Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fun (Wet) Times in (Very Wet) (and Cold) Vancouver

While i was naturally very excited to go to Vancouver to shoot Scott & Christi's bridals and wedding i was also very excited to see my aunt and uncle (and my cousin & her baby), and to go HIKE to some beautiful waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge!
i managed to talk my aunt into hiking out to Ramona Falls out by Mt. Hood. I was very encouraged (and a little surprised) to see blue skies (between all the clouds, naturally) when i landed in Vancouver. We stopped by the house, dropped off my bags, and then headed out towards the trailhead which was about an hour away.
Our enthusiasm begin to shrink just a little as we got closer to the mountain and the skies got darker and darker. By the time we were half way the rain was coming down pretty hard. We stopped at a ranger station to get a Forest Service permit and maybe some maps and also some advice that it was too "dangerous" to hike out there in these conditions.
Fortunately my aunt wasn't deterred and neither was i! Even the continuing rain and occasional lightning couldn't turn us around. And fortunately, i had brought my raincoat. Because it was still coming down when we started hiking. But it was still a really pretty trail and hiking in the rain seemed almost like a right of passage for hiking in the pacific northwest.
About half way (or so) to the falls the rain stopped and patches of blue started to peek through the clouds. We even caught a couple of (partial) glimpses of Mt. Hood! Unfortunately, by the time we got to the falls it was already getting a little late and we were losing daylight rather quickly, especially with all the clouds.
So i took as many pictures as i could, but it was cold, getting darker, and the mist from the falls kept blowing all over my lens. I guess i'll just have to go back again when i have more time to take more pictures (and when it's not so cold!). But it was definitely VERY beautiful!

We hiked out to Ramona Falls on Monday and on Tuesday i shot Scott & Christi's bridals. Wednesday morning i drove out to the Japanese Gardens in Portland. And guess what... it was raining. Again. i even bought a rain cover for my camera, but it was always raining so hard i didn't want to get it out and put it on my camera. I know, makes a lot of sense. I had an umbrella, but let me tell you, setting up your camera and tripod to take a photo while simultaneously trying to hold an umbrella over yourself and your gear is a PAIN!

And yes, it REALLY was that green! And that's probably the nice thing about the rain and the clouds. It really just made everything feel lush and fresh.

But don't be disappointed if you don't get the same results. I did use one special tool, a polarizing filter. What does a polarizing filter do? Simple, the same thing your polarized sunglasses do - remove reflections. Without a polarizing filter, a lot of what you see as green would be white instead from the light reflecting off all the wet leaves. If i'm not too lazy i'll try to find one of the ones i took without the filter to show you the difference. But you know me, i'm pretty lazy.

Yes, i know these are all the same waterfall. But it was really pretty, so too bad. If you don't like it just close your eyes and scroll down a couple of lines.

One difference between your polarized sunglasses and a polarized filter is that you have to turn the filter to get the results you want. Screw the filter onto your lens and then twist the filter until the reflections are diminished. Also, usually a polarizing filter works best when it's used perpendicular to the light source (sun). But here, when everything was wet and the light was filtering through the clouds, it seemed to work well in any direction. In just about all the pictures here i was using a polarizing filter.

One other thing about polarizing filters is that they reduce the light coming through so a tripod comes in handy for the subsequent slower shutter speeds.

I absolutely LOVED this little section! I love Zen gardens, and i thought this was SO cool! i definitely want one, but i'd want some bonsai trees, or trees in addition to the rocks in the garden. And this was definitely more gravel than sand, probably easier to maintain.

It's so simple yet just striking and beautiful in an odd sort of way. I don't know, maybe just the simplicity of it brings this peaceful feeling. And while i like playing with the little desktop ones, the act of raking and all that is soothing and calming. But the bigger, lifesize one has a much more profound effect.

I love this tree! i want to get my little bonsai tree to look like a miniature version of this. So much thought and effort goes into shaping and trimming these trees. Of course i'm clueless on trimming mine. Every time i try to trim it i just make it worse i think.

After the Japanese Gardens i went over to the rehearsal for the upcoming wedding. It was good to meet the very competent wedding planner and get a feel for where i'd be shooting the next day. After the rehearsal i had planned to get another hike in, but Scott and Christi's incredibly nice families invited me out to the luncheon with them. Of course it was raining when i arrived and i had to find a parking spot on the street and because of the rain i didn't really pay that much attention to where i parked. i figured i'd just be walking right back from the ballroom. But instead we walked over to the restaurant which kind of disoriented me. So i had to go refresh the meter half way through lunch. i walked out the back of the hotel thinking i'd be on the right street, but i couldn't see the car. So i ran up one block and turned left, ran down that block, still didn't see it (i'm running because the meter has expired by now and it's pouring rain), so i turned left again and ran down that block, turned left again (now i'm back on the street where i started just a block down) and sure enough the car was there, i just went the wrong direction when i came out of the hotel. But at least now i was all wet! Doh!
So after lunch i headed out too see if i could still fit a couple of hikes in. I had grand plans and i wanted to see how much i could still get accomplished. So i headed about 40 miles down the Gorge to Cascade Locks and the Bridge of the Gods. As you're going from the freeway to the bridge there's a little trailhead for the PCT. For those in the know, that's the Pacific Crest Trail. Anyway, of course it was STILL raining, but i had my rain coat and figured i'd be fine. This is only one shot i took going down the PCT. SOOOOO pretty and green! I would've taken more pictures, but it kept pouring rain. There were a couple breaks, but otherwise it POURED!!! But it was still really pretty. I wish i'd had time to put my polarizer on or set up my tripod, but it was just too wet.

Oh, right, i forgot to mention where i was going. I headed down the PCT for Dry Creek Falls. Obviously, there was nothing "dry" about this hike or the waterfall. Soooooo pretty! Now keep in mind that i had just purchased some rain covers for my camera, but did i think to bring them again? Nope. That would be too smart. And of course it started pouring again when i got there. And this time i didn't have an umbrella! Doh!

But i had brought my lightweight camping towel to dry myself off in case i got wet. So i just put that over the camera and lens while i set up my shot, then i'd move the towel real quick, take the picture, wipe the lens off, and then put the towel back. Yeah it worked real great, seeing as how part of the towel ended up in a bunch of my pictures. Doh again! But at least the camera stayed (mostly) dry.

A sane person would probably just take a couple of pictures and then bust out of there as quickly as possible, but i couldn't. It was just too pretty! i even switched out lenses in the rain so i could shoot some photos with my wide angle lens.

And of course even after i finished taking pictures of the falls i had to walk back down stream to get more pictures of the pretty creek. Yes, it was still raining.

Think it was worth it? You can see the falls there off to the right. Everything is just so crazy lush and green!

i want to live out here and just go find the source of a creek and then just walk down it and take tons and tons of pictures. Each section is different and absolutely beautiful. So many little falls, i could've spent SO much longer here! But i did still want to try and get another couple of hikes in so off i went back to the car.
By the time i got back to the car i was DRENCHED. Apparently my rain coat is only so waterproof. My coat was drenched, my shirt was drenched, my shoes were drenched, my pants were drenched, EVERYTHING was soaking wet. Well, except my backpack, i wisely brought my waterproof one and that ended up being a VERY good idea. It was also a good idea to at least bring a dry shirt too. i brought dry socks too, but since i wanted to hike more i figured i might as well leave the wet ones on (they were smartwool, of course, so they were still keeping my feet warm... kinda).

The daylight was fading fast, it was still raining, and now i was wet and cold, but i wasn't giving up on my crazy plans. So i figured i'd head out across the Bridge of the Gods back into Washington, down the highway to Carson and up the Wind River Rd. (or something) to Panther Creek Falls. It was probably at least 30-45 minutes away, but a really short hike. i followed the directions in Curious Gorge (a great hiking guide to the Gorge) and found the unmarked trailhead. I hiked down the trail a few hundred yards and found this - two falls combining into one spectacular display!

There's a viewing platform from the top of the falls, but the guidebook also said you could scramble down to the base of the falls. Of course, my raincoat was soaked, but at least it had stopped raining for a little bit. So downclimbed a little (wet) mossy wall, and then hiked down to the base of the falls (nearly sliding onto my butt in the mud on more than one occasion).

It was super pretty and green and mossy from the bottom, but the mist kept getting all over my lens again, and it was making me VERY cold. There still more falls below this one, but i couldn't figure out how to get there and i was too cold anyway.

But naturally by the time i got back up to the top of the falls i just had to take more pictures of the pretty creek leading down to the falls. If they seem a little dark it was because i was frustrated from earlier pictures where the waterfall was just a solid white line, i didn't want to lose the detail in the water.

I absolutely love this one! The falls with all the old growth trees along the banks in the background. i wish i could've gotten a better angle with more of the falls, but i wasn't willing to get any more wet and it had started raining again.

So i snapped a few more pictures and headed back for the car. i would've loved to head out to Falls Creek Falls, but it was still another 30-45 minutes away, plus at least that much hiking. And i just didn't think there'd be enough light by the time i got out there to take any pictures. Plus it was cold and rainy and i couldn't put my rainjacket back on because it was still drenched. i thought maybe i could hit Beacon Rock on the way back instead, a short little mile long out-n-back, but then i picked up a severe wind advisory on my phone's weather alert. And of course it had started raining again. Oh well, i still had a BLAST!

The next day, before the wedding, i had really wanted to head up Oneonta Gorge. But i knew i'd have to swim a little ways up it and when i woke up guess what it was doing outside. Yep, raining. And the rain i could handle, but it was also barely 40 degrees. Being that wet, swimming up a rather cold creek, and all that on day where i'd be lucky if it broke 50 degrees. Even i'm not THAT crazy. Oh well, one more reason to come back out there again!
Now don't get me wrong, in spite of all the rain, and somewhat colder weather, i still had a great time. And i would still love to live out there. I think it just comes down to being better prepared. Getting a better rain coat, wearing my waterproof shoes and gore tex pants, bring some waterproof gloves, actually using the raincover for my camera. It might rain a lot, but if that's the price you pay for all the green, then i guess i'll take... at least for a little while. Plus i don't think it'd be so bad if it was a little warmer.
Oh, and a little teaser for future posts, i still have MORE waterfall pictures from my last trip i've yet to post. I just haven't been able to decide which ones i liked best yet.


Mythreesons said...

That was a LOT of commentary, Alan. Just saying. The pictures speak for themselves. Those pictures are stunning. Some of the most beautiful waterfall pictures i've ever seen. I want some. Also, I think we're going to play that drinking game where you take a drink everytime I see the word "doh" in your posts.
So, so pretty! Can't wait to see the rest of the waterfall posts!

Super Daysh said...

Oh my word....those pictures were stunning. Absolutely stunning. I want them all, blown up on my walls. Seriously! They are so incredible! My favorite pics of your to date (except the ones of Ellie, of course...tee hee hee). Yes, there was a lot of commentary, but it was funny and fun to read about your very wet adventures. Glad you had fun and glad you got so many awesome pictures that you will now share with me- and I don't even have to wait for edits because these are already edited!! Yay!! Seriously- I want thos pictures. Really, really. You are so talented!

princess jen said...

I loved reading that post. You are hilarious! I love all your commentary and the photo lesson on filters. Can I have another personal tutorial? I wish we had room to display all these amazing photos :) I love you so much and I can't wait to visit these beautiful places together with you...

Bug said...

wow!!!! those pictures were amazing!! i'm kicking myself now for not going with you to the wedding!!! i could have been your personal assistant and held towels over you and your camera!! and would have willingly!!
i loved reading your commentary. you are so funny and i'm sorry you got so wet!
but, i'd say it was worth it. those pictures are stunning.
i ALSO want all of them on my walls!! you know my favorite thing ever is waterfalls and those are breathtaking!
and i loved the zen garden photos too!
take me with you next time!

Kari said...

These are some of the best I've seen. Great job!

Lady of the Rings said...

Why are you waisting your time on a stupid job? You were ment to be a nature photographer! Wow! as Dacia said, I too want them all and blown up, how about a picture wall paper? You are totally amazing, Alan.

rodent said...

Those pictures were absolutely beautiful! They make me so homesick, and oddly, so does all the rain. I actually really miss it - once you've lived there long enough I really do think you grow webbed feet. Oh, and only tourists use umbrellas... and raincoats. :) I LOVE your pictures - it was great to see that green again! I don't know if I've ever seen a picture where some was able to capture just how green those trails are. You're amazing Alan - your mom is right - you were made to take pictures! I think every wall in our apartment has a picture you took on it. I think we may need to find room for a few more, hint hint. :)

Yanks4Life23519 said...

beautiful photos!! :)