Travel Report: The Pacific Northwest

Out to Pasture, Dalles Mountain Ranch, Oregon

A whirlwind tour would best describe my recent trip to lead a photo tour in the Pacific Northwest with friend and fellow landscape photographer, Alex Mody.  Before we hit Oregon, we need to rewind a week to the opposite side of the country, St. Augustine, Florida. The two locations couldn't be any more different than one another. I started off in St. Augustine leading a small group workshop at the Alligator Farm photographing the many species of birds that nest in the swamp from late winter through early summer. After four days of photographing wildlife, I gave a Keynote Presentation for the third annual Florida Birding & Photo Fest to a group of incredibly nice and welcoming photographers. That night I rushed back to Jacksonville by midnight just in time to catch a few hours of sleep before having to be at the airport for a 6am flight to Portland. The flight went as planned and I landed in Portland with only two hours to spare before meeting my workshop group in Hood River. I was exhausted, but ready for 8 days of exploration and teaching in the Gorge and Olympic National Park. We kicked off a great tour with some very sweet light over Dalles Mountain Ranch. The wildflowers were less than amazing this year, but we did find some nestled amongst this old abandoned and rotting car at sunset.


Rowena Blush, Columbia River, Oregon

Sunrise over Rowena Crest, Columbia River, Oregon

The next morning we started on Rowena Crest at sunrise, the best light of the trip by far. The wildflowers were not amazing, but in much better shape and certainly more profuse than Dalles Mountain Ranch. We worked the area for several hours until the light was gone. 

Ponytail Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The next few days we didn't see much of any great light and the gorge was uncharacteristically dry and sunny, but we were able to plan our shoots for the right time of the day to maximize the best light for shooting streams and waterfalls. All got wet, a few camera's were sacrificed and everyone had a great time working the water.

Punchbowl Falls, Eagle Creek, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Rush, Rush, Gorton Creek, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

After 3.5 great days of photographing the Gorge, we all packed our gear and hit the long road to Forks, Washington for the second leg of our adventure on the Olympic Peninsula. This leg of the trip will focus exclusively on the coast and rain-forests. 

Tangled, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington

Day one in Olympic was spent most succesefully in the rain forests. A failed attempt at sunrise on Ruby Beach and increasing clouds, allowed us to really focus on the forest today. This is a shot I shared with the group in an attempt to prepare them to learn how to see and compose in this most chaotic of locations.  After many hours in the Hoh, we made an attempt at the coast but were shut out by heavy cloud cover and dull light. The next night however, we managed to get some vey intense light on Ruby Beach and everyone walked away with some winners from that shoot. 

Sunset Sea Stacks, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

300 Seconds, Deep Twilight, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Are third day in the rain forests allowed us the opportunity to track and photograph a Barred Owl amongst the Jurrasic-esque scenery of the Hall of Mosses. We spent nearly two hours watching and waiting for this owl to land on the perfect perch. Our patience and persistence was rewarded.  

Barred Owl, Hall Of Mosses, Olympic National Park, Washington

Later that day we visited the lesser know Queets rainforest. We had the entire location to ourselves that evening and worked strong backlight through the forest. The image below is my favorite from that outing. 

Bedlam, Olympic National Park, Washington

The last morning of the workshop took us to Beach 4 at low tide to photograph the many tide pools in the rocks. We focused on shooting small scenes of the starfish, sea Sea anemones  and tons of intricate and intimate details. 

Starfish and breaking wave, Beach Four, Olympic National Park, Washington

Shine, Beach Four, Olympic National Park, Washington

After breaking bread with the group at Kalaloch Lodge that morning, we all said our goodbye's. I spent the remainder of the day catching up on processing before heading back to the Queets rainforest for one last shoot and finally ending tyne day at Ruby Beach at sunset. I decided to focus my creative energy on capturing small scenes that day, the first is a group of forest ferns with soft late afternoon light raking across and the second is sand patterns at sunset from Ruby Beach.

Watch Your Step, Queets, Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington

Sand and Light, Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

I hope you have enjoyed these images! Feel free to please leave a comment and or share this blog post. 

Best of light,