John Day Fossil Beds NM, Oregon, USA by Michael Thomas

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After a week long drive photographing the coast of Oregon, my wife and I visited that state’s interior. East of the Cascades, much of Oregon is high desert. One of the most fascinating and beautiful places is the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. There are three separate units to the monument. We visited the Painted Hills section. It lives up to its name and is filled with badlands in shades of yellow, red and purple. It’s a place where a landscape photographer can capture grand landscapes with a wide angle lens or use a telephoto to create intriguing abstracts that puzzle and fascinate viewers unfamiliar with these geologic formations. In this image, viewers could be excused for thinking it is a butterfly wing.

A great time to visit is late April to early May when you can include foregrounds of golden bee plant in your compositions. I found late afternoon before the hills dropped into shadow to be the best time for me. We stayed in Prineville, a decent sized town but an hour away (not a problem for late afternoon/sunset work). There are a number of nearby campgrounds.

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