Back to Basics

After the last post, featuring a picture that had more post-processing than I normally get involved in, it’s time to get back to basics.

Lines.  Shapes.  Shades.

Back to Basics

Whitebark Pine clinging to the ridge of the northwest rim above Crater Lake, Oregon.

The blue background is the lake, some 1,200′ below this tree.

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.

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.

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


Happy Autumn

My favorite season of the year.

Anywhere in the world.

Thielsen Autumn Sunrise

The first sunrise of Autumn (northern hemisphere) 2014.

Mount Thielsen (aka “the lightning rod of the Cascades”), reflected in the waters of Diamond Lake, Oregon, just a short distance from Crater Lake.

We were hoping for similar skies at sunset over at Crater Lake the night before.  It didn’t work out that way, since the clouds were too dense for the sun to stream through and give us the color we wanted.  A few glimmers of hope, but nothing worthwhile.  Other than the fact that it was still a sunset at Crater Lake.  There isn’t a bad one to be had.

Quite a crazy couple of weeks coming up.  Having this view to myself was a nice way to get myself ready.  I would have loved to have shared it with Goddess in person, but she was snug in her sleeping bag in the tent some 100′ behind me.


I was planning on a new shot taken on the first full day of summer.  An appropriate picture to kick off a summer sale.

I had planned for the past week on the angle I needed to get one of the local rocks framed by the Milky Way.  A fun shot that takes a fair bit of planning and time to execute, all in the dark of a moonless night.

But, unlike the rest of spring, we got clouds.

I won’t complain about the clouds too much, as we’re in a drought here and this batch of clouds is a precursor to rain later this week.  That’s good news, although the weather systems coming in look to be unstable enough for thunderstorms.  Thunderstorms on these dry forest lands mean fires.  We’ve had a few already this year, but this looks like this could be the start to the real fire season.

I’ve been in a few areas of forest lately that really need a good burn in order to become healthy again.

Anyway, the clouds prevented me from getting the image that I wanted this evening, but that’s a minor inconvenience.  There are plenty more opportunities this summer to get the image I am thinking of.

So instead, I’ll reach back to last year for an image that is familiar to all of you long-time followers, perhaps new to those that have started viewing in the past year.


So back to the summer sale.

It’s simple -> Enter “Summer14” when you check out and receive 15% off pre-shipping costs for the next two weeks.


As always, I do appreciate your support.

Now get out there and enjoy summer!

(and for those of you south of the equator, think of summer when you enter the code!)

Crater Lake Fall Lines

Whenever I look at mountains, regardless of the season, I mentally ski them.

It’s no different with water.  Whether it be a river, a lake or an ocean, I mentally surf the waves, no matter the size.

A bit of wishful thinking, perhaps.

Crater Lake is no different.  I love looking at the slopes and imagining the turns I’d take, down runs I would never make, especially since the end of the run would not be fun at all.  Not to mention the climb back out.

Crater Lake Fall Lines

It’s beautiful, but dangerous.

Just over two weeks ago, a visitor to the lake rented snowshoes for a walk away from the lodge.  He hasn’t returned.  Search teams found his tracks leading towards a spot where a cornice broke free.  They didn’t find tracks leading away from the spot, nor have they found a body.  Damn shame.

A not-so-gentle reminder that beauty can be dangerous.

Wizard Chemtrails

Another week, although abnormally cold here.

Down to -3°F (-19°C) earlier this week, with 8″ (20cm) of snow on the ground.  The cold air was trapped down here in the valley while the upper elevations warmed up.  It was a juxtaposition of reality, with the mountains surrounding us turning brown as the snow melted, we down here in the valley stuck in our houses due to the ice and snow.

It took six days for the schools to open.  It’s been five years since the valley saw snowfall greater than 1″, so the collective memory has forgotten.

Mid-week, we had friends in town.  A quick visit, never long enough.  Goddess and I discussed ways to keep them here, including letting the air out of their tires or padlocking the door to their room.

But during their last couple of years here in the Pacific Northwest, they had not visited Crater Lake.  I declared it would be a shame for them to leave the area without seeing the view.

They agreed.

So after a couple of hours of slip-sliding on the roads to get there, they got to see.  And they understand.

For Goddess and I, it was amazing to see the snow depth difference between today and Black Friday, less than two weeks ago.

Wizard Chemtrails

About the name of the photo – it’s a dig.  Although I’ve been aware of the chemtrail folks, I’ve recently viewed a lot more traffic on their viewpoints lately.

I’m a skeptical guy.  But their viewpoints?

I find amusing.

Wizard Tones

Although watching sunrise at Crater Lake is full of colorful surprises, there are also so many textures, features and focal points that black and white is often the only way to present it.

Wizard Tones