Years ago, I lived in the Dalles along the Columbia River in Oregon. I remember hiking around the numerous gorges and waterfalls between there and Portland with my family. As I’m driving through the area on my way to Portland, I decide this is a great opportunity to capture a piece of my past. I’m with my friend, Cameron, who has yet to accompany me on a shoot, and he is itching to go adventuring. I want to check out Oneonta Gorge, one of my favorites in the area. It is March, and the rainy season is definitely here. I’m excited for the full waterfalls. Lots of green. Lots of drama. Cameron and I start our hike along the river. As we reach our first crossing, it is significantly deeper than I remember. “Balls deep” you might say. In the past, I could have jumped across the rocks without getting wet, but not today. We make the crossing, getting very soaked in the process, and continue up to a logjam in the gorge. The log jam makes it so we will have to swim about 1/2 mile to get to the falls. It’s 55 degrees out and the water isn’t any warmer. Combine that with carrying my camera gear, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Not ready to give up, we try climbing the cliffs to get around the water. It didn’t take long before Cameron is sliding down a cliff. I watch, helpless, as he continues sliding and then jumps away from the cliff face, dropping ten feet into the chilly water. Cameron safely makes it to shore. He is completely soaked. I’m half soaked. It’s cloudy and on the verge of raining. I make the call to turn around and head to the truck. By the time we reach the truck, I decide to check out Triple Falls. It’s an easy 1/4 mile on a trail. Ends up being muddy, but pretty easy. Cameron and I walk behind the falls. I decide to hike up to get a better angle. I scout out a couple of opportunities, but they just don’t frame up right. So I take a few photos with my phone. I still don’t like anything. Once again, I pull the plug and we go back to the truck. Now, I decide to check out Multnomah. It’s a classic waterfall. Iconic, really. And it shouldn’t involve any swimming or cliff climbing to get to it. When we get there, I’m feeling a wide spectrum (combination of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet) shot will look good based on the weather and scenery. (Similar to the Avalanche Creek photo I took in 2015)
I love the way wide spectrum really makes foliage pop and become the focal point when compared to the water. As I set up my camera gear, it starts raining. A lot. Cameron is holding the umbrella over me and the camera. There is so much mist coming down from the waterfall that it keeps hitting the lens and I have to continuously clean the lens while making adjustments for framing, exposure, and changing spectrum filters. Eventually, Cameron finagles a way to attach the umbrella to the camera stand to give his arm a rest.
Multnomah Falls – photo by C. Jacoby
Between the rain, the misty/foggy lenses, and some tourists with their i-Phones taking selfies gumming up my shot, this “easy” shot is proving difficult as well. Finally, I get it done. I dry my camera gear off the best I can and put it away.
It’s raining – Photo by C. Jacoby
Cameron and I grab tea at the lodge to warm up. We are both soaked. In hindsight, I probably should have worn my wetsuit. Or at least a raincoat. Whoops.
A month goes by before I even look at the shot. Because of all of the rain and mist, I was fairly certain it wasn’t going to turn out. I showed my wife a low-resolution version and told her I was going to delete it. She lovingly informed me I was being an idiot, and I should put in the effort to develop the final version. I’m pretty sure my wife was right. Again.