Welcome to Mark Cheyne Photography! My intent is to share my art with you. A secondary intent is to blog about my journeys encountered during the process. The question is do I travel for photography or do I photograph to travel?
Fall is here! Along with the colder temperatures and the dampness comes a beauty that only happens for a few weeks a year. Autumn is a time where the scorching hot days of summer have passed by and the cold days of winter taunt you. Between those times, the weather changes and so does the scenery! The deciduous trees get ready for the cold days ahead by shedding their leaves with one of the most gorgeous displays nature gives us. Along with the shedding, the vibrant colors of yellow, red, and orange replace the green that we've become accustomed to since spring. As a photographer, this is one of my favorite times of the year! I was hoping to get out of Oregon to check out Yosemite or the Canadian Rockies but obligations back home kept me from doing that. I decided to make the best of it around my home state; which isn't terribly hard to do. We have beautiful coastlines; alpine peaks with changing leaves in the valleys; lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams; the Columbia Gorge and its many waterfalls; and Portland boasts many inner city parks that really amplify with color. See? It's not too hard to find many great spots close to Portland in a day trip on a weekend. So, that's what I did; I took a sun-up to sun-down day trip which I detail below.
Sunrise at Rooster Rock State Park
I sprung out of bed slightly late and wasn't sure exactly which way I was going to head. Would it be toward Mt. Hood through Sandy? Or would it be down the Columbia Gorge? I had decided that I was going to try to make a loop getting them both that day but hadn't decided which came first. Since I was running a little late, I thought I would get to a more scenic area for sunrise quicker if I stuck to the Gorge. I'm still exploring many of the parks and trail heads along the Gorge; so when I came to the exit of Rooster Rock State Park, I didn't know exactly what to expect even though I had made into the entrance before on other trips. I didn't realize just how big the park was! I settled for the western end of the park since I saw some pylons down in the Columbia along the rocky shore. I'm no geologist, but those black rocks along the shore were slippery, I'm thinking they were granite based on their color and weight. I'm shocked I didn't fall and break my camera... Arriving at the pylons with all my gear and limbs intact, I set up thinking I had missed the sunrise display in the clouds. I was wrong! I was fortunate to get a little color playing with the clouds. I set up some long exposure shots to turn the river into a smooth, milky surface and to get some softness and motion in the clouds. Here are my results:
I usually avoid Multnomah falls like the plague. I really dislike the crowds that pack the area. That being said, it is a wonderful place. This morning, I happened to be traveling by early enough so that the crowds were sparse. The lighting also seemed great! I figured what a better time to drop in and take a cliche photo!
Cascade Locks, the Bridge of the Gods, and the Oak Trees
I made my way to Cascade Locks. After East Portland, the next bridge that crosses the Columbia River is the Bridge of the Gods. The clouds and light were just right to snap this photo:
I was actually talking to my Mother on the phone when I stopped my truck and set up my camera and tripod. See? I can multitask! :) My goal was to make my way toward Hood River but I wanted to check out what was around Cascade Locks. I'm glad I did. I found an area that was home to some beautiful Oak Trees.
Leaving the area, I saw these clouds playing along the ridge above.
I passed through the town of Hood River to try to make it up to Mt. Hood with enough daylight to explore around the mountain. I got detoured slightly, as I turned south on Hwy. 35, once I saw the gorgeous colored trees along the river. I made a short hike down and found an aqueduct turned into a walking bridge and some rail road tracks. They were certainly sights to behold.
Mt. Hood Foothills: Laurance Lake and Pinnacle Creek
Taking a look at the map I was split in between driving up Cooper Spur or going toward one of the lakes displayed. I chose to see Laurance Lake which is in an area on the north foothills of Mt. Hood. I chose the Lake. Once I got to the Lake, there wasn't much to photograph, as it turned out to be a reservoir and socked in with clouds. At this elevation, I was just starting to see a skiff of snow on the ground from days past. I found a forest road that headed up the hills from Kinnikinnick Campground. The map showed that Pinnacle Creek feeds the Lake and the road closely followed it. I found another camping area and trailhead a few miles up. The Creek was absolutely breath taking. The snow really combined to made for a great scene. I had to wrap a plastic bag around my camera since it was slightly raining and large drops were falling off of the trees. It was worth getting cold and wet.
After I had my share of creek photos, I headed further up the road into deeper snow. I found some interesting displays up there.
The last image of the day was about a mile further up the road, at an interesting pond that was as smooth as glass complete with an odd greyish color. I'm glad I didn't fall in that little pond; I'm sure what was making it grey wasn't conducive to bathing or frolicking!
Hello there! There's nothing better than a great morning to be in a fantastic location. Portland keeps delivering on this. I wanted to share several of my latest shots.
