Category: Photography


A Few New Photos

It’s been a while since I have posted or updated my gallery here and thought it was about time.

A Super Blood Moon over a historic bridge, amazing clarity for the milky way, some local favorites and what post isn’t complete without a couple “epic selfies” as many people call them.  Here’s a few of my latest images.

Feel free to leave any questions and comments below and be sure to click on the photos to view them in a larger lightbox view.


Central Oregon Vacation

I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Bend, OR area for a family vacation.  Full of good times, beautiful locations and fun adventures!  Mountain biking, White Water Rafting, ATV’ing, Photography, hiking, lightning, sun, card games, Timbers winning and the USA Women’s Soccer team becoming World Champions!!

Since this was a family vacation, majority of these photos are taken with my phone in lieu of my big setup. There are quite a lot of photos just as a heads up.

Be sure to click on the photos for a larger view, especially the panorama shots.

MTB Ride along the Deschutes River Trail

A popular but gorgeous trail that follows along the Deschutes River.  Pretty easy trail overall with no real hard technical sections save for a few rocks that may be difficult to get up without using your feet.  Great views along the river by some rapids, waterfalls and some areas to stop and take a quick dip in the river.

Edison Butte OHV (ATV)

We decided to hit up Edison Butte OHV area for our ATV rides.  Having never been here, I looked up some youtube videos of the area, and found mostly Jeeps and 4×4 rigs. After talking with a local, he still recommended this area, so we went!  It was a lot of fun and a great ride for me. A couple gorgeous views as we made our climb as well. Some areas where you could go faster, but there was quite a bit of rock crawling/climbing over sharp lava rocks that was slow and technical. Not a trail I’d take a beginner on or someone who doesn’t have good control of their bike, but it wasn’t overly difficult and we made it with no flats!  If you look at the trail map below, we started on the right hand side and made a big loop up to Kwohl Butte Shelter, down to Sheridan Mtn. Shelter and then followed trail 3 back up to our trailhead and parking area.  Some sections were really dusty and I was glad to be taking the lead as you’ll see the results of my two riding partners with dirt mustaches!

White Water Rafting on the Deschutes River

A few of us went white water rafting as well!  About half of us have done this before, and even this same section of river, but it had been many years.  This was a ton of fun!  Our raft was feared early on by the others as Nick decided to take a flying leap through the air to take out another guide into the river.  From then on, the other rafts would always turn away as we neared.  Couple people also had the pleasure of falling into the river on a couple rapids.

These photos are courtesy of the photographer with High Desert River Outfitters, the company we went with.

Hiking at Smith Rock State Park

Nearing the end of our trip, we wanted to check out Smith Rock.  Having never really spent any time here, we were all impressed and amazed with how gorgeous the area was.  Two of my brothers and I decided to take the harder hike and go up Misery Ridge Trail for the better views and it did not disappoint!  It was a tiring hike, but totally worth it.  Next time I will bring my bike and do some riding here as well.  In a couple photos you can see my standing on a rock near Monkey Face rock, and in a couple others if you look real close, you can see a climber making his way up Monkey Face as well.

Painted Hills

We hit up Smith Rock in the morning and then headed for the Painted Hills.  This is an absolutely stunning and unique area that everyone has to see in person to believe it. The textures and colors are just unreal.  We didn’t do much hiking here since the temperatures were the hottest of our entire trip topping out at 103 degrees, ouch!  We still couldn’t help but to get out for some very short distances to get some views and pictures.

Sparks Lake Sunset

One evening I decided to duck out and check out Sparks Lake for the sunset. I brought all my camera gear along in case it turned epic.  If you haven’t seen my shots from my first trip here last year, the sky had to be rather impressive to top that one.  This was not such a night, but this location is just so peaceful and amazing to be at regardless of the color in the sky.  The first 3 shots here were taken with my DSLR and the rest with my phone.

That’s about it! Was a really great and fun week for all.  Do you have any favorite spots in the Central Oregon Area? I’d love to hear them and put them on my list for my next visit!  Have any favorite photos from the area? I’d love to see those as well.


Spirit Falls

What do photographers do when every agency in the state is saying not to drive? We all drive to the gorge to photograph waterfalls in a unique state.  Majeed, Cody, Christian and I took a trip up to Spirit Falls.

The roads for most of the trip weren’t as bad as one would believe from what everyone was saying, but it was still a time to drive slow and cautiously.  After getting onto i84 and into the gorge, as usual, the wind picked up and created some moments of pure white out  conditions which luckily only lasted a couple seconds each time.  We drove out to Hood River, crossed over to Washington then headed up to Spirit Falls.

We put some chains on in Hood River since out there the roads were really slick and there were lots of hills, and knowing we’d need them heading up the hill to Spirit Falls. 

After arriving at what we believed was the parking spot (aka side of road), had a hard time deciding the best route down since there isn’t really a trail and the snow was knee to waist deep at the top.  We finally picked a spot and started out descent.

I’m not sure how far of a hike or what kind of elevation loss/gain there was, but we trekked down in near waist deep snow over the loose rocks and moss.  We all took a few slips and such, but no major injuries except for Christian who hit his knee pretty good and nearly slid into the river!! Was able to brace against a tree and use a tripod to help pull him back to more stable ground.

