Located just outside of Portland Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge is a lush land of cascades and waterfalls. Its steep green walls range from 400 to 1,200 feet high creating stunning waterfalls as the area’s rivers cascade their way down to the bottom.
Every Spring, Aperture Academy makes their annual trip to the Columbia River Gorge to take advantage of the greens of springtime. To kick things off, Scott Donschikowski and I welcomed a small group of photographers at the Comfort Inn in Troutdale Oregon. We had everyone introduce themselves to each other before we covered what the following two days had in store for us.
The weather was calling for clouds, so the group was able to sleep in a bit longer than normal because we would not be racing the harsh sunlight. We loaded into the van at 7am to make our way to a little-known location on the Washington side of the gorge. The Cedar Creek grist mill is a historic mill that was built in 1876. Nestled away in the woods, it makes for fantastic images and can be photographed from many different angles. We worked the area for a good hour and a half before moving on. The second location of the morning was the Saint Johns Bridge in Portland. The gothic architecture underneath the bridge makes for great repeating patterns when shot with a telephoto lens. The group tried out a few different shots in the area before we made our way back to Troutdale for an afternoon break.
We departed the hotel at 4am for the second portion of the day. Bridal Veil Falls was the first location on our list. This area is not only a beautiful waterfall, but it also has a highly photogenic river at its base. There are many angles to shoot from and even a scenic wooden bridge that crosses over the cascades. We shot all around the water and a few folks even got in the river to get closer to the small rapids. Once the group had their fill, we made our way down the gorge to a small set of cascades known as Starvation Creek. Here we isolated various textures in the creek and shot the waterfall through the trees. Shortly before sunrise, we drove to Hood River to shot Mt Hood over the orchards. This location is a great opportunity to work with grad ND filters.
The following morning, we rose an hour earlier and drove back to Washington. Here we shot the swirling water of Dugan Falls. This location is a great opportunity to use six and ten stop neutral density filters. We worked the scene for an hour or so before packing up and heading to another classic Washington waterfall. Panther Creek falls is always a crowd favorite. This waterfall is really two waterfalls that merge into one. The intense green foliage really makes this shot. After everyone got their shots, we drove back to the hotel to catchup on our nap-time.
After our break, we met in the lobby of the hotel to do a little post processing magic. Here, Scott and I cover various techniques to help make the images pop using Lightroom and Photoshop. After our post processing session, we headed to Lower Latourell Falls for one more dose of waterfall goodness. Even in the light falling rain, the group prevailed with some great shots. Last on the workshop itinerary was The Portland Women’s Forum lookout. This is one of the best views in the gorge, overlooking the Columbia river and Crown Point from above. We shot sunset and then headed back to Troutdale. Scott and I often like to get dinner with the group after the workshop concludes. Our favorite spot in the area is the Power Station restaurant at The Edgefield Inn. Most of the group joined us in the festivities as we rejoiced in the fact that we would be sleeping-in the following morning.
Until next time,
Scott, Mike, and the rest of the Aperture Academy team!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.