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.
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.
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.
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.
The wind was still whipping, so we all had to wait for a lull to fire our shutter buttons.
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)
Always a delight to return to the Dalles Mountain Ranch! It's spring flower show never disappoints.
Past blog posts from the DMR:
Post One 2015
Post Two 2015