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Tamanawas Falls, Mt. Hood

Most of the trails in the Columbia Gorge have a fairly similar profile. You start out at river level and then you climb up the side of the gorge, sometimes gradually, sometimes with crazy switchbacks, and sometimes straight up almost like an elevator (it seems). It's kind of nice because you pay for your hike, so to speak, up front, and then you can coast back to your car. But to get to Tamanawas Falls, you travel beyond the gorge to Hood River and creep up to the trailhead via the East side of Mt. Hood.

From the trailhead, you skirt a ridge, cross a river, then take a medium walk on a subliminally ascending trail that only starts to look like an uphill trail during its last quarter-mile or so, just as you approach the boulder field strewn around the waterfall's 'bowl'. 

I've never seen the falls when it hasn't been covered in snow, and the first time I visited, I was late in the day and the trail was deserted and I was on my own.

When I started my walk, the golden rays of the sun had been streaming through the trees making the snow slushy but firm enough for boots. But as the earth slowly turned, throwing the trail into shade, the slush began firming up and becoming crispy. I stopped to put on a pair of Yaktrax. They made me feel secure, even as the slush transitioned to sheets of ice and I zipped my coat up against the deepening cold.

The boulder-filled bowl where the waterfall empties was topped with substantial snow. If not for the waters erosive work during the day, I suppose it would have been hard to tell that there were any boulders. But because of the running water, alternating layers of ice and snow gave way to undercut holes and treacherous gaps. And as I reached this wondrous scene and began setting up my tripod, that's the point that the rubber strap affixing one of the traction devices to my foot snapped and I became distracted running one-legged escape-scenarios in my head. As I recall, the mist from the falls was able to freeze on my lens faster than I was able to wipe it off, and the majority of the pictures I took were unusable. As it got darker and I considered the difficulties of extracting myself from the boulder field in the dark, I realized it was time to go.

Many years later I revisited the falls with my sister Jill and my Brother-in-law Ron. The conditions were very similar to my first visit except that this time, we visted earlier in the day, when many other hikers were on hand and had pre-packed a firm trail in the snow which was not melting. 

Among the other hikers were a party documenting an engagement proposal. The backgrounds of their photos would contain a fantasy cathedral supported by ice-columns.

Though regular boots sufficed up to this point, further progress was risky due to the ice coated surface. Mist from the falls had accumulated all night and grew thicker and thicker as one approached the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites of shimmering pale blue ice, as if the Cat in the Hat had left a blue bathtub ring instead of a pink one.

Unidentified member of the engagement proposal party posing.

Ron had the foresight to bring along some micro-spikes and he let me borrow them so I could climb up to the ice formations.

Thor's Well, Cape Perpetua Area

Like I say in the calendar, I was originally attracted to Thor's well because of the pictures I'd seen of it on the internet. All the images I ever saw never included people for scale - as if no human would be foolish enough to dare to venture close. Instead, it was described as a hole that was draining the ocean, and the depictions of ocean water receding in torrents deep into the earth defied physics and lent a touch of mystery. Then too, the dynamic shots were often set against epic Pacific sunsets with unbelievable colors saturated beyond the palette of hues typically found in nature.

It was one of those things with which once you're confronted, becomes something you have to see for yourself.

I did a bare minimum of research, learning only that I needed to find the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. Once there, I followed a trail towards the ocean that led to a broad basalt shelf where you'd ordinarily hope to find a beach. The shelf, or bench, sticks out into the ocean about 100 yards and is worse for wear. The daily onslaught of tides has carved numerous fingers inland along faults and seams left when the basalt lava crystallized from its molten origins. Given a wave with enough impetus, the surge will flow into these funnel-like fingers - its volume incrementally constricted - until in the end, it must burst out under pressure as plumes of spray.

Spouting Horn - sounds kind of like a whale.

Spouting Horn, demanding attention.

Out there on the basalt bench, amongst the spouts and chasms,  Thor's Well isn't easily discernible, unless you happen to be looking for it. At high tides, it can be practically submerged, and at low tides, there may not be much spray or commotion to give it away. 

But eventually, some combination of the tide's progress, and waves of the right size, speed and direction will betray the well's presence in the rugged basalt landscape. 

I spent considerable time watching the Well work - trying to understand when it would erupt and in which direction. The water's regular ebb and flow, tied to the timing of the swells suggested nothing so much as respiration.

My overwhelming first impression was surprise at how small this feature was. The only other time I'd been surprised like that was the first time I drove up to Smith Rocks expecting to see features of the same order as El Capitan or Half Dome.

Mostly the water would just go up and down inside the pit, fed from some underwater tunnel. But every once in awhile, all the variables would come together and sea-water would explode up and out of the Well. This spray of water was a concern for the integrity of my camera gear but didn't appear to be life-threatening. Besides, it didn't happen very often. Statistically, I wasn't very worried about it.  Far worse would be to fall prey to some unexpected rogue wave that would scrape you across the sharp and ragged basalt, leaving you broken and skinless.

Thor's Well presented a difficult lighting situation. In direct sunlight, the foaming white water and dark shadows present a dynamic range of light that my camera can't record in a single shot. Couple that with a desire to eventually include the sunset, and things get tricky.

A wave terminating at the end of Cook's chasm

As the sunset neared and the lighting situation improved, the resulting conditions began to attract photographers.

I think this is when I began to realize that I might as well learn to incorporate the human figure into my landscapes to reveal scale since internet featured locales will probably attract ever more attention.

This series of pictures records the rare wave that reveals I am not very statistically adroit.

Multnomah Village, Portland

As the Capitol highway rises to cross the bridge over Multnomah Blvd., a sign welcomes travelers to "The Village in the Heart of Portland." It's a slogan likely crafted by the denizens of the 'village' and if this cluster of intriguing shops and eating establishments is really in the beating heart of the state's biggest city, then I don't know what a heart is. But after a snowstorm, as shopkeepers endeavor to keep their doors open, it certainly feels like an old-timey oasis.

The above image and text appear as representative of January in my 2020 seasonal calendar. Choosing pictures is difficult for me. In the process of creating images, it becomes hard for me to separate technical compositional concerns from memories and impressions that stick to the pictures like ghosts. I guess I like how the bridge arches its back as it stretches over Multnomah Blvd. and slithers on into the village. But the snow, something of a novelty in Portland, also makes me see this familiar view with a new perspective. I appreciate how the shelter-like nature of buildings is launched into my awareness as I see the old structures trying to shrug off their snow-coats. And when I finish crossing that bridge, I'll see light shining out of the windows, light that signals warmth and welcome. I know that if I step into a shop, I'll have to start removing layers of outerwear or be poached in my thermal base layers.

Now, years later (Jan. 8th, 2020), I revisit the bridge. This time, snow is an uncertain promise hovering somewhere within next week. This morning, clouds scurry to hide the moon. Sounds from the background waft on the wind and vie for first place in my attention. The hum of a transformer, the random peals of windchimes or the rare tearing of standing water by distant car wheels pass in and out of perception. 
The highway curves over the Blvd. and together, they cut out a pie-shaped section of real-estate loaded with businesses that make up the main streets of the village. 

What started as a grease fire eventually spread and gutted Renner's Grill back in March of 2018. Long periods of inactivity have been punctuated with evidence of construction and rebuilding, but even as I pass the establishment tonight, I'm uncertain whether it has reopened or not. The well-lit alley catches my eye and I like how the edge of the building acts as a knife, dividing the sidewalk - as if it was the point of a decision about which way to go.

Underneath the Capitol Highway bridge, a re-emerging green tint provides evidence that shade and moisture exist here in sufficient quantity to allow the continual development of rich moss colonies that will spread to nearby rooftops to feed on shingles and return our temporary structures to a state of nature. This image turns out to be something of a self-portrait since my shadow is cast on the lower left-hand side of the pillar. 

Multnomah Village is growing, with various new buildings squeezing in along the main street here and there. They push in like bullies, their big shoulders displacing the little, old buildings that were trying to mind their own business or which were suffering from neglect.

Christmas decorations still glitter in the windows. Lights are left on in the shops as hopeful deterrents to evil - spare sentinels holding off the darkness. This view shows the road heading Southwest out of the village, back over the bridge I came in on. I figure it must be getting close to 2'oclock and the old white-haired man walking with an unsteady gait, escorting a weak-bladdered dog is the only sign of life I've seen...

...until I drift upon the same shoals where others have run aground on a cold school night (The Ship). I manage to avoid the siren's song.  

I roam the streets, hoping something will catch my eye, hoping to catch something that will epitomize the character of this 'village' (and not reflect my own foreboding), but I think maybe this village's best face is the one it shows in the daylight when the empty building shells are inhabited by their human spirits. 


The response to this year's calendar offering has been gratifying. Please check back again next year for the 2021 edition.
(This year's deadline to order was November 22nd. The Paypal button has been retired.)

(Back page of the calendar showing each month’s image — subject matter photographed from beyond the Cascades to the Coast with Portland, Oregon serving as the base of operations)
The simple conceit (and when I say conceit I mean “a fanciful expression in writing or speech”) for these calendars is that each image must actually be photographed in the month that it will represent. In this way, I hope to achieve random photographic evidence of what it’s really like to experience the seasons in what I think is a particularly beautiful part of the world.

This 12-month calendar measures 11 X 8.5 inches (11 X 17 when open), is composed of fairly heavy 100lb gloss paper and features my new design that showcases supplementary pictures under the day-grid portions — the actual calendar part — of the calendars.

That works out to almost twice as many pictures as before.

Last year, I probably didn’t start the calendar project early enough, and postal deliveries didn’t occur as fast as I was led to believe they would, so the process is starting earlier this year. Please be aware that I am printing these calendars on demand. As soon as I have enough orders for 100 calendars, I’ll send an order in. I will keep sending in orders until the deadline which is November 22nd, 2019.

Something I’d also like to try this year is to provide additional information at The Narrative Image (my blog) regarding the images in the calendar. I’m envisioning a dedicated page that will allow comments for each month, someplace that I could answer questions and provide additional descriptive images. I’m not quite sure how to implement it, but I still have a few months to figure it out.
I look forward to sharing the images of the area I am privileged to call my home.

Ordering in larger quantities allows me to take advantage of a price break, so this year’s calendar will cost the same as last year’s ($15.00). The price includes shipping.


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