I am very excited to release this new fine art print of Central Oregon’s stunning Smith Rock State Park this Friday, 2/1/2013 , during Art Walk in Downtown Bend, Oregon. Smith Rock is one of the places that make my hometown of Bend an amazing place to live and I’m thrilled with how this print turned out. I’ve been to Smith Rock countless times in the past and it is always a stunning park to visit.
I discovered this composition of Smith Rock several years ago while hiking with a friend. While the scene has always been beautiful, with the Crooked River streaming off into the distance, the rugged basalt walls of the Crooked River Canyon and finally the towering spires of the vertical pinnacles, commonly referred to as “The Monument”. Despite having composed and shot this same scene several times in the past few years, something was always missing. I made a conscience decision to return this past fall in hopes of finding some fall color in the riparian areas along the Crooked River, to add an extra element to the scene. When I returned, I was in luck! Warm shades of gold and patches of vibrant red osier dogwood bushes awaited me but something was still missing. The day was overcast and the scene was too flat. I strategically returned twice more before I lucked into the light I’d envisioned. The Pinnacles of “The Monument” were illuminated by warm morning light drawing the viewer through the steep walled Crooked River Canyon. It was stunning! As always, I was shooting with my 4×5 camera. The delay between shooting the image and the completion of processing was excruciating! When my processed 4×5 transparencies arrived, I felt like my 10 year old daughter, Emma does on Christmas day! I’ve since made a 30×50 inch print of this beautiful high desert image and I’m excited to unveil it this Friday(2/1/2013) at Patagonia of Bend, which is located at 1000 NW Wall Street in downtown Bend. I hope to see some of you there between 5-9 PM.
Thanks for Reading,
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 Smith Rock State Park has always been one of the crown jewels of Oregon’s State Park system. Personally, I’m of the opinion that if Smith Rock had more acreage, it would merit National Park status. As Smith Rock is a short drive from my hometown of Bend, Oregon, I’ve been there dozens of times for landscape photography purposes. Many of my photo missions to Smith Rock have targeted sunrise but the morning I captured this stunning image with my large format film camera, was by far the best morning light I’ve ever seen at Smith Rock State Park.
Just before sunrise, in the direction opposite of the sun, a phenomena, known as an earth shadow can be witnessed. It is the earth shadow which creates a pink line across the sky where the sun is striking the earth’s atmosphere and a blu/purple line beneath the pink line where the sun’s rays have not yet contacted the earth’s atmosphere. Because the primary ambient light at this time immediately prior to sunrise is pink, rock formations on the earth’s surface can take on amazing colors, light the ones seen on this wonderful rock formation commonly know as the Smith Rock group. This wonderful light on Smith Rock’s always beautiful rock formations is only part of what makes this photo special. I also am very fond of the composition, with Oregon’s glacier clad South Sister to the left of the Smith Rock Group and Oregon’s Mt. Jefferson to the right. To finish of this photograph, the Crooked River gently meanders through the high desert foreground at Smith Rock.
For those of you who haven’t had the pea sure of visiting Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, it is truly a wondrous place of vertical rock formations and breath taking high desert views. My primary aspiration regarding my fine art landscape photography is to capture the essence of the beautiful locations near my home town of Bend, Oregon. To date, I believe this is my best effort at capturing the grandeur of Central Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park. To view this Smith Rock photo and many other Oregon high desert images, please visit the portfolio page of my website. Smith Rock Oregon Photos. I hope you enjoy my new Smith Rock Print. Please contact me for purchasing information.
Thanks for Visiting,
The first time I went hiking at Central Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, I was shocked that it had not somehow become a national park. I realize that the acreage is on the small size for a National Park, but the scenery is absolutely stunning. Smith Rock’s vertical spires trump virtually any rock formations outside of Southern Utah. With impeccable views of the Oregon Cascade Mountains, and the Crooked River meandering below, the setting is sublime. To top things off, Smith Rock State Park typically offers impeccable people watching opportunities as the park is a favorite rock climbing destination for rock climbers from around the world.
The above Photograph of Smith Rock was taken this past summer from near the viewpoint where the trail from the parking lot descends into the Crooked River Canyon far below. This image has the summer desert feel I was looking for in a new Smith Rock Print.
This image taken at the northern end of Smith Rock State Park is a long time favorite of mine. The wonderful contrast between the delicate sulfur flowers and an aging sagebrush in the foreground and the stunning pinnacles of the Christian Brothers rock formations in the background manage to beautifully captured the variety and textures of Smith Rock.
This image of a lichen covered juniper snag embodies the rugged nature of the smith rock area. Because Smith Rock receives very little rainfall and summers can be scorching hot(by Bend area standards), life is hard for plants and animals in smith Rock State Park.
