely made it to level ground and was able to look around, it was absolutely beautiful. I was surrounded by towering cliffs, all of which were draped with a light snow that was trying desperately to cling to the near vertical faces. I realized right away that this was one of most spectacular days that I have ever spent at Smith Rock, and I began thinking about how pretty the snow must be upstream near the currents across from the Monument (one of my favorite rock climbing formations in the park).
I have hiked up near the Monument many times in the past, and as luck would have it, my current level of excitement seemed to have obscured my memory of just how difficult it was to access—even when there was no snow or ice. As I struggled to make my way over the huge slippery boulders lying upstream, I began having strange conversations with myself about cats and curiosity and then flashes of Mike’s recent blog entry about a wintery boulder-filled hike along the Deschutes River filled my head. Unfortunately, by the time that I remembered reading about all of the dangers that he had encountered, I was already trying to navigate my way through my own ice-covered rock garden. Each step seemed to present new challenges, and on more than one occasion I found myself knee deep in what had been a previously snow-covered crevice. With a little bit of luck (and a whole lot of optimism), I managed to avoid getting myself tangled into an eternal figure-four-leg lock and I arrived at my final destination with a huge smile on my sweat-drenched face.
The boulders along the river’s edge were stacked high with bright new snow and the rocky spires rising on the other side of the river seemed magnified against the backdrop of a brilliant clear blue sky. Standing there, I realized that all of my optimism had been fully rewarded, and the hike was already worth the risk, even if I didn’t end up with a single photograph for the website. Of course, I also knew that Mike and his unique brand of humor would embarrass me beyond belief if I was to let that happen, so I quickly scurried around the icy river bank framing various angles and water patterns, and then I started my way back–following my previous zigzag of foot prints until I had made it to the safety of the wide open meadow.
In the time that it took me to negotiate less than a mile of rough terrain, Mike had thoroughly covered the upper ridges extending along the entire border of the park. Altogether, we captured at least a dozen stock-worthy images. While driving home along Highway 97, we talked optimistically about the future of our new stock agency and we began planning our next adventure into other local snowscapes. We’ll keep you updated.
Posted By Troy McMullin
NOTE: If you are interested in seeing other images from this day, you can search our Pacific Crest Stock website for “Smith Rock” and “Snow.”
After countless days of hiking together and talking about starting a new stock photography agency, Mike Putnam and Troy McMullin have finally started to make some serious progress. The Pacific Crest Stock website is nearing completion, and with this entry, our photography blog has become a reality. We hope that you will sign up for the RSS feed or check back regularly as we will use this blog to share new stock images and a variety of interesting stories from our adventures as landscape photographers. From stories about being stranded high on the cliffs of Three Fingered Jack to near-death mountain lion attacks, this blog will hopefully be an entertaining way to stay abreast of what’s new and exciting in the lives of a few hard-working photographers trying to start a new business.
For a sneak peek at the Pacific Crest Stock website, follow one of the gallery links on the right-hand side of the blog page.
Thanks for visiting, and please stay tuned!
Mike and Troy