Please check out the High Desert Gallery at our main Pacific Crest Stock website. Troy recently uploaded some new images that are ripe for licensing. He has been hard at work this spring and summer shooting some of the best desert scenery in the inter mountain west. The following image is just one example of the amazing topography and rock formations that can be found in Oregon’s High Desert. This particular image was captured in the “Blue Basin” which is located in the John Day Painted Hills area of Eastern Oregon.
Troy has been working particularly hard at capturing images from some of Central Oregon’s newer trails. In the Crooked River Ranch area there are several great new trails worth checking out. These new trails can be preview by visiting the following link to our Pacific Crest Stock website. Pacific Crest Stock. The following images were captured at a few of these new trails. There are many more like it viewable at our website!
Troy has also been busy exploring around Smith Rock, which is Central Oregon’s most famous desert destination. We think these images are definitely ripe for licensing.
If any of our readers have suggestions as to where Troy should go for his next great High Desert image, please leave a message at the end of this blog entry!
Thanks for Reading,
Although Central Oregon is probably best known for all of its winter and summer fun, we think it might actually be at its best during autumn. Between the months of September and October, the Central Oregon towns of Bend, Sisters, Camp Sherman, and Sunriver are blessed with reliably sunny days, cool clear nights, and absolutely spectacular fall color. If you haven’t experienced autumn in Central Oregon, you’re really missing out on a special time. To help get you get started on planning next year’s vacation, the Pacific Crest Stock Photography team has pasted some suggestions below with photos from some of our favorite fall-time trails and activities.
Ten Things to Do During Central Oregon’s Autumn Months
1. Go hiking in the lava flows around the Three Sister Wilderness Area. There are many different lava flows to choose from within a short drive of Bend, Sunriver, or Sisters. Most of the lava flows are interspersed with vine maples and other vegetation, which turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow during the autumn months.
2. Go biking through a grove of aspen trees. Some of the best groves of aspen trees are found along the Deschutes River or Tumalo Creek Basin near Bend, the Ochoco National Forest outside of Prineville, the High Desert Museum between Bend and Sunriver, or near Black Butte Ranch along the outskirts of Sisters.
3. Go hiking or biking on the Deschutes River Trail. The Deschutes River Trail is a real gem of a trail that runs through the Deschutes National Forest and connects the towns of Bend and Sunriver. It contains several beautiful waterfalls and large groves of Ponderosa pine, larch trees, and aspen trees. This is a perfect place to hike or bike with small children.
4. Go explore the forest service roads bordering the Mount Washington Wilderness Area. There is a wonderful network of roads that runs between highways 126 and 242 just outside of Sisters, Oregon. The roads provide access to the Mount Washington Wilderness Area and also provide great wide-open views of Black Butte, Three Fingered Jack, and Three Sisters Mountains. In September and October, the roads explode with fall color. For more information and photos from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, see our previous entry.
5. Go biking or rock climbing at Smith Rock State Park. Smith Rock State Park is always a magical place to visit, but it is especially nice in autumn when the banks of the Crooked River are alive with color. Because of its desert location, Smith Rock also tends to stay a few degrees warmer than the surrounding mountain towns of Bend, Sunriver and Sisters. This makes it an especially nice road trip on cooler October days. For more information and photos from Smith Rock State Park, see our previous entry.
6. Go visit the Camp Sherman Store and the Wizard Falls trout hatchery on the Metolius River. The world-famous Metolius River and the locally-loved Camp Sherman Store are two of the most special places in Central Oregon. The Metolius River puts on one of the most colorful autumn displays in the region, and between the fly fishing and hiking opportunities along the banks of the river, the trout-viewing at the Wizard Falls hatchery, and the awesomely huge sandwiches and well-stocked selection of local microbrews at the Camp Sherman Store, this stop belongs on your list of “must-do” activities. This is also a perfect place to hike with small children, and if your little ones need a little extra motivation, it might be nice to know that the Camp Sherman Store offers a large selection of penny candy (yes, a penny!). For more information and photos from the Metolius River, see our previous entry.
