Liking Lichens

Liking Lichens

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59874

One of my favorite quirky subjects I love to photograph are lichens. Lichens grow just about everywhere but unfortunately are unappreciated by most people. They are some of the oldest organisms found on land, dating back perhaps 600 million years. They live in some of the most extreme conditions and are an important food source for animals such as caribou. For humans they are a natural source of antibiotics and pigments. Lichens are also an indicator of clean air as they will not grow in the presence of  pollutants.

During my recent visit to Cottonwood State Park in Oregon I saw some outstanding lichen colonies. A large outcropping of columnar basalt which remains in shade harbored a beautiful display in many striking colors. Juxtaposed against the interesting patterns and cracks of crystallized basalt, the lichens made a wonderful abstract study.

Admittedly this kind of subject matter isn’t appealing to everyone, but I had a great time picking out interesting compositions.

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59895

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens #59869

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensLichens and Basalt #59897

Lichens on basalt, Liking LichensBasalt and Lichens #59881

Liking Lichens
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John Day River Oregon

John Day River Oregon

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59904

This post will begin a series of recaps from my recent spring photography trip. My first stop was Cottonwood Canyon State Park, along the lower John Day River Oregon. This is Oregon’s newest state park and it was a pleasure to visit. As you can see from the photos the surrounding country is part of the Coloumbia Plateau, with the John Day River cutting canyons through the flood basalt. The nature of this geology helps the river create many scenic winding turns and horseshoe bends.

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59852

Visiting this area in early spring offers cool green hillsides sprinkled with a variety of wildflowers. Most notably Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and Desert Parsley (Lomatium laevigatum). Later in the season the hills will turn a golden brown, and the weather will be much hotter. The park was donated by a local ranching family and contains several remnants of its past, such as a picturesque red barn and some farming implements. A small campground is located right along the river where several nice riverside trails begin. If you’re not into natural history or photography the river is supposedly great for fishing and the spring runoff offers excellent rafting.

Red Barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon John Day River OregonRed barn Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59841

Hiker John Day River OregonJohn Day River Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon #59797

Photography, of course, was the main reason for my visit. The goal was finding some nice views of the river bends. This proved however to be a bit of a challenge as many of the best bends were inaccessible by road or foot. After scouring Google Maps I did manage to find a backroad close to the canyon rim with a nice view. My research showed the best horseshoe bend view is situated about an hour drive south of the park. The weather forecast didn’t look good enough to make the trip worth it though. That one will have to wait until my next trip to the area.

John Day River OregonDesert Parsley, John Day River, Oregon #59858

A couple words of warning if you visit this quiet and special area. All unsurfaced roads can be impassable to vehicles after a rain, they turn into a gluey gumbo. Trust me on this, I once almost got stuck and had to wait a couple of days for the road to dry out before I could safely proceed. Rattlesnakes are common, and in spring ticks can be a problem. Also in late spring and summer the temperature can be very hot, with little shade to provide relief.

If you’d like to see more photos from this area you can search John Day River or Cottonwood Canyon State Park on my website. All photos can be licensed for editorial or commercial use or also be purchased as prints. Thanks for viewing and please pass this post along to your friends!

John Day River OregonJohn Day River, Oregon #59912

John Day River Oregon

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New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park Oregon

New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park Oregon

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park #53874  New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonSol Duc Falls Olympic National Park #53874

I’ve just finished editing and processing and uploading all the photos from my recent trip to Olympic National Park Washington and Ecola State Park Oregon. Take a look by clicking here. This trip was very successful as I came back with a wide variety of photos ranging from waterfalls and rain forests to coastal scenes and a special portfolio of black and white images.

Over the years I’ve travelled to Olympic National Park many times but this on this trip I made a point of spending extra time at most areas to expand my portfolio, most notably the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Falls and La Push. Fortunately for the most park the weather and light was very cooperative when and where I needed it most, nice overcast in the forests and dramatic evening light on the coast. One surprise was when photographing one day on the Oregon Coast, the weather was drizzly with some persistent fog, however when driving along Highway 101 along the cliffs of Neahkahnie Mountain there was a nice break in the clouds. There were several nice scenic pullouts on the road so I quickly set up my gear to photograph the higher clouds above the fog lit up from the setting sun, quite an unusual experience.

Please feel free to share this post and comment, thanks!

All the images in this post and website are available as Fine Art Prints and for commercial licensing. Click on an the desired image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

Oregon Coast #54107 New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonClearing fog over the Oregon Coast #54107

Lake Crescent Olympic National Park #53919 New Images Olympic National Park Washington Ecola State Park OregonLake Crescent Olympic National Park #53919

Hoh Rain Forest Olympic National Park #54042Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park #54042

All the images in this post and website are available as Fine Art Prints and for commercial licensing. Click on an the desired image and then ADD TO CART to purchase.

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New Images Palouse Waterfalls John Day River

New Images / Palouse, Waterfalls, John Day River

Sunset over Palouse wheat fields Washington #51671 New Images / Palouse, Waterfalls, John Day River

Sunset over the Palouse #51671

It’s now been around two weeks since the end of my last trip and the first batch of images is now online and ready for viewing and licensing. You can check out the full portfolio of  new images here. Although the bulk of editing and processing from the remainder of the trip is still ahead this group represents a significant addition to my files. As I mentioned in a previous post while on the road, it’s been quite a few years since I was able to make a trip to the Palouse region in late spring, this year’s effort made up for lost time and paid of well. I had several instances of exceptional light and coupled with endless driving to scout good locations the final takes were beyond what I had initially hoped for. One new addition to the area since my last visit is a group of wind turbines not far from Steptoe Butte. These turbines are popping up in masses everywhere across the country and in many scenic areas can be a blight on the landscape. Here in the Palouse I have mixed feelings on the issue. I would hate to see the Palouse area overrun with these turbines but this wind farm contains a small number of units (for now) and is  set a decent distance away from most of the photographic compositions. In this instance I found them to be somewhat picturesque and was happy to add them to my stock files since photos of energy issues can sell fairly well.

Wind turbines Palouse Washington #51711 New Images / Palouse, Waterfalls, John Day River

Wind turbines on the Palouse #51711

Other locations in this new group are the John Day Wild and Scenic River of Oregon, Palouse Falls State Park, and a few new waterfall additions from both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River Gorge. The John Day area had mixed results, since although I wasn’t able to access several remote areas on my list I was finally able to photograph Sheep Rock in some nice evening light after a spring storm passed through. The valley Sheep Rock is situated in is a short drive from the more popular Painted Hills. I like this quiet area with the John Day River running through it among small farms and ranches, it’s not as visually dramatic as the Painted Hills but with the right light there are many spots that are worth photographing.

The next group of images I’ll be working on include Grand Teton National Park, where I had some of the most dramatic lighting of the trip, SW Montana, Yellowstone National Park, and Bighorn Canyon National Monument. Hopefully this group won’t take as long to post.

John Day Wild and Scenic River Oregon #51424 New Images / Palouse, Waterfalls, John Day River

John Day Wild and Scenic River Oregon #51424

John Day Wild and Scenic River Oregon #51434 New Images / Palouse, Waterfalls, John Day River

John Day Wild and Scenic River Oregon #51434

Don’t forget to hit the Like button and share this post with your friends and colleagues, and of course your comments are always welcome!

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John Day River Oregon Trip Update

John Day River Oregon Trip Update : For another day or two I’ll be photographing in The Palouse of Washington State, finishing up the first leg of a long photography trip. So far I’ve experienced a mix of sun and plenty of rain showers, which on one dirt road in Oregon halted my progress for a full day due to slippery muddy conditions. The unsettled weather conditions, however, set the stage for some wonderful light, making photography a joy.

John DaySheep Rock John Day Fossil Beds National Monument #51655 John Day River Oregon Trip Update

Sheep Rock and John Day River #51655

A couple of highlights have been photographing a few off the beaten track wateralls in the Columbia River Gorge followed by several days along the John Day Wild and Scenic River of Oregon. Most photographers are familiar with the famous Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, however the surrounding area is also ripe for exploring and photographing. Armed with a good map there are many reaches of the John Day River and surrounding volcanic cliffs that yield wonderful photographic compositions. Just make sure the dirt roads are dry before you venture onto them!

On Monday or Tuesday I’ll start heading to SW Montana to begin photographing several selected locations in the Beaverhead Bitterroot region, Bannack Sate Park ghost town for one. After several days in this area it’s then down to the Snake River and Grand Teton National Park.

Ruckel Creek Oregon #51491 John Day River Oregon Trip Update

Ruckel Creek, Columbia River Gorge Oregon #51491

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Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers

Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers: These images are from our first night photographing at Rowena Crest in the Columbia River Gorge, we spent three days here before heading down to the California Coast for the main subject matter of this shoot. Photographing Columbia River Gorge wildflowers has become a spring ritual for photographers in the Pacific Northwest. Beginning in the last weeks of April and into the first part of May hillsides along the eastern half of the Gorge begin to bloom with a variety of colorful wildflowers, most notably  bright yellow Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and blue Broadleaf Lupines (Lupinus latifolius) among others. It’s of note that you can find these displays of spring wildflowers on hillsides all up and down the drier eastern half of the Cascades. While Rowena Crest is perhaps the most famous and popular with photographers there are plenty of other spectacular spots such as nearby Dalles Mountain Ranch and areas further north near Leavenworth and Winthrop Washington.

Rowena Crest wildflowers, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon #50954 Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers

Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers #50954

The biggest challenge for a photographer here is the wind. The Gorge is a natural funnel for winds howling both east and west depending on the seasons. It can be amazingly frustrating to come all this way and be greeted by wonderful displays of flowers in spectacular light and be halted from photographing them by the incessant winds. Waiting for a calm day and photographing in early morning just before and after dawn are about the only options, so it’s best to set aside some time and be patient. Amazingly on this trip there was very little wind and the wildflowers stood still and were a joy to photograph, plus there were only a couple other photographers sharing the meadows with me.  Another challenge worth mentioning is that during this time of the year ticks can be a big problem. Since you will most likely be kneeling and or sitting on the ground to compose images you’ll become a prime target. This year wasn’t too bad for me, I only found a couple of the little buggers crawling up my hand as I drove back to the campsite.

If you go be sure to bring a good steady tripod, cable or electronic release, and your gradual neutral density filters (I’m not a big fan of digital exposure blending and other HDR techniques), all these items are essential for successful photography here. Also while normal to super wide angle lenses are what you’ll probably use the most, a short telephoto may also come in handy. If you’re like me and would rather camp out, the nearest sites are at Viento State Park about 20 miles west of Rowena Crest, however this park and most others in the Gorge can be very noisy due to the proximity of the highway and railroad.

Rowena Crest wildflowers, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon #51000 Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers

Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers #51000

Rowena Crest wildflowers, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon #50988 Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers

Columbia River Gorge Wildflowers #50988

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Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip: April was a productive month for me, with the finish and launching of the new website and a flurry of successful shorts trips to the Skagit Valley to photograph the tulip fields. Now that I have the tables clear of those projects I can move on to some road trips. Next in line for Spring is a two week photography trip to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and then down to the Big Sur on the California Coast.

Ponytail Falls, Columbia River Gorge #47675 Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Ponytail Falls Columbia River Gorge Oregon #47675

As most photographers know the Columbia River Gorge is a must visit this time of year. The mid to higher elevations in the region are still locked in the grip of winter so the Gorge is an especially enticing destination for those needing to get out in the fresh air and stretch those legs. The forests are vibrant green and intoxicatingly scented with new growth, waterfalls and stream are rushing with clear cold water, and on the eastern side the wildflowers are blooming in a riot of color. During last year’s trip to the Gorge I greatly expanded my files with general images of the forests streams and waterfalls. This year I’ll be working on a few specific falls that I missed but the main subject will be photographing the wildflowers on the eastern side of the Gorge, notable Roweena Plateau and Dalles Mountain Ranch.

After working for three or four days in the Columbia River Gorge I’ll be heading down to the Big Sur area of the California Coast, with Garrapatta and Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Parks being the main focus here. Of course while in the area I’ll have to make the pilgrimage to Point Lobos and Carmel, the photographic Mecca of the Coast and home of one of my favorite photographers, Edward Weston. This will be my first visit to this section of the coast so I’m pretty excited about adding new images from here to my files. On the way back, if time allows, I’ll make a short stop stop to photographer Mount Shasta from a few spots I scouted out a few years back.

Balsamroot Columbia River Gorge #47843 Columbia River Gorge Big Sur Photography Trip

Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) Columbia River Gorge Oregon #47843

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New Images Wyoming Oregon Montana Washington

New Images Wyoming Oregon Montana Washington: I’m happy to announce that all the images from my recent Summer Tour of Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington have been processed edited and are now online. Over the course of the tour I was able to photograph in three national parks and four wilderness areas. Due too the hot dry summer throughout the West at times it was a challenge to photograph some of the prime locations due to persistent smoky haze from wildfires burning in Idaho and California. This was especially true in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, however in Yellowstone National Park the haze actually helped to produce several striking sunsets.Grand Teton Sunset, Wyoming #49377 New Images Wyoming Oregon Montana Washington

Grand Teton National Park 49377

To view a portfolio of highlights from all the locations go to our Portfolio Website. For an expanded in depth look my Stock Website has a gallery of over selected 150 images and there are even more organized into U.S. States Galleries. All of the images are ready for commercial licensing downloading and fine art prints. Here is a list of locations visited on this trip.

