Two weeks ago I made it down to the Columbia River Gorge (on the Oregon / Washington border) to photograph some of the waterfalls and fresh spring foliage. The Columbia River Gorge is home to the highest density of beautiful waterfalls in the world – almost any creek you hike along will have several spectacular drops. This is largely due to the geology. The rock there is mostly composed of basalt, which has a tendency to form straight vertical walls – perfect for waterfalls (and rock climbing, as seen in my previous posting)! The greenery in the Columbia Gorge, like in the rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula, is just unbelievable. Being in the middle of it all is a wonderful refreshing experience, something I hope comes through in this image.

Fairy-tale Waterfall in the Columbia Gorge

"Rivendell" ~ Columbia River Gorge, OR
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-35mm mkII, polarizer, tripod
Exposure: iso 400, f/16, 0.8 sec
Notes: 2 exposures blended for focus

Unfortunately every (photogenic) waterfall there – even the ones off trail! – has been photographed to death. In some cases, quite literally actually. This first little waterfall, which I photographed a few years ago as well, has started receiving more foot traffic than it can handle and the vegetation along the stream is suffering. It’s a sad sight to see, so please be careful when you visit fragile places like this.

Click for larger view!

Waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge

"The Plunge" ~ Columbia River Gorge, OR
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-35mm mkII, polarizer, tripod, ropes
Exposure 1: iso 100, f/10, 1/6th
Exposure 2: iso 3200, f/10, 1/400th
Processing: I used about 10 exposures at a high shutter speed blended together to create a more dynamic yet cohesive water texture, and blended that in to the low iso image for optimal image quality throughout the scene.

One of my favorite waterfall views is from along Eagle Creek, which is a popular – deservedly so – trail in the Gorge. This is a dangerous view point, as one wrong step (on the slippery volcanic rock) could send you tumbling down 200 feet into Eagle Creek below. Of course, it’s this exciting perspective that makes the image so interesting. To stay safe I brought my rappelling gear and roped up with a prusik knot as a self-belay system. While I was at it, I figured I would take a portrait too, so here’s one of the rare times you get to see a photo of me.

Rappelling in Eagle Creek along the Columbia Gorge

Me, in getting a closer looking at the water action. Similar settings as above.

2 Comments to “Rivendell : Columbia Gorge Waterfalls”

  1. Waterfalls are always beautiful. The first picture shows how cool and refreshing it can be by the water and under a nice “roof” of greenery.

  2. Great photos! The Gorge area is awesome and so diverse. It is a photographer’s paradise.