7. Go for a drive over McKenzie Pass. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the drive up and over McKenzie Pass is one of the most scenic drives in North America. It offers a fascinating tour through the middle of a huge lava flow that is surrounded on both sides by touring Cascade Mountain peaks. There are tons of short hikes and explorations that can be accessed from the road over McKenzie Pass. After the highway closes in late autumn, the McKenzie Pass area also becomes one of region’s premier biking destinations. For more information and photos, see our previous entries about McKenzie Pass or the McKenzie River.
8. Go hiking or biking on the North Fork Trail above Tumalo Falls. Although many visitors know about Tumalo Falls, few people venture beyond the top of the first waterfall. The real secret about this area is that there are at least another half-dozen impressive waterfalls hiding just a short ways up the trail. Hikers usually make the trip as an out-and-back adventure. Bikers are allowed only on the uphill section of the trail, so if you’re on a bike, continue past the last waterfall at the 3.5 mile mark, ride through the wide open Happy Valley and then cross over the stream to your right. After crossing the stream, the path continues along a section of the Metolius-Windigo Trail before dropping back down to the parking lot on the opposite side of Tumalo Falls via the Farewell Bend Trail. The entire loop is about 11 miles. For more information and photos from the Tumalo Falls area, see our previous entry.
9. Go fly fishing at one of Central Oregon’s many high alpine lakes or spring-fed streams. Central Oregon is blessed with a huge collection of high alpine lakes and spring-fed trout streams, which makes it a fisherman’s paradise. You could spend years visiting all of the lakes and streams hidden in the woods along the Cascade Lakes Highway, Santiam Pass, or McKenzie Pass, and never have to fish the same place twice. Grab your fly rod and go exploring. You know there’s a lunker waiting for you in the ripple.
10. Go for a drive over Santiam Pass. In autumn, the drive over Santiam Pass looks like something from a fairy tale. The windy, two-lane highway hugs the shoulder of the Santiam Rivers’ North Fork for many miles, and there is a splendid display of bright red vine maples nearly the entire way between summit of the pass (4,800 feet) and Detroit Lake (1,400 feet). This is definitely the route of choice if you’re coming to Central Oregon from Salem or Portland.
NOTE: Many of the activities above involve hiking or biking through our region’s National Forest areas. In autumn, it is important to remember that hikers and bikers are often sharing these areas with big-game hunters. As always, appropriate precautions and good common sense are highly recommended when venturing into the forest during hunting season.
To license these or any of our other stunning Central Oregon images, please visit our Oregon stock photos site, Pacific Crest Stock
Posted by Troy McMullin
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.”
This blog entry is more of a public service announcement than an overwhelming show of photographic talent. My daughter, Emma, and I recently hiked the Flatirons Rock Trail in the proposed Badlands Wilderness area located about 16 miles East of Bend, Oregon and desert wildflowers there are about as good as I’ve ever seen them. It is a perfect time for a hike in the Badlands so that you can appreciate how beautiful of an area it is. Local groups, including the good people at ONDA-Oregon Natural Desert Association have done an immense amount of work to establish this wonderful place as a fully protected wilderness area.
It is my opinion that this special area of Central Oregon should be protected as soon as possible. Lots of good reasons back up my opinion on this issue, including: 1. It is beautiful and accessible for a huge portion of the year as it’s desert climate usually keeps this area free of snow in the winter when alpine trails are only available to hardcore backcountry skiers. 2. A huge majority of the residents of Bend and Central Oregon support the idea of this area becoming an official Wilderness Area. 3. This area is much better protected now that it is a proposed wilderness area than it probably was previously. I’ve spent lots of time in many of the desert areas around Bend, Oregon, mostly scouting for stock photos. Virtually everywhere in the desert areas I’ve been to, with the exception of the Badlands study area, I’ve been shocked by the amount of garbage that has been dumped randomly around these otherwise beautiful areas. I’m of the opinion that garbage begets more garbage. When a place becomes downtrodden with debris, a misconception develops that it is OK to litter and otherwise pollute in that area. I don’t know how the Badlands study area looked 15 years ago, but is virtually free of any sort of debris currently and I do know how non-study desert areas look today, and it’s not good.
If establishing any desert area as preserves it as well as the Badlands area has been, then I am in favor of the protection. I won’t go into the nuances of what activities are restricted and which are not in Wilderness areas but I will say that wilderness areas are open to all people but not necessarily all uses, which is more than fair.
The entire sixish mile long loop trail to flatiron rock was decorated with pockets of color like the wildflowers shown above, which I think are some sort of desert aster. There were also countless old growth juniper trees along the trail. Their ancient and severe form exude character and determination. Their ability to defy time and the harsh high desert climate in the Oregon desert should earn them the respect of any in tune naturalist. I’ve heard that some of the older juniper trees in this area are over 1,000 years old. Amazing!
As the desert is a…..desert, you’ll want to bring sunblock and water and snacks for the family. As summer is beginning to heat up, I’d also recommend you plan your trips in the morning or evening as your hiking will be a bit more pleasant if you can avoid the mid-day heat. The following photo is of a wildflower that I believe is called a “phacelia” which has beautiful lavender colored blooms and like many of the desert wildflowers, it has a very short blooms season, so go for a hike soon if you want to see the phacelia in bloom this year.
This pretty little flower fades from lavender to a lighter lavender to a light green on the inside of the bloom and it has a pleasing glow about it, making it one of my favorite desert wildflowers. The following flowers in the foreground of a classic desert scene are desert monkeyflowers. Their rich pink blooms with yellow centers provide a striking display of color in what would otherwise be an earth-toned palette along the Flatiron trail. This appears to be a great year for monkeyflowers in the Oregon high desert.
In the mid-ground of the above high desert photo are some yellow flowers which are shown in the following photo.
The above flowers, “Oregon Sunshine” are some of the happiest flowers anywhere. In years of high spring precipitation, like this one, they can almost form mats of cheerful yellow flowers. They are another of the bonuses found along the Flatiron trail if you can get there soon. The next to last image in this blog entry Taken in the Flatiron rock formation is of my favorite photo model and hiking, partner, Emma, who also happens to be my daughter! She was a wonderful companion throughout the hike, as she always is. She was also very patient with my photographic habits. All these traits plus she makes me smile everyday, make me feel very lucky.
I should mention that the brief hike to the top of the Flatiron rock formation is well worth the extra effort as the views of the Central Oregon Cascades over the high desert are stunning.
The take home message from this story is that if you live in Central Oregon, now is a great time to experience the beauty of the the proposed Badlands Wilderness area east of Bend, Oregon. The wildflowers won’t last long so get out soon and when you return from your desert adventure, contact your senator and tell them that The Badlands should be permanently protected as a fully designated Wilderness area! For more info regarding the Badlands, please visit ONDA’s website.
For more photos of the beautiful desert areas of Central Oregon, please visit our main stock photo website, Pacific Crest Stock by clicking the following link….High Desert photos.
Thanks for visiting,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 feel the need to write this blog entry because my friend and partner in Pacific Crest Stock , Troy McMullin, is shy. OK, maybe not shy but he is humble. If you’ve read any of his blog entries here on the Pacific Crest Stock Photography Blog, you’ll notice a theme of self-deprecating humor. Despite his many talents, Troy has always been humble almost to a fault yet his passion for Oregon stock photos drives him to continue to improve his photography. Despite being one of the smartest people I know, very quick witted, a dedicated family man, a home improvement wiz(this might be an exaggeration, but he did repaint some of his house last weekend!), and a remarkable endurance athlete (he’s consistently finished well in the Central Oregon Pole Pedal Paddle race in the individual men’s category), he is also an excellent photographer. It’s been fun watching Troy’s progression from a tiny point and shoot camera to the Pro-Canon 5D that he currently shoots. His work has improved accordingly to the point that he is a highly talented Professional Photographer. It’s pretty Cool! To support my argument that Troy, despite his arguments to the contrary, has become an excellent photographer, I give you the following evidence!
