In 2021 we enjoyed a banner year for Fall color throughout Oregon. I was like a kid in a candy store with so many possibilities to photograph. At the peak of Fall color, I ventured out to the Columbia River Gorge to photograph the waterfalls and Fall color. I timed this outing during a rainy, overcast day right before a major storm was forecast to come in and quite possibly knock the leaves from the tree. This was my last opportunity to hit peak color in all its glory.
When I photograph the Gorge, I typically work my way West to East, starting at sunrise overlooking the amazing Gorge, then drop down to photograph the waterfalls. Which means by the time I get to Horsetails falls, in this shot, the sun has risen and my creative energy is about spent after photographing the amazing scenery in this natural wonder.
I have photographed this waterfall more times than I can count and I'm always looking for something unique, pushing my own creative boundaries. Typically the splash pool at the bottom of the falls is a major element in the composition, but for this shot, I chose to exclude it, instead having the waterfall drop out of the bottom of the frame which adds a bit of mystery as to where it goes. What really caught my eye for this particular shot is the way the foliage from the tree surrounded the depression in the rock wass and the small tree growing from the cliff face. It made a natural, yet subtle, framing of some neat elements in the shot. Plus, the way the leaves were beginning to glow yellow/gold as the sun rose higher gave that extra bit of visual pop.
The water cascading down typically creates a lot of wind at the base of the falls, kicking up spray and moving the leaves wildly about. I was fortunate on this day that the breeze ebbed and flowed so that I could time my shot to have a longer shutter speed to blur the water, while still having the leaves come out mostly sharp and get the whole shot done in one frame. No shutter speed or exposure blending in this image.
By the time I was done at Horsetail Falls, I had expended all of my creative energy for the day and it was time to head back towards home in Portland, satisfied that I had another wonderful outing in the Columbia River Gorge.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor