I have spent more time photographing Oregon than any other state. Of all the adjectives that come to mind when thinking of Oregon, the most defining feature is 'diversity'. Within a few hours of driving, you can leave the Oregon coast, head through the lush Columbia River Gorge, ski on Mount Hood, and enjoy the high desert of Bend-- all in a single day! Name any climate, Oregon has it, and to the fullest. Here is a collection of some of my favorite images from the state of Oregon and an ode to my favorite state.
The Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is a mesmerizing place. The white sand, blue skies, and sunbathers you see on most beaches are replaced by foggy mornings, rugged coastlines, and starfish galore. The Oregon Coast is famous for its sea stacks-- large rocks that were once a part of the coast, and are now islands stranded at sea. I have photographed the Oregon coast more times than I can count, and I never run out of new places to explore.
"Thors Well" - Thor's Well is a large hole, carved in rock, on the Oregon coast. After several months of research, I finally found a day when the correct tide would correspond with sunset. We tied rope to several rocks, and used climbing harnesses to secure ourselves, so that we could stand right on the edge of this chasm without fear of being swept in. All the conditions were perfect, and we got this perspective of leaning over the well.
"Cannon Waves" - Classic Fog at Cannon Beach, Oregon.
"Midnight Tides" - Milky Way over a sea stack on the remote southern Oregon Coast.
The Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon has the highest concentration of waterfalls of anywhere in the continental United States. Within several square miles, there are over 90 gorgeous waterfalls packed tightly into the hills over the Columbia River. This area gets 160 days of rain every year, but the payoff is well worth it. Every inch of this area is covered with draping moss or flowing with water.
"Emerald Gorge" - The only way to access this beautiful mossy canyon is to wade and swim up the freezing river. My wife and I went in early March because we wanted the canyon especially full with water, put on wetsuits and began the trek up the river. I managed to straddle my tripod round a fallen log to stabilize it, and did a 3 second exposure to slightly soften the waters.
"Punchbowl Blue" - I wanted to get a new perspective on a Punchbowl Falls, so I bought a cheap 10 gallon aquarium and hiked into the waterfall with it. I waded out into the river, which was shockingly cold, set my camera in the aquarium, and lowered the glass half under the water to get a split view of the scene.
The Many Mountains of Oregon
Oregon is home to the Cascade Mountain Range. While most of the mountains in the Cascade Range are not as tall as the mountains in the Colorado Rockies, they are much younger and more rugged. Weather and time has not had time to round out the sharp edges, so the mountains of Oregon are jagged and raw, making them incredibly striking.
"Smiling Back" - Mount Hood at sunrise after heavy snowfall. We snowshoed for several hours in the early morning hours to reach this snowy perspective before sunrise.
"Timberline Haze" - Timberline meadows at the base of Mount Hood covered in lupine in July.
"Off to See the Wizard" - Crater Lake, an ancient volcano crater, graced with heavy snow at sunrise.
"Sisters Sunrise" The Three Sisters mountain range in central Oregon after 50" of fresh snowfall.
The Hood River Region, Oregon
In the shadow of Mount Hood, lies the Hood River Valley. This area is full of every type of fruit and flower you could ever imagine. During the springtime, the orchards come alive with oceans of white and pink blossoms. The surrounding meadows have carpets of wild sunflowers, lupine, and lavender. The sights are amazing, but the smell is intoxicating!
"Fruitloop" - Pear orchards and a classic red barn in the shadow of Mount Hood.
"Spring Breeze" - Balsam Root Sunflowers at sunset.
The Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon
The Portland Japanese Garden is nestled in the hills right outside of Portland. It is a tranquil urban oasis for Portlandians since 1963. The former Ambassador of Japan, Nobuo Matsunaga called the Portland Japanese Gardens "the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan." These gardens have been one of my favorite places to photograph. The simplicity and the attention to detail throughout the garden is simply spectacular. In the autumn, the garden explodes with color and vibrant green moss.
"Embrace" - A Japanese Maple in the Japanese Gardens in Portland during peak fall color.
The High Desert of Oregon
"Rainbow of the Night" - Central Oregon is dotted with old abandoned homesteads from the 1800s. Since this area is fairly remote, I decided these beautiful old homesteads would make the perfect subject under the Milky Way. We watched the weather and moon phases for several months, and all the conditions finally came together. At 2am, we made our way out to this old vacant home and put glow sticks inside the two front windows to add a focal point. Some bats inside the house came flying out and scared us half to death! Using a long exposure and a very light sensitive camera, we were able to capture more light than you can see with the naked eye. This image captures over half of the night sky, and the full arc of the summer Milky Way. If you look closely, the Andromeda galaxy can be seen under the arc of the Milky Way on the left side of the image. This house may not be much, but the previous occupants definitely had quite the view of the night sky.
Thank you for looking at a collection of images from my favorite state! You can see all the images from the state of Oregon here: