I recently captured a new image with my 4×5 film camera which is seen below. I was and am still very excited about this image. I have taken several other beautiful images from Central Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, so I was struggling to come up with an original title for this Photograph. One of the working titles under
consideration for this print was “Water in the Desert”. In the end the name didn’t quite suite this image but the title did give me the idea for this blog entry, a photographic tour of the lakes, rivers, and streams of Central Oregon. Central Oregon is located in the high desert, on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains. ”Desert” is defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as: “A dry barren area of land, especially one covered with sand, that is characteristically desolate, waterless and without vegetation”. Well, Central Oregon is certainly dry by Pacific Northwest standards, averaging between 12-15 inches of precipitation per year. However, Central Oregon certainly is not “without vegetation” nor is it “waterless”. As a matter of fact, I would argue that because of its various water supplies, Central Oregon is one of the most environmentally diverse areas of the United States.
The cultural hub of Central Oregon is most certainly the City of Bend and the backbone of Central Oregon’s water is the mighty Deschutes River. With this in mind, it seems logical to start a photographic tour of Central Oregon’s watery desert in the City of Bend and its historic and scenic Mirror Pond, which is actually a section of the Deschutes River which is dammed up in the middle of Bend. Below is a photograph of Mirror Pond in Bend’s Drake Park at sunset.
Incidentally, this view is one of the reasons I moved to Bend almost 15 years ago. This scene is in the middle of downtown Bend and features the glacier covered Middle Sister and North Sister mountains as an amazing backdrop. Did I mention that this “desert” had some diversity? Not far South of the recreational paradise of Bend is the Deschutes River Trail, where I captured the following photo of the Deschutes River in it’s Autumnal glory.
This image of the Deschutes River is clearly far from arid. The riparian areas along waterways in Central Oregon are filled with vegetation and on some years offer stunning fall color. South of the city of Bend and along the Cascade Lakes Highway is an elegant chain of lakes simply referred to as the Cascade Lakes. These lakes are filled primarily via winter snowmelt. Some of the better known lakes along the Cascade Lakes Highway are Wickiup Reservoir, Crane Prairie Reservoir, Little Cultus Lake, Cultus Lake, Lava Lake, Hosmer Lake, and Sparks Lake which is seen below.
I captured this beautiful image of Sparks Lake at sunrise, the morning after an autumn snowfall had blanketed South Sister and Broken Top Mountains. The still reflection and gorgeous morning light on the clouds make this one of my favorite fine art prints. To see this image and many others, please visit the galleries page of my website , by clicking here Oregon Landscape photos.
Closer to the town of Bend is Tumalo Creek, which is fed by snow melt from the Central Oregon Cascades. Tumalo Creek is a tributary of The Deschutes River with which it connects just north of the city of Bend. West of the city of Bend, Tumalo Creek takes a 97 foot plunge and forms one of Central Oregon’s iconic features, Tumalo Falls. Incidentally, the following image of Tumalo Falls is currently the cover image for Visit Bend‘s annual guide to The city of Bend and the Central Oregon area.
Once again, we are not talking about your typical desert. The lush riparian areas along Tumalo Creek are beautiful any time of year but especially in summer and fall, which is when I captured the following image of Tumalo Creek as it courses through Bend’s Shevlin Park.
I believe that this image of Shevlin Park captures the park and Tumalo Creek at their very best. Elegant yet dry ponderosa forests give way to rich riparian areas which include Engelman spruce, larch trees( the vibrant golden trees seen in this image) and many others. Shevlin Park is a phenomenal resource for Bend and the Central Oregon area and I feel that this photograph does an excellent job of capturing its beauty.
Due west of the city of Bend lies the wondrous Three Sisters Wilderness Area. This wilderness area is included in this photographic tour because the heavy winter snows which accumulate in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area are a primary source of the water for streams and rivers in the Central Oregon area. The Three Sisters Wilderness Area can be accessed from multiple locations in the Central Oregon area. The following image, titled “Summit Sunrise” was taken from the summit of Oregon’s South Sister Mountain, which lies at the heart of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area.
Much of the snow in this sunrise image from the Three Sisters Wilderness Area eventually will end up as water in the Deschutes River and its tributaries. I captured this image after a hard climb and a restless night atop of South Sister. It was my third expedition to the top of South Sister, purely for the sake of capturing this image. It turns out that the Third time was a charm! Included in this image (from nearest to farthest) are Middle Sister, North Sister, Black Crater, Black Butte, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt.St Helens and the Chambers Lakes basin is in the lower right hand corner. To see three volcanoes in the state of Washington(Mt Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St Helens) taken from the middle of Oregon in the same photographic print is pretty special and that is part of what makes this image one of my favorites!
Below is another image which illustrates the geographic diversity of the Central area and more specifically the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. This image is of the mighty and elegant Proxy Falls.
Proxy Falls is an enormous veil of water located on the wet ,west side of the Three sisters Wilderness Area. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen and its mossy richness also helps to visualize the diversity of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Below is photograph of Broken Top Mountain which is also located in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Broken Top Mountain is best accessed via trail heads located off of the Cascades lakes Highway near Bend, Oregon.
This beautiful wildflower filled image is actually taken from the dry side of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. The thick stand of wildflowers is fed by spring snow melt from Broken Top Crater seen in the background of this image. Yes, the Three sisters Wilderness area is an amazing and diverse place. One of my more recent Large format fine art prints from the Three Sisters Wilderness Area is seen below.
This enchanting image of the Three Sisters Wilderness Area includes a nearly full moon and South Sister as a backdrop to an elegantly curving alpine stream. I accessed this image via the Obsidian area on the west side of the Three Sisters. It is a long backpack to this area but seeing this amazing stream lined by thousands of spring wildflowers was certainly worth the aches and pains. I was accompanied on this trip by old and new friends. I’d like to thank Rod, Troy, Matt, Froy, Bob and Jessie for the great adventure that allowed me to capture this recent fine art print.
East and slightly south of the city of Bend, Oregon lies yet another jaw-dropping location, Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. Newberry Crater is an enormous volcanic cauldron( much like Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park) which has two large lakes, East lake and Paulina Lake in is basin. I’ve scouted there countless times and this is definitely the best image I’ve captured yet from Oregon’s Newberry Crater.
This image of Newberry Crater does an excellent job of capturing the juxtaposition of desert and water. Newberry Crater is a relatively dry area but snow melt feeds Paulina Lake which is seen in the image above. I enjoy the warm morning light bathing both the pinnacles of Paulina peak in the foreground and the Three Sisters Mountains in the background.
No photo tour of Central Oregon’s waterways would be complete without a visit to the Metolius River Basin southwest of the city of Sisters, Oregon. due west of the Metolius Basin lies the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area. Within that wilderness area lies Three Fingered Jack Mountain and the lupine filled Canyon Creek Meadow which are seen below.
Canyon Creek is almost entirely fueled by snow melt from Three Fingered Jack. This mountain is one of the jewels of the Central Oregon Area and is only a short drive from the city of Sisters, Oregon. The waters of Canyon Creek flow into the enchanting Metolius River. The Metolius River is magical on any day but is especially so in autumn. Below is one of my favorite images of the Metolius river.
Turquoise tinted waters, old growth ponderosas, the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, excellent fly-fishing, rustic cabins, and the delightful Camp Sherman Store all make the Metolius River a fantastic place to visit for both children and adults.
I hope this photographic journey of Central Oregon helps to illustrate that while the Central Oregon area is arid, it is far from a desert. In fact it is blessed with countless waterways both small and large and that these waterways are bountiful with vegetation and beauty. Of course, it should be noted, once again, that virtually none of this beauty would be maintained with snowmelt from the amazing Cascade Mountain. Skiers and boarders love it and snowbirds hate it but winter snow fall is the key to the diversity and beauty of our wonderful Central Oregon landscapes. As a tribute to our life giving snow I’ll share one more image in this Central Oregon photo tour. This image is ”Sunrise from Tumalo Mountain”. It includes Central Oregon’s Broken Top Mountain and the Three Sisters Wilderness Area covered in a heavy blanket of life-giving winter Snow!
A few notes about the images in this photographic tour of Central Oregon’s diverse landscapes: All of the images in this tour and all of the images in my Fine Art Photography collection were captured with an old ,wooden 4×5 film camera and real film. For more information about the camera gear I use to capture all of my fine art prints, please visit here, Large format Photography Gear. Additionally all of the frames that I include with my framed fine art prints are hand made by me from Cherry wood lumber. For some information about my framing, visit here Landscape Photography framing. The best resource for up to date information about my many photography exhibits and new print releases is the facebook page for my photography business. Facebook: Mike Putnam Photography.
I hope you enjoyed the tour and Thanks for visiting!
I’m excited to share several new images for the first time at tonight’s(7/6/2012) art walk in downtown Bend, Oregon. I’ll be sharing my newest fine art prints at the Patagonia Store, located at 920 NW Bond Street, in downtown Bend, Oregon. I’ll be there from about 5-9PM. Below are some of the images I’ll be sharing tonight. I hope to see some of you there!
I hope to see some of you tonight at Patagonia of Bend.
Central Oregon’s Metolius River is an undeniably gorgeous River. Historically, I’ve struggled in my attempts to capture the essence of this iconic location. With the release of this new fine art photograph of the Metolius River, I’m putting forth my best effort at capturing the feel of the Metolius in a single photograph.
Some of the elements that should be incorporated into my vision of the Metolius River, are elegant flow patterns, riparian details, beautiful trees, and a sense of grandeur, which is captured by the setting sun on a far away hillside. I’ve photographed the Metolius Basin countless times in every season and there is always something elegant about the Metolius. While the riparian area along the Metolius’ shores is not always a riot of Golden autumn foliage, you can see this stunning river look just like this on the right day in autumn. To see s slightly larger version of this image, please visit the rivers,lakes and waterfalls gallery of my website by followiing this link: Oregon’s Rivers,Lakes and Waterfalls. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy my new fine art photograph of the Metolius River.
Central Oregon is a place that is special for many reasons. My wife may disagree but one of the things that make living in the Bend, Oregon area special is that we have four distinct seasons. While other areas of the country are frequently touted as excellent autumn destinations, I would place Central Orgon on my list of best areas of the U.S. for fall road trips. The weather is frequently excellent. Cool nights and bright sunny days contribute to beautiful riparian colors along local waterways, bursts of fall color in alpine areas with huckleberries, and blueberries, as well as vine maples and aspen groves igniting riots of color in and around the Bend area. Below is my photographic resume touting Bend and the Central Oregon area as a stunning fall vacation destination.
The first image seen above was taken in Bend Oregon’s own Shevlin Park. Shevlin is a 650 acre city park located a few miles west of the city of Bend. Shevlin is graced with old growth ponderosa trees along with engleman spruce, larch trees, and junipers. The chilly trout filled waters of Tumalo Creek which courses through the park offer a colorful riparian buffer during the beautiful fall season in the Bend area.
Because of Central Oregon’s relatively high eleveation( about 3,600 ft) and it’s dry climate, Bend is blessed with an aspen friendly environment. Aspen trees are beautiful all year round but in they put on amazing displays in autumn. Excellent Aspen groves can be found throughout the city of Bend as well as along the Deschutes River Trail south of Bend and in the Tumalo Falls/Skyliners area west of Bend.
The beauty of the Santiam Pass and McKenzie Pass areas west of Bend are no secret to locals but their fall beauty goes largely unrecognized outside of Oregon. The following fall color image featuring gorgeous vine maples and towering evergreen trees was captured in the McKenzie Pass area.
A beautiful loop drive or ride can be made from the city of Sisters by driving west on highway 242 to McKenzie Pass and then taking highway 126 along the Mckezie River to Highway 20 and going west over Santiam Pass back to the city of Sisters. The drive is breath taking at any time of year and it is at its best in the fall. Vine maples illuminate the road with brilliant reds, yellows and oranges. The following image of the upper North Santiam River was taken in the Santiam Pass area.