Yeah, that is Troy’s photo on the cover of the newly released annual report for PremierWest Bank. The shot looks great, the cover looks great, and the graphics are great. The back cover(which I might like even better) is also pretty exceptional. It is seen below.
I love how the fence on the back cover draws me into the image. When the annual report is opened up you can see the entire image, which doubles the effect of this Oregon Stock Photo. Troy took this image while on a photography journey in the Strawberry Mountain area of Eastern Oregon, which he recently documented in a Blog entry and which can be found here, Eastern Oregon Gems. Please visit that link to read Troy’s story about capturing this excellent stock photo. Troy will argue that this image is a result of an impulsive reaction to an attractive cloud formation but I beg to differ. I think that this is the sort of shot that only a great stock photographer captures. He recognized great photographic subject matter that was not his target for the day. He then temporarily changed his plans, and worked with what was available (great field, great fence, great clouds and great mountains) to capture a great stock photo. Frankly, this is one of the best Eastern Oregon photos I’ve ever seen!
A special thanks goes out to the good people at PremierWest Bank for licensing our image. Kaleene Connelly and the rest of the PremierWest team were great to work with as they were professional and personable throughout the whole licensing process. Thank You PremierWest Bank!
Incidentally, I’d like to thank another contact at PremierWest, Deanna Crouser. She is the Manager of the Redmond, Oregon branch of PremierWest, another very professional, organized and likable PremierWest employee. I’m not sure if she had any influence on the good people in the PremierWest graphics and marketing department finding us at Pacific Crest Stock but if she did, Thanks to her too! A couple of years ago I negotiated with Deanna regarding some Fine art prints for their Redmond branch. The Prints did not work out but Deanna did buy a print for her personal fine art collection. Thanks to Deanna for that and thanks for the possible referral!
Finally, congratulations to Troy for a great cover shot and another great Oregon Stock photo in his collection. Troy, don’t be so humble! To see more of Troy’s excellent photos, please visit his portfolio on our Pacific Crest Stock website. Troy’s Portfolio
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!
It’s amazing how much difference a few thousand feet of elevation can make. Right now, we have warm weather and dry hiking trails in Bend (3,600 feet), while the mountains (10,000 feet) a few miles away are still covered with more than 10 feet of snow. We can downhill or Nordic ski in the mornings and mountain bike or kayak in the afternoons.
Driving from Bend to the coast right now provides even more seasonal diversity. After cresting the snow-covered Santiam Pass (4,800 feet), the highway quickly starts losing elevation as it drops down to Detroit Lake (1,400 feet) and then eventually makes its way to sea level. While the higher elevation eastern side of the pass is still stuck somewhere in the late winter doldrums, the western side is in full-blown Spring and Summer. The trees along the Santiam River and all of the way to the coast are currently budding in all sorts of beautiful colors. In a way, traveling from the Cascade Mountains to the coast right now is sort of like time traveling several months ahead because these areas are in two completely different seasons.
My family and I recently had the chance to do a little time traveling during a weekend excursion to the Central Oregon Coast. Julie (my wife) had just finished working another long tax season and we all felt like we needed a little escape, so we took the kids over to the coast for a mini-vacation. It was an amazing drive, and hard to believe just how far ahead the seasons had progressed in the lower elevation towns compared to Bend. Everything looked completely different in the future (Spring/Summer).
We arrived at Pacific City about an hour before sunset, and while the kids tried roller skating on the beach (which I knew wouldn’t work, but sometimes you just got to let them try anyway), I strapped on my camera pack and climbed up onto the cliffs above Cape Kiwanda. I could tell the sunset wasn’t going to be overly dramatic, but I found a nice spot overlooking the big headwall, snapped a few photos, and then headed back toward my family to help clean sand from the kids’ roller skates.
