As I tend to be an optimist, I have a long list of images that I want to capture with my large format 4×5 camera in order to make a beautiful fine art photograph.  In my mind I have a vivid idea of what a given scene will look like when I get to the right spot at the right time on the right day.  In reality, fine art photography rarely works out as smoothly as I’ve planned.  The following image and story account one of the rare instances in which things worked out even better than I’d planned.

"Sparks Lake Sunrise" fine art Photograph captured with my 4x5 camera at Sparks Lake near Central Oregon's Cascade Lakes Highway

“Sparks Lake Sunrise” fine art Photograph captured with my 4×5 camera at Sparks Lake near Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Highway

Central Oregon’s Sparks Lake is no secret as a landscape photography destination.  Landscape photographers from all around the United States travel to this Central Oregon Lake off of Bend’s Cascade Lakes Highway for photography purposes.  There is clearly something magical about this lake, in that it continues to facinate even after you’ve made hundreds of visits there, a I have.  Oregon’s now deceased photographer laureate, Ray Atkeson, described Sparks Lake as his favorite photography destination, which is quite a compliment considering all that Oregon has to offer landscape photographers and outdoor adventurers.  I’ve had good and bad luck at Sparks Lake and on this morning, I had exceptional luck.  I arrived at the Lakes shores before sunrise the morning after fresh snows had coated and given detail to South Sister(on the left) and Broken Top Mountain(on the right)  This coating of snow is critical to a great photograph, as the mountains would just be black blobs without the snow.  This morning also happened to fall in a narrow autumn window after snows were falling in the cascades and before the Cascade Lakes Highway was closed for the winter(it closed shortly after I captured this shot)  Because of Sparks Lake’s elevation, at nearly 6,000 snow comes early, stays late and piles deep.

This was one of those rare mornings where I get nervous shooting because I know that I may never see light like this again and especially not at a phenomenal location like Sparks Lake.  I mostly shot with my large format 4×5 camera this morning in hopes of capturing a wonderful fine art print.  When I got my transparencies back from this morning’s shoot, I was even more excited than the morning of the sunrise.  They came out great!  I recently sent one of the transparencies from this morning off for printing and I think it will make a stunning fine art print.  I’m already picking out matting in my mind!  I hope everyone loves this fine art print as much I I think I will!

All the Best,

Mike Putnam