Saturday, January 12, 2013

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon...


So, now that you know what went wrong during this little excursion of mine, let me tell you about what went right.

I woke up way too early. It was the final day of my four days off, and I was jonesin' to do some shooting. The weather was cooperating to a fault, so I had a pretty good idea that today would be a good day. As much as I'd hoped to be out of the house by 6:00am, it just didn't happen. After having some breakfast and checking my e-mail, I think I was out the door by 7:15am. It was still dark, though so, if nothing else, I could enjoy the illusion of having left really, really early. I hopped on I-205, and followed that down to I-5, and headed south.

Before too long, the sun started to rise. Originally, I'd hoped to be at the falls when the sun came up but, since teleportation is still just a theory, I'd have to accept the fact that I wouldn't be. That was okay, though. The sunrise was quite a sight after having so much rain, and I loved having to shield my eyes from the glare as I drove into it:

Sunrise in northern Oregon...
One of the things I'm learning here is that there are far more little towns than there are big cities or suburban areas. Little towns with names like Silverton, Mount Angel and Woodburn are places where I'm pretty sure I could kill hours shooting and, most likely, will at some point.

After passing through Silverton, only some 35 miles south of Portland, I started to climb into the mountains.

If nothing else, I've become more of a cautious driver since I've been here. I'm learning a new respect for the elements; something I've not needed to do for the last 30 years. Just like Christmas day, I decided that, since I had nowhere I had to be, I would take it easy on the roads. Unlike Christmas day, though, there would be no sideways-sliding-down-a-snow-covered-mountain-road to contend with.

As I came around a bend, a saw a parking area on my right, a footbridge and a river. "Photo op number one", I remember thinking, and stepped on the brakes.

I recall watching the parking area go by as I slid down the road. It wasn't a terrifying slide or anything like that, but it was clear that there was enough a frost on the road that it would preclude my truck from stopping. Not really wanting to do a three-pointer on this road, I lifted my foot off the brake and continued to a turnout about a hundred yards up the road. I grabbed my camera and hoofed it:

The turnout along the road. It was about 30 degrees or so...

To be honest, this area wasn't nearly as picturesque as I'd hoped. Don't get me wrong, it was nice enough, I suppose. It just didn't have that "wow factor" I thought would be around every turn:

This fed into the North Falls...
I'd hoped to see four or five of the falls on this trip. Due to the conditions, I got to see three...

A frozen over water fountain. Like I said, pretty boring stuff...

As much as I was disappointed here, I was confident that I would be finding those scenic views I was looking for. This is, after all, northern Oregon, and the scenery is just begging to be shot.

After leaving the North Falls parking area (you remember: the one I slid past?), I found myself stopping once again at a view point to the falls. I don't know exactly how high up I was, or how far from the falls, but it was a pretty spectacular view of the North Falls:

The North Falls as seen from the appropriately named "North Falls Viewpoint"...

The North Falls at one second...
After I got done shooting, I got back in the truck and reviewed what I had. I was pretty happy, as I love how the trees look in those photos. I was more eager than ever to get shooting.

After driving down the road a ways, I found a large parking area which would end up serving as the jumping off point (no pun intended) for the rest of the day. This first large area is clearly geared towards summer fun, as there's a swimming area, general store, etc. The entire area sits, for the most part, abandoned during the winter months.

The swimming area north of the Upper South Falls...
I took my glove off and dipped my fingers into the water. The water was warmer than the air temperature, although it was still pretty damn cold. I dried my hand off, grabbed my gear, and headed down the trail.

The Upper South Falls is one of the more accessible waterfalls I've shot. That seems to be a recurring theme here in Oregon. When I shot Multnomah Falls back in September, the hardest part of getting to the falls was the drive from Portland. Once we were in the parking lot it was easy. This was much the same. A short walk down the trail brings you to the top of the falls:

At the top of Upper South Falls... 177 feet high...
And they're not kidding; from here, it's 177 feet straight down...

Of course, the place I wanted to be was at the base of the falls. That locale would provide the best view and, one would surmise, the best photos.

Not long before the commencement of the "Slide Of Death", which was chronicled in the previous entry, I stopped to grab some shots. I love shooting waterfalls, especially with a slightly slower shutter speed, as shown in the third photo below:

Upper South Falls...

Upper South Falls...

Upper South Falls at around half a second...
 
Suffice it to say, I made a hasty descent into the gorge after that third shot. After making sure that everything; both me and the camera, worked properly, I continued on.

At the base of the falls is a footbridge, and it offered a perfect vantage point to shoot the falls from the bottom. The sun wasn't in the best location, but there was little I could do about that:

The footbridge at the base of Upper South Falls...

Upper South Falls, from down below...

Upper South Falls, from down below...

Once again, a slower shutter speed helps the shot...

After shooting those falls, it would be about an eight tenths of a mile to the Lower South Falls. I picked up my bag, threw the tripod and 5D over my shoulder, and put the Vasques to work.

Admittedly, there wasn't a lot to see between the Upper and Lower South Falls. To be honest, it wasn't much more than a nice hike in the woods. But when I came upon the Lower South Falls, though, it was pretty dramatic:

The Lower South Falls, at 93 feet, in Silver Falls State Park...

One of the attractive features to this park is that about half of the waterfalls allow access behind the waterfalls, and the Lower South Falls was one of those falls. Considering my quick lesson in winter hiking in the American northwest, though, I concluded that finding my way down these steps (and there were a lot of steps) to get behind these falls probably wouldn't have qualified as the best idea I'd ever had. The steps, and the handrails, were iced over, and it was just unsafe. I wouldn't have wanted to try it empty handed. Carrying photo gear? Not a chance.

Even still, there were some wonderful views of the falls from the top of the stairs:

The beginning of the steps leading to the base of the Lower South Falls...
As I wouldn't be making the trek down the steps, it seemed mildly pointless to spend too much time here, although I did stay long enough to get some shots. After about 20 minutes, though, I decided it was time to head back up the trail. It would be a relatively easy hike back to the truck, with only part of it a mildly steep incline.

As I got back to the base of the Upper South Falls, I looked up and was almost startled to see how the sun rays were coming through the trees above the falls. I'd packed all my gear down at Lower South, but took the time to set it all up again.

I had to:



I know I'll make it back to Silver Falls again; probably in the spring. I think the combination of lush, green foliage and raging waterfalls and rivers will make for some amazing photo ops.

I also want to give the ice a chance to thaw...









 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Funny How Things Happen...

So, in the midst of putting together a trip to New York City for me and 15 friends, people started bowing out. I expected that. I would'...