Columbia Gorge Workshop


Welcome back to the blog. So much is happening of later I do not know where to start. So I finished a workshop this last weekend with my partner Adrian Klien. We explored the area of the Columbia Gorge and all its wonders. We visited everything from waterfalls, wildflowers, cherry orchards, and even some storms. The Columbia Gorge is known primarily for its amazing waterfalls, flora, and endless hiking trails. The weather did not let us down either as we got everything from amazing sunsets to thundershowers; all of it making it an exciting week.


I got to say we had a great group of photographers each with their own vision that they brought to their images. Although we all shot in the same area it was amazing to everyone to see how different everyone saw things. Even within feet of each other we had totally different images each stunning in its own respect.


The “gorge” was bursting with color when we got there and it is really like you have entered a different world when you visit this place. Spring time is the time to go to capture all the lush greens, wildflowers, and powerful waterfalls. Our first stop was PonyTail falls and was an interesting stop as we all made our way into the creek to get better vantage points.


It is always an adventure when you make your way out into water and this was no exception. The difference was we had the whole group at one time or another trying to traverse across. After shooting a number of waterfalls we headed to Rowena Crest to visit the Tom McCall Preserve Area.


This area sits atop the Columbia river and is a great place to see sunrises. When we arrived we were amazed at the amount of wildflowers such as arrowroot balsam and lupine. The challenge here is to visit this place when the winds are not blowing a hundred miles an hour. So keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best I cranked my ISO to 1600 on my Canon 5D MK2 which is a great improvement on the old Canon 5D for noise levels and hoped for the best.


I was amazed that even at ISO 1600 I was getting almost complete noise free images, and I was able to freeze the movement of the wildflowers from the wind. Another trick that is more difficult when dealing with movement in the foreground is to shoot the foreground at a f-stop around f/8 for a quicker shutter speed and merging that with another image right after at f/16 to get the background all in focus. Theoritically this increases the chances of freezing the movement of the foreground flowers. Anyways we had a such a great time we came back for sunrise and tried it again.



This time a little less wind but still very active. After that we spend some time shooting the cherry orchards in Hood River Valley which if you catch at the right time is absolutely amazing with clear views on sunny days of Mount Adams and Mount Hood. We decided after that as it was not the far away to head to the Dalles mountains which is on the other side of the Columbia river and is in the state of Washington. Once here we visted an abandoned classic car left out in a field of wildflowers that can be difficult to find. I have to say that I have never seen so many wildflowers in one area; it was covered from end to end and on top of that we were getting some amazing cloud formations with the sun setting.


For the next couple of days we visited wildflower areas and some more waterfalls that seemed to get better as the workshop progressed. We spent the final day going over the workflow from taking the picture all the way to producing the print. This was informative just to see what others do and to see things that can always be improved. By the end I think we all a great time and got some good images; but all we wanted to do was catch up on our sleep.


I want to thank the workshop participants as the were amazing and their work inspiring.


~ by kevinmcneal on May 11, 2009.

5 Responses to “Columbia Gorge Workshop”

  1. Looks and sounds like an amazing workshop, Kevin.
    Wonderful images you shot… beautiful wildflowers and a great sky to emphasize the fantastic flora. Wish we had such beautiful flower carpets here…

    Take care buddy!

  2. Kevin,
    Great shots. I especially like the first waterfall shot. It brought something to mind in overall technique. Your use of ND filters and merging shots struck a chord. I also follow Moose Petersons blog and he has a shot of a shrimp boat that is a combination of multiple exposures to achieve a single image….with no filters. The movement of HDR images and ND filters moves on with real photographers and I find it interesting to see “good” applications instead of the overblown stuff you see all to often on sites like Flickr. You and Moose are doing it right! Thanks

  3. fantastic balance of the flowers and sky in these shots.
    i really like the image with the yellow daisy’s (??).
    really very striking

  4. Fantastic shots I look forward to checking out this site more often.

  5. I grew up in Oregon, I can honestly say you have captured the beauty of it all. I am sorry that I missed this workshop would have loved to be there and learn how to take some of those amazing photos.

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