Virtually everywhere I go around Bend I’ve been hearing people praying to the proverbial snow gods. As it’s nearly December and there is only the lightest dusting of snow on our local mountains it would be good for everyone except my wife( she never wants cold or snow except on Christmas) if we were to get several heavy dumps of snow. In terms of my photography, I would definitely like some snow to cover dormant plants and to give the cascades a more alpine look and feel. I’ve got several exciting winter photography outings planned but no winter with which to work. Instead of fretting over sub optimal landscape photography conditions I’ve been working on some stock photography chores on the computer. I’d always rather be outside exploring but at least I’ve been fairly productive while waiting for the snow to fall. In anticipation of a late but inevitable winter, I’ve put together some of my favorite winter photos from previous years. All of these images were captured with my large format camera which can be a bit tedious but when I get it right it allows me to make stunning fine art prints. The first photo is our beloved Mt. Bachelor in its full winter glory, clearly not shot this year. This photo was taken two years ago in January. I’d been tracking weather patterns for over a week and was fortunate enough to capture this image at sunrise the morning after a 28 inch snow fall.
This photograph like most backcountry winter images required lots of work. An early rise, a brutal snow shoe up Tumalo Mountain through deep snows with a heavy camera pack while the thermometer reading hovered at zero degrees fahrenheit. Getting to a winter shot is only part of the battle. Finding a level spot to set up a tripod so that it doesn’t sink in the snow is always a difficult task. Snow blowing onto my lens and leaving fuzzy areas on my images can be disastrous. Accidently breathing on my lens is inconvenient at best as it takes a bit of time before the haze will clear and if its too cold, my breath freezes on the lens making my photos look like they were shot through an opaque shower door. Not Good. Finally there’s the frustration of the visual qualities of snow itself. If I can’t get to snow before its been exposed to the sun, it is virtually never visually attractive. Here in Central Oregon, it is often sunny right after a storm, melting the snow and making unsightly bare patches contrast unattractively against still snow covered areas. Essentially, if you want a really attractive winter landscape photo you need to be there right after a fresh snowfall and hope the wind hasn’t already blown the snows off of the trees in the area you want to shoot.
I love alpenglow photos like this one because I like color in my images and because they are a reminder how how special it is to spend time in the mountains. Where else can you get two free and beautiful light shows daily, courtesy of Mother Nature?
The following image was logistically simpler but still had its difficulties.
I was fortunate enough to get to this, my favorite grove of Ponderosa trees during an active snow storm. During my extensive scouting trips around Central Oregon, this is perhaps the most colorful group of ponderosa trees I’ve found and as a bonus they have a nice composition. If you live around ponderosa trees you’ve probably noticed that they are not all created equal. Some have considerably more reddish color to their wonderful jigsaw puzzle bark than others do. I have a theory about why this is. It seems that the more colorful side of any given ponderosa tree is virtually always the side of the trunk that is more slanted toward the ground and therefore more sheltered from prevailing weather patterns. It just so happens that all of these ponderosas had a slight tilt towards where I was shooting from and therefore they all have exceptionally colorful bark. Because the snow was actively falling while I was capturing this scene, the foreground was well covered giving this scene a very wintry feel.
The next photo is of Benham Falls, on the river trail, near Bend. It was taken immediately after a heavy early season snow storm. My daughter, Emma was with me on this adventure, like many of my other photography outings. There are several things about this photograph that are special in my opinion. First, the fresh snow allows for a wintry look, like all of the winter photos I am especially proud to have taken. I love the flow patterns of the Deschutes, the icicles draped off of the rocks along the river’s shores and the heavy snow laden evergreen branches sagging under their new found burden. I think this image
will make an excellent fine art print because of its various patterns and textures.
The next image in this small snow dance collection was taken in Tumalo State Park, and once again, it was taken immediately after a heavy snowfall giving the vibrant red osier dogwood in the foreground an attractive texture of winter. While this is a simple image, I still enjoy the composition and angles created by the silky waters of the Middle Deschutes River in the background and the ruby glow of the foreground dogwood.
Granted, this is a small collection of winter images but hopefully it will give some hope to those of you who crave fresh powder on Mt. Bachelor until Mother Nature can finally answer your prayers for snow.
Mike this is Jewel, Thanks for including me on your mailing list, you are making it very difficult for me to remain in Centerton, Arkansas, when I see these photos. I believe your snow if 2008 was like this one in 1958 or ‘59/. Our son graduated from the Bend High School, then went on to be one of the first to enroll in the new Central Oregon College. It was just about this time of the year and was far better to walk instead of try to drive. I am forwarding your photos to our son; he will relive his life in Bend, Oregon, as I have been doing since discovering your site last week.
Enjoying reading your blog, and I forgot about the Red Oster Dogwood along the Dechutes, Untill I write you again, thanks Jewel Camrody
Thanks for visiting! I’m not sure if you are aware, but a few years ago but Central Oregon Community College joined forces with Oregon State University and COCC offers four year degrees is some disciplines now. Winter has been unpredictable this year. One week it will be 10 degrees and snowing hard and the next it’s 60 degrees and sunny. I’m trying to imagine how different Central Oregon was in 1958 than it is today. You probably know that their has been tremendous growth since then. Bend is about 75,000 people now. The surrounding area is still gorgeous, as you remember it being! Have you started on your next painting yet? The last one was gorgeous. I hope you are well.
Hello again Mike I have one smaller vertical painting almost finished, a 10″ X 20″ Oil, it is a memory painting of a Jack Pine trail at Paulina, where Dewey and myself and our children used to hunt. I will paint one more of a different view when this one is finished. This one is almost finished will I will enter this one in an Art Guild show, I will place that one up for sale. It is on a canvas that will be unframed, a deep canvas that is used for a floating effect on a wall. I will never paint on a canvas of this sort again, as this is not my preferred type of canvas.
I will then Paint another as this will be one to replace a painting I gave to our church in my husband Dewey’s memory. I will send you a photo of the painting I gave away one day soon, as well as the one I am about to finish.
I may do a painting soon of ”Pringle Falls” we owned the property on the Deschutes River (South East Corner) and the road to Wickiup, sold it out in 1959 “Dumb decision” as I am looking back. Oh Well! We had to leave the area due to Dewey’s health problems, thought we would never need the property. I know that property has turned out to be highly valued through the years. One time we were fishing for Kokanee on our land on the river, the bank crumbled under me and I fell into the angry, snarling rapids of the Deschutes but my Dewey saved me, by throwing in a tree branch which I was able to grab on-to . I was wearing Engineer Boots and they filed with water dragging me down stream. He and my children were frantic; (I was not frightened, just busy trying to save myself). By the way we loved to fish for and eat Kokanee, Soo Delicious.
I was able to get out none the less for wear except loosing one boot. What great times we had when we lived in that beautiful state.
I am keeping busy, especially now as we are having an Unusual and Severe “Ice Storm” here in N.W. Arkansas. Have Been “Iced” in for 4 days, have done a lot of baking, cooking and painting during that time. Probably will be another 4 or 5 days until we get a thaw. I lost several trees up close to my house; another fell onto a storage building, one is laying on the roof at the front spare bedroom of my house, it just eased over from the softened ground, thank goodness. I Have dozens of branches, which are downed branches all over our property.
I will check your message on your site right away, thanks for staying on touch; I enjoy your site so very much. Regards to your beautiful wife and daughter, Jewel
Your photos are Majestically beautiful. They capture the essence of the area and the paintbrush of God.