Oct 6th, 2012 - Pittock Mansion
Me and my friend Polina met up super early to see what the sunrise at Pittock Mansion would be like. We were the first ones there and the last ones to leave after the sun came up. There were several photographers who came over to the view point to capture one photo. They would set up in one spot and that was it. They missed the earlier shots of the city lights; which were gorgeous! Once the sun peaked over the mountains, they were gone. Polina and I moved around and captured a multitude of shots. Here are some of mine:
The next morning, I wanted to test out my new 10 stop filter. A ten stop filter lets only 0.1% of light pass through it! No wonder its nickname is black glass. You put this in front of your lens and it lets you take some long exposure shots when it is daylight. It creates smoothness and motion; either smooth, silky water or motion in the clouds. The downside is you can't really see through the viewfinder, so you have to compose the shot before you put the filter on. Then you have to calculate how much longer the shutter will need to stay open; then you have to have a timer tell you when to close the shutter again. Here is one of Portland, from the SE waterfront. I love the way the sun reflects off that mirrored building!
I'm always looking to the sky in the evening when deciding if I need to venture out for a photographic session. Some photos do just fine with a clear, blank sky but so much drama can be added with some clouds. They provide several things; adding texture or interest, capturing vivid hues of setting light, or adding motion to long exposures. This is one of the great things about living in the Northwest, we get plenty of cloud formations to entertain us photographers. I used to live in southern California where every day was followed by a perfect, summer evening; relatively speaking. Unfortunately, for a native Oregonian, the skies were decidingly blank most of the time down there. While summer is much shorter to the north, we get many seasons of interest: and plenty of clouds! Anyhow, the other night I ventured to the SE Portland waterfront looking for some foreground interest to include with what looked to be an upcoming incredible sunset (because of the clouds, if you haven't guess by now).
Portland is a large city with lots of photographic interest. One can shoot the same theme day in and day out and always find a new location or subject. I definitely feel fortunate to live in such a place. This evening, I drove to one of the usual spots I check out from time to time, under the Fremont Bridge, but didn't "feel" the shot at the time, plus the light wasn't quite right yet. It's one of those moments where you can wait for 15 minutes until the light is "just right" (hopefully), or you can try to find a better spot. That's what I decided to try. I drove on. I came to an "Y" in the road and at the last moment chose left. I'm glad I did because I found a little turn off from the road and found a small paved area that was gated, overlooking the Portland downtown, the setting sun, and both the Fremont and Broadway bridges. I shot the following photo with the fence as a prominent part of the photo. Doesn't it make you want to jump it?
In the following photos, I drove a little further and found a side road that led to the following shots. The first had an impressive view of the sky and the Broadway Bridge. I call it "Path to the Set." Driving on about a hundred yards was the second shot. This one is fun with the industrial setting, spotlight, and trees all over looking downtown.
The next two shots were at the end of the road and at the end of a parking lot. What an amazing overlook of the city! These are truly long exposure shots. The first is a 20 second shot, effectively giving the clouds and the Willamette River a smooth finish. The second is a 4 second shot, giving the cloud formation a little more definition.
All these shots were taken with my Nikon D800 and 20mm f2.8 lens. The D800's dynamic range continues to amaze me. All these shots were one exposure only, no exposure stacking. I continue to take multiple exposure shots anyway and I find myself going with the shot that "seems" to be overexposed by two stops. Lo and behold, nothing is blown out! When you choose an exposure like that, you get tons of detail in the shadows. Even if you take the "normal" exposure shot with this camera, you can still pull the shadows with great results but you get slightly more noise.
Check out my new shots of the Columbia Gorge from a couple nights ago. It takes about 30-45 minutes to drive up to the Vista House from my house. I had actually driven out to the Cape Horn outlook the night before but found a boring, cloudless sunset and returned without any photos. This night to the Vista House proved to be much better! It started out with a gorgeous "pre-sunset" and then got slammed hard with rain. I only got a couple shots before running back to my truck. After waiting for a little while, the rain cleared my location and was heading east down the gorge. There's nothing better for photographs than some stormy weather! In this first image, you can see the rain down the gorge, just passing Cape Horn. You can see a few headlight stringers on I-84 down below. This next image was shot 20 minutes later after the clear skies had chased out the rain. This was also shot long after all the other photographers had left. They all were playing with their long lenses pointing west while I was using my short, 17mm wide angle lens facing east. Different shades I guess. I like the result!
Here is a shot a few weeks before looking out from the Cape Horn Overlook on the Washington side. This was taken the night of the super moon long after the sun had taken it's place for the night. You can see a streak of light on the bottom right, that's a passing train zooming by.
Welcome to my first blog post! This website is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. This year something motivated me, leading me to create this website to get the word out about my photography. I spent many years taking photos and realized that it doesn't seem fair to just let them sit on my computer. Many of you may have seen me post various pictures on my facebook account. I will soon start linking these posts to facebook to let you know when I'm a blogging. Most of my blog posts, I'm assuming here, will be like travel journals or descriptions of how I got specific shots. There's only one way to know for sure, and that is to sit down, buckle up, and hold on!