The above image of vine maples draped over the North Santiam River, is one of my favorite fall images and looks great printed at up to 40×50 inches!
One of my most iconic autumn images from the Bend, Oregon area is of Tumalo falls, seen below. My daughter Emma was with me when I shot this image in a pouring rain at the apex of fall color along Tumalo Creek, 10 miles west of the city of Bend.
As this image is one of my more popular prints, I have printed it at every size possible and I also have it available as a greeting card.
The following scene has been witnessed by countless hikers and bikers. This image was taken along the the Deschutes River Trail, just south of Bend. It includes the phenomenal Deschutes River and is in one of the recreational areas that make Bend a world class outdoor destination.
Finally, I include this last image as a tribute of the natural beauty that can be found within the city limits of the city of Bend. This image is a rough draft but hopefully it will be added to my collection of fine art prints in the near future. I captured this scene on a walk home after dropping my daughter off at school this fall. I think this image does an excellent job of capturing the shoulder season between fall and winter in the Bend area.
This simple little scene has a certain elegance that I am lucky to witness, much less capture on film. for more fall color images from the Bend area, please visit the portfolio page of my website Bend Oregon Photos.
Thanks For Visiting,
I used to be an avid runner despite having some knee problems. While my knee problems were escalating, my wife, Debbie had just set a Personal Record in her second marathon, the Portland Marathon, where she qualified for the Boston Marathon. Debbie spent her childhood in the Boston area, so qualifying for the Boston Marathon had been a lifelong goal for her. Shortly after Debbie’s qualifying time, I decided to jump back into the running fray. She wanted some company in a short 6 mile run. I complied. It did not go well. I quickly came to realize that my wonderful wife was now a wonderfully fast wife. I could barely keep up. During the last 100 yards of our torture session, I stepped in a pothole, subluxating my knee. An onlooker would have assumed I had been shot by a sniper! I limped to the finish with my ego and knee mortally wounded.
This was the launching of my biking career! With my knee no longer tolerant of running, I began Mountain Biking for fun and fitness rather than running, largely because my knee would tolerate it. Thus far this past winter and early spring, I have Mountain biked more than in the rest of my life combined, and I’m having a blast, and my wife isn’t embarrassing me! I don’t mean to claim that I’m an impressive Mountain Biker. I’m not, but re-discovering all of the wonderful Mountain Biking trails in the Bend, Oregon area, has been very uplifting for me.
So you are probably wondering why there is a Deschutes National Forest biking jersey pictured above…. Well, I was recently approached about the usage of one of my images on this jersey, and I thought, “How cool would it be to have one of my photographs on a Biking Jersey?” The instantaneous answer was, “Very Cool!” When I learned that the biking jersey would feature my beloved Deschutes National Forest, and that it would benefit the National Forest Foundation(a great group of people who I’ve done some work with before), I was all in! I think the design of the jersey is phenomenal! These jerseys are currently only available online at this link Deschutes National Forest Biking Jersey. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these jerseys! The image on the jersey is of one of the Deschutes National Forest’s true treasures, the Metolius River. As is the case with all of my fine art prints, I captured this image with my 4×5 film camera. To view more of my fine art prints, please visit my gallery page here, Oregon Fine Art Photographs.
By the way, my Wife did end up running this years Boston Marathon where she kicked butt and set another personal best! Thankfully I’ve got Mountain Biking!
Thanks for Reading,
As our daylight shortens, the colors fade and hard frosts glaze my lawn nightly, I submit that Fall, perhaps my favorite season has officially come to an end. I would argue that autumn os our most under rated season in the High Desert of Central Oregon. The core of Bend is awash in the yellows and reds of maples and the oranges of mountain ash. Riparian zones along the Deschutes River are ablaze with the reds of red osier dogwoods and the yellows of alders. The Santiam and Mckenzie Rivers are second to nowhere for the intensity of their vine maples. Anyone who has driven over Santiam Pass in October can attest to the splendor of lava fields aglow with vine maples in full seasonal regalia. I’ve put together a small collection of images celebrating the autumn color of the Central Oregon area. Some of these images were captured in previous years while some were just weeks ago. For emphasis, I’ll take you on a virtual road trip, leaving from my front door. We’ll wonder a couple blocks away to Bend’s pride and joy, Drake Park and Mirror Pond. I rarely take photos of scenes that have houses or obvious indications of human habitation but for Mirror Pond I make an exception. When My wife , Debbie and I were planning on leaving the East coast, I stumbled upon a Bend Chamber of Commerce website with Mirror Pond as it’s lead shot. I was smitten! Imagine glaciated volcanoes framed by huge Ponderosa pines edging the wild and scenic Deschutes River right in the heart of Bend’s downtown area. Wow! I knew where I wanted to live. Below is an autumn sunrise shot from the location that sold me on Bend.
From Bend we hop into our fuel efficient hybrid vehicle (this is Oregon after all) and head west on highway 20 towards the storied Metolius River and the quaintly rustic town of Camp Sherman. Below is an image I’ve never published before. I enjoy the Ponderosa trees that partially define the Metolius basin and the golden fringe enhancing the rivers elegantly curving shores. I’m going to paraphrase a section I read from a fishing guide about the Metolius River which I think also applies to photographing the Metolius basin. ”If you can’t enjoy time spent in exploring the Metolius, you have no soul.” Perhaps a bit extreme but people who are fortunate enough to have spent time along the Metolius’ shores will admit that it is a truly special place whether fishing, photographing or exploring.
Next we continue west over the lava fields of Santiam Pass and down to the diminutive community of Marion Forks. The following image is from the shores of the North Santiam River slightly west of the cascade crest. I love the strong vertical pattern contrasting with the technicolor display.
The following image is also along the Santiam River. I make an annual visit to this vine maple and its double layer effect. One layer of varied color and literal layers of branches gracefully extending beyond the river’s banks. There’s something about this expressive tree and its gorgeous annual display that always makes my return visits worth while.
Next I move along to the McKenzie River and one of my favorite autumn scenes. This image is also about texture and color. It was an amazing view and made a wonderful fine art print with its combination of delicacy, vibrancy and and compostion. I love the flowing feel offered by the moss streaming down upon the vine maples akin to the rain that gently fell upon me as I captured this image. I returned to this location four times before I found the desired synergy of color, texture and light.
Next we proceed to Scott Lake, near McKenzie Pass. Every year the Huckleberry bushes along the Lakes shore put on a display that is muted by the drama of the distant snow-covered cascade mountains .
Now traveling east, we pass Belknap Crater the martian-like lava flows of McKenzie Pass and make a quick stop at yet another surreal alpine scene. the following image is a jumble of textures and color as Huckleberries, Blueberries and willows intertwine in front of a lodgepole pine tree audience.
Now we progress back toward the town of Bend stopping just shy at Tumalo State Park, one of my formerly secret autumn locations. On certain years, like the one from the image below, the color can be outstanding and the scenery is always pleasant , even in less than optimal years.
Passing through my beloved city of Bend, we now turn west on Galveston street and turn west towards Tumalo Creek. The following image was taken with cutest and sweetest assistant possible, my daughter, Emma. It was raining hard and I fought with water spots on my lens for quite some time before capturing the silky flow of Tumalo Falls and the pastels hues of the surrounding riparian environment. We got drenched but I got the shot from an Iconic Central Oregon location.
Finally, we meander down to the Deschutes River and its famed River Trail where I captured this image of the river in full autumn color. I recently licensed this image to Orvis, the fly-fishing company for use in one of their stores. I love the color, the flow patterns, and the lava background which in part helps to define this special area of the world that I call home.
It should be understood that I did not capture all of these images in the same year, much less the same day. Having said that, this trip can easily be taken in one day and beautiful color can almost always be found somewhere along the way in the month of October and early November.