This is a classic shot of Multnomah Falls in the popular Columbia River Gorge. This highly scenic gorge area replete with lush green trails and beautiful waterfalls is located just outside of Portland, Oregon. The are begins at the western end of Troutdale, Oregon. The really scenic drive is along the Historic Columbia River Highway which parallels I-84 east and provides fantastic views of numerous cascading waterfalls and overlooks. There are well maintained trails along this stretch that lead you to some iconic waterfalls, many within short hikes.
There is so much to photograph in the area but it is still easy to take images of the same vantage points we all have soon so many times. I’m guilty of the same sin, but once we get that shot, we should try to push ourselves to find a different perspective, something to show our own brand on the subject. Now, this is not always easy for a number of reasons. Sometimes, such as in the case of Mulnomah Falls, limitations of access or simply unaccommodating terrain offers obstacles to overcome. Nonetheless, continue to push yourself and you might be surprised at the result.
After taking a number of what I would call classic compositions of these falls, I moved up the trail and with a little effort came up with the perspective in “Multnomah Falls #2. It was not easy because it was hard finding an area where I could get proper clearance for the composition I wanted. After this shot, I went on then to try to find supporting images to tell the story of the falls and the trail to the upper part of Multnomah. Every image does not have to be a fine art piece. Think of it as a set of images to support your main image and convey a sense of what it would be like for others yet to visit this beautiful area..
Arriving at my shooting location at James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area, I could see that photographing the moon over the barn was not going to be an option this morning. Well, just have to make the best of it. Truth is, often what I expect or set out to photograph does not entirely work out. But most often I still come away with some success and at times even more so than I had hoped.
Given my situation, I decided to photograph the old, mostly abandoned, farm structures making the most of the light I had. In any case I knew that the sky conditions could change in a hurry as sunrise approached, offering additional options.
My approach on the fly was to combine images to suggest a story about what once was, even as nature begins to reclaim what is left of this old farmstead. I held no expectations of producing fine art prints from my efforts. It had really become an exercise in trying to make the best of less than ideal conditions. This forced me to explore various compositional arrangements, given less than ideal light when I started.
As I framed one of my first images of the barn, I could see partial breaks in the clouds at the horizon line and some red glow from the rising sun. The texture in the lingering overcast added some drama to the scene. This image was my favorite of the morning. Other shots of collapsing or run down structures help build the story.
What’s the take away? Often times you will venture out hoping, maybe even expecting, optimum conditions. We know we are going to catch that perfect shot, right? Well, most often it just doesn’t work that way. But regardless of the conditions, if you just “endeavor to preserver” (as said by Chief Dan George said in Outlaw Jose Wales), we can usually come away with a few good shots while exercising our photographic eye. If you’re really lucky you could even exceed your original expectations.