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.