View Full Version : Oregon Road Trip

Sideshow Bob
11-Apr-2007, 18:14
Iím taking off next week on a road trip. Iím planning on driving north to Oregon with my first major objective being the John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit. Iíve never been there so I was wondering if anyone that has been there could give me his or her impressions and some ideas on photographing the area.

From there Iím going up to the Columbia River and work my way west along the river. Iíve been in the Gorge a few times so Iím familiar with that part of the river but does anyone know of other must see spots along the river? I plan on being gone two or three weeks so time is not a problem.

Thanks for any input.

JW Dewdney
11-Apr-2007, 19:43
Actually - I've heard there's nothing to photograph in oregon.

Brian Ellis
11-Apr-2007, 20:54
I don't think you'll need a lot of input for the Painted Hills, it's a spectacular area and a color landscape photographer's paradise. I don't think you'll have any trouble finding plenty to photograph, your problem will more likely be running out of film before you've done all you'd like to do. However, FWIW:

It's easy to become seduced by the wide angle vistas from the top of the main trail. And you can certainly do some of that. However, that's where everyone goes so it's hard to do anything that a million tourists haven't already done. So the last time I was there rather than making grand vista photographs I concentrated on close-ups of small sections of various parts of the Hills because I found the shapes fascinating. Three of the results are posted below. If you have a long enough lens you might try something similar, i.e. try to find things that aren't quite so obvious. Also, the Hills are very nice any time of day but late in the day is generally best, maybe after 5:00 pm pdt. That will give you about three hours of good light. Finally, if rather than parking in the area below the main trail you continue driving on around to the back part (there's only one road back there) you can find an area that's very interesting but that isn't photographed as much as the more common areas.

Sorry but I know nothing about the Columbia River Gorge.

Sideshow Bob
14-Apr-2007, 14:47
Brian, thank you very such for the feedback. I plan on heading that direction later next week. One other question, is it too early/late for wildflowers?


Eric Leppanen
14-Apr-2007, 15:10
The John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills are ideally at their best right after a rainstorm (the rain really brings out the colors in the rocks, plus those clearing storm clouds are nice, too), so if there is some flexibility in your schedule and some rain in the forecast you might want to keep this in mind. Be prepared for some wind too; when I was there I had to use my car as a windbreak to have any chance of getting some shots with the 8x10. I agree that Painted Hills is primarily a late afternoon photo location.

There also is an irrigation pond on some private land immediately adjacent to the Painted Cove trail, that can yield some excellent shots (hopefully Doug Dolde will chime in here since he got some very nice shots there). It's on private land with "Do Not Enter" signs (or similar) on the main road, so you'll have to decide whether you'll want to venture it. When I was there, the water level in the pond was very low, so it wasn't worth the effort/risk.

Painted Hills is a great place to use saturated film like Velvia or E100VS. I shot both Velvia 100 and Provia 100F with my 8x10, and got far better color definition/separation with the Velvia.

14-Apr-2007, 15:50
For some interesting views, try Beacon Rock -- on the WA side just about opposite of the falls on the Oregon side. A bit of a walk up to the top -- incredible trail work, though!


Sideshow Bob
16-Apr-2007, 18:06
Thanks to everyone for the input. I'm on my way on Wednesday and I'll let you know how I did when I get back!


Robert Brummitt
16-Apr-2007, 19:02
Another them Californians coming up to Orygun. Hide the good stuff, boys! You should visit the coast or the farmlands. I always go ga-ga traveling along the I-5 corridore.
Best of luck to you.

21-Apr-2007, 18:51
In case you use wireless on your trip...

Take a look at going up Beacon Rock, across from Cascade Locks, Oregon, on the Washington side. Go across the Bridge of the Gods, and head a few miles west.

Its about 1 hour to the top, with an incredible view.

Eagle Creek State Park, and the trail, has a couple of falls and is an attractive river.

Paul Metcalf
21-Apr-2007, 20:02
As with most western states, there's plenty to photograph. Bring a fly rod if you're in to that, lot's of good fishing as well. Enjoy.