With the New Year starting, it’s fun to think back over the past few months and reflect on what was another great season of adventure in Central Oregon. This past summer started out a little rough (e.g., watching my camera and tripod tumble off of a 200-foot cliff), but it eventually gave way to a reasonably fruitful year. My efforts did not produce as many pure landscape images as I would have liked, but I tried to keep my options open and find a few good photos on every hike. That typically defaulted to me striking a pose in front of various Central Oregon landmarks–which is not exactly the fine art I would have liked to capture, but then again, I have a tough time passing on an opportunity to add to Pacific Crest Stock’s ever-growing Outdoor Adventure Gallery . . . so, here is a brief summary of some of my favorite hikes from 2010.
Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area: This was one of those impossibly challenging cross-country (i.e., “no trail”) treks that I planned (rather poorly) using Google Earth and a hefty dose of optimism. Although the approach looked fairly easy online, I quickly realized that I had been deceived and within a half-hour of leaving the Jeep, I was decidedly happy that I had chosen not to invite anyone else along on this little adventure. Anyone else would have surely killed me for dragging them up and down these remote valleys in what turned out to be a failed attempt to reach a never-before-visited viewpoint of Mount Jefferson. I thought for sure I was going to be killed and eaten by bears before making it out of the Wilderness on this day. About mid-way through the hike, I changed course and headed for the safety of the Jefferson Park area. This viewpoint isn’t quite what I planned, but then again, dying in the jowls of a hungry bear wasn’t necessarily part of the plan either.
Ochoco Mountains: This hike started out as a fairly nice evening stroll up along a wildflower-filled trail in the Ochoco Mountains. There’s a great viewpoint at the top of Lookout Mountain, but if you stay to take sunset pictures (like the one below), you better have a headlamp or be prepared to trail run out in the dark. Guess which one I did. Yep, I found myself sprinting back to the Jeep in total darkness. Real smart.
Smith Rock: These photos were taken on a great mountain biking trip to Smith Rock State Park near Terrebonne, Oregon. If you haven’t ridden at Smith Rock, put it on your list of 2011 Resolutions. It’s one of the most surreal places you will ever ride.
Three Sisters Wilderness: I was fortunate enough to get into the Three Sisters backcountry area on several different occasions in 2010. Each of these trips ranks among my favorites for the year.
Crooked River Canyon: Central Oregon has so many great desert scenes, it’s hard to choose where to go first. I spent quite bit of time this past Spring exploring the peaks and valleys surrounding the Deschutes River and Crooked River. Here are a few photos from some of my favorite desert hikes:
Other Miscellaneous Trips: There were lots of other great days in the past year where I was lucky enough to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Here are a few miscellaneous photos from some of those days:
I hope that 2011 is as good to me as 2010. Cheers!
Posted by Troy McMullin
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