The next day was an absolutely wonderful day. It was warm and sunny, and there was no wind blowing on the beach. In other words, it was basically like a mid-summer day by coastal standards. The kids played in the ocean for a while, and then we took a day trip down to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Rogue Brewery, both of which are located in Newport, Oregon. After leaving Newport, we went a few miles farther south to Seal Rock State Park. I’ve seen several great photos from Seal Rock, and since I knew that low tide was occurring around sunset, I figured that we might as well go explore around on the beach for awhile. We stopped and picked up some firewood and marshmallows and then set out for the beach to do a little photo scouting.
Unfortunately, the low tide wasn’t really all that low on this particular day (about 4 feet above sea level), and therefore, some of the beach’s most interesting rock formations and tide pools didn’t get exposed. I set up my camera and tripod several different times hoping for something magical, but after looking at the scenes again in my viewfinder, I just wasn’t all that moved by them so I packed up my gear and never even clicked the shutter. All-in-all, it looked like Julie and the kids were having much more fun than me, so I decided to put away the camera and go play with them until the sun got a little lower on the horizon.
After running around on the beach for a while longer, Julie and I built a campfire and sat back sipping on a couple of “Mommy and Daddy drinks” while the kids roasted marshmallows. As usual, Jacob was drawn to the campfire. I kept waiting for him to pull his shirt over his head and start screaming “Fire! Fire!” like some old Beavis and Butthead episode. The next two pictures illustrate the dramatic difference in marshmallow roasting techniques that are used by my two older kids. Notice how Ella (6 years old) stays so far back from the fire that her marshmallows stay about the same temperature that they were in the grocery store, while Jacob (4 years old) is not bashful at all about sticking his deep into the fire and watching them burn to a crisp. Julie and I eventually had to draw a circle in the sand several feet away from the fire just to keep Jacob from pulling a truly Beavis-like move.
The later it got, the less and less likely it seemed that the sunset was going to turn toward the dramatic side, so I walked down to the water’s edge and snapped the following photo, and then we headed back up the Pacific Coast Highway to Pacific City.
The next day was an equally beautiful day on the coast. We spent most of the morning sitting out on the deck, eating ice cream and enjoying the summer temperatures and then we headed back home . . . and back in time . . . to the winterscape of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Posted by Troy McMullin
NOTE: To see more of our coastal images, please click the following link: Pacific Coast Images
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.
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
I’m amazed that I don’t see more pictures from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, which is located just outside of Sisters, Oregon. It is one of my favorite places in Central Oregon; a virtual Mecca of possible explorations.
Perhaps one of the reasons that few photographers have experience with Mount Washington is that there are almost no trails leading into its base. To get to the cover shots, it takes a moderately good fitness level, some very good navigation skills, and a ton of patience. For example, two of my favorite approaches into Mount Washington require 10-mile cross-country slogs through a maze of beetle-downed lodge pole pine trees. To say that the terrain is “littered” with downfall is a gross understatement. There are sections where you literally hike for an hour on nothing but downed trees. With every exhausting stride, you are either stepping up onto a fallen tree or down off of a fallen tree. One gap in concentration, and you run the risk of twisting a knee and being stranded in the very dense (and non-cell-phone- friendly) forest.
But still, the rewards are totally worth it. In all of my trips into the backcountry surrounding Mount Washington, I have never seen another soul. I’ve occasionally heard the voices of climbers on the upper slopes, but I’ve never run into anyone. I think it is one of the most isolated and beautiful settings in all of Oregon.
In some ways, this area is even more inviting and easier to access in the winter or early spring because huge snow drifts cover most of the fallen trees. Each year, I like to wait for the forest service roads to melt off a little (so I can drive in as far as possible), and then I snowshoe or ski into the Eastern or Northern faces of Mount Washington. This time of year, snow and ice still cling to the mountain’s huge rocky face giving it an even greater sense of awe. Standing at its base, the Teton-esque vertical rise from the valley below is nothing short of spectacular.
Posted by Troy McMullin
NOTE: If you want to see additional images from the Mount Washington Wilderness Area, you can browse the pictures in the Mountain Gallery on our Pacific Crest Stock photography site or search the site for “Mount Washington.”
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