Archive for Oregon

Baskett Slough Sunrise

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , on January 25, 2016 by chamimage
Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Sunrise on Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

It was raining when I left home in Salem, Oregon yesterday. But, some of my best landscapes have come from stormy days so I set out for a drive, if nothing else. It had stopped raining by the time I got to Baskett Slough NWR. Fog shrouded the hill I wanted to hike and I usually like to check out the ponds first, anyway so went to the pull out at the narrows. I was just leaving when a huge dusky Canada goose blast off went up right to my left, out where this image was taken.

After a few experimental shots on the geese against the foggy hillside, none of which survived editing, I noticed the break in the clouds. I grabbed my 70-200 mm lens for a few landscapes. You can see the silhouette of a bald eagle just above the horizon on the right. He was apparently what had triggered the goose blast off. They fly over and watch for geese that can’t fly. Those geese are henceforth called breakfast. He had no luck with the geese, but as I finished with the landscapes I noticed he dropped something into the water. It was about right for for a coot carcass. Quickly another bald eagle swooped up the carcass. Then two more materialized to chase the bird with the food. While editing this image I could see the other eagles perched on trees out there.

Two weeks ago I photographed an adult eagle in the back part of the refuge. When it flew, I knew exactly where it was going by the direction it flew and found it again in an old snag on the hill I like to hike. Two weeks ago my hike produced no sightings of deer, which is unusual. I was starting to wonder if they had all died off from some disease or something, but yesterday I saw deer in every location I expected to see deer.

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This image from 2006 is from the same angle, a bit tighter. Some of those trees have either fallen down or been cut. The bald eagles loved those trees so it is a shame. There is more plant growth now as the marsh is filling in, as they do. Didn’t get the color of the sun shining through a lsot this time. That was also Velvia film in 2006. That was another rainy morning when I went out, anyway.


Great Horned Owl Fledgling

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2015 by chamimage
A fledgeling great horned owl on a cottonwood tree limb in spring.

A fledgling great horned owl on a cottonwood tree limb in spring.

I checked in on these Great Horned owl fledglings last week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. I do every year.

In fact, it occurred to me that I might have photographed at least one of the parents when they were babies, too, though it looks like their typical lifespan is thirteen years so maybe not. I’ve been coming back to this nest site for about five or six years.

Some years they are still in the nest at this time of year. This year they are all over the place and flying up into trees. This one was hyperactive, its sibling was sedate. I think the sibling may have been sick. It kept its left eye closed much of the time and rarely moved around. It did grab this one’s tail in his beak and give it a yank so wasn’t too sick for pranks.

This year the beavers built a dam and the place was flooded, limiting the sight lines for photograph. And most of the trees were girdled and some were down. Park staff said they were going to relocate the beavers and it appears they have already done so. This is an old homestead with one old building still standing and they wanted to preserve it.

This year too many people knew about this site. It has always been my little secret, but somebody must have found it and posted it on some birder’s site. I didn’t see it mentioned on the grease board for sightings at headquarters. When there were other cars here I just kept on going, not wanting to add to the stress to the birds. I did notice that they always started in this tree in the morning and by evening were either across the water or deeper into the woods, as if they were escaping the onslaught of birders. If park staff notice the activity here it will probably be off limits next year until the chicks are fully fledged.

I use my 600 mm lens with a 1.7x teleconverter (1000 mm) when I photograph them to be able to keep my distance and they seem happy to go about their normal activity while I am there, with only the occasional withering gaze inherent to GH owls. I even saw one of the parents come in with a mouse. Of course this one immediately flew over for it and the sibling didn’t budge.

I saw a short-eared owl and a long-eared owl this year. I got only a badly focused photograph of the short-ear and blew it on the long-ear…twice.

The great horned nest at Page Springs campground was empty, which was a blessing because that blasted owl has kept me awake with her hooting more nights than I care to remember and it was blissfully quiet this year.

Rowena Crest and Oneonta Gorge

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2014 by chamimage
Rowena Crest

Rowena Crest

I made a trip to the Columbia River Gorge last weekend for photography at Rowena Crest and Oneonta Gorge.

Rowena Crest is a plateau above the Columbia River on the east end of the Columbia Gorge just before you reach The Dalles on the Oregon side. The hills are carpeted with arrowleaf balsamroot and lupines in late April and early May. The most popular spot for photography is the Tom McCall Nature Conservancy area at the top of the hill. I’ve seen some photographs from the Washington side of the river, also, but have not gone over there to see what is there.

The previous times I have been to Rowena I was pretty much all alone, but last weekend was packed with photographers. Fortunately they all seemed to be enamored with areas where I didn’t want to work, anyway. I suspect the clustering of them in one spot suggested a photography workshop. I think photography social media such as Google+ has led to a lot more people finding my suddenly not so secret spots. I was told that the traffic jam to get to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, Oregonon the weekend this year was miles long.

Rowena Wildflowers

Rowena Wildflowers

The Columbia River Gorge is the windsurfing capitol of the world so photographing wildflowers on the open prairie in the evening is not going to happen. When I arrived late in the day I concentrated on the sheltered areas toward the base of the hill. The lupines were much better developed than they were on top of the hill. This area is more oak savanna with lots of poison oak and wild turkeys.

There were rain showers with brief clearings, so I sat in my car and read a book until it stopped raining and then sprinted out to take the next photograph. I usually had enough time for one photo and to scout the next one before it rained for another fifteen minutes. The only downside to my plan was a road kill deer in the ditch that made getting to and from the car and bit odorous.

At the end of the night I set up looking down on the winding road that comes up the hill and waited and waited for a car to provide me with headlights to streak, but no luck. In retrospect I should have gotten my long lens out and shot down onto the I-84 in the distance as Plan B. Driving up the hill at dusk I saw wild turkeys in two different places along the very short road.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

The next morning was still raining, but it cleared just in time for the sunrise. The workshop group was working an area facing east, shooting into the sun. The photos I’ve seen looked very good. I worked the area facing northwest. I was all alone out there. There were deer grazing. Turkey vultures nest in the rock face overlooking the river.

Oneonta Gorge

Oneonta Gorge

On the way back west along the Columbia Gorge I stopped at Oneonta Gorge. It is located east of Multnomah Falls a few miles. You have to really want to photograph Oneonta. To get into the gorge you have to strap on your chest waders and get into the creek, then scale a twenty foot high log jam and get back into the creek on the other side. It is best to put all of your camera gear into a backpack so you can use two hands on the log jam, you’ll need them. If you fall and get swept under the log jam, nobody is ever going to find you. The Marines could use this as an obstacle course.

I’m not sure why the state of Oregon hasn’t cleared that log jam. I suspect they are waiting for a movie studio to want to shoot back in there bad enough to dynamite the log jam for them. This would be a great place to shoot a movie.

The water in the spring is fairly swift and deep. Everything in the bottom pockets of my photography vest got wet. Oneonta Gorge is relative short and there is a waterfall at the end of it.  You can see the end of it once over the log jam, though you don’t know it because the waterfall is off to one side a bit.

I was all alone at Oneonta. Time of day is unimportant, but if you want sun filtering through the misty water falling on each side of the gorge you will need to be there in mid day. A lot of people wade in the creek in summer, but very few scale the log jam and walk on the far side of it. Still you probably wouldn’t get a shot without people wading in the creek on a summer weekend unless you got there very early.

Beyond Sunset

Posted in Natural History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2013 by chamimage
Nautical Twilight

Civil Twilight

When I went to edit the images in a file from the Oregon Coast I was reminded by the intense blue of some of the images that sunset is not just sunset.

I remembered a workshop I attended ten or so years ago where I was introduced to the concept of the phases of sunset and sunrise. The Navy is the source for these phrases. When you are on a ship light and vision was kind of important in the days before radar and navigation systems.

There is a detailed description of the phases at



Sunset or sunrise as we know them is when the sun is above the horizon. The golden hour.

Civil Twilight begins when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. Most of the colorful clouds occur during this time as the sun still lights them from below and the suns rays travel through the most atmosphere and is most diffused and some colors are blocked of filtered.

Face Rock_Bandon, Oregon

Face Rock_Bandon, Oregon

Nautical twilight occurs when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. As far as the Navy is concerned, navigation using the horizon is no longer possible. For photographers, the color blue becomes prominent and the objects become silhouettes. Some of us love this period and are happy to wait for it. Most photographers have packed it in and gone home by now.

Astronomical twilight is when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. It is dark, but not dark dark, if you know what I mean. This was about the time when my mom finally came out and dragged me inside when I was a kid. She had been calling me since Civil twilight, of course. And I had been saying “five more minutes” since then. This is the light I like for cityscapes. The lights are all on, but the sky is not black.

Face Rock

Face Rock

Dahlia Festival

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , on August 26, 2013 by chamimage
Pink Dahlia

Pink Dahlia

It is that time of year for lots of florals. I went to a dahlia farm in Canby, Oregon for their dahlia festival on Sunday.

Canby is about thirty miles from my home, but I had never heard of this dahlia farm or their annual festival until I saw it listed as a workshop site by east coast photographers Arthur Morris (Florida) and Denise Ippolito (New Jersey).

Red and White Dahlia

Red and White Dahlia

Sunday started off okay, with a hazy sky that was just right for soft light. There was a bit of a breeze, but I was able to handle it with a bit higher shutter speed and didn’t have to resort to my Plamp, a clamp device with one end on the tripod and the other clamping the stem of the flower.

After about an hour the sun started to break through and that presented problems with harsh light. I was using a reflector so employed it as a shade for a short while. Fortunately the full sun only lasted on and off for about ten minutes.

Then the skies got progressively darker. This surprised me because no rain had been in the forecasts I saw. I got about two hours and 257 images in before it started raining. I might have stayed for another 30-60 minutes, otherwise.

Dahlia Portrait

Dahlia Portrait

I used my 105 mm macro lens almost exclusively. The above image was taken with the 50 mm f/1.4 lens. I like it on the computer better than I liked it on my camera LCD (good reason never to delete images in the camera), so I might employ the 50 mm more next year. Oh yeah…I’ll be back.

Textured Flowers

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , on August 19, 2013 by chamimage
Queen Anne's Lace Seed Head

Queen Anne’s Lace Seed Head

It was a week of busyness last week, many stock photo submissions and some print fulfillment and meetings.

By Saturday I was feeling like it was past time for the artful side of things to take over, so I made some textured flower images.

The above image was shot at the dog park. I noticed the seed heads and meant to come back in good light in the morning. Of course there were about a weeks worth of mornings with morning marine air clouds after that before I finally got some mice light.

I used three texture overlays in varying amounts on the above image. When trying them out on the image I noticed areas of the image that benefited from each of them so I masked them in. As George Lepp says, “Escalate.” Anyone can use one texture.

Mountain Bog Gentian

Mountain Bog Gentian

I photographed the gentian a couple of weeks ago in the Cascade Mountains. They grow in boggy areas near mountain lakes.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

This is another dog park image.It had a green background that just did not provide enough contrast. One quick texture made a world of difference.

Adding textures can be done in a mouse click with the Adobe Paper Texture panel (, which I believe is still free (there is a pro version that you have to be a “cloud” member to download). Just click on a texture you want it sizes it, orients it and applies it for you in whatever blending mode you choose. Overlay is the default blending mode and once the texture is applied you can cycle through different blending modes quickly to find the best one. If you don’t like the texture, just click on it in the panel again and it removes it. Since they are placed on separate layers I usually apply two or three and then toggle the visibility on and off to compare them. It comes with some sample textures, or you can use it to apply your own from a folder in your files.

It felt good to do something artistic again. Now I am in printer hell with Epson 4900 – again. I can’t get a couple of nozzles unclogged and there is no Epson repair closer than 56 miles away. The printer guys in my area can’t get parts for Epson so won’t even look at it. From what I read on the internet my problem is the norm for this printer and the only fix is to replace the $1300 print head. Since it weighs 150 pounds, taking it to Portland for service is not an attractive option. I think I see a new printer in my future. Probably a Canon.

The Oregon Owl Controversy

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , on July 29, 2013 by chamimage

In the 1990’s we had a controversy in the northwestern US over the Spotted Owl  (to say the least). The Spotted Owl lives only in old growth forest and feeds almost exclusively on flying squirrels (and the occasional mouse swung in the air by a researcher).

When the Spotted Owl gained endangered species status it pretty much shut down the logging of the few remaining old growth forests in the west.

The Spotted Owl is now losing ground to the Barred Owl in those forests.

The Barred Owl started out as an east coast bird, but it is tough and it eats anything that moves, so it has managed to widen its territory relentlessly and is now at home here in the forests of the west coast. It likes it here just fine and has no intention of going away.

The problem now being that the Barred Owl is eating the Spotted Owl out of house and home. Spotted Owls numbers are decreasing again, 4% per year.

What to do? This is the natural order of things. This has happened over the millenia over and over. Species come and go.

But, the Spotted Owl is an endangered species and by law must be protected from extinction. The National Forest Service has proposed killing 3,600 Barred Owls in an attempt to save the Spotted Owl. A small scale culling was done in the redwoods of northern California and the Spotted Owl did benefit from it.

There are many layers to this controversy. Most people come down on one side or the other based on how they feel about logging old growth forests.

If you are an environmentalist – can you really endorse the killing of 3,600 owls by the government? But if you don’t, and the Spotted Owl goes extinct, the old growth forests are likely to open up to renewed logging.

I am having a hard time with the thought of interfering with a natural process like the Barred Owl taking new territory from the Spotted Owl. Survival of the fittest.

On the other hand, if it were tigers or lions that were at stake because some bigger and badder predator moved in I would probably be in favor of intervening so I am somewhat of a hypocrite there. Not that I don’t love owls, but big cats are a whole other level.

This one takes some soul searching. It sounds like the Barred Owl removal is likely to go forward unless there is massive resistance to it, and so far it has been a pretty quiet controversy, for obvious reasons.

Saw-whet Owl

Saw-whet Owl

This is a Saw-whet Owl. It has nothing to do with the story, but I have no Spotted Owl or Barred Owl images and I like this little guy. He used to hang out in the bushes at the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. His preference for thick vegetation made him difficult to photograph, but protected him from the Great-horned Owls and the red-tailed hawk that nested at headquarters, and from the bobcat that came through on her daily rounds. It’s a jungle out there.