Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Back to the Ranch

It's become a spring tradition.

When the wildflowers start blooming at the Dalles Mountain Ranch, I pack my camera for an early morning photo excursion.

Sunrise on the old car

After reports that the yearly flower show was on, I chose a late April Friday to make the annual trip.  This was my fourth season visiting this wonderful place, and every year it seems to attract more people (blame the power of social media.....and those darn photography bloggers!) :)

First light illuminates the fields

The ranch is part of Columbia Hills State Park, located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, just east of Dallesport.  It features old barns, a ranch house, acres of wide-open spaces, and the main attraction - an old rusted Studebaker in a field of wildflowers.

Sun's rays on the old car

The weather forecast promised a dry, sunny day.  However, driving down the dusty access road my car began to get buffeted by strong winds.  Ugh!  That's not conducive to close-up photography.

I like the light on this photo

In the early pre-dawn light, I parked near the field containing the old car.  Climbing over a hill, I spotted two photographers already in place waiting for sunrise.  They were both hunkered down, bundled up against the strong gusts. 

Surrounding landscape

With the wind blowing the flowers all around, macro shots were out.  So I set up my tripod to capture some wide-angle landscape shots instead.

Nice light on the adjacent hills

The sunrise was spectacular.  It spread wonderful light on the adjacent green hills, which I tried feverishly to capture.  I'd wait between wind gusts to trip the shutter, hoping for the least amount of movement.  Once and awhile it worked.


Instead of the same old car images that I've done for the past three years, this time I tried to capture the rusted auto from different angles.  I particularly liked the shot I took directly into the rising sun (sometimes you gotta break the rules!). 

An old barn

After a couple hours spent in the lovely flowers fields by the auto, I worked my way around the old ranch buildings - always a delight to photograph.


And walked along some trails cris-crossing wide open fields below the ranch. 

The far hill has a tint of yellow

The yellow sunflower-like balasmroot flowers were at their prime.  Although the bloom wasn't quite up to par (the past two years were much better) seeing huge open fields with a tint of yellow was still a spectacular sight.

Trail marker

But the purple lupine flowers were just getting started.  And they were thick near the old car. 

Not so friendly horse

I wandered by an old corral and was surprised to discover a horse inside the fence!  Trying to get his attention for a few photos, I whistled and called out, but he was too busy eating to pay me any mind.

The famous wagon

By mid-morning, I decided to head back to the auto for a few more images with different light.

Backlit lupine

A couple hours after sunrise is a great time to capture the wonderful flower show blooming around the old car.  Of course, by then, several other photographers had set up tripods in the field.

Vibrant flowers

The wind was still whipping, so we all had to wait for a lull to fire our shutter buttons.

Close up

Still, I was able to get a few images I was happy with.

The lupine was just getting started

By late morning, it was time to pack up and head to another destination in the Gorge.  I'd heard the wildflowers were amazing in the Memaloose Hills.  Some place I'd never hiked, it was time to check this place out.  (Stay tuned, it's my next blog post)

Lovely wildflowers

Always a delight to return to the Dalles Mountain Ranch!  It's spring flower show never disappoints.

Past blog posts from the DMR:

April 2014
Post One 2015
Post Two 2015
April 2016


  1. ...every garden needs a rusty car!

  2. Wonderful captures.. I love that place!

  3. Belas fotografias e aquele carro até fica bem no meio da natureza é como se fosse uma escultura.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  4. Love!

    I would have thought thought this year flower show would beat them all due to all the wet this winter. It is interesting that the balsamroot show was not as good as the previous two years. Regardless, spectacular photos!

  5. These were awesome. That old rusty car in the wild flowers is fabulous. I can see why people go there to take photographs. - You captured some awesome pictures of this place.

  6. Yes break some rules, I liked all your photos especially the sunny car one! Wind is awful to work in. I love the purple and yellow season of flowers! :)

  7. Hey! I am new at your blog (: I am following you now(;
    I hope you can visit mine and follow me back (; Have a good day!

  8. Gorgeous photos, Linda, and I love the old car and horse. I suppose the horse is either not used to people or possibly has been mistreated. Sad. He is beautiful, though. :)

  9. " It's spring flower show never disappoints."
    And your capture of their beauty is always sensational. I think your first image is the winner for me.

  10. So beautiful. That old car looks familiar :)

  11. I remember that old car, .... And those beautiful flowers!

  12. Wow! The coutnryside is so beautiful with the green and wild flowers.Loe the old cart and car. I am sorry these days I do not have the same time to comment on all your posts due to recent events but I appreaciae you posts and your comments on mine.

  13. The car really sets off those images perfectly. Love it!

  14. Flowers look really good this year. Some lovely shots with nice lighting effects.

  15. I am loving your spring better than ours!

  16. I'm repeating my comment about you making me want to hike on the north side of the Gorge!

  17. That old car is really cool. We don't have many flowers yet.

  18. Those old cars do add a focal point to the pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. Lol, those darn blog photographers! You photos are wonderful and I love the wildflowers. The old car is cool. Love the horse too! Great series of photos. Have a happy new week!

  20. Such a gorgeous area and beautiful wildflowers! I remember that rusty old car in your photos once before--it makes a fabulous backdrop.

    We may get a foot of snow the end of this week---spring in the Rockies--lol! I will have to wait to June to search out wildflowers. I just hope my trees survive this late snow.

  21. Love that old studebaker. sure wish i could visit some day.

  22. All the photos around the old car are wonderful!! Very well captured, and worthy of a photo book or calendar or something similar.

  23. Great shots! I shoot into the sun all the time, usually positioning myself in the shadow of a tree branch or some such thing.

  24. I think you really captured the early light nicely! (And worked around the wind quite well too!)

  25. Such a wonderful place to go in the morning light! Love that old car and what a wonderful photo op that makes. The flowers and scenery are all so beautiful.


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