“Smith Rock Radiance”, Fine Art Photograph
Resplendent sunrise over the Crooked River and Smith Rock State Park
“Smith Rock Radiance” I’ve been to Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park so many time for sunrise…… I’ve captured lots of attractive fine art landscape photos there. This particular location as Smith Rock has eluded me. A few years ago, I captured an image from this location that was really pretty but wasn’t quite ” right”. Wasn’t quite what this amazing place deserves. So, I shelved it. I knew, with time, years, I could capture a better image that appropriately honored the essence of this wondrous park.
Flash forward to Autumn of 2021. I had an early morning planned. a 3:30 AM wake up call so I could drop my lovely wife off at the airport for an early flight. Return home, grab gear then depart for the Columbia River Gorge and weather permitting, motor to the Portland Japanese Garden to photograph its famous Japanese Maple Tree.
On the way from the Redmond Airport to my home in Bend, the sky brightened up just enough that I recognized the form of the Three Sisters on the western skyline framed beneath a dense but very interesting sky. Knowing that sub-lighted clouds at sunrise can can create photographic magic I took a peak to the east and saw a beautiful warm glow illuminating powder puff clouds.
Cloud cooperation in landscape photography is always a crap-shoot. More clouds that are sub-lit make for a more stunning scene but more clouds make it less likely that there will be any light beneath the clouds. What I saw to the east enlivened me. I was eager to roll the dice. At home, I made myself an Americano to get my mind right and began a quick location analysis. I checked web cams that I have book-marked grabbed my gear and decided to head north on Highway 97. The clouds would guide me to my destination. They were magical and they guided me to the location where I would capture Smith Rock Radiance. When I arrived, the light was disappointing, a flat, pre-dawn blue. Defiantly, I trudged toward an overlook of the Crooked River that I knew offered sweeping views of Smith Rock’s colorful spires and peak-a boo views of the Three Sisters Mountains. As I approached, the clouds illuminated with wonderful warm tones and Smith Rock’s spires began to radiate the most stunning deep salmon color. It was On! I frantically set my tripod, calibrated my camera, focused, composed the scene and squeezed off exposures. The most magical light show I’ve ever witnessed at Smith Rock State Park lasted about 2 minutes and then was gone. Faded to a flat blue-gray. I caught my breathe. I thought, “did I get it?” “did I just capture the best sunrise at Smith Rock I may ever witness?”. Reluctantly, I packed my gear and headed off for a full day of shooting, only to continually obsess over the breathtaking sunrise I had experienced at Smith Rock State Park!