Workshop in the clouds - Adventure a Day 6

Perseid meteor shower over Trail Ridge Road 

Perseid meteor shower over Trail Ridge Road 

This year I taught a night photography workshop in Rocky Mountain National Park. As the date approached the forecast was looking worse and worse with building evening thunderstorms every day. It's usual in August to have afternoon thunderstorms but typically they're gone by the time night presses in.

One of my clients was concerned about the weather and understandably decided last minute to not come to the workshop. I was still fairly confident we would have clear skies at some point in the night, I just wasn't sure at what time or for how long. Thankfully my worries were eased and the cloud cover on our first evening parted and the Milky Way was revealed.

Unfortunately our good luck was limited the first night and after a couple hours of shooting, fog starting to roll in and blanket our lenses with dew. We saw a number of meteors from the Perseid meteor shower but not a Sky filled with them that first night's clearing. For our second night I decided to head up to Trail Ridge Road to get the darkest skies as possible in the park and increase our field of view.

Again the same scenario played out and and cloudy skies parted to a blazing Milky Way and meteors popping everywhere. Without a strong foreground element I decided to set up my tent without stakes on a rocky area that wouldn't impact the fragile alpine tundra. I then proceeded to light up the tent and help everyone with their exposures. As we left our cameras running we saw meteor after meteor after meteor, the most I have ever seen in one night. They were all over the sky, so not many were ending up near the radiant source but we all enjoyed the view nonetheless.  

The night was over all uneventful besides chasing off a curious coyote and soon the clouds rolled in again. We all left happy and enthralled from the night's adventure from one of my favorite nights in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

So much ice... Adventure a Day 3

After a previous busy day of waterfall heaven in the Columbia River Gorge, I started another misty march morning with a run on the Eagle Creek Trail. I couldn't have been in more bliss as I bounded in the cold from waterfall to waterfall, just exuberant from all the greens in contrast to a snowless brown Denver. I had a whole canyon of mind blowing scenery to myself in weather that would normally have made me depressed in my native Ohio, and instead of taking pictures I was just enjoying the trail!

After finishing my run, I decided to head for some of the popular waterfalls in the Mt. Hood area and set my sights on Ramona Falls; unfortunately further research revealed it was still too early in the season despite 2014 not being a great snow year, and the falls weren't accessible. After driving by the trailhead for Tamanawas Falls, I looked up its info it in my Photographing Oregon guide book and decided to give it a try. It was still raining at this point, but the trail seemed dry enough so I threw on my rain gear and headed out. 

What started as an easy enough trail soon become an ice rink and I immediately regretted leaving my micro-spikes in the car. Ever the hater of retracing my steps, I decided they weren't worth the half mile hike back and continued the slip-n-slide forward. This wouldn't prove to be too much of an issue until I reached the falls and its steep approach trail, where every step was a challenge in balance.  When Tamanawas finally came into view my plans for a large grand scenic of the falls were immediately put to rest. I could see it was just starting to thaw and I was quite disappointed at the amount of ice surrounding it.  As I debated what to do I saw another photographer, Jameson Savage, attempting to get shots in the blowing rain and waterfall mist.  A recent transplant to Portland, it was his first time at the falls and he was bummed as well about the conditions.

After Jameson left I starting looking around for compositions and finally found something of interest where two large chunks of ice sat like mini icebergs below the falls.   Defiant to all the water rushing around, these boulder-sized pieces of frozen waterfall suddenly created the drama I was looking for in the scene.  As I grabbed my first frame and fought off the constant lens obscuring moisture, I was amazed at what I saw.  What was originally a scene of grey gloom and ice provided incredible contrast with the vibrant moss and lichen just starting to peak out of the surrounding area!  I wasn't sure if what I had was great but I knew it was good and definitely unique. When I finally pulled it up on my computer later that week, I knew it was amazing, and it ended up being one of my favourite waterfall shots from the whole trip!