The waterfall has a very nice coloring to it which contrasted well with the snow and icicles all around.  

Then comes the trek back up……… It was slow and extremely tiring.  Stopped several times for breaks to drink and eat for a boost of energy.  It took us maybe 20 minutes to get down and just over an hour to climb back up.

Driving back, the winds had picked up, we swung into Multnomah Falls again to debate trying some darker shots. As soon as a door opened it was like getting sand blasted in the face with the wind and snow. Quickly decided to keep moving.  It was dark by this point.

All in all, Spirit Falls is a beautiful place with just a couple of different vantage points (one in which I didn’t get to because I chickened out.) I haven’t ever made a trek quite like this one in the snow, but it was fun and with good company.

It was a good 18 hour day and only to get 5 shots, all with similar compositions and of one waterfall. We left at 7AM from Newport, and didn’t get home until about 1:15 or so this morning.  Was it worth it? Maybe not photographically, but it was still an enjoyable time and one heck of a workout. Thank goodness for dressing appropriately, toe warmers and hand-warmers.  I do need some warmer boots and some gaiters though.

Here’s one of 2 shots I got from Spirit Falls, which has been on my want to see list for quite some time. Be sure to click on each one to view in a larger lightbox view.

Here’s a few shots  Cody Cha took with his phone on our descent to the falls.


Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Professional – Review

It’s been a couple months now since I purchased the Rotation 180 Professional backpack from the folks over at Mindshift Gear (sister company of ThinkTank Photo).  I was hoping to get this review done a while back, but shortly after it arrived, my camera and such got destroyed by a wave and I was without for quite a while.  Didn’t have much of a chance to use it!  Now that I have had ample time to use it and run it through the paces, here’s my review. There are a lot of pictures to go along with this.

If you don’t want to read the full review here’s the short version. This is a fantastic backpack that is super comfortable both loaded and empty and get’s a highly recommended vote from me. You can tell there was a lot of research and thought put into this bag in every aspect. The only caveat I can think of is that it’s a little large for an every day bag, but that is not why I bought this one.


When I went looking for another backpack, I was after just couple specific capabilities.

  1. Needed to allow quick access to my camera and an additional lens
  2. Have enough room inside and attachment options for overnight camping gear

When I first heard about the Rotation 180, I was quite intrigued. It had this very cool sounding rotation piece that rotates from within the backpack to the front giving you access to whatever is in there without the need to remove the backpack. Living on the coast and frequently shooting in knee high water, this sounded great. The rotation part is the key feature of this bag, but it is chock-full of subtle features that make a huge difference.

When you put the bag on your back, buckle the waist strap, you are now able to rotate this pack around. There is this neat magnetic clip that holds the flap of the bag securely.  It’s surprisingly easy to use and can be done without looking almost immediately. There’s even a picture right on the strap for the clip to show you how to slide it out. When closing it again, you just have to get it close and it snaps right back into place. The rotating pack can be completely removed and worn by itself if you’re one that doesn’t mind getting the fanny pack jokes from your friends.  There is also a tether on the pack that keeps it clipped to the main bag so you don’t accidentally drop it or something, and it’s very easy to unclip for removal.

On the outside of the rotating pack, you’ll find a small pouch attached to t he strap that’s large enough to hold some smaller items like a flashlight, batteries, memory cards, or anything else you can think of.  On the front of the pack, you’ll find a pocket and inside is a rain cover specifically for the rotating piece.  Don’t worry, there is also one for the main backpack as well on one of the side pockets. It even allows for use of the rotating pack while being covered. This part was a wonderful surprise. I fully expect a quality bag to have a rain cover, but to include one for the smaller pack, and still allow full use of the rotation aspect was beyond what I expected.

Inside the pouch you’ll find a few removable dividers and a couple smaller more sleeve style pockets. This pack holds my Canon 6D with 24-105 attached, a 16-35 lens and still has enough room for some smaller items like a spare battery, filters, and things of that nature. There is also a mesh pocket on the lid/flap of the pack.  In the picture below you’ll see  my 6D with 24-105, a 40mm 2.8 pancake, Yongnuo 560II flash and a few filters. Since the dividers can be rearranged or removed, it’s easy to fit a larger lens in there as well if required.

There are pockets and attachment loops everywhere on this bag. There is also a handful of accessories you can purchase separately to go with the Rotation 180.  One such extra is the Tripod Suspension Kit. This suspension kit is a real easy and secure way to carry your tripod while still having quick access to using it. In fact, you can still leave the clips attached to the tripod and use it if you wanted to! You attach a strap with a loop to your tripod, then the straps themselves to the backpack, attach the clips to the loop, and place 1 or 2 tripod legs through the elastic loop on the side of the backpack.  This allows the tripod to be suspended in a comfortable way with very quick access.

There are two other ways you’re able to attach a tripod or anything of that nature to this bag. You can use the side pouch on the bag and secure it up higher with strap. I personally don’t use it this way since the weight makes it feel lopsided, but it is there if one were to require that.  The third way is with the removable tripod cup/sling on the front center of the bag. You can slide anywhere from 1-3 legs into the sling and secure it up higher with another strap.  My tripod legs don’t have the rotating locks, so it only fits one leg comfortably into the sling, then you can either do as I did and leave the 2 out front, or flip that and put them between the sling and the bag.

A smaller more travel oriented tripod would be a better fit for traveling distances than the one I’m using here. Even with it’s size though, it sits securely and out of the way when I can’t use the suspension kit.

Another accessory that I’ve purchased are the attachment straps for attaching additional items. With these I am able to attach my sleeping bag and tent and other items that typically don’t go in the bag.  Sure with all of this attached and full the bag weighs a fair bit, but it is still very comfortable thanks to all of the adjustment straps practically everywhere you can think of, and then some.

This bag has so many intricacies I’m going to forget a bunch of them. There are attachment loops on the shoulder straps, on the front of the bag, on the bottom of the bag, and on the waist strap that the rotation pack is a part of. The buckle on the chest strap even has a whistle built into it.

The part of the bag that rests against your back has thick padding that remains comfortable for hours on end and the same goes for the shoulder straps and waist straps. I’ve worn this bag for several hours and it never became uncomfortable. My body itself was getting worn out before I felt like I needed to adjust the bag or take it off. Comfort will not be an issue for most people with this bag.

The zippers are high quality, large and easy to use with or without gloves thanks to the loops on the end of each and every zipper on the main bag and the rotation part. There’s 2  pockets on each side of the bag, on one on the top of the bag. There’s also a larger one on the front of the bag that expands quite a bit and can easily fit a lightweight outer shell.  One of the side pockets is designed for a hydration pouch with a slot to allow the drinking hose to come out the top. The others are big enough to hold a few hats and gloves of varying warmth depending on the conditions you’ll be in.

Inside the main compartment there’s a ton of room.  There’s a padded photo insert you can purchase separately that can house loads of additional camera gear. I do not use this as it holds other items I carry with me all the time.  The large Cokin X-Pro filter set, my Neo overshoes, additional layers or clothing, and other items depending on the outing I have planned.

This is easily the best photo backpack I have used. It fits all the needs I was after and the rotation part truly is great.  It has been used many times in an environment where I simply could not take the bag off to change lenses or filters.  It is a bit large for short every day use, but when I settled on this bag, I had bigger needs in mind and it’s perfect for those. The only other downside that I can think of while using this for a couple months is that the rotating pack gets a little harder to rotate back into place when you pack it full/overfill it. However that isn’t what I’d consider a true negative since it works just fine if you use it within it’s limits and not over stuff it with to many large lenses.  It holds my camera and the 2 lenses I use all the time. Any additional lenses I throw into the main compartment.

Almost forgot to mention this aspect about the main compartment as well! You can access the main compartment through the top of the bag like a traditional backpack, or from the back of the bag. This gives you a huge opening to easily get anything in and out and pack accordingly without any trouble. Additionally, you can rotate the entire bag around so it’s hanging off the front of you and open it up to access those items without taking the bag off and setting it on the ground.

Here’s a few more shots of the various things about the bag.

MIndshift gear has just recently came out with their second bag called the Rotation 180 Panorama. This is a smaller bag that would be much more oriented for day trips and normal every day outings where as I consider the Rotation 180 Professional to be more of a backpacking/longer trip bag. Given what I love about this bag, I may pick up the Panorama and give it a shot as well.

The Rotation 180 Professional isn’t cheap, it starts at $389.99 for the bag itself with no accessories and goes up to $499.99 with all of the accessories. However, I do believe it is worth the cost for the features and quality you get.

Click the link above to read about the bag on their main website or to purchase one. If you want to look at some of the accessories and other items they have available, check out the link here.

As I’ve said before, I love this bag and would recommend it to anyone looking for a top quality and roomy bag that can be used for backpacking with photography equipment. The quick access to everything without needing to take the bag off are the key selling points for me and they work well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this bag whether you have one or may be interested in one. Have any questions? Leave them below and I’d be more than happy to answer them.


Snow on the Oregon Coast!

While snow itself isn’t terribly rare here on the coast, it is rare when we get so much and it blankets the beaches as well! Taking advantage of the unique scene, one of my friends and I decided to hit up the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and then took a quick trip to Otter Rock.

Of course it was cold given the conditions, but the walk into the Lighthouse area was *extremely* cold with the wind.  I was wearing 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a fleece and my winter jacket with the liner, a nice warm fleece beanie cap, insulated gloves and a neck/face warmer and it was still barely enough in the windy spots.  Once we got down onto the beach level, it wasn’t to bad and about what you’d expect. 

It was definitely worth it though for some unique looks to this popular spot. Check out the pictures below and let me know what you think! Be sure to click the images to see them in a larger view.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these prints you can check out the gallery of prints I have for sale by clicking the link here.


Trip Through Southern Oregon

Recently I spent a few days photographing the southern Oregon coast with a day or so spent in the Redwoods in northern Cali.  It was a weekend full of incredible light for both sunrises and sunsets.  Had a great time with a couple friends and we all came away with some great shots.  Here’s the collection I was able to capture.

Click on the images to view them in a larger lightbox view!


A Reminder of the Ocean’s Power

A couple weeks ago I went up to Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda with a couple buddies (Cody Cha and Majeed Badizadeganto photograph the sunset and the high surf at the tail end of a storm.  The night consisted of some great storm clouds, awesome color, and yes, the wave action was quite good as well.

The evening started off with a little rain as we were just getting in a place we could photograph.  Not to be deterred as we always go prepared with rain gear and covers for our equipment, we set up to shoot what is probably the most popular spot at Cape Kiwanda.  It wasn’t long that the rain let up and Cody pointed out a rainbow starting to form to the east! 

 Rainbow at Cape Kiwanda just as the rain let up.

In roughly the same spot with a much more common composition, the high water created some great contrast and movement on the sandstone. 

 Cape Kiwanda at Sunset with a traditional view

After getting our fill of shots down here, we headed up to the tip of the cape where there’s a great bowl in the rocks that the waves crash up and flow back out to sea. Another popular spot as you can get the big haystack rock in the distance as part of your composition.   

This next shot is unprocessed and straight out of the camera just to show what the area we were shooting looked like.  This is another popular spot on the cape that photographers love to shoot.

 Cape Kiwanda Bowl unprocessed image

It’s hard to get the perspective here, but that water coming up the rocks was a good distance away from us, and we are roughly 50′-60′ above the ocean.  With some reasonably sized waves and the color setting in nicely, we setup to shoot and we were all safe and thought to be in a good place.


After a few minutes we were unfortunate enough to have this happen……

 Cape Kiwanda - The huge wave that came over our heads and caused damage.

This huge wave came flying up at us and it was well above our heads.  The force of the wave knocked me to the ground including my tripod with the camera and lens on it of course.  The only reason this shot happened was I was already set up and firing a series of shots.  The gentlemen you see in the picture was just fine, just got a little wet, but he was very lucky the wave was not heading directly at him like it was to us.

Majeed didn’t have his backpack on his back and it was nearly washed back out to sea with the water. Luckily the guy out here was able to grab it before it made it all the way out.  After a few moments and realizing we were all okay, we quickly headed to a much safer location.  Had a few nervous laughs as we settled back down.

We were all okay, just rather soaked from the salt water, but some of our equipment was not so fortunate.  Majeed lost his phone and had to get it replaced, but his camera equipment was alright after drying out for a couple days.  Thank goodness for the expensive gear being okay!

Just Friday (the 27th), 3 days before this occurred I had purchased a new Nikon D7100 and an LG G2 phone.  Both of these ended up with fatal wounds 🙁  The phone does not have a removable battery and when I pulled it out of my pocket, the LED notification light was flickering and acting like it was shorting out, which I believe it really was. The phone never came back to life but was insured and a replacement should be here by the time this post goes live.

The D7100 I was thinking would be alright after drying out for a couple days. I pulled the battery immediately and as soon as I got it home, I put it in front of a heater. After a couple days I put a battery in and attempted to turn it on with no success. Being super bummed about that I took a closer look and realized there was some separation in parts of the body that would allow for water to go pretty much directly inside. 

In addition to that, I had my wide angle lens on the camera, and I do not yet know if that is alright. It makes some interesting clicking noises when turning the zoom ring, but it does move as before, as does the focus ring. Without a camera to test it on though, I’m not sure if it works or not. Here’s to hoping it does! 

Here’s a couple shots of the camera’s damage which is now better than it was after I pushed it back together some. 

 D7100 top side view of body damage

 D7100 bottom side view of body damage.

Even after growing up on the coast, and fully understanding and respecting the power of the ocean and it’s dangers, it can still throw some unexpected danger your way.  Everyone made it out safely and that is the most important thing, but it was also an expensive reminder of the dangers that can come from nowhere. 

My friend Majeed made a blog post the other day about some Landscape Photography Safety Tips. Be sure to check it out by clicking the link! It’s well worth the read and some great advice to heed before your next outing.



Whistler Vacation

For the last week and a half or so, I was on a family vacation!  Of course this means I took a lot of pictures and enjoyed a lot of activities with the family.  Our destination was Mt. Whistler with a few stops along the way.

Seattle, Mt. St. Helens, Stanley Park, ATV rides, Zip lines, getting a new transmission for our car in Canada and seeing some beautiful waterfalls and mountain ranges are some things and places we did and saw.

Read on to see the pictures and videos captured from this trip (roughly in the order they were done). It was quite fun!

Mt. St. Helens

 We started our trek up to visit some family to celebrate my nieces 4th birthday!! This was done at a bowling alley with lots of other kids and of course it was fun and enjoyable.  After that we drove on up to Centralia, WA to stay a night. During this time we visited some of the observation centers for Mt. St. Helens!

I’ve always wanted to visit this place and especially take a helicopter ride into the mountain. Sadly we weren’t able to do that, but we were able to get some breath taking views of the mountain and valleys surrounding it.

Check out the few photos in the slider below, or if you want to see bigger versions check out the gallery link by clicking here.  Highly recommend viewing larger for better color, detail and perspective, especially for the panoramas.


Needing to pass some time during the day on Sunday, we decided to look for something to do in Seattle. Of course there’s A LOT to do here, but we didn’t want to spend much money.  What we found was pretty awesome though. 

Located at South Lake Union park, the Center For Wooden Boats offers rides in sail boats and such during the week.  On Sunday though, they offer them for free!  On nice days, there’s a line early on to sign up for times later in the day. We arrived early to get a spot in line, and lucky for us, the people in front of us were signing up for a time slot later in the day. So we went right away.

We didn’t go on a sailboat though, we went on a small steam powered boat! it was really cool and a pleasant time on the water with awesome views of the city.

Watch the slideshow below or view larger versions of the images by clicking here!

Stanley Park

After the boat ride in Seattle, we headed to cross the border and meet up with some other family in the Vancouver, BC area.  We stayed here for a couple nights and ran into some trouble.  The transmission on one of our vehicles died and we had to get a new one.  We were able to drive it carefully, but it was stuck in one gear and what not.  While checking it out along side the road at the house we stayed in, a guy who works at a car shop happened to drive by!  He gave us directions to where the shop was and we went there first thing in the morning.  They were able to diagnose the problem, and get a transmission replacement picked up and put in the very next day. Was great and fast service.  The shop was Port Moody Auto Repair, in the town aptly named Port Moody.

Meanwhile, we ventured into Vancouver proper and went to the big Stanley Park.  A lot to do here and one can easily spend a couple of days. We spent a full day day here at the park and saw some interesting things such as a Black Squirrel, and some fighter jets flying overhead as well.  This was on Canada Day, so it was a VERY busy city and traffic was terrible when attempting to leave.

Check out the slideshow below or view the larger versions by clicking here!

I had to add this picture below because it was quite funny to watch.  Of course I am bias towards my nieces, but they have to be the cutest ever!  Below is one of my nieces and her dad.  He was trying to teach her how to throw rocks and lifting your leg to do it.  She got all the steps down, just in the wrong order.  She would stay planted and throw, then lift the leg after the fact, and it was the same side leg as the throwing arm. Quite fun to watch. 

 Niece and her father throwing rocks at the beach,
Niece and her father throwing rocks at the beach,

Whistler Fun Stuff

Mt. Whistler was the main event for our vacation.  I thoroughly loved the area and could easily see myself living in a place like this if it weren’t so dang expensive.  Mountains everywhere, lakes and rivers everywhere, pretty much any activity you can think of is close by, lots of people from all over the world, all seasons and lots of wildlife.  What’s not to love about this area? I can’t think of anything!!!

I borrowed a friends GoPro camera in hopes of capturing some video of the fun things we did.  I don’t know if I’d call any of it successful, but there is video from myself going down the big zip lines, and then the next day with my sister going down the zip lines.  The group that went with my sister did a lot more interesting stuff, like going upside down and what not.  I also used the camera to make a timelapse of our ATV ride we went on.

First up comes my perspective of the zip lines.  The longest line was roughly 2200 feet long and they say you reach 55-60mph!  There is audio in the videos, but it’s mostly muffled voices and the loud noise of the zipline above you, so you aren’t missing anything by having it muted.


Below is from my sisters perspective.  They did more riding upside down and what not as well!

A couple days later, we were deciding on what else we wanted to do.  A few of us really wanted to ride some ATV’s and others weren’t so keen on it.  We had a 2 year old with us, and she was to young to ride on an ATV anyways, so we found some Jeep tours! Some family went on the Jeep tour up the mountain, and others went on the ATV’s.  Here’s a timelapse at 30fps from my perspective on the ATV. 

Waterfalls and Forest

There is no shortage of waterfalls nearby Whistler as well. We were only able to hit up 4 or so, but all were quite enjoyable and rather easy to get to.  Shannon Falls was by far the most beautiful with the way it cascaded down the cliff.  It is also by far the most popular and very easy to get to, but still stunning even with all the people.  The others we visited were Brandywhine Falls, Nairn Falls and Alexander Falls.

Watch the slideshow below or view the larger and better versions by going to the full album by clicking here

Sunrise and Sunset

A few days were perfectly clear with no clouds, and others had a great amount of clouds for shooting!  In the evenings and early morning we hung out as a family, so I did all my shooting from our balcony, but it still had some beautiful views!

As with the others, watch the slideshow below or if you want to view the larger and better versions, visit the gallery by clicking here! I highly recommend viewing larger, especially for the panoramas.

Short timelapse of a sunrise as well. 

So there you have it…

All the worthwhile stuff from the trip!  It was definitely a fun time with TONS of stuff to do.  We only did a few small things, and there’s a lot more if we go back. Bungee jumping, white water rafting, jet boats, sky diving, over night hiking/camping at some high lakes etc…  

If  you’ve been up to the Mt. Whistler area, what did you do? Id love to hear what others did during their stay here.  Also let me know what you think about the stuff I captured. 


A Weekend of Photography

Over Memorial Day weekend I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my time out and about in nature with some great friends and other photographers!  Being primarily a landscape photographer, it is always a blast hiking, biking and photographing the beauty nature has to offer.  To end it all, I was able to visit some family and take a few photographs of the newest addition to our family, my niece Kacie.

Being on the coast, I usually have to drive a fair bit to get to the waterfalls and other areas but that’s never a problem since I get to listen to podcasts, audiobooks and music to pass the time and get me pumped up for shooting!

The weekend entailed a few different places…..

  • Opal Creek Wilderness area
  • Scotts Mills Park
  • Abiqua Falls
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Visiting family! 

Continue on to see my favorite pictures from the trip! Click on each image for a lightbox view for better detail.

Opal Creek Wilderness


Opal Creek is an area that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now. It always sounded so beautiful with a good variety of stuff to shoot.  It was definitely an incredibly beautiful place with some fantastic colors throughout.  To get here, you start with a 3 or so mile hike to a place called Jawbone Flats.  The flats is basically a small area with some cabins that you can rent which will put you much closer to the center of everything around.  You’re not allowed to drive to these cabins, so you have to hike or bike.   

In this case, I met up with a couple friends Saturday morning and we biked in.  Being the out of shape guy I am, it was quite tiring, but a lot faster than hiking in.   We are able to do some short hikes to the beautifully colored water, some great rapids and waterfalls mixed among a beautiful forest area. There is plenty more to see including some old growth forest, more waterfalls and such but those were a bit further than we were wanting to go for this trip, and one of the bridges crossing the creek has been washed out and never replaced to my knowledge.

 Upstream view from atop a bridge that spans Opal Creek.  You can see where the creek gets its name from the beautifully colored water. It's very inviting!

 SawMill Falls along Opal Creek. This waterfall is right where an old saw mill used to operate and one can assume, where its name originated from.

I had a Cokin P series filter set with a few other filters and accessories for it that I lost to the creek while taking the shot above.  I was able to climb up some rocks to get a slightly different vantage point than the easy one with no problem. On the way back down is when the filter holder fell into the water and floated out of reach before I could get down safely with my camera to snatch it.  Luckily, it’s a fairly inexpensive set of items to replace if I choose to do so. Was it worth it to lose that stuff while getting this shot?   I don’t know, it’s a beautiful view, but with a little more care, I probably could have left with everything in my possession. 

Scotts Mills Park


Scotts Mills county park was our meeting place before heading up the road to Abiqua Falls.  Marty (one of the friends and photographers) wanted to shoot this park before heading out and thought it would be a good meeting place and he was right!

There’s not much to shoot overall, but there is this pretty cool looking waterfall of sorts with some man-made aspects and interesting rocks all round it.  I arrived earlier than our planned meeting time since I didn’t sleep well the night before and was able to catch just a glimmer of color from the sunrise. 

 Small waterfall at Scotts Mills County Park along Butte Creek with some great and interesting man-made aspects to it.

Abiqua Falls


Abiqua Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls I have been to.  The hike through the forest, along the creek bed all to open up in this beautiful area of column rock and a gorgeous waterfall in the middle.  It’s not the easiest to get to, but definitely worth the trip.  It starts with a pretty rough drive down a road for about 2.5 miles or so.  I highly recommend a 4×4 vehicle or at least one that has higher road clearance.

Once you get to the trail head, it’s only 1/2 mile hike or so to the waterfalls, but don’t let the distance fool you. It’s a fairly steep hike through the forest down to the creek bed.  There are plenty of steep areas that have ropes to help you climb up and down.  Once you get to the creek bed, you’ll walk upstream a short distance, but this short distance requires climbing over, under and around numerous fallen trees and over loose rocks. 

As you get closer you hear the waterfall from a good distance, but you can’t see it until you round the last corner and opens up into this amazing area you see below! 

 The beautiful Abiqua Falls showing off a great water flow this time of year.

 Abiqua Falls from a lower perspective showing some of the rocks along the creek.

After leaving Abiqua, we headed for Silver Falls State Park.  We continued down a road passing some great looking forest areas only to come to a locked gate. So we had to turn around and lucky for us, the car leading the way had a photographer in it who convinced the driver to pull over to photograph the forest with some great light and fog throughout. 

 Fog in the forest creating an eerie but beautiful feeling and that's what I wanted to create with this image.

Silver Falls State Park


After Abiqua Falls and a quick lunch, we headed over to Silver Falls State Park.   This is a very well known state park that’s home to a lot of waterfalls. Most famously known for 10 or so falls along it’s trails that are pretty easy to access if you’re willing to walk the distance.  One of the unique aspects about this place are a couple of the waterfalls you are able to walk behind which is always an interesting experience if you’ve never done it.

 Double Falls at Silver Falls state park.  Above the big waterfall you can see just a tiny bit of the upper falls.

 A waterfall at Silver Falls state park.

 A view from under some of the rocks that you can get to from walking behind the waterfall.

 A more traditional view of one of the waterfalls at Silver Falls state park.

 A view from directly behind the waterfall. Taken rather quickly to avoid all the spray from the water.

Family to end the weekend

In addition to all the beautiful outdoor nature I was able to photograph this weekend… I was also lucky enough to photograph the newest addition to our family. My niece Kacie!

She was 6 days old when these were taken and really did not want to sleep at all for us while we were trying to do a shoot.  The shot with her eyes closed only lasted a minute or so, but was long enough to capture that pleasant and peaceful look on her face. 

 My niece Kacie having a curious look on her face.

 A very rare moment during our shoot when Kacie had her eyes closed. It didn't last long though!

 Kacie lifting her head on her own with a determined look on her face.

It was definitely a fun filled and busy weekend.  Couldn’t think of a better way to spend a few days, except maybe if there was a Portland Timbers game in there somewhere. Which I was able to watch in my motel the first night. 

Let me know what you think of the photos and these places! Have you been there? want to visit?  Have any stories and places you’d like to share? Post away! 

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Making of – Ona Beach Sunset

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to try something a little different than usual for me. I’ve recorded a screencast of my editing on one of my favorite photos. I’ve also included a link to download the files I started with straight out of camera.  This is a bit longer of a post than usual, but it goes more in depth into how this specific image was created, the software I used and the effects within those pieces of software.  The video itself is about 7m 27s long from beginning to end, with a more detailed description written out here in the post.

The software/plugins I used for this image are

All of these programs have free trials that you can test if you do not own them. I highly recommend every piece of it, but I would not be able to live without Lightroom and Color Efex.

I’ve included the 3 original files that I start with at the beginning of the video if you would like to download them and follow along or just do your own edit and see what you come up with. These are in the DNG format and straight out of camera.  Click the link here to download the zip file containing the 3 raw images.

 These are the 3 original exposures taken directly from the camera and are the files included in the download link above for you to use.
These are the 3 original exposures taken directly from the camera and are the files included in the download link above for you to use.

Creating the HDR image…

My program of choice for creating an HDR is Nik HDR Efex Pro2. To get things started, I selected the 3 exposures I was wanting to use and exported them into HDR Efex. For some reason, to send the images over into HDR Efex, you need to open the “Export to” and then choose HDR Efex as opposed to most other plugins where you select from the “Edit In” menu.

The first window you see pop up is where you select the image you want as a reference image for ghost removal.  You can choose to not have any ghost removal, or in increments of 20%.  Knowing that I wanted to have the water from the longest exposure visible, I chose the right hand picture from the top of the window, and you see the preview change. You can adjust the amount of ghosting until you’re happy with the look. In this case, I left it at 100%.  The slider below the preview image adjusts the exposure of the preview only, this will not affect the image creation at all.  On this same window, you can correct for Chromatic Aberration and the alignment of the images.

After you select the ghosting options you want, you click the “Create HDR” button on the bottom right and your HDR is created in a short amount of time and you are taken into the main part of the program to do some stylizing and other options.  On the left pane you can select from a good variety of presets in a few different categories and you’ll see a small thumbnail preview of the effect.  Feel free to play around with these all you want and you can always reset back to the default blend by selecting the Default preset.  Once you do a few images, you’ll get a feel for what presets you like and you will be able to select them rather quickly.  I usually pick between 3 or so options, and rarely will I pick a different one.

My top 3 choices tend to be

  • Deep 1
  • Deep 2 (used for this image)
  • Dark

Of course you have the large preview of the image in the center, and many more options over to the right.  On the right you have a lot of control over nearly any element of the image you would like.  The preset you choose on the left will adjust the options over on the right, but you can override each option if you wish.  For my workflow, I normally just play around with the Depth, Detail and Drama under the HDR Method portion. I don’t do anything with the color adjustments as that comes next in a separate plugin.  When I’m happy with the look and tonal range of the highlights and shadows, I save my image and back to Lightroom it goes as you see below.

 3 exposure HDR image being sent back to Lightroom for further adjustment.

Color adjustment

This is where most of the major changes happen to the look and feel of the image. Another one of my go-to plugins is Nik Color Efex Pro 4.  Nearly every image I create, whether it be a landscape or a portrait makes a run through this software. This is another plugin that can have such drastic effects on your image. It’s very powerful for full image adjustments or localized adjustments using what Nik calls U-point technology.  

On the left pane you’ll find the different effects you can use. It can look a bit overwhelming at first since there are a lot of options, and when selecting one, you often see a huge change to your image.  This will take some playing around with and seeing which effects you like. You’ll quickly find your favorites after using it a couple of times.  

My favorite adjustments are easily the following.

  • Brilliance/Warmth
  • Polarization
  • Contrast Color Range
  • Detail Extractor

You can see major changes with each of the effects during the video.  You’re not always going to want such drastic changes, nor are you going to want every effect across the entire image.  This is where the right pane comes in.

On this pane, you adjust the different options for each effect you choose.  For Brilliance/Warmth, you see a Saturation, Warmth and Perceptual Saturation slider.  Saturation does exactly what you’d expect and simply increases the saturation of your colors. The Warmth is your temperature and makes it warmer or cooler.  I tend to be drawn more towards bright, warm vibrant colors so I typically increase the warmth a tad as you see in the video. 

Perceptual Saturation was introduced in version 4 of Color Efex pro.  This isn’t a simple saturation booster as it works differently and is best left described by Nik software themselves.

They state… 

Perceptual Saturation is a new setting in the Brilliance/Warmth filter in Color Efex Pro 4. This is different from the Saturation filter in that it doesn’t increase the overall saturation of the image. Instead, it affects the hues and their complimentary color in the surrounding colors to increase the perception of additional saturation.

You will need to find a look that you’re happy with, as these items are very subjective. I like the look across the entire image so I didn’t use any control points (selective adjustments) for this effect. Once you’re happy with that  particular filter, you click the “Add Filter” button and you’re then able to select the next effect/filter you want.  If I had to pick just one effect to use, it would be this one and I really love the way it brings out the greens and oranges on the rocks more than anything else.

Pro Tip – Change your effect sliders from one extreme to
another a couple of times so you can see the entire range of what it’s doing.
Then dial it back to where you’re comfortable.

The next filter in this image I used was Polarization. This does what most would expect and really affects the blue skies more than other parts of the image. It does have subtle effects on other parts if you watch closely, but most drastically in the sky.  I usually like the way this effect changes my image, so I leave this one effecting the entire image as well.  There are some subtle changes here and nothing to big, but I think it adds to the photo.

Contrast Color Range, like many others can change the look and feel of your photo very easily.  Simply sliding the top Color slider back and forth, you can see how it changes.  This filter is fun to play around with and can create some awesome effects and changes when balanced correctly.  Spend some time and adjust all 4 of the sliders available to you to gain the look you’re after.  Again, I like the look this has across the entire image.

Detail Extractor… some of what this filter does can be achieved with tone mapping in your HDR creation, but I prefer to use this in Color Efex instead. It’s more comfortable for me and easier to select specific parts of the image for it. As I do with most of the effects I apply, I will change the slider from one extreme to another.  While doing so, looking closely at different parts of the image and not just the image as a whole.  I’ve never used this effect across the entire image.  You will see that I use the Control Points (U-point technology) to apply this effect in specific areas.  To add a control point, select the + sign that sits next to a Control point icon below your effect sliders.  Then drop the pin on the part of the image you want to add the effect to.

With this image, I used 2 control points. One on the top of the rock in the foreground and one around the sun.  You can adjust the size of the affected area and the opacity of that particular control point.  I enjoyed the effect at stronger levels on the rock, but not as much on the sun. You can see the sun gets some weird contrast in the colors there, so I was able to adjust that by changing the opacity on that control point only.

Pro Tip – Uncheck the boxes for the effects to see the image with/without that effect applied. This is great to do on a final pass to make sure you’re happy with the edits.

Lastly, I used the Skylight Filter. This filter isn’t always used, but I did like what it did to the colors and glow on the rock in the foreground.  it was a bit to much for my liking in the sky, so to have only the rock (and nearby surrounding area) affected, I used another Control Point. 

You can adjust any of the filters again by simply clicking on them on the right pane. Now that we’re done in Color Efex, we save the image and it gets imported back into Lightroom for any further adjustments you may want to do.

Below is the image that we just finished up and sent back into Lightroom.

 The photo after adjusting the colors and effects in Color Efex Pro4 software.

You may be able to see some dust spots in the sky, and what looks to be water drops on the filter that I was using when taking this shot. The water is apparent on the shadowy part of the rock on the right side of the frame.  There is also a small piece of white shell on the lower right.  The next step is to remove these items that I don’t want in the frame, and for that I kick the image over into PhotoShop.

These edits are very simple on this image and I just use the Healing Brush to click and remove those spots. Adjust the brush size for the water spots, take a final glance over the image, then close Photoshop and save it back into Lightroom again.

After looking at the image for a few minutes during this process, I could tell that I wanted the sky to be just slightly more orange/red to better match the color on the front rock.  Open up the Develop module in Lightroom, scroll down to the HSL/Color/ B&W, select HSL (should be selected by default) and now I can adjust the Hue of specific colors.  To pick certain colors that your mouse hovers over, click on the little circle/pin at the top left of that menu.

Then move your mouse over to the area that contains the color you want to adjust. You will see the colors on the right highlighting as your mouse passes over them and when you have the one want highlighted, click with your mouse and drag up or down to adjust the hue. This will adjust the hue of that color across your entire image.  I wasn’t going for a big change, just a tad adjustment.  Only thing left was to lower the exposure just a tad and then level out the horizon ever so slightly until I felt I was finished and ready to export the image for sharing.

Here is our final image after all of the editing! This one you can click on to view a larger view of it.

 The Final and completed photo after all of the editing

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and watching the process I went through on editing this image. I am really happy with this and is one of my personal favorites. Not everyone will like it and that’s perfectly okay! We all have different tastes and I enjoy seeing how other people create their photos, even if I see the image going in a different direction. That’s the beautiful thing about Art, it’s all subjective and we create to fit what we see in our own minds.

I’d love to hear what you think about the image itself and my process.  Better yet, if you downloaded the files and followed along or created your own version, post a link so I can check it out!