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

Posts Tagged ‘oregon mountain photos’

New Oregon Landscape Photos from your favorite Bend Oregon Photographers.

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

Photo/picture of Oregon's Mt. Washington in Autumn

Photo/picture of Oregon’s Mt. Washington in Autumn

There are several different crops available for the above Mt. Washington Image including ones with plenty of text space if necessary.

Macro Photo of Autumn Ground cover in the Oregon Cascade

Macro Photo of Autumn Ground cover in the Oregon Cascade

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.

Sparks Lake Sunrise

Sparks Lake Sunrise

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.

Photo Picture of Oregon's Three Fingered Jack Mountain from Canyon Creek Meadow

Photo Picture of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain from Canyon Creek Meadow

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.

Photo/image/picture of Bend Oregon's Shevlin Park in its autumn glory

Photo/image/picture of Bend Oregon’s Shevlin Park in its autumn glory

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.

Winter Sunrise on Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains

Winter Sunrise on Central Oregon’s Three Sisters Mountains

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,

Mike Putnam


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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

Photo of Alpenglow on Mt Washington in the Central Oregon Cascades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Visiting,

Mike Putnam


Central Oregon Sunrise Photos and the Three Sisters Mountains

I’ve often struggled with photos of our very own Three Sisters Mountains.  Although they form the dominant and very scenic backdrop for the city of Bend and the Central Oregon area, I’ve found it difficult to make more of a thin panoramic out of this iconic Central Oregon Photo subject.  A friend, Veronica, recently tipped me off that there were some nice lupines blooming along the shores of Tumalo Reservoir.  I immediately took a drive there and she was certainly correct.  I would like to thank her for the tip and if any of you readers have any other given locations that are particularly stunning, please let us know so we can quickly take a visit.

Photo of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains with a foreground of desert lupine as seen at sunrise

Photo of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains with a foreground of desert lupine as seen at sunrise

As you can see, the view of the Three Sisters is pretty stunning from this area of Central Oregon and the flowers aren’t bad either.  As these are desert lupines, they are a bit small, but very attractive.  There is some great hiking and horse back riding in this area and there’s no better time than now, before the trails get too dry and dusty, as they will later in the summer.  Next up is an image from the bridge at the east end of Tumalo reservoir.  My timing was good on this shot, in that there was some very attractive pre-dawn light filling the scene, and the shrubs in the foreground add some form and texture to the scene.

Picture of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains as seen just before sunrise at Tumalo Reservoir

Picture of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains as seen just before sunrise at Tumalo Reservoir

I’ve been to Tumalo Reservoir countless times but I’ve not seen a pre-dawn sky so pink and pleasant before.  In the following image, you’ll seen a solitary grouping of yellow flowers which have a short but vibrant life along the banks of Tumalo Reservoir.  After a bit of research, I’ve concluded that they are probably tansy leaved evening primrose.  They are a small beautiful flower that will only be around for a short time before the harsh desert heat cooks the life out of them, so go visit them soon.

Photo of tansy leaved evening primrose

Photo of tansy leaved evening primrose

Finally is one last photo of our beloved Central Oregon volcanoes, the Three Sisters as seen with what I think are Tansy leaved evening primrose in the foreground.  If any botanists are reading this blog entry and happen to know that I’ve mis-identified this flower, please contact me and let me know.

Photo of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains with evening primrose

Photo of Central Oregon's Three Sisters Mountains with evening primrose

The above photo, another of the Three Sisters Mountains of Central Oregon, has nice balance between the floral foreground and the alpine background.  All of the images in this blog entry and many others are available on our primary Stock Photography site, Pacific Crest Stock .


Oregon Stock Photos from the South Face of Three Fingered Jack

The climb up to the South Face of Three Fingered Jack is one of those ruggedly difficult hikes that is better measured in hours than miles.  I have attempted to summit this ridge many times over the last few winters, but Mother Nature has always intervened in one way or another to keep me from making it to the top.  My first few attempts were thwarted by disastrous route choices in which my journey ended abruptly at the bottom of cliffs that could not be navigated, and my next several trips ended a few feet from the summit when clouds or storms moved in that either covered the mountain or tried to blow me off of its edge. I tried again a few weeks ago (see previous blog entry), but the conditions were too difficult on that day and it ended up taking me much longer than anticipated.  After many hours of tough climbing, I was forced to turn around less than a mile from the top. 

 

 

View of Mount Washington and the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, looking south from the ridge below Three Fingered Jack.

View of Mount Washington and the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, looking south from the ridge below Three Fingered Jack.

