Tag: “Oregon”

Let It Snow

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Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon, USA

The cushions are soft and the chairs have a substantial sturdy presence. Hand made iron frames hold the heavy Douglas-fir slabs in place. The arm rests are wide enough to hold a hot drink and a good book, or your e-reader, or your computer. These are old chairs, well broken-in, but with a long life ahead. They were made to last.

The room is enormous. The sounds of a crackling, roaring log fire and the smell of smoke and old wood dominate your senses. You can feel the comforting heat from the over-sized stone fireplace. The drifts are deep outside and its is snowing heavily.

As you settle into the chair you tilt your head back and follow the massive volcanic stone chimney up through the circular balcony of the floor above and further up to the beams supporting the steep roof. Heavy iron braces, fat beams, hand placed stone, and planks of local woods provide durable shelter from the Mt. Hood blizzard outside.

At Christmas time this room has several fragrant Christmas trees and carolers stroll through the lodge filling the nearby restaurant and distant hallways with familiar melodies. It is a busy time at Timberline Lodge in the Cascade Mountains east of Portland, Oregon, USA.

But if you get up early you can find a quiet spot and settle in. It is a cozy place to spend a winter morning reading, talking, or just looking at this historic building.

Playing in the snow will come later, or tomorrow. Right now, and for a good long time, it is time to appreciate the craftsmanship of these beautiful, artistic old chairs. Rest a while by the fire on a winter day. Close your eyes. Listen to the fire. Feel the heat. Let it snow. Happy winter!!

Deserted Oregon Desert Dessert

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Dawn on the Deschutes River, Oregon, USA

Dawn on the Deschutes River, Oregon, USA

Oregon is world famous for its stunning Pacific coastline. Lush, dripping forests thrive in the high rainfall. The surf pounds on dramatic rocky cliffs and beautiful beach towns huddle against the wind.

Fewer people outside the western USA  know the dramatic beauty of the volcanic Cascade Range that separates the coastal forests and inland valleys from the extensive arid eastern part of the state. As Pacific storms lift eastward over the massive Cascade peaks most of the moisture is condensed and dropped. This creates a classic arid ‘rain shadow’ inland of the mountains. Even fewer people know the deserts on the east side of the Cascade Range.

In reality the area is certainly not deserted. Central Oregon is a very popular recreation and retirement area. Although the current economy has slowed growth. But further to the east away from the mountains it is easy to find quiet and deserted deserts.

The Deschutes River passes through the area surrounding Bend, Oregon. It drains the melting snow on the east side of the Cascades and is the main river in Central Oregon. Downstream there are challenging rapids. In Bend the river is more tame.

This photograph was taken in Bend. I walked down to the river before dawn. Actually there was more stumbling and scrambling than walking. The brush and rocks along the bank were difficult to get through or over in the dim light.

I found this little niche next to the river and set up my tripod. I was experimenting with lenses, exposures, and shutter times as the light increased. During the several hours that I was there I took hundreds of photos. It was a beautiful clear Oregon morning. This blue sky dawn would be rare on the foggy coast, but here they are the norm.

Oddly enough this was the first photograph I took. Even with all the experimenting and the changing light this is the one I like the best. The other hundreds of photos were not a waste of time because I learned and enjoyed a beautiful morning on the river. But it still surprises me that the first photo after setting up turned out.

A long exposure is a common way to show the effect of moving water. This was a 4 second exposure at f/22. The small aperture also provided a long depth of field and kept the basaltic rock next to me in focus as well as the forest in the distance. But I also tried fast shutter speeds to freeze water splashing up from rapids. And some of those were interesting, especially after dawn when shafts of sunlight shone through the forest to spotlight little violent stretches of rapids.

It was a great morning on the banks of the Deschutes. This forest and narrow band of water don’t look like a desert, but they were deserted at dawn. And it was a visual treat, like dessert.

Forest Fireworks and Neighbors

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Ponderosa Pine in Bloom, Bend, Oregon, USA

Ponderosa Pine in Bloom, Bend, Oregon, USA

Ahhh, summertime, and the livin’  is  careless.

We want to get away from our daily routine and see some new country. We need some air. We need some space.

After we make all the arrangements at home and pack up all those necessities for our trip we make the journey.