  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Jefferson Park, Mount Jefferson Wilderness, Oregon
  • Sparks Lake and Green Lakes, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon
  • Cirque of the Towers, Bridger Wilderness, Wyoming
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Anaconda-Pintler Region, Montana
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Shore Acres State Park Oregon

Shore Acres State Park Oregon: One of the last locations on my list during the recent Oregon Photo Tour was Shore Acres State Park. While I’ve visited Bandon several times over the years I always neglected Shore Acres which is a very short drive to the north. This time with the help of fellow Google+ member Patricia Davidson I spent a few days working the spectacular headlands of this very small park. What really sets this area apart from other locations on the Oregon coast is the sculpted sandstone headlands and cliffs. Reminiscent of Southern Utah they have many layers and shapes and are studded with interesting mineral concretions of various shapes and sizes. There are many areas that are an abstract artists dream. In the warm light of evening they begin to take on a beautiful glow that really enhances the whole coastal experience.

Shore Acres State Park Oregon #48708

Shore Acres State Park Oregon 48708

One of the last locations on my list during the recent Oregon Photo Tour was Shore Acres State Park. While I’ve visited Bandon several times over the years I always neglected Shore Acres which is a very short drive to the north. This time with the help of fellow Google+ member Patricia Davidson I spent a few days working the spectacular headlands of this very small park. What really sets this area apart from other locations on the Oregon coast is the sculpted sandstone headlands and cliffs. Reminiscent of Southern Utah they have many layers and shapes and are studded with interesting mineral concretions of various shapes and sizes. There are many areas that are an abstract artists dream. In the warm light of evening they begin to take on a beautiful glow that really enhances the whole coastal experience.

Shore Acres State Park Oregon #48587

 Shore Acres State Park Oregon 48587

On my first evening I spent a lot of time working on some of the sandstone shelves with concretions that have small pools made from salt spray and are lined with bright green sea moss. The next day I hiked most of the headland trails checking out more areas and lining up compositions for when the light comes alive in the evening. Just off shore there is Shell Island, a great place to view large numbers of marine mammals sunning themselves. On my visit there appeared to be several hundred seal lions working on their tan. My second evening offered some very nice light and I worked quickly alternating between two very cool headlands. During the last few moments of sunset and for some time afterwords I was able to make a series of nicely lit images.

Shore Acres State Park Oregon #48526

Shore Acres State Park Oregon 48526

Shore Acres State Park Oregon #48726

Shore Acres State Park Oregon 45885

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Alvord Desert Oregon

Alvord Desert Oregon: The Alvord Desert in SE Oregon is an area that offers its own version of subtle beauty. It’s pretty small as deserts go but is big country nevertheless, backed by the massive wall of Steens Mountain on the west it spreads out over dry lake beds sagebrush covered lava buttes and a sprinkling of hot springs. If you just drive through here in the middle of a hot sunny day you may be inclined to step on the gas and hurry to more exotic locations in the state. However if you spend a night or two camped out on the edge of a dry lake bed, take in the changes of light, the smells of the desert cooling off in the evening and the freshness of the morning, and soak in one of the hot springs you’ll come away with a new appreciation for this area.

Alvord Desert Oregon #48230

Alvord Desert Sunset 48230

I was fortunate enough to do all of that plus photograph some of that subtle beauty during the magic hours of light in the evening and early morning. Here are a few of those images from the Alvord Desert and nearby Harney Lake in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Alvord Desert Steens Mountain Oregon #48239 Alvord Desert Oregon

Alvord Desert  Steens Mountain Oregon49225

This is another area you’ll need to be prepared for before you head out. There are very few services anywhere in the area so you’ll need to fill up on gas and water, be prepared to drive long distances on very dusty gravel roads. There also is no shade, limited or no cell service, and no established campsites, most land is managed by the BLM. Handle with care and enjoy!

Harney Lake, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon #48418 Alvord Desert Oregon

Harney Lake Sunset 49409

 

 

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