 

 

Determined to finally make it to the summit before sunset, I drove over to Santiam Pass and started hiking around noon.  My ultimate goal was to be on the summit for sunset pictures, but honestly, the conditions didn’t look that great from a photography perspective, and secretly, I was really just hoping to finally make it to the top . . . even it mean that all I could do was scout around for future photo expeditions.  Because I couldn’t camp on the summit overnight, I also knew that being there for sunset meant that I would need to hike out long after dark. While packing up my gear, I decided to bring skis with me figuring that skiing back down the slopes would save me precious time on my return trip.  That decision was probably a good one, but the added weight from my skis and boots came with consequences. Consequences that occurred to me as I took my first step and felt my snowshoe sink through the soft, Spring snow.  The whole idea of snowshoes is that they help distribute your weight over a greater surface area, which allows you to float on top of the snow rather than post-holing through it.  Each snowshoe has a certain weight limit though, and once you throw a heavy pack onto your back and start hiking through warm, mid-day slush, all bets are off on whether or not the snowshoe will actually be able to hold up its end of the bargain.  On this day, the snowshoes did not necessarily work as designed.  They functioned fine some of the time, but I could never allow myself to get fully confident in them because every fourth or fifth step, the snow would give way and I would suddenly feel my weight dropping into a knee-deep hole.    

The added difficulty from repeatedly sinking through the snow was further compounded by the fact that there is no trail leading to the summit.  There are occasional views of the mountain during the approach, but for the most part, it’s just a gamble on whether or not you are actually heading in the right direction.  Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), I have done the hike enough times in the winter to know that the most direct route is not the correct route.  Through repeated trial and error, I have learned that the best way to reach the summit is to hike several miles to the east before ever attempting to go north toward the mountain.  Heading straight toward the mountain only ends in frustration at the fore-mentioned cliff band, while looping around from the east allows you to get on top of a ridgeline that winds its way to the summit.  After about two hours of climbing through open glades, I finally made it to the top of this ridge where I was greeted with a partial view of Three Fingered Jack.

 

 

View of Three Fingered Jack’s Pinnacles and the dreaded ridge line running up to it.

View of Three Fingered Jack’s Pinnacles and the dreaded ridge line running up to it.

 

 

When looking at the picture above, it is important to remember that distances can be incredibly deceiving in the mountains.  It’s kind of like being in Las Vegas and thinking that the casino “just over there” is within walking distance.  Anyone who tries to walk around in Vegas soon realizes that the casinos there are so massive that the distances between them become nearly impossible to judge.  Even after an hour of walking toward the casino that you thought was just a few minutes away, it seems as if you are no closer to it than when you started.  That’s what it’s like in the mountains, except that the mountains are even bigger than casinos, and sadly, there are no cocktail waitresses when you finally get there.

Although it doesn’t look like it would be possible, the summit of that snow-covered ridge in front of Three Fingered Jack is almost three hours away.  And those last three hours are some of the most difficult and challenging hours of hiking that you will find anywhere.  One of the features that makes the hike so difficult is that the route to the top is littered with hundreds of strange and impossible-to-navigate snow formations.  Winter storms fill the backcountry with winds blowing at incredible speeds, and over time, these winds sculpt the snow drifts into all sorts of bizarre shapes.  There are snow fields on this ridge with huge waves of snow that look like something from a Dr Seuss movie.  Each wave is like a 12-foot ocean swell that is frozen in place.  And there will be one wave after another, with no way around them but to backtrack and find a new route.  The photo above shows one example of what I’m talking about.  It also demonstrates how the waves are topped with huge cornices of snow.  These cornices are incredibly unstable and can break off and bury you without a sound if you make the foolish mistake of trying to climb up and over them rather than going around them.

In addition to all of the extra time and effort that it takes to backtrack around the snow swells, it becomes almost impossible to maintain a decent pace because the general pitch of the climb increases dramatically near the top.  After seeing the cornices precariously perched on the open-side of ridge, I decided to make my approach from within the tree line shown in the left-hand side of the photo above.  I chose this route because I was fairly concerned about avalanche conditions on the open, wind-packed side and because the trees gave me something to grab on to when the pitch became too steep to otherwise climb.  I spent the next few hours rhythmically working my way up through the trees.  Basically, I would make a series of kick steps into the vertical face of the ridge until I had a solid foot hold, then I would drop down to one knee for added stability in the snow while reaching my opposite hand up to the nearest tree branch in an attempt to pull my body up the hill as far as possible, all of the while trying to keep my skis (which were strapped to the outside of my backpack) from getting tangled in all of the other low-hanging branches.  Trust me, it was about as much fun as it sounds . . . but eventually, I made it to the top.

 

 

 Winter Photo of the West Face of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain Covered in Ice and Snow.

Winter Photo of the West Face of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain Covered in Ice and Snow.

