Archive for large format

Broken Top Adventures

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2008 by btiguy

Some of my favorite Central Oregon hiking areas are the alpine basins that surround Broken Top Mountain, located in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area near Mt. Bachelor.  There are several beautiful hiking trails that give good access to amazing alpine scenery high on the flanks of Broken Top, including the Tam McArthur Rim Trail, Park Meadows Trail, Green Lakes Trail, the Crater Ditch trail, and the Broken Top Crater Trail.  All these trails have their own unique visual attractions and different time frames at which they are at their floral apex.  This of course, means, that, as a backcountry photographer, I’m forced to make several photographic journeys to Broken Top every year.  What Torture!  Tam McArthur Rim is one of the first hikes my wife and I did when we moved to Oregon.  It is beautiful, rugged, not too difficult, and easily accessible from the city of Sisters, Oregon, where we lived at the time.  One of my favorite images of Tam McArthur Rim, which extends eastward from the shoulders of Broken Top and is highly visible from the city of Sisters is found Below.

This shot was taken from Tam McArthur Rim and displays Middle Sister, North Sister, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt Jefferson Wilderness to the far right.  Obviously it was a spectacular sunset, one well worth the hike, and even worth the uneasy feeling that comes with a cold hike out in the dark of night.  Another of my favorite locations on Broken Top is the area covered by Broken Top Trail.  This trail starts at a high elevation and stays there.   The next image is from a couple years ago but I’m still  fond of it.  It was taken in the glacial basin at the southern end of the Broken Top trail.

Finally I’ll include several images from a recent series of explorations on the east side of Broken Top.  I scouted this area several times within the same week and decided the flowers would soon climax.  I then made sunrise outings on consecutive mornings to appropriately capture what I considered an exceptional floral display with a gorgeous back drop of Broken Top’s Crater.  The first morning, the light was poor and it was very hazy due to forest fires in the vicinity.  The next was different.  I awoke at 3:30 AM  grabbed my enormous backpack full of cameras and lenses and drove to Sparks Lake to determine if the conditions warranted a long drive down forest service road 370 with an hour long off trail hike carrying 50 pounds of gear to follow, all before sunrise.  The conditions at Sparks Lake were questionable at best.  Broken Top was completely obscured except for occasional glimpses of its summit.  I envisioned moody light enhancing an already gorgeous foreground backed by the theatre of Broken Top’s pinnacles intertwined with misty morning clouds.  This was one of those mornings where I gambled and won!  Below are several images I’m thrilled with and I feel the best is yet to come.  Only on exceptional occasions like this do I shoot with my 4×5 large format camera with the hope that a beautiful fine art print will be the ultimate reward.  When the light was at its most dramatic, I utilized my 4×5 film camera, and when it was less optimal, I shot with my high end digital SLR.  So, what you see are essentially the second class images from a special morning.  I’ll let everyone know if the prints come out as well as I hope they will.  Regardless, enjoy the next few images and please let me know which you prefer by leaving comments at the end of this article, or e-mailing me.

Pre-dawn light, moody cloud cover and a beautiful floral foreground

Pre-dawn light, moody cloud cover and a beautiful floral foreground

One of the best foregrounds I've ever seen!

One of the best foregrounds I have ever seen!

Warm light, mysterious clouds, exceptional flowers, and Broken Top.

Warm light, mysterious clouds, exceptional flowers, and Broken Top.

Even Mt. Bachelor posed for a few images.

Even Mt. Bachelor posed for a few images.

Eventually, mystic clouds gave way to cheery bluebird skies.

Eventually, mystic clouds gave way to cheery bluebird skies.

Overall it was a beautiful and rewarding morning in one of my favorite backcountry locations, high on the flanks of Broken Top mountain, in the heart of the Central Oregon Cascades.

Cascade Lakes Highway

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by btiguy

The Cascade Lakes highway, near Bend, Oregon, is arguably one of the prettiest drives in the United States  and is filled with outdoor adventure options.  Fishing, skiing at Mt. Bachelor, cross country skiing from Dutchman Flat, Hiking, climbing, and of course photography.  Every year I make several photographic journeys along the cascade lakes highway, so I decided to spotlight some images that emphasize this area’s impressive beauty.  Sparks Lake is a favorite location of many photographers and I am no exception.  I have to start my exploration of this area with an image of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.  It was the sort of scene which makes me nervous with excitement.  Part of what makes this one of the favorite images in my portfolio is that Debbie and Emma were there to share in this exquisite scene.  Emma to this day refers to this picture as “Froggy Lake”  because of all the frogs she and Debbie studied that evening.

The Following image is another taken with Emma, but it required more effort than the previous image.  I awoke long before sunrise, scooped Emma out of bed in her footy pajamas, and we drove to Sparks Lake, where I made trips wading back and forth  in waist deep water carrying gear and Emma to a small island, where this shot was taken.  For some beautiful images of Sparks Lake, Sparks Lake Photo. I was consumed with the scene and Emma was consumed with sleep.  She quickly fell asleep on my down Jacket(see Columbia River Gorge Blog entry) While I worked the scene. Soon the light became too harsh, and hummingbirds frantically worked the scene as I had moments before.

The next two images are both of Mt Bachelor, earlier this summer along the shores of Sparks Lake.  The first displays a channel of water gracefully cutting through a field of buttercups, one of the first flowers to announce the arrival of spring along the cascade lakes highway.


Next is Mt. Bachelor fronted by a foreground of Mountain Heather blooming on small islands adjacent to the shores of Sparks Lake.  This specific area of Sparks Lake is in my experience, essentially a holding basin designed by mosquitos in order to exsanguinate crazed photographers, namely myself.

