This past weekend it was warm in the Pacific Northwest for the first time in over 8 months, and seeing as I didn’t travel anywhere warm in that time, it was also the first time I could happily wear a T-shirt in so many months. I hardly remembered what 85° F felt like; what an incredible feeling! With all that warmth coming just a week after the last major snowstorm, I decided it would be a great time to see some waterfalls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest engorged with the fresh snowmelt. And engorged they were. Raging in fact. Or, for the photographers in the audience, roaring as Peter Lik would say.

To experience the maximum intensity our northwest waterfalls have to offer, I bushwhacked my way to see Rush Creek Falls – a truly gargantuan waterfall unlike any other I’ve ever seen. The intense power in such an intimate and isolated arena of moss was an incredibly surreal and special combination. Within minutes of getting to the falls I was completely soaked from the spray. Taking a photograph was naturally rather challenging; it was like trying to photograph in a torrential downpour, with the camera pointed up. Between lots of lens wiping and some advanced processing methods I managed to pull something together that might just capture a small fraction of what it was like to stand there. To complete the sensory experience, just imagine roaring thunder and a face full of recently-melted-snow-water spray.

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Rush Creek, Gifford Pinchot, Washington

Spring Rush : Prints Available
The raging spectacle of Rush Creek falls in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, Nikon 14-24mm, tripod, clothes
Exposure (falls): iso 1600, f/11, 1/50th
Exposure (foreground): iso 1600, f/11, 1/13th
Notes: I used 7 exposures to reduce the spray drops. Note the high iso was necessary to freeze the water action, as well as to minimize the time the lens was exposed to the constant barrage of spray.

Immense power is, of course, only one characteristic of an inspiring waterfall. After a good soaking in the airborne Rush Creek, I was delighted to relax in the soothing grace of a calmer paradise.

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Rivulets and Mosses, Gifford Pinchot, Washington

Liquid Lace : Prints Available
A complex network of delicate rivulets meander through a maze of mosses, in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod, polarizer
Exposure: iso 200, f/5.6, 0.3 sec

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Waterfall Paradise, Gifford Pinchot, Washington

Paradise : Prints Available
Warm sunlight in waterfall paradise, in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, tripod, polarizer
Exposure: iso 100, f/11, 1.6 sec

In my experience, few things can match the beauty and refreshment of cascades sparkling in the sun. That combination brings the warmth of sunlight, the soothing sounds of rushing water, the mesmerizing twinkles of light, and of course the vibrant greenery that adorns such special places.

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Waterfall Sparkles in Sunlight, Gifford Pinchot, Washington

Sun Showers : Prints Available
A beautiful waterfall sparkles in the warm sunlight on the first warm day of spring in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The Tech: Canon 5D2, Nikon 14-24mm, tripod
Exposure (water): iso 1600, f/16, 1/20th
Exposure (foreground): iso 800, f/16, 1/10th
Notes: two exposures blended to for light and noise control.

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9 Comments to “Spring Rush – Raging Waterfalls of the Gifford Pinchot”

  1. Zhouen says:

    Wow these are different… Great work! This makes be believe great waterfalls are not only found in the Gorge. I am really intrigued by your lack of or the appearance of minimal processing you do to your photos.

    Thanks for the inspirations.

  2. Ha, I hear you, Floris. It has been so nice these past few days here in Europe that I almost forgot how long, cold and flat-lighted this past winter was. Almost.

    A wonderful depiction of the lush awesomeness of the PNW. I am especially fond of the last frame which oozes spring and a fantastic atmosphere with fine detail and a great visualization, although that sunlit tree at the top of the rim in the previous shot is an eye-catcher as well.

    Looking forward to some more “green” imagery!

  3. Floris, wow!!! These images are awesome! Something fresh and different. Gotta love it, beautiful work.

  4. Thanks folks for the kind words!

  5. Lee Duguid says:

    Beautiful treatment on the first image, what a stunning location and photography.

  6. Hi Floris, some of my photog buddies have spoken highly of your work and from the looks of it they were right on. Rush creek is no joke. I have been there twice and frequent many hidden gems in the Gifford and the northwest. Perhaps we could swap stories/ info and maybe shoot sometime. Look me up on 500 and Flickr. I don’t update my site very often. Take care, Brian

  7. Henrik says:

    Hi Floris!

    Very nice work again as usual!

    I really feel I should come there some day to experience all this beauty of the Pacific northwest some day – in your images I can always feel the magic of the magnificent nature!

    Keep up the good work!

    Regards from Finland!

  8. juanli says:

    Dream land, a fabulous place to spend time, the vibrant colour, smell of summer and the sound & movement of water really make a beautiful image.

  9. What a truly remarkable collection of waterfall photos. There photos make me want to get out of the suburbs and experience some of nature’s wonders. Nice work!