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Sparks Lake is a shimmering jewel. This beautiful lake is 25 miles west of Bend, Oregon off the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. In this view from the south side of the lake are 2 snowcapped volcanic mountains, South Sister on the left and Broken Top on the right. The lake is fed by snow melt from these two peaks.
The sky in this photo is dynamic with lenticular cloud formations. When moist, stable air flows over the mountains from the west and the Pacific Ocean, a series of large-scale standing waves can form on the leeward side of the mountains. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops below the dew point, moisture in the air can condense to form lenticular clouds as in this image.
Sparks Lake is in a volcanic basin with no natural above ground outlet. During the summer the lake seeps out through cracks in the subterranean volcanic rock and eventually to the Deschutes River. For this reason, it is best to visit in early summer as the lake is shallow and by August can become quite marshy.
This photo was captured in mid-June which may be the optimum time for photography under normal snowfall conditions. I used a circular polarizer to provide more detail and contrast in the sky and the lake reflections in this image. Using a longer exposure may have provided for some different interest in the water and clouds but that was not my goal with this image. I hope you enjoy the light!
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