The above image is taken from the shores of the Crooked river, with “The Monument” in the background. The fall color in the mid-ground is very fleeting in Oregon’s high desert, but it adds an attractive element to an already impressive photographic composition.
This last image of Smith Rock includes yet another stunning rock formation rising nearly 600 feet above the Crooked River. This was also captured in autumn and even includes a dusting of fresh snow in the mid-ground. While Smith Rock State Park is always an amazing destination, there is currently still some fall color to be seen along the shores of the Crooked River as it meanders through the park, so get out while Smith Rock is at its best! If you’d like to view these images and others that I’ve captured with my 4×5 film camera, please visit my portfolio page here…Oregon Landscape Photos. If you’d like to see my latest photographic work, please also visit my Facebook Page.
I recently sold an image to some very personable new collectors of my work and I was so happy with how their Smith Rock State Park image turned out, I printed one for myself! I just completed my Smith Rock print and promptly hung it at the Bend Brewing Company in Downtown Bend. If you would like to see the Smith Rock image pictured below, but 40 inches tall, then stroll on down to the Bend, Brewery!
This Smith Rock State Park photo has a wonderful “summery” feel that is nice to come by during January in Central Oregon. If you happen to stop by the Bend Brewery, tell them I said “Hello” and you should also grad a pint of Elk Lake IPA as the current batch tastes excellent!
Thanks for Reading,
Yesterday started a little slowly as I had more computer and billing work to do than I prefer on any free day although I hopefully closed a fine art transaction that I’ll list here on the blog when it becomes slightly more official. My initial photo mission was to find a dry canyon outside of Sisters, Oregon, which I’d identified on a map. My hope was that the canyon would have views of Central Oregon’s Three Sisters over the top of the canyon. My first attempt was swiftly blocked by fate at the access road was closed due to seasonal wildlife usage. Oh well, as I was close to Sisters, I stopped in to see Brad at Eurosports which is an outdoor store with an emphasis on bicycling and cross country skiing. Brad was helpful as always and shared some trail information. Next I stopped in to one of my favorite Central Oregon Bookstores, Paulina Springs Books where I got a couple of trail guides to replace my old tattered versions. My last city stop was at Three Creeks Brewing Company, where Dave Fleming continues to churn out excellent beers. He recently brewed a great dry hopped pale ale which has a wonderfully aromatic nose. If you are in Sisters and you enjoy a fine microbrew, you should stop in to visit the good folks at Three Creeks Brewing Company.
As I was denied access to my intended photography location for the day I made alternate plans. I drove the back roads to Lake Billy Chinook. I’m not a power boater nor do I enjoy busy recreational lakes but I’m always pleased with how beautiful Lake Billy Chinook and the surrounding areas are. By this time of day the light had gotten pretty harsh but there were some pretty interesting lenticular type clouds forming overhead. I’ll include the following picture primarily because it shows the clouds starting to form over Mt. Jefferson, high above the basalt walls of Lake Billy Chinook.
The clouds forming at the top of this picture weren’t going to work for sunset shots of the Cascade mountains but I knew they might work out for sunset shots at Smith Rock State Park near Terrebonne so I loaded up and went to Smith Rock. For quite some time I’ve been trying to get a good sunset shot of the backside of Smith Rock including Monkey face at sunset with some good clouds as a backdrop and suddenly I thought today might be my day.
Once I’d arrived at Smith Rock I made a quick driving tour and took a couple of pictures of the Monument at the north end of Smith Rock. The monument is an alluring subject and one with which my friend, photographer, and neighbor, Troy McMullin has a growing obsession. To see one of Troy’s thousands of photos of the Monument at Smith Rock visit our stock photo site’s high desert gallery. Below is a picture I shot yesterday of Troy’s Beloved Monument.
The warm golden light was nice but it wasn’t the photo I had in mind. I quickly hiked down the overlook area and across the Crooked River Bridge and started heading along the river to the backside of Smith Rock where Monkey Face is located. As the light was starting to fade a bit I decided to make a gamble and try a short cut over asterisk pass which is the low point along the morning glory wall and dihedrals area where you can see a cool balanced rock. Well My short cut was a bad idea. There are signs that clearly indicate that asterisk pass is not a hiking trail and they are accurate. I managed, with a fair amount of struggle to get to the top of the pass but getting down the opposite side with my bulky photography pack was a risk I wasn’t willing to take for the sake of photos. Just a warning, don’t try to hike/scramble over this pass unless you are very comfortable with some exposed scrambling. I could have made it down the opposite side without a pack but that too would have been stressful. The good thing that did come out of climbing to the top of asterisk pass were that I could see that the clouds were thinning out over monkey face and would no longer make for a good backdrop. Additionally, I got to enjoy a new vantage point of a beautiful area of Smith Rock. below is a quick pic I snapped of the morning glory wall from near the top of asterisk pass.
The light would definitely be better in the morning which gives me another photo excuse to return to Smith Rock! Because of the changing cloud conditions, I reversed paths and quickly returned to the overlooks near the parking areas on the opposite side of the Crooked River because I thought that offered the best opportunity for colorful sunset. light. I was right! As I climbed along the trail to the parking area, the light really heated up and I captured the following sunset photo from near the view point overlooking the park.
This photo alone made my day of cloud chasing worth while. I love the composition of the sunset cloud spreading out over the distant rock formations. Next I hustled to a slightly different location that I thought might hold color slightly longer. The low point with the small balanced rock is asterisk pass where I had been balanced only a few minutes before. Mt Jefferson is framed over asterisk pass in this particular photo.
This day typified many in my little world of Oregon Landscape Photography in the more adaptable I am to environmental conditions the more successful my photos for the day will be. I’ll soon upload the best photos from this day onto our stock photo site, Pacific Crest Stock, so please visit our High Desert Gallery if you would like to see these images or others from the beautiful desert areas around Central Oregon.
Posted by Mike Putnam
Recently, Troy McMullin and I ventured to Smith Rock State Park to enjoy the low elevation snow to be found there. It was the first sunny day in quite some time and we both were happy to get out of the clouds that had been inhabiting Central Oregon. I am repeatedly amazed at how stunning the Smith Rock area is. I’m convince that if it was located east of the Mississippi River, it would have been made into a national park long ago. With its stunning colors, vertical towers the Crooked River flowing around its periphery, and with Gray Butte as a backdrop it is simply an amazing place to visit. Personally, I think it surpasses anything outside of Utah with its rugged, rocky appeal. Of course it is world famous for its Rock Climbing and less so for its hiking, mt. biking, and photo opportunities.
One of the less obvious but very photo worthy rock features at Smith Rock is the Monument. I’ve always been very fond of this photo location and Troy seemingly has developed something of an obsession with the scene. Please click the following link to visit Pacific Crest Stock . It is the stock photography company that Troy and I will be launching shortly after New Years. In the link included you’ll find some other very nice photos of Smith Rock and the high desert areas of Central and Eastern Oregon.
The snow cover made for some interesting textures and mid range details in our images. If you or anyone you know visits Smith Rock while it is still snow covered, please be careful. The snow adds a level of danger to the scene as well as beauty. The prominent basalt columns along the Crooked River Canyon are especially dangerous when snow covered. Obviously they are slippery, but many small crevices are now snow covered creating many hidden and potentially dangerous pitfalls. Be careful if venturing near any cliff edges for photo, climbing, or sight seeing purposes.
Above is a photo of Smith Rock from high above the Crooked River Canyon featuring some slippery yet attractive snow covered basalt columns in the foreground with some rocky snow covered spires in the background. The light was not optimal for some areas of the park but the exploring was exceptional and beautiful from every angle, even if photo conditions were slightly less than perfect. It is rather rare to have this much snow at Smith Rock and blue skies because the snow tends to melt of quickly at that elevation when the sun appears on the scene. I captured the next photo from an entirely different area of Smith Rock. This rock formation is to the left after you cross the bridge over the Crooked River. It has some beautiful pastel hues in its rock formations but is quite dangerous for rock climbing purposes as I’m told that it is rather crumbly.
One of the surprising things about this photo adventure was how thoroughly the Crooked River was frozen. The clouds behind this impressive rock formation are a bit disappointing in that they obscure South Sister peaking out to the left side of the rock formation. I like how the snowy juniper trees frame the bottom of this picture and the curvature of the Crooked River(perhaps this is why it’s called the Crooked River!) emphasizes the shape of the giant rock formation at the south end of Smith Rock. Finally I’ll include a detail shot of one of my favorite rock formations. Smith Rock is a wonderland for photos, hiking, biking, and virtually any outdoor activity and I love the big western scenes there. This being said, perhaps my favorite aspect of Smith Rock State Park is the small details I find upon intimate inspection of this stunning location. Like so many other spots at Smith Rock, the following photo reveals beauty in its finer details.
I love the varied color palette visible in this picture. The rust, aqua, and oranges all enlivened by the snowy details on these intricate rock formations. It is finding perspectives like this that has become my favorite aspect of photography explorations of Smith Rock.
If anybody is interested in a beautiful and snowy perspective of Smith Rock, now is the time for a hike as the snow often does not last long in this area of the high desert of Central Oregon and please be careful near cliff edges as the snowy beauty harbors some seasonal dangers that are best avoided. Happy Holidays!