Thursday, August 27, 2009

Covered Bridges Photography Class

Two years ago, I took a covered bridges photography class from Portland Community College. I had so much fun, that when I discovered the class was offered again this summer, I immediately signed up!  So on a Saturday in mid-August I found myself with three other classmates and our instructor, driving all over the countryside east of Albany, in search of the many covered bridges that exist in this area.
These bridges were mostly built in the 1930's.  They were all constructed of wood.  The reason the bridges were covered is to protect the wood from deteriorating in the rainy and sometimes freezing weather that we get here in Oregon. 
I saw this highway sign near one of the bridges.  There is apparently an official "tour route" through the county that will lead you to many of the covered bridges.
Our first bridge of the day was the Larwood Bridge.  This bridge is located near a small county park.  Because the park gets busy with lots of people on weekend days, we hit this bridge first. There was a nice little stream that some of us waded in to attempt some great water shots.
I really like this shot with the rocky creek leading the viewer towards the bridge.  I had to hike though the creek and a bunch of brush to get into this position.   The things we do for photography!
Each of these bridges had a sign above its entrance that had the date of construction, as well as the  bridge's name.  I liked the glimpse of the interior trusswork in this photo.
Our next bridge on our agenda was the Hannah Bridge.  It was a cute little white bridge with a huge "Yield" sign right in front.  My instructor and one classmate went to great lengths to position their cameras so that "Yield" sign was not in their photos.  (My classmate also thought about physically removing the sign!) It meant setting up a short tripod and sitting in the middle of the road!
I found my own camera position to eliminate this sign from my shots.
Although this was a nice little bridge, I had difficulty coming up with original compositions for my photos.  The adjacent stream banks were steep and very brushy, and I wasn't adventurous enough to try and get down to creek level.  Oh well, the inside of the bridge was interesting, and I really like the way this photograph leads the viewer through the bridge to the road beyond.
The next bridge was the Shimanek Bridge, my personal favorite. I love the bridge's red color, and the white louvered windows.  This bridge is also next to a really cool, scenic farm.
There was some purple thistle-like flowers blooming in the weeds below the bridge.  Very nice!
This bridge was on a very busy road, so we didn't linger in the roadway for very long.  But there were lots of sideline vantage points and I had no trouble getting lots of photos of this bridge!
The only bummer of the day was that the sky was this cloudy, washed-out, blah white.  Doesn't do much for landscape photographs.  Oh well, I did what I could and tried to include as little sky as possible in the shot.
After lunch at a great little restaurant in the town of Scio, we headed towards the Gilkey Bridge. 
When I took this class two years ago, this bridge got hit by a truck the day after we had been there photographing it.  I was hoping this bridge had been repaired, and was happy to see that it had.  This bridge is over another nice little creek, with some water access.  I liked how the colors turned out in this photograph.
I liked how the weeds are growing up adjacent to the bridge.  This is one of my favorite shots from the day.
Another great thing about this bridge is that it is located right next to an old railroad trestle.  You can get up on the trestle and position your camera for some great view angles of the bridge.
Oh joy!  As we pulled off the road near our last bridge, the sun came out!  The bright blue sky was most welcome.  Our last bridge was the Hoffman Bridge.  It is located over the best little scenic creek of them all.  Access to the water is super-easy.  I walked through the water upstream of this bridge, and found this wonderful reflection.
Blue sky sure makes the photos look better!  This little bridge was really cute.  I loved its little windows.

Here's my "artsy" shot of the bridge reflection in the water.  This photo was my instructor's favorite.

Once again, I had a really great time. I'm glad that my instructor, Mike Riches, and PCC decided to offer this class in 2009.  I'm hoping to come back this way in October to capture these same bridges with some fall colors.

These covered bridges are a great bit of history and I'm hopeful that we can keep them around for future generations to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paradise Park Hike

Two weekends ago, I took advantage of the cooler weather and hiked up to Paradise Park, high on Mt. Hood. I'd hiked to this area once before, taking the trail west from Timberline Lodge. But a friend had told me of another trail, Paradise Park Trail No. 778, which was longer, but shaded. And it didn't have the two mile uphill at the end of the hike, as the trail from Timberline Lodge does! So, always eager to try something new, I decided this would be my route.

I packed up Bear in my car, and took off early Sunday morning. The weather was cloudy, but nice and cool - perfect for hiking. I accessed the trail off of Hwy 26 from Kiwanas Camp Rd. There is a very nice primitive campground at the trailhead, beside a picturesque rushing stream. As I started up the trail, I noticed the vegetation was covered in heavy dew. The dew on these lupine leaves sparkled like small diamonds. The trail was uphill and long! It was six long miles until I hit the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail was well graded and went through some nice woods, but there wasn't very many views, and after six miles, I was ready for something interesting to look at!

I soon got my wish. After crossing the PCT, I began to see flowers. The flowers got more numerous, until I finally came upon a large field of lupine. The lupine appeared to be at its peak, and it was stunning!

This is the cutest doggy photo you will ever see! I love Bear's expression. It is so him!

After about a half mile or so, I came upon the junction of the Paradise Loop trail. I had arrived at Paradise Park! And this "Paradise Loop" trail sign is so true!

I followed the Paradise Loop trail though lovely fields of flowers. There were lupine, paintbrush, cat's ear, old man of the mountain, and others I couldn't identify. This is definitely a good flower year up on Hood.

With so much of nature's beauty, it took me a long time to hike the next mile. I took lots and lots of photos! The flower fields were outstanding!

We crossed a small creek flowing with glacial meltwater, and Bear paused for a drink.

I stopped for lunch at a campsite next to the remains of an old stone shelter. There was only a remnant of one of the shelter walls that was left. It made me sad to think this shelter had fallen into ruin. I ate lunch, and then propped my camera on an adjacent stump for an attempt at some self-portraits. Bear decided to wander in the way of the camera lens at the last moment!

On the way back, I tried out my "L" lens for some flower close-ups. I have always loved paintbrush, and there were some good specimens out there on this day.

The red paintbrush was so numerous, it looked like large red dots from afar. I caught Bear just as he licked his nose in this shot.

The old man of the mountain flowers are really cool. They look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book (remember the truffula trees in "The Lorax?") Some people think these plants look like hippies.

One more shot of the paintbrush - just because it was so stunning that day!

After being in clouds most of the day, the mountain began to come out. As I began my descent down the long trail, I got one good view of Mt. Hood. This is the south side of Hood and Zigzag Canyon. Even though I had 6 long downhill miles before me, I was glad I didn't have to cross that canyon on my return trip. I can handle 6 miles at the end of the hike, especially if they are all downhill!

I made it back to my car with a tired dog, and a camera full of photos. Total mileage that day - about 14 or so. Total elevation gain - about 2900 feet. Time spent up on my favorite mountain - priceless.