Just west of Bend, Oregon, is a series of falls and rapids where the Deschutes River makes its way from its source in the Cascade Mountains towards and through the town of Bend and then northward towards its junction with the Columbia River.
Benham Falls is one such fall. Named for a late 1800s prospector, one J.R. Benham, the falls tumble 95 feet in a long series of rapids (and one 25-foot drop) into the channel carved through 7,000-year-old lava flows. While an easily accessed overlook serves as the primary photo "spot" for most visitors to Benham Falls, a more adventurous photographer can clamber down the steep bank some 75 feet to the edge of the river itself. A bit of a challenge on a dry summer day, that short trip down takes on a completely different character when the slope is covered in snow as it was on this day. However, after an entertaining and, at times, an exhilarating combination of stepping, slipping and sliding, I found myself safely perched on a large snow-covered would with the falls flowing immediately in front of me.
With a visual intimacy unavailable to viewers on the outlook now above and behind me, I was greeted with this lovely view. The turquoise-tinted grey river tumbles down, through and over myriad rocks of all sizes, confined by a steep rock wall on either side. Pines frame the scene, rising in the background along the slope of the hillside. And, as a result of recent single-digit temperatures in Central Oregon, there was an abundance of beautifully formed natural ice sculptures on the riverbank at my feet and extending away from me to either see of the river itself.
The indirect early morning light provided a soft blue tinge to the faces of some of the ice formations, framing the flowing water with a nice complimentary tone. It was mesmerizing. I have been to Benham several times over the years - during every season - and always struggled to find a composition for a photograph that captured my interest. On this day, however, I found several, from the abstract to the more conventional. This particular image was my favorite, and I am pleased to submit it as my Winter Vision.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor