Dee Wright Observatory

This spot is from a massive lava flow, surrounded by volcanoes on all sides. I wouldn’t want to be here when the next one blows.

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Dee Wright Observatory
Lava fields in Oregon

Living in Florida, it’s easy to forget there is a healthy amount of volcanic activity in the pacific northwest. It wasn’t my plan to visit volcanoes, but little did I realize, most of the mountains in Oregon are.

more images of mountains in the gallery

If I recall, Oregon and Hawaii are in the “ring of fire,” and we all know Hawaii is quite active. When I first arrived at this spot, I was struck by how fresh the flows looked; I thought maybe they were ten years old. It was more like fifteen-hundred years, which, as we all know, is just a blink of an eye in geological terms. As amazing as it was, I was still glad to leave before mother nature decided to blink again.

Dutchman Falls

The water from this fall runs year-round and is fed by a spring. I would have gotten closer, but Instagramers were posing in front.

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Dutchman Falls
A waterfall fed from a spring above the Columbia River

I Photoshopped out the Instagramers because I kind of like it without them, maybe it’s just me. Last year on the same day, I was at Mount Rushmore and encountered the same thing, hundreds of them. I need to start an Instagram of Instagrammers.

check out the gallery here

Nevertheless, it was quiet and pretty here, which was at the top of a steep hike from the Columbia River. I had water but too much heavy camera gear, but I didn’t realize I was going to climb the trail until I got there. As all of my hikes in Oregon, it was well worth it, and I’m looking forward to going back for more walks, Instagram notwithstanding.

Babbling Brook

This photo is a little brook on the trail to Dutchman Falls. It’s about as idyllic a trail as you could hope to find.

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Babbling Brook
A stream above Multnomah Falls in Oregon (click on image to see full resolution)

The midday light through the overhead branches created a latticework of shadows, which is slightly confusing to the eye.

The brook feeds Multnomah Falls, which is perhaps the most photographed waterfall in the Pacific Northwest, if not the country. I came here on holiday and found crowds of people visiting at the base. So I hiked up to the top of the falls and found a quiet trail with this stream.

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I recommend hiking to the top, although it’s strenuous with many switchbacks. But once you get there, you’ll be glad you did. From there, I walked up to Dutchmans Falls, which is another picture for another day.

Faerie River

In my imagination, this is a place where you might find the fae folk. The stream is part of a river in a state park, but I had the idea little invisible beings were all around.

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Faerie River
A stream adjacent to the Hillsborough River

The image is from the Hillsborough River State Park in Florida. Maybe it was my mood or the setting, but parts of it seemed nothing short of enchanting. There are places inside forests like this that have an ephemeral quality of nature about them.

more images with rivers

I experienced the same thing in the forests of Oregan a couple of weeks ago. Some sections of the trail had a subtle quality that you could easily miss. I have no idea if nature spirits exist; I’ve never seen one. At the very least, encountering these areas in the wilderness gives me pause and stokes my imagination.

Huckleberry Lane

Driving up Highway 126 along the McKinzie River, the temptation is to pull off at every little bridge or vista. On one near Fin Rock, I found this lonely lane.

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Huckleberry Lane
A utility road through the forest in Oregon

I’ve heard so much about the forests in the Pacific Northwest, and seeing them for myself was worth the trip. An old utility road through the forest is an invitation to explore. It was blocked off, so maybe it’s better I didn’t drive it in my little rental car.

more forests in the gallery

I imagine that, like the Mangroves of the tropics, these conifers constitute a significant source of CO2 sequestration for our planet. Not only that, the forests are the habitat for mycelium which we are just now discovering can lead to cures for pollution and disease. (Check out this website for more on that!) Let’s hope these forests remain protected as vigorously as our Florida mangroves.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach reminds me of Carmel by the Sea; only it’s about eight hundred miles to the north. A little more unconventional, perhaps, but that’s a good thing.

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Cannon Beach
The view of Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park

Actually, this is a view of Crescent Beach with Cannon Beach in the distance; but the whole area is known as Cannon Beach. I drove here to Ecola State Park from Portland in the morning, and getting an early start was vital. After I returned from a hike, the roads and parking lots were full of holiday travelers. The July temperature is in the upper seventies.

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There used to be a direct path to Crescent beach from here, but it got washed out in a storm. The alternate trail is about a mile and a half and is rather arduous. Even so, it was worth it, and because it was harder to reach, there were very few people. So I walked the whole beach, took plenty of photos, and skipped the crowds.

Emerson Point

To get here, you walk through a jungle trail, and it’s easy to get a bit disoriented. That is until you pop out from the brush at sunset.

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Emerson Point Clouds
Looking out to sea from Emerson Point

The image I took here is similar to one I did from the same spot a half dozen years ago.

The clouds and weather ensure each image will be different, and I never tire of it.

more from Emerson Point

Due to the full range of light and the difficulty of shooting into the sun, this is a combination of at least five photos. I combined the images with AuroraHDR and then parts of it re-layered in Photoshop. In some respects, this is a painting, in that the light was blended to create a picture. That creative process I find satisfying, even if it is the same scene on a different day.

Scott Lake

Scott Lake was a detour of a detour I took while driving through Willamette National Forest. I took so many detours its surprising I made any forward progress at all.

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Scott Lake
A remote lake in Willamette National Forest

I figured as long as I had gas and some trail mix I was probably not going to have problems. The only real dilemma was deciding when to turn back. If I didn’t need sleep, I’d have driven all night, and that would have been just fine.

more photos featuring the color green

I could see setting up camp here and exploring for a few days. As its the pacific northwest, I’d half expect to see a bigfoot. This area is so big and untamed that it would not surprise me in the least. At least this is where I would be if I were a bigfoot.

Cape Cove

While driving along the Oregon coast, I stopped here in Cape Cove. The area is so pretty it’s hard to take a bad picture.

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Cape Cove
A long exposure image along the Oregon coast

The coastline has these massive rocks that are the remnants of an eroding mainland. I can imagine that ten-thousand years ago the land extended well beyond where it ends today. These are up and down the Pacific coast, and they make for good studies in geology and, in my case, photography.

more long exposure images from the gallery

I created this effect using an ND filter, which allows for a long exposure, even during daylight; this is a 20-second exposure. With that, the water appears smooth like glass. Also, the aperture is set to f22, which allows both the foreground and background rocks to be in focus, and it creates the star effect of the sun. Also, shooting right into the sun like this created lens flare, which in this case, I quite like.

Sisters, OR

Imagine living in a town called Sisters; how cool would that be? The name comes from its proximity to the Three Sisters volcanic peaks in Oregon.

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Sisters, OR
The town of Sisters in Oregon’s Cascade Range

The good news is that Middle and North Sisters are dormant. The maybe-lousy news is the South Sister is showing signs. I took a detour to see the fifteen-hundred-year-old lava flow and, as lava flows go, it’s a big one. Here is a shot I took of the lava flow, but it doesn’t do justice. It’s about five miles wide.

The lava flow of South Sister in Oregon

Here is the Wikipedia page.

Anyway, I was just glad to be here and out of the Florida summer heat for a few days. Oregon in summer is a mild climate, not too hot, not too cold. Goldilocks would approve. After visiting the lava flow, I ended up in this mountain town. If South Sister ever decides to come back to life, this place will have front-row seats.