From this image I move along to another of my favorite cascade lakes, Elk Lake, Cascades Lake Highway.  Elk lake has more developed areas and is famed for a small but relatively stable population of sail boats residing there.  My favorite area of the lake is the “south beach” area, cleverly named for the fact that it is on the south shore and has a beach and not because it sports art deco architecture, palm trees, or a prominent fashion district.  The following image was captured near south beach with South Sister mountain in the background.  The most difficult part of capturing this image was waiting for the dozens of hummingbirds to clear the scene before exposing my film.  Had I not waited the hummingbirds would have been represented by an unattractive blur due to the long exposure times I usually utilize with my large format camera.Next is an image taken this July showing a foreground of columbine, where I fought a similar duel against dive-bombing hummingbirds repeatedly invading my shot.Finally I’ll conclude with a Sparks Lake shot taken three days ago at sunrise.  Another stunning light show at a truly beautiful location.South Sister on the left and Broken Top on the right share the scene with clouds drenched in the warm glow of morning’s first light.  It may not look like this every morning along the Cascade Lakes highway, but I am never disappointed by this beautiful area of Central Oregon.

Three Finger Jack and Canyon Creek Meadow

Posted in Bend Oregon, cascade mountains, Large Format Photography, oregon cascades, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2008 by btiguy

Debbie Emma and I recently enjoyed an overnight backpacking trip in the Mt Jefferson Wilderness area.  The trail is relatively short(about 5 miles round trip) and the scenery is stunning.  Emma was a trooper while Debbie and I groaned about pack weight.  Below is a shot of my girls shortly after entering the upper canyon creek meadowThe flowers in the lower meadow were a little bit ahead of their prime, but the area is beautiful nontheless.

Below is a shot of our campsite in the lower meadow with a nice view of Three Finger Jack.  

Upper Canyon Creek Meadow is much more alpine in nature and is generally considered to be more scenic, which makes it well worth the additional effort to get there.  While the upper meadow is stunning, camping there is discouraged due to heavy use, instead backpackers are encouraged to camp in the lower meadow and day hike up to the upper meadow, sparing it from extra wear and tear associated with overnight use.  Because of the heavy snow pack from last winter, the flowers in upper meadow are still a bit early, but there were individual groupings that were quite exceptional.  Below is one of my favorites.  Mountain Heather in the foreground, Indian Paintbrush in the midground, backed by the impressive Three Finger Jack photo.

Three Finger Jack and Mountain Heather

Three Finger Jack and Mountain Heather

The next couple weeks should continue to be quite beautiful  in the upper meadow with thousands of lupines preparing to bloom.  Below is one last image, a wider spread featuring Indian paintbrush, yellow buttercups and Three Finger Jack.

If you’re planning a trip to Canyon Creek this year, make it soon!


Columbia River Gorge/ Tom McCall Preserve

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2008 by btiguy

On the weekend of May 10, Emma and I decided to visit our good friends, the Reitz’s in Hood River,Oregon.  Unfortunately, Momma Reitz and Joe and Jill were out of town, leaving my good friend Max as the only one left in the household.  The weekend was wonderful.  Emma and I got up early and shot at Tom McCall Nature Preserve in the Gorge, near Rowena.  The light was good for Macros, but not great for more expansive landscape shots.   Several other photographers were at the preserve that morning, shooting and enjoying the scenery. One of the several other photographers I met there, Kim, was nice enough to take some shots of Emma and I and forward them.  He has an attractive website, http://www.kimbrunstudio.com  which you should visit if you like landscapes and flower photography.  Emma, through her mother’s genetics prefers to sleep in and on this morning we had to wake at about 4:30 to arrive before sunrise.  I knew she would be cold, so I brought my orange down jacket, which she fondly refers to as “The Great Pumpkin”.  She predictably got cold so I zipped her up in the great pumpkin and she was instantly comfortable.  Comfortable enough to fall asleep in the middle of the meadow.  Several fellow photographers visited to chat and see my large format camera, and they never even knew she was there beside me because her head was tucked inside the pumpkin, making for a very cute photo.

The next day, Max, Emma, and I visited Fairy Falls , also in the Gorge area and took the following Photo. We had a great trip and as always, It was great to see our friend Max and to enjoy the Columbia River Gorge in the spring.  the Columbia River Gorge is filled with beautiful waterfalls.  To view some beautiful images of them, Oregon Waterfall photos.

John Day/Painted Hills

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2008 by btiguy

The painted hills unit in the John Day area of Oregon has been a favorite of photographers since its discovery because of its stunning colors and other worldly scenery.  I’ve been there many times.  Some visits were more successful than others, but one particular shot that I’ve obsessed over has eluded me for quite some time.  In early may, in certain years, yellow flowers bloom in the folds of the painted hills, creating a stunning extra element to what would otherwise be an attractive scene.  Well, this was one of those years. I left Bend early on a May 30th to scout the painted hills.  To my excitement, the chenactis and golden bee plants were blooming just as I’d hoped.  The ranger, Scott, a very nice fellow, said it had been five years since they had bloomed in the folds of the painted hills.  He even promised an up close guided tour of the hills if I returned that evening, so I returned to Bend, and returned later that evening, with My wife Debbie and daughter, Emma.  I was fortunate enough to capture this image of blooming bee plants in the grooves of the painted the next morning. It was truly a privilege to get such wonderful access to such a special location.  Below you’ll find several other shots from the same trip that I’m excited about.