Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Auto.... Again

The things we photographers do to get the shot!

Like waking up insanely early and driving 2 hours to catch sunrise in an amazing place.

Flower fields before sunrise (can you spot the old car?)

Last May I discovered the Dalles Mountain Ranch, part of  Washington's Columbia Hills State Park.  East of the Cascade Mountains, it's wide-open grassland erupts into a colorful carpet of wildflowers each spring.

The sunrise shot

Our lack of winter and earlier-than-normal spring meant wildflowers were blooming nearly a month ahead of schedule.  I caught wind of flowers peaking at the ranch, and scanning the weather, took vacation on the sunniest day that week.

First light on the old auto

Arriving in the chilly pre-dawn, I was pleased to discover there were now highway signs guiding visitors to the correct road, and a brand-new parking lot, complete with a restroom!  

Morning light on lupine

Although I'd beaten the sunrise, it wasn't too far away, and I quickly gathered my equipment.  I wanted to capture the sunrise from a beautiful vantage point.  After debating locations the entire drive, pulling into the site, I instantly knew the place.  That old car!

Lupine close-up

The Dalles Mountain Ranch offers tons of photographic opportunities.  But none are as famous as one rusted old car, left to rot in a fabulous wildflower field.  Last year, I spent the better part of a morning hunting for the auto and was ultimately successful in finding it's location.  This time around, I knew exactly where to look.

Old farm view through the fence

Hefting my tripod and backpack I hotfooted through fields and over fences to where the auto lay.  The eastern sky was lightening, and birds were singing their morning songs.  So very tranquil.  A wonderful way to greet the day!

Lovely country!

The auto was surrounded by a sea of yellow and purple.  Balsamroot and lupine were blooming profusely.  The flower show was just as good, if not better, than last year.  A giant patch of lupine was growing along the fenceline and appeared to be at peak bloom.  Suddenly it came to me - I had my sunrise shot.

The entire hillside is yellow

Noticing the eastern hills were getting brighter by the minute, I quickly erected my tripod and pointed it towards the lupine field.  Not two seconds later, the first rays of light began breaking over the horizon. 

Loved the light on these flowers

I'd hoped to capture a sunburst, and was able to fire off a half dozen shots before the sun rose over the hills.  Now that it was up, I turned my camera around to catch warm morning light illuminating the flowers and car.

Gnarly oaks

Then I wandered through adjacent fields, shooting everything that caught my eye.  These old oak trees, with their gnarly branches, were particularly striking.

Old fences made good subjects

As was this weathered, tumble-down fence.  A nearby patch of brightly colored flowers didn't hurt either!

Lit up lupine

Having shot the usual compositions that almost every photographer captures, I tried some different angles.  I kind of liked this one, shot through the barb wire.

Classic old car photo

But couldn't resist a couple of classic poses.

Downhill views were mighty fine too!

The wild, rolling grasslands captivated me.  Living in Portland, enclosed by buildings, tall trees, and lush greenery, there's something freeing about these wide-open landscapes.  Reminds me of my home state of South Dakota.

View through the window

Getting up early has it's benefits.  I had the car and it's flower fields all to myself for nearly three hours.  But just as I was finishing up, I spotted a silhouette ambling along the fenceline.  Another lady had arrived.  Time for me to move on.

Lupine stand tall and proud

It's interesting - this rusty car's location used to be such a secret.  I think the cat's been let out of the bag.  Later that day, I noticed at least a dozen cars parked nearby, and probably just as many people with tripods fanned out around the auto.  (And this was on a Thursday morning.)

But by that time, I'd moved on to the old ranch buildings and dazzling flower fields nearby.  Which you'll get to see in my next post.

More photos to come!  Stay tuned!

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends


  1. Isn't Dalles Mtn Ranch a beautiful spot, Linda? I posted from there this past week too. I agree, getting a vantage point that has not been done a million times is a challenge. I like your "thru the barbed wire" take a lot. And I LOVED your sun coming over the hill shot. So pretty :)

    If I didn't have a 3 yr old I would be up at dawn like you with my camera. I will again someday! Despite that, I'm surprised we have not run into each other at some point. Maybe some day we will!

  2. Oh wow, Linda, these are magical shots of the sunrise and also the old car. Thanks for sharing. Greetings Jo

  3. Oh wow. You definitely got what you were after. End even though we didn't get up as early as you, we definitely got rewarded as well. Love each and every shot you made!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. You captured incredible beauty, and on a gloriously sunny day.
    Loved your sunrise, along with all your wonderful images.
    Fantastic post!

  5. Hello Linda, what a great idea to be at the special spot for the sunrise.. I love the gorgeous wildflowers.. Awesome shots of the old car, flowers and the scenic views.. Thanks for sharing your day.. Enjoy your Sunday and have a happy week ahead!

  6. Very nice- I envy you your wildflowers

  7. Not only a spectacular sunrise shot, but several spectacular sunrise shots! I just can't believe the flowers in those fields! And I do remember that old car.

  8. Absolutely love every one of these shots. Isn't it just amazing to be the first one up to get his wonderful time of day! This area us just gorgeous and the flowers are wonderful. Isn't photography such a gift in life!!! Beautiful and know you would do it again in a heartbeat.

  9. Wonderful shots and well worth the waking up early! The wildflowers are awesome!!:)

  10. WONDERFUL images! That '30s something rust bucket looks good surrounded be all those beautiful flowres. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  11. Boy am I glad you got up early and caught those sunrise shots. They are spectacular! And the lupines and... this was a wonderful excursion. Thanks for taking me along with your fabulous shots. :-)

  12. Magnificent shots of nature's beauty and love the old car juxtaposed with all that beauty!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  13. These are some fabulous photos--definitely worth you getting up early and sharing :) Great colors and angles with that gorgeous sunrise.

  14. Stunning countryside. The wildflower colours are like jewels glittering on the green. And love the touch of low cloud in one photo too.

  15. I agree with your observations about doing crazy things to photograph particular situations. The upside of this hobby is that you become alert about the environment and develop a keen observant eye. Who says clicking for varied images is a child's play?

  16. Lovely area. I had a few years of early morning photography but now I find sunset shots more in keeping with my body clock and energy levels. Great set of photos though.

  17. wow - so pretty with all the wildflowers and lupins!

  18. Wow, the fields full of flowers are wonderful to see!

  19. It certainly paid to get up early. These are beautiful shots! As I write I have 50 lupine seedlings on my window sill, so much fun to come!

  20. I LOVE that old rusty car in amongst the wildflowers! A photographer's dream. :) Definitely worth getting up early for! (At least that's what I think.)

  21. I love early morning drives...especially to place like this. It is like waking up early to catch the blessings of the day while the rest of the world is asleep. It is very rewarding.

  22. What an amazing find Linda. How I would love to come across something so beautiful, that in other's eyes would be an eyesore. So glad you got a few hours to capture this gorgeous subject. x

  23. Stunning. Hard to pic a favourite but the sun's rays breaking over the mountain is a winner for me.

  24. Beautiful images! Your efforts paid off.

  25. A visit to this place is on my calendar for next year, Linda... thanks for posting these, and letting us know about this beautiful place.

  26. I'm stunned by the beauty of the area - the wildflowers - the old rusted car - the views. The flowers are especially amazing!

  27. Stunning captures! Certainly worth getting up early for.

  28. Fabulous - I'm in awe of the light, the rolling hills, the old car, and those magnificent wildflowers!

  29. I remember when you went there last year. So pretty!

  30. OMG i want to go with you trekking on these landscapes, i can always go with you very early to catch the sunrise. I can even go with you all night doing long exposures for star trails.


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