We won’t have very long to explore. We want to focus on fun and diversion.

Will we be as responsible and thoughtful at the vacation place as we are at home? Or is that contradictory to ‘having fun’? Will the people who live there grow tired of obnoxious vacationers or will they know us as temporary neighbors? Neighbors who take part in the community events and help clean up and keep things safe, as if it was our neighborhood.

It is fire season. As the inland heat builds thunderheads and spawns lightning the wildlands are under threat. These are the places where we sometimes go for diversion, for beauty, for air, for space. Will we add to the threat through careless fun-seeking? Will we enjoy the show the forest puts on, will we notice? Will we keep it safe so that it can carry on for the rest of the year when we are not there? Will our momentary diversion destroy what we came to see because of an unattended campfire or fireworks? Every year somebody does something stupid and causes destruction in these places. Will it be me this year?

Pardon me if this sounds preachy or sanctimonious. I think it is worth reminding myself and ourselves to make careful choices and to be responsible neighbors.

This photo of a blooming Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa C. Lawson) looks like a fireworks burst in the sky, to me. Maybe that takes some imagination. I had never seen these red flowers on a Ponderosa before. (The reference I consulted says they have yellow flowers. Perhaps I have mis-identified it. Yes trees have flowers!) And I spent many years working in forests with Ponderosa in them. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention in the spring. My Father-in-Law, Jim Bennett, spotted this tree  in Bend, Oregon. We were having a family reunion and only had a few days to visit that area. It was a great family time. I also spent quite a bit of time photographing at the edge of the Deschutes River. But I didn’t really get to know the area very well. It was just a brief glimpse at one time of year.

One of my frustrations with vacations and travel is that I never really get to know the place I am visiting. There just isn’t enough time. And since our travel is now focused on photographic work I want to spend more time at these places and learn the rhythm and culture. But the expenses add up and there are things to take care of and other work to do at home.

When we travel we try to rent a house for a week or so when possible. Maybe a month would be better. That would still just be a snapshot and it is so difficult to do. But renting a house and meeting the owners has been a good way for us to be introduced to a community. Even a stay of several days at a hotel as a base camp for a larger area lets you get to know some local people a little better than changing hotels more often.

Having time to walk around the area day after day and see the routines and the variety of weather gives a better picture of what the place is like. It also gives you a better chance of being there for market day! And it provides a better background for photographing an area. You find the out-of-the-way interesting spots. You meet people and see how they live and find out what is important to them. All of these experiences help you photograph the character of a place. You get a sense of the place. A sense of place is what I strive for in my photographs.

By spending at least a few days in a place you meet some local people several times. It is human nature for them to assess your character, if they aren’t too busy. They can tell very quickly if you are a careless tourist or a responsible neighbor.

Virtual Mt. Bachelor

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Perspective View of Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon, USA

Perspective View of Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon, USA

Artistic data. An oxymoron?

Do you have to be a mathematician or a statistician to think that data can have artistic value? Or a geographer?

What artistic expression is possible if you blend a beautiful aerial photograph with elevation data? Is it art or is it cartography? When does cartography become art?

I think it depends largely on the intention. A map can portray information without having artistic appeal. Conversely art can contain information. Would you display it for navigation or because it is visually compelling? Is it less appealing if you sneak in some data or use data to form the image?

The image above was created using a high resolution aerial photograph combined with elevation data. The aerial photograph was taken from an airplane from about 20,000 feet (6100 meters) and has more detail than most images taken from imaging satellites which orbit hundreds of miles above the Earth.

The elevation data store values for altitude above sea level. In this case the data are a grid of cells stored in computer files. Each square cell represents an area of 10 meters (32.8 feet) on a side. The grid cells are like pixels in a digital photograph, that is, each one stores information, but in this case it is elevation information instead of color.

The photo and the elevation data are combined using a computer geographic information system (GIS). The elevation data are used to calculate a terrain surface. Then the photo is ‘draped’ over that surface so it appears to be 3-dimensional, like a relief map. Using the GIS software the surface can be tilted and rotated for viewing.

This perspective view of Mt. Bachelor and the Cascade Lakes vicinity near Bend, Oregon, USA, is from the north looking south. The overall surface is tilted up so that it is downhill from south to north.

The elevation data were also used to calculate elevation contour lines, like on a topographic map. In this case the custom contours have an interval of 200 feet (61 meters). They add information about the terrain.

Some of the Cascade Lakes are distinctly green, probably from algae bloom. The aerial photograph is a combination (mosaic) of several individual photos. They were taken on June 26, 2009.

The intention of this image is to show the beauty of the area surrounding the Mt. Bachelor volcano and the lakes. This is a popular recreation area. The trails through the forest on the mountain are developed ski runs. I think that if you enjoy exploring this stunning area a view like this is augmented with the additional information. The image has the value of a map because the distortions of aerial photographs have been removed and the features are in their correct positions. It has the beauty of a photograph. And the elevation data allow you to interpret the terrain.

In this case I think that the data have contributed to the beauty and created an artistic composition. Not everyone will agree. But, as they say, “the beauty of data is in the eye of the beholder.”

I can create custom relief-enhanced aerial photographs like this for most areas of the USA. Please contact me if you have an interest in a custom view of your area. You can find out more by following the Maps link above. I hope you enjoyed this virtual view of Mt. Bachelor.

Snowbound-Timberline Lodge

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Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon, USA

Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon, USA

The snow kept falling. Eventually we couldn’t see out the windows. But the massive logs still blazed in the old stone fireplace.

We didn’t need to leave so we settled in and enjoyed the rustic mountain setting.

Everything about Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon is over-sized and handmade. It is a place filled with rough cut stone and exposed timber beams. It also hosts artwork from the 1930′s.

The idea with Timberline Lodge was to build a lodge for mountain recreation and relaxation and to use as many craftspeople as possible to do it. It is an artistic creation. It was a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Master craftsmen trained unskilled, unemployed workers to carry out the hand labor necessary to make the stone, wood, and wrought iron elements. Handmade quilts, drapes, rugs, and other fabric art were a central part of the finished lodge.

The lodge was built in 15 months and was dedicated on September 28, 1937 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

However you feel about the make-work projects of the Great Depression the facts are that many lives were given meaningful employment and we benefit from their service to their country.

You can still enjoy the paintings, carvings, handmade furniture, and beautiful restaurants and sleeping rooms that they created. It is a spectacular mountain lodge. We have stayed there several times just before Christmas and it is a wonderful place for holiday memories.

And to be honest, we weren’t snowbound. They have very effective snow removal capabilities for the roads and parking lots.

But pretending to be snowbound creates an entirely different feeling. It is a world apart. A stolen day or two in a unique setting.

And if you get up early enough you can wander through the lodge taking pictures without anyone in the photograph. Can you imagine yourself and a friend sitting in those old handmade chairs reading or talking while the snow falls outside?

You can find out more about Timberline Lodge at: http://www.friendsoftimberline.org/about_lodge.htm

or: http://www.timberlinelodge.com/visit/

Under the Haystack

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Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

What are you looking for under the haystack?

Do you need a long walk on the beach? Will it be time alone to sort through your thoughts or a chance for an uninterrupted talk? Are you going into town to get salt water taffy? Do you need a book or a maple bar and coffee? Are you going to look at the current art on display or to buy a kite? Is the tide low enough to get around the points and get in a long run to the south? Are you going dune-jumping, or playing hide-and-seek in the beach grass, or are you building a classic sand castle with a moat?

Family memories are made by the bucketful at beaches like this. I was introduced to this beach by my wife and her family. Her parents had bought a beach cabin here and there was a long family tradition of summer trips to Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The rock in the distance is Haystack Rock. It is a famous Cannon Beach landmark. It is a seastack, or an isolated resistant rock left behind during coastal erosion. Cannon Beach is a small town that provides great vacation get-aways, art, and fun. Our own daughters have many memories of our family time there. Our photo albums are filled with a progression of photos of them from toddlers to adults out on the beach, or playing in the dunes, or taking the secret trail through trees over the dunes to the beach.

A beach like this is so many different things to different people. The Killamuck and Clatsop people provided whale blubber to the Lewis and Clark Expedition near here. The beach is about 80 road miles west of Portland and individuals and families have moved here or visited  here for generations.

On sunny summer days the beach near town can be packed. On stormy winter days it is empty. Each person and family bring with them their interests and needs. Each person finds different things under the Haystack. Photo: 1/2000 s at f/5.6.

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