Ponytail Sticks & Stones was the first photograph visitors saw as they entered my debut solo gallery exhibition. For that reason and many others it is one of my favorite images. I am proud to present it as the second entry in the new blog series Image of the Week.
Ponytail Falls is one of the most accessible of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls that are not directly roadside. It sits just upstream from Horsetail Falls and is reached by a switchbacking trail that gains 250 feet of elevation in it’s short 1/3 mile distance. It is well known for the trail passing behind the falls giving visitors a unique perspective of it’s beauty.
This trip was special for several reasons. It was the first visit to this waterfall for my friend Todd Frary (Alternative-Shots), we always enjoy our opportunities to shoot together. I had recently confirmed my solo exhibition; Waterfalls of the Gorge, and knew images from the day could hang there. The weather conditions were ideal for shooting waterfalls with an overcast sky. Water flows were a good balance; high enough for a pleasing image and low enough to allow the perspective I wanted. It held promise for a very productive day shooting in the Scenic Pacific Northwest.
When shooting in the Gorge I try to be find a shot that has a bit of unique flavor in an area that is very heavily photographed. On this day I carried two cameras, four lenses, a tripod, and sandals & shorts to change into when the shot requires getting my feet wet. I had this composition in mind as I had scouted it several times but there had always been one circumstance or another that prevented it’s execution. The shot was captured from the middle of the creek, which angles off from the splash pool of the falls, about 150 yards downstream. I stood about knee deep in the water and positioned my tripod with the D300 just a few inches clear of the surface. I used a polarizer to bring out the rocks in the bottom of the creek in combination with an ISO setting of 100 to allow for a three second exposure at ƒ/13. The placement of the “sticks and stones” were all considerations, then it was just a matter of waiting for a clear trail as this route is well traveled even on a Tuesday afternoon. That was just the beginning of our day, we continued on the trail to meet up with Oneonta Creek then on to Triple Falls. It was among my most enjoyable and productive visits to my favorite corner of the world; the Columbia River Gorge.
This was one of the first batch images I ever printed directly on sheets of alluminum. I processed the RAW file in Apple Aperture making very slight tonality adjustments, the image is essentially as captured. I selected it to be the largest piece in the exhibition because I thought it’s bright colors and flowing water would translate well to the metallic printing process. It was a bit of a gamble to order in a printing format for the first time for the exhibition, but I was very pleased with the results and it was well received. That same 20×30 metal print currently hangs over the piano in our living room.
- Raw image with Nikon D300 @ 100 ISO
- Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX (AF 11-16mm f/2.8) @ 16mm
- 3.0 seconds @ ƒ/13
- Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 12:44
- Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA