Incredible Mt. Hood, Oregon

I shot this image around 25 years ago on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Back then I shot mostly film with a 4×5 field view camera. I loved working that way!

This was a lucky day. A storm was pounding the west side of the Cascade Mountains and I was shooting up in the Government Camp area. I have been all around this mountain many times but never had I been in these conditions above the clouds.

As I was set up here, the clouds, once hitting the mountainside, would break up and blow across the pass at the base of the mountain as seen here. I would shoot a frame or two, then the clouds would cover the mountain, so I would wait a little longer until there was a break and the mountain was visible.


Now if you are a digital shooter you may know very well what can be done with image manipulation. In the days of film, not so much. If you made a print you could burn and dodge but cloning, extensive color manipulation, and all the things we use daily were not available. The times were simpler, right.

Back then, you still needed a bag ‘o tricks so I am about to share one of mine with you. Ready? The Double Cokin Trick! That was the ‘icing on the cake’ for this widely published image. So now you are wondering “what?”

A Cokin graduated filter ring allows several Cokin filters to be in the holder at once, so in this case I used the Tobacco filter (which mimics sweet light) on top and then a Blue sky filter on the bottom. It worked very well for creating a marketable image.

There you go. I just shared my secret trick. Haha

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Who’s the Star?

When it comes to outdoor photography, many photographs have a star subject in them. It could be anything in the scene and often it is something that caught your eye.

Sometimes the star of the photo is obvious and other times it is not. When I find a star to photograph I often look for other features in the landscape that support the star and when those work well, you have a well composed image.

But in today’s digital world, composing and capturing the star and the supporting elements, is only half the process to a great photo. The other half of the process is in the digital darkroom. That is where you complete what you started in the field and that is the case here with this image.


Scott Lake in the Oregon Cascades is a popular viewpoint for nature photographers. I was up there several times over the last month and captured this image on the first visit in July. We are in a terrible drought so the water was very low. That is of course terrible but also a blessing because this rock is right up close to the shoreline as a result of the low water and makes a great foreground element.

I returned to the same location a week later and the water had dropped leaving the rock in the mud and in my opinion, no longer a great foreground element. When I composed this image, the star of the photo is clearly the mountain and reflection. I moved the camera around a little but found that I liked the rock sitting between the two mountain peaks in the reflection. That felt balanced. Continue reading

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The World’s on Fire

It seems late in the summer, that the world is on fire. That is probably an exaggeration, but in the Western US where I am, there are wildfires everywhere and the forest fire smoke has been thick as fog lately.

While late summer is not the best time to photograph many of the iconic locations around here, the smoke has made it hardly worthwhile to venture out. But yesterday I hooked up with a photographer visiting from the east coast and I wanted him to see our iconic locations.

So we went anyway to Sparks Lake, our most iconic location around here, and sure enough the smoke was thick. I was not motivated to shoot when I got there but then I started to frame some scenes and realized that while this unfortunate smoke was ruining a scene that I have shot countless times, it was creating a whole new view of the mountain and lake reflection, that I never see or photograph


I then started to shoot all of the variations I have captured before but with smoke. and as I kept shooting I was becoming pleasantly surprised. The smoke was obscuring the distant mountains but not the foreground elements and that creates contrast that was very interesting. So this is my first capture of many to come.

And it goes to show that ‘all light is good light.’ You just have to figure how best to use it.

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Photographing When I Am Not Photographing

Like most photographers, I plan my photo shoots whenever it suits me or whenever I must, like an assignment. The rest of the time that big camera bag is tucked away.

I have heard over and over during my career, that successful photographers always have a camera with them and I sure remember many times I wished I had my camera with me. The thought of always having my dslr with me did not sit well in my mind as I did not always want a camera slung over my shoulder except during a photo outing.

A intentional photographic foray, with the gear, is a conscious effort to go hunt for visual prey.  For me it is intensive effort to dig deep and go far with my imagination and imagery. I leave everything behind and immerse myself in a world where I tune out most thoughts and focus specifically on what is around me. This is why I, and probably you, shoot.  It’s like another magical world.

I am not always able to put in that effort during normal days/weeks due to ‘life’. Eventually I reach a point where I obsess over my need to ‘go shoot’ and so I do. But in-between those shoots when I am out and about without my gear, in the outdoors or wherever,  I have that smartphone to satisfy the need to create even one image.

Not that my smartphone is anywhere close to being a replacement for my dslr,  but I can shoot when I see a worthy subject no matter where I am. In fact, I am a ‘happy snappin’ addict now. I am thrilled with the simplicity of just snappin’ without all the setup of my gear and the change to find and capture is just as exciting as it is with my dslr in the field.


So this photo is one such image captured when we walked across into Mexico a few months ago. These colorful chairs in an outdoor cafe made a great design with a mix of colors and it has the impact I like in my photos.  I zoomed with the iPhone and then processed it with the Mix app.

I submitted it to my stock agencies smartphone image library as well but it was rejected due to no photo release. Hmmm? :)

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