Broken Snow Sparks

Broken Top Mountain blanketed in a fresh blanket of snow, only the second or third covering this year, reflected in the mix of ice and water of Sparks Lake.

For you mountain fans, to the left of this view is South Sister, to the right is Mount Bachelor.

Broken Snow Sparks

After a long weekend in Bend, Oregon, where Goddess and I attended a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course called Wilderness First Aid (WFA), we took the long way home.  Bend is only about 3.5 hours from our house, but it took us about 8 hours.  The snow here at the summit of Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway that had fallen over the weekend had turned to ice, so the going was slow for a few miles.  But more than anything, we took many a side trip for different views and experiences.  Our only disappointment of the whole drive was that the north entrance to Crater Lake was closed due to the snow, so we didn’t get to see the lake on this trip.  Sure we’ve seen it many times, but have yet to see it from the north side when the rim and surrounding mountains are covered in snow.


I mentioned the WFA course.  It’s a course I cannot recommend enough to everyone.  The focus is on first aid issues in the wilderness, but it’s info that is equally useful in an urban setting.  You might be able to find one near you either through your parks & recreation agency or through REI.

Marks the Spot

Marks the Spot

Mount Thielsen, Oregon.

Shot from the east rim of Crater Lake.

Pumpkin Splash

Tonight is the peak of the Orionids and Thursday is the solar eclipse.

We’re in for clouds and rain instead.

Although I won’t complain.  We’re very deep into a drought here, so the more rain, the better.  Plus, it should make the late afternoon eclipse quite interesting.

Not to mention the rain gives an opportunity for a bit of play time.

Autumn Splash

Now it’s back to work.

Approaching Storm Lines

It’s that time of year when we finally get the storms we need to bring the moisture.

Although the mountains do a fine job of wringing out that moisture before it gets too far inland.

Approaching Storm Lines

This view had it all – lines, shapes and shades.

Sunrise Teaser

Such a tease.

It was good 10 minutes prior, underwhelming 5 minutes prior, then completely underwhelming 5 minutes later at sunrise.

This was the best it got.

Still not shabby.

A completely different view of the sunrise at Crater Lake than I’ve ever taken in.  I’ve always been on the opposite rim, northeast to southeast.  The goal has always been to get the sunlight on the rim walls, which makes it magical.  I had a hunch about this sunrise, taken from this angle, hoping that I’d get a good red glow under the clouds of the storm moving in from the west.

Well, a hunch and the reality of a time crunch, since I had to meet people down off the rim just 39 minutes after sunrise.

Hints.  Teases.  But that’s all.

Still not shabby.

Sunrise Tease

Then just 45 minutes later, I was meeting a film crew.  After that we spent the next five hours filming what will probably be a total of 7 minutes of screen time on an upcoming TV show for the Travel Channel.

They were interested in seeing how we used century old 2-person crosscut saws to clear fallen trees from trails, with Crater Lake as a backdrop.  I was interested in seeing how they used their Epic RED cameras and kit to create shows.

A fair trade.

And all parties agreed, a day with this as our office is a great day indeed.


Just 24 hours later, this view would have been completely shrouded in the clouds that the storm brought in.  Based on the webcam views just off and a bit below the rim to the south, this view would have been completely covered in several inches of snow.  The first of the year, a promise of a good winter.


Just for fun and spatial awareness, this viewpoint is exactly between the two peaks that the moon set between during last week’s lunar eclipse.  From this angle, Watchman Peak is to my right (south), while  Hillman Peak is to my left (north).  The spot where I took the image of that moonset is directly across the lake, at frame center, below the summit of Mount Scott.

Hopefully the early mornings have been as good to you.

Trails and Rocks

An excellent weekend here, not just in weather, but deeds.

Saturday was a full day of trail work on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with a good group of people.  This time it was a local section, so I woke up in my bed instead of in my tent.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Sunday was a day spent with friends from the trail, except we went vertical, climbing Pilot Rock, a prominent peak near town.  It’s a fairly popular climbing spot, with a couple of routes rated 5.11+ on the south side.  But we stuck to the north side, a scramble up a wedge with a couple of fun “feet hanging” moments.

At the top was a nice 360° view of the area.  Not much different than the view from many of the other peaks in the area, but none have the approach that this required.  Good fun.

Of course, I had to stop and enjoy my favorite view of a mountain that makes me smile – Mount Shasta.

Pilot Rock Shasta View

After the climb, we headed down to the meadow, ate lunch, laughed and enjoyed the view of Pilot Rock.

Pilot Rock Meadow View

The route was on the left (north side), up in the crease between the two main columns of Pilot Rock.  If you looked at the Wikipedia page, you might have noticed the panoramic view.  Click on that and you can see the impressive polygonal columns that make up the rock.  Those made for a nice stair-step approach to the summit.

Keen-eyed watchers of this page might notice the shape at the top of Pilot Rock and the small weathered tree.  That’s the subject of my favorite image of the rock, shot back in June during a nice bout of rain.


Hopefully you were able to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend!

Crater Lake Moonset

You all have likely been flooded with interesting interpretations of this week’s lunar eclipse, popularly heralded as a “blood moon”.

I know I have.

Like many others, I was awake all night to shoot it.  I was in the perfect spot for it and had a fantastic view of the entire process.  The difficult part is that the path of the moon was separate from anything of interest – the Milky Way, ground objects, etc.

Based on the images that I have run across since then, plus watching a neighboring photographer, I should have set up multiple cameras with different lenses, then created a composite image of preternatural proportions.

Not my thing.

So I stayed in place, waiting for an event that I knew would work out as I planned it – the sunrise/moonset a couple of hours after the eclipse.

Crater Lake Moonset

While orbital mechanics did their thing and the moon set where I expected, there were a couple of surprises.  Specifically, how the new sunlight illuminated the northwestern rim of Crater Lake, focusing attention on Hillman Peak*, while its shadow swoops into a gentle curve below the full moon.  Later, while not visible in this image, the shadow of Mount Scott, some two miles behind me, shrank down the rim wall, almost perfectly mimicking the slopes of Wizard Island.

I suspect I’ll share that one next.

But I must say that the colors were not a surprise.  Seriously.  The colors are absolutely astounding at Crater Lake, regardless of the time of day, regardless of the season.

Absolutely astounding.

It was a cold night, as the gentle westerly breeze across the lake was funneled up the rim wall and right into our faces.  It was so strong that in order to get reasonably sharp images, we had to take to extraordinary measures to stabilize our tripods and cameras.  I wish I had taken a picture of the setup, as words can’t describe it.

Just as words can’t describe the entire experience.

That’s why I take pictures.


*Hillman Peak is at 8,159 feet (2,487 m), while the lake level is at 6,200 feet (1,890m).  It is the highest point along the rim.  So for those of you that are about to break out the calculator, that’s just under 2,000 feet (700m) of rock face that you are faced with, some 6.2 miles (10km) distant.

It’s not a small lake.

But it will make you feel small.

And that’s a good thing.

Autumn Gradation

We’re still waiting for the fall colors to really pop locally.  We have a couple of random trees, but nothing widespread.

Truth be told, here close to town, there’s little to be found that is photogenic.  A few trees in a row will look great, but they are in front of the town’s offices.  A few across the street from our house will look awesome, but against a school’s gymnasium.

Hopefully a few in the park will do their thing.

Autumn Gradation

These quaking aspen were captured a month ago, out at Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon.  Quite a bit higher in elevation, they were already doing their thing.  It was quite interesting to see the differences in the aspen groves, ranging from summer green to yellow to bright red, all within a few short steps of each other.

The colors are nice, as are the mountains off in the distance.

Hopefully some nice colors are starting to appear where you are in this best season of all.

Twisted Crater Lake Overlook

I have found a few images featuring this tree, so once I figured out where it was, I wanted to get some shots with it.

Little did I know how popular it would be with photographers.

Even on an off-season Monday evening.

Good thing we got there early.

Twisted Crater Lake Overlook


Painted Quaking Aspen

The early morning session featured in the Mount Thielsen Stars post was a bit of redemption for what I had considered a poorly executed star shooting session a couple of weeks earlier.  During that earlier session, I did quite a bit of experimentation, which is good, but came back with very little that I considered worthy of sharing.

Twenty-five years at this game and I’m still learning.

I like that.

I was hoping to get some more late night images this weekend.  I was down in California doing some work for the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA).  It was trail work in the mountains during the day, but I’d have free time after dinner to get out and shoot the stars some more.  Since we were in the area, I was really looking forward to getting this tree in the foreground.

Instead, it was cloudy and rainy.  Snow had fallen in the area the night before we set up camp.

That made for poor photography options, but made for a memorable trail work weekend.

It was great to see so many people out enjoying the mountains, regardless of the weather.  It was the second weekend in the deer hunting season, although none of the hunters we talked to spotted anything other than does and a few fawn.  In other words, no luck.

There were also plenty of hikers, including a father and his young (7-8 year old?) daughter, out for her first backpack trip.  We talked to them on Saturday, then again on Sunday as they returned to the car, no worse for wear after a rainy and cold night at their back-country campsite.  She was all grins.  There just might be a lifetime of adventure for that young lady.

Anyway, what does any of that have to do with this photo?  Well, I had some time to let it set after giving up on it a couple of weeks back.  That was plenty of time to remove any notions of what I wanted to get out of it, which let me experiment.  Considering it’s the result of a night of experimentation, that was perfect.

Shot a little bit after the moon rose in Fish Lake Moonrise, I turned my attention to the south in the direction of the Milky Way.  There was also a single Quaking Aspen on the hillside which had, luckily enough, already popped to its full autumn color.

The moon lit the ground and I used an LED flashlight to paint the aspen.  Meanwhile the stars and Milky Way did their thing, occasionally masked by cirrus drifting across the sky.

Painted Quaking Aspen

Messy, but quite a bit of fun.


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