Central Oregon is a landscape photographer's playground. Within a 100-mile radius of Bend (the largest town in the region) is an unmatched diversity of terrain, geology and ecological systems ranging from old-growth rainforest to high desert, alpine peaks to deep gorges, rushing mountain rivers to barren lava flows. Volcanic calderas (collapsed magma upwellings) are also found in the area, with the most notable being Crater Lake and Smith Rock State Park.
Smith Rock is one of my favorite photography destinations. I have spent countless hours walking its trails, ridges, river canyon and surrounding buttes at all times of day (and night) in all seasons, looking for unique compositions, light and colour. This particular outing was expected to be more of a "scouting" session than photography – I didn't even bother to bring my tripod along. I was giving an out-of-town visitor a tour of the area on a crisp, somewhat hazy, but partly sunny January day. A storm had just passed through the region, depositing a foot or more of fresh, powdery snow on the park's craggy rock formations and surrounding lava beds.
As we were making our way to one of my favorite photo spots, the sun broke through the haze, softly illuminating the volcanic ash and tuft rock formations, causing them to glow in warm yellow-orange tones, accented by mid-morning shadows and the delicate snow hanging on the ledges and cracks on the rock faces. And to my delight, Mt. Jefferson, some 40 miles to the northwest, had emerged from the haze, with its 10,500' peak seemingly glowing against the pale grey sky. I raised my camera, checked through my settings, composed and quickly fired off a couple of frames before the light faded from the peak. This image is the result.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor