“Mountain Berry Blend” Three Fingered Jack in Autumn
Mt Jefferson Wilderness Area
“Mountain Berry Blend” Central Oregon’s Three Fingered Jack is an impressive mountain in any season but is especially stunning in autumn. I captured this fine art photograph of t in the autumn of 2015. Three Fingered Jack is located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness which I explore several times each year. This year, while trekking in the backcountry, I stumbled upon this fantastic view near Wasco Lake. Three Fingered Jack reflected in a small pond and a stunning foreground of huckleberries and blueberries erupting with fall color. The day I discovered this scene, it was early afternoon and the lighting conditions were terrible but the scene clearly had amazing potential. I sat next to the pond, enjoying Jack’s intricately striated spires as rising brook trout abstracted the alpine reflections. I made plans to return the for warmer light and hopefully, cold, inactive brook trout! The following morning I arose at 3:00AM, drove to the trail head. It had rained during the night leaving ground cover saturated with moisture. Three Fingered Jack made cameo appearances as cloud caps danced overhead and unfortunately, in front of the volcanic spires. I made the hike to the Wasco lake area in the dark and began the mile long off-trail bushwhack as nautical twilight began to brighten the skies above me. The chest deep alpine bushes were drenched in the previous night’s precipitation. I was scraped, slowed and soaked by huckleberries, blueberries and willows. I was freezing! As the sun arose, clouds flirted about with the mountain top and I staggered to my new favorite alpine pond. My hiking pants were torn and completely saturated as I shivered, awaiting the sun’s morning warmth. I’m not who the patron saint of Landscape Photographers is but she was not kind that morning. The wind picked up, spoiling the mountain’s reflection and clouds obscured it’s summit. I was distraught but not defeated. I returned to my truck several hours later without the next great Oregon Landscape Photograph.
Capturing this photograph of Three Fingered Jack
I shared my excitement for this beautiful scene but no great photographs with my wife, Debbie Putnam and Our wonderful daughter, Emma. I changed my soccer-dad carpool schedule( thanks to Chanda, Wendi, and Carolyn for their flexibility!) and returned two evenings later with full camping gear and full camera gear. My backpack weighed over 70 pounds! I defied my normal behavior pattern and planned ahead, leaving me plenty of time to reach the pond before sunset that evening. As I was far off trail, flat tent spots were non-existent. I pinched my tent in-between pine trees and beargrass clumps. The fit was tight but doable. I enjoyed the Brook trout’s evening dance and an osprey’s arial maneuvers before settling in for the evening. The night was horrendous! I often sleep poorly the night before a shoot as I fret about oversleeping an amazing sunrise and conditions are often less than optimal. Strong winds whipped over the pond and relentlessly buffeted my tent. The scratching of beargrass blades against my tent created visions of invading armies of filed mice in my head. Think of the movie, Ratatouille! Yikes! I didn’t over-sleep because…I didn’t sleep! Submitting to insomnia induced by armies of imaginary mice, I arose long before sunrise. The winds had abated, the pond was a sheet of glass and attractive clouds were suspended above Three Fingered Jack. I had awoken in Shangri-La! Further bolstered by a fresh cup of coffee, I composed the amazing scene before me with the “Big Rig”, my trusty wooden 4×5 camera. The sun exploded on the mountain’s summit gifting me with one glorious exposure after the next. As a landscape photographer, the moment was transcendent. An amazing mountain reflected in glassy waters with a blended foreground of Blueberries and a smattering of Huckleberries, all resplendent with fall color. My efforts were rewarded and my senses heightened by what will soon be my newest fine art landscape photograph, “Mountain Berry Blend”!