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

Posts Tagged ‘oregon landscape photographer’

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Visiting,

Mike Putnam


Photos from Three Fingered Jack and the Canyon Creek Meadow Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Mike Putnam


Stock Photos from Oregon’s Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area: Forever Young

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.

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and purple lupine overlooking the Cathedral Rocks Canyon

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and purple lupine overlooking the Cathedral Rocks Canyon

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and the big bear grass bloom near Coffin Mountain

Pacific Crest Stock photo of Oregon's Mount Jefferson and the big bear grass bloom near Coffin Mountain

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.

 Pacific Crest Stock photo of purple lupine wildflowers blooming in Jefferson Park with Mount Jefferson looming in the background.

Pacific Crest Stock photo of purple lupine wildflowers blooming in Jefferson Park with Mount Jefferson looming in the background.

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.

The author, Troy McMullin, feeling rather youthful while hiking in Oregon's Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

The author, Troy McMullin, feeling rather youthful while hiking in Oregon's Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.

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.”