 

 

I was immensely relieved to have finally made it to the summit.  Unfortunately, high clouds had moved in from the West and partially covered the sun, and there were gale force winds howling along the top of the ridge.  No matter, though.  I was on top and that was all that mattered to me at the moment.  Since the clouds were producing flat lighting conditions when I first arrived, I spent some time exploring along the top of the ridge in an attempt to find some interesting foreground compositions. 

 

 

 Photo of the author, Troy McMullin, scouting for photographs below the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack.

Photo of the author, Troy McMullin, scouting for photographs below the pinnacles of Three Fingered Jack.

 

 

I eventually found a spot I liked and set up my tripod.  Then, I sat down and took a well-deserved rest while listening to The Tallest Man on Earth on my iPod and hoping that the sun would eventually break through and give me some warmer light on the mountain.  Unfortunately, the light never got better than “lukewarm” and after an hour or so of waiting in the wind on top of the ridge it looked like my chances for a good sunset photograph of Three Fingered Jack were diminishing. 

 

 

Winter photo from high up on the shoulder of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain.

Winter photo from high up on the shoulder of Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack Mountain.

 

 

Rather than waiting for sunset and then needing to ski out at midnight, I decided that it would probably be best for me to start my descent early.  I followed my snowshoe tracks back down below the avalanche line and with the sun setting behind Maxwell Butte, I changed out of my snowshoes and into my ski boots.  I had some doubts about this decision after the first few tele-turns flooded my sore leg muscles with lactic acid, but over time, I eventually grew numb to the burning pain in my legs and I started enjoying some of the best (if slightly wobbly) glade skiing that I have done in years.  I survived a few close encounters with trees on my return trip, but overall, it was a very enjoyable ski and it suddenly seemed worthwhile to have packed my heavy skis and boots all of the way to the top.  I arrived at the Jeep about an hour after sunset, and even though I didn’t quite get the photos that I was hoping for, I was filled with the satisfaction of knowing that I finally made it to the top.  And now that I know that I can make it to the top, there’s nothing stopping me from trying it again.  I’ll keep you posted.

Posted by Troy McMullin

NOTE: If you want to see more pictures from this day, you can browse our “Cascade Mountains” gallery or search the main Pacific Crest Stock photography site for “Three Fingered Jack.”


Early Success in the Central Oregon Photo Market!

     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.

Our Mt Jefferson Photo on the cover of the soon to be released Visit Bend Publication.

Our Mt Jefferson Photo on the cover of the soon to be released Visit Bend 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.

Troy's photo of Mt Jefferson from Jefferson Park with red Indian Paintbrush in the foreground.

Troy's photo of Mt Jefferson from Jefferson Park with red Indian Paintbrush in the foreground.

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. 

Mike Putnam


Mt. Hood, Hood River and seasonal photo vacations

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?

 

Photo/picture of Mt. Hood and spring wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley in the Columbia River Gorge

Photo/picture of Mt. Hood and spring wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley in the Columbia River Gorge

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.

 

JoJo and Emma giggling in the wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley

JoJo and Emma giggling in the wildflowers high above the Hood River Valley

     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.  

Photo/picture ofMt. Hood and wildflower meadow in the Columbia River Gorge

Photo/picture ofMt. Hood and wildflower meadow in the Columbia River Gorge

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

photo/picture of Lupines and Balsamroot in the Columbia River Gorge

photo/picture of Lupines and Balsamroot in the Columbia River Gorge

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.  

Emma on a sunny spring day in the Hood River Valley

Emma on a sunny spring day in the Hood River Valley

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   mike@pacificcreststock.com or call (541) 610-4815

Posted by Mike Putnam

All images are copyrighted and exclusively the property of Mike Putnam/Pacific Crest Stock


Killer Rattlesnakes and Photos from Central Oregon’s Alder Springs Trail!

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.

The Three Sisters and Broken top as seen from near the Alder Springs Trail Head

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.  

Moody skies over the Whychus Creek Canyon along the Alder Springs Trail

Moody skies over the Whychus Creek Canyon along the Alder Springs 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.  

Bitterroot blossoms as seen along the Alder Springs trail in Central Oregon

Bitterroot blossoms as seen along the Alder Springs trail in Central Oregon

 

 

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.  

 

Balsamroot flowers and Basalt columns along the Alder Springs Trail near Sisters, Oregon

Balsamroot flowers and Basalt columns along the Alder Springs Trail near Sisters, Oregon

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.

Lichen covered basalt columns at sunset high above Whychus Creek along the Alder Springs Trai

Lichen covered basalt columns at sunset high above Whychus Creek along the Alder Springs Trail

 

 

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