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regnaD kciN

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maple Valley, Washington
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 25,204

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Water Falling Over Things 2014: Part IX (Autumn's End)

This week, remnants of "super-typhoon" Nuri drove far north into Alaska, joined with the polar jet stream, and plunged back down into the U.S., bringing record low temperatures to the north central states. As a side-effect of this storm, frigid air from Canada flowed into eastern Washington and Oregon, from where it was driven by pressure differential across the Cascade passes and Columbia Gorge to the coast. Where I live, in the Cascade foothills of Seattle, such windstorms are not uncommon, but this one was notable in its length and ferocity. Normally, these storms last twelve to eighteen hours; this one, however, gave us an amazing two-and-a-half days of steady, freezing winds, with gusts regularly reaching over 60 miles per hour. Aside from uprooted trees and widespread power outages, the windstorm, coming in the midst of a late fall, stripped what still remained of colorful foliage from trees throughout the Northwest, leaving bare limbs in its place. Once the storm had passed, so had autumn. Winter was on its way.

Earlier, before leaving Portland on the day of my Japanese Garden visit, I made a quick side-trip to the Columbia Gorge, guessing -- correctly -- that it might offer my final opportunity for fall shooting. My first stop was, as for so many other photographers, Multnomah Falls. Although the color wasn't as widespread as I've experienced on previous visits, a pair of big-leaf maples were ideally placed to provide foreground counterpoint for the upper fall.

I had just enough time before sundown to visit Horsetail Falls, the other easily-accessible waterfall in that stretch of the Columbia Gorge Highway. By now, the drizzle had increased to the point where tilting the camera up to capture the entire 100-plus feet of the fall would be impossible; any viewpoints would have to be level or tilted downward. Fortunately, once again, a big-leaf maple was in just the right position to serve as a colorful foreground accent to the lowest portion of the fall, captured with water-smoothing slow shutter speeds.

Finally, I descended into the bowl of Horsetail itself. The spray here was an almost-steady mist, and far too may of my attempts wound up being spoiled by water on the lens. But I was able to capture one image where the spray didn't interfere, and which, for me served as an almost-perfect "farewell to autumn" - where the only foliage consists of fallen, but still colorful, leaves floating in the pool beneath the fall.

It was a fitting final image for a season that, although initially seeming somewhat of a disappointment, wound up providing some truly-memorable ones. Now - on to winter.

Water Falling Over Things 2014: Part VIII (Deceptively Forgotten?)

(I'd been meaning to post this for some time, but other matters, and other subjects, got in my way. I'm finally getting around to it because I have later WFOT images to post, and wanted this to be in the proper chronological order.)

I've photographed Deception Falls along Stevens Pass many times before. It was literally one of the first subjects I photographed during my "digital photography renaissance," and long-time DUers will, no doubt, remember seeing several images from there. Nonetheless, I hadn't been back for many years. On the way back from a scouting trip to Tumwater Canyon over a month ago, I decided to pay another visit.

The big difference was that, in the past, I had been there at or around high-water for the year, and had tried, as usual, to capture the fall using the slow shutter speeds that generally make waterfalls most photogenic. This time, the falls were at lower flow, and the general impression was of speed rather than power. Therefore, I opted for a slightly different approach, getting as close as possible to the lowest section of the upper fall by shooting at a lower vantage point than usual, and choosing a slightly-faster shutter speed, to get more of a sense of motion while still providing some smoothing effect.

Here's a detail from the lowest bend; as you can see, I used an even faster shutter speed to capture even more motion.

Autumn in Tumwater Canyon

The fall foliage season, now drawing to a close, turned out to be a disappointment in much of the Pacific Northwest. Blame the hot, dry summer, and the record high low temperatures (that's not a typo - daily low temperatures were abnormally high) throughout early autumn, which prevented the frost that could jump-start fall colors. But, as happens in years like this, the foliage didn't turn together. Instead, we had a "slow-motion autumn" where trees already gone to dead, brown leaves group with neighbors who are still green; there was never a point where much of the foliage was at a photogenic peak at the same time.

But there are always places where you can count on good fall color, and Tumwater Canyon, north of Leavenworth on the east side of the Cascades, is generally one such place. This year, even Tumwater was a bit subdued -- but a subdued season there is still equal to much of the Northwest at its best. I made three trips to the Canyon this autumn; the first was a scouting mission before the leaves had turned enough to be worth photographing, while the second two caught different stretches of the Canyon as their foliage reached its peak.

About halfway down from Stevens Pass, Winton Road branches off from Route 2; stands of aspen were, as usual, providing great opportunities for long-lens "texture" shots.

Further south, the highway meets the roaring Wenatchee River. The northernmost part of this area remains blackened by a forest fire from earlier this summer. But, once past the burned-out area, there are many pullouts where you can walk down to the river (or at least close enough to it) and capture autumn colors fronted by rushing waters.

And, even when leaves have fallen in some places earlier than one might want, they still leave the opportunity for "intimate landscapes" underfoot, particularly when framed by the speckled, water-polished stones of the river-bank.

There's more color to be found west of Leavenworth along Icicle Creek, and south through Blewett Pass...but those will have to wait for another autumn - hopefully, an even-more-colorful one.

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