Alex Mody Photography

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  • -Articles-, Oregon

    Temperate Rainforests of the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA

    03.11.12 | Permalink | 4 Comments

    Spring is just around the corner, and I can’t help but catch myself drooling yet again over the endless photographic possibilities that will soon unfold within Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River Gorge. Home to 115 officially named waterfalls – and many more unnamed, off trail, and/or ephemeral falls, this 85-mile stretch of river boasts the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world!

    The area boasts an impressive average of 70-90 inches of rainfall a year, and some pretty hefty snowmelt to boot. All of that water has to drain somewhere, though. Thanks to gravity, and an average wall height of 1500-3000 feet on the south side of the gorge, that water has cut dozens and dozens of deep valleys, gorges, and streams into the walls of the gorge. Thanks to historical volcanic activity in the area, these slopes consist of basalt, a rock that is not easily eroded by water. As the area’s many streams and creeks try to erode their way into the gorge, they are forced to flow over the basalt they cannot effectively erode, thus creating a enormous quantity of tall and spectacular waterfalls.

    Thanks to the damp and cool weather of the Pacific Northwest, there is no shortage of moisture in the area, making for an impossibly lush and beautiful temperate rainforest ecosystem in the gorge. You can’t beat that setting – each and every stream or waterfall is strikingly gorgeous. With vegetation covering everything in sight, this place truly feels like a scene out of a dream. Spruce and Fir trees tower hundreds of feet above, vine maples sprawl across the forest floor, five-foot-tall ferns evoke a prehistoric, primordial feeling, and the thick coats of moss and epiphytes covering every possible surface bring about a certain feeling I can’t say I have found anywhere else.

    From a photographer’s standpoint, this place is almost as good as they get! Photographing picturesque streams, huge waterfalls, insanely lush greenery, and a host of amazing birds and mammals, one could keep busy for days on end in the gorge, as I know I have.

    Information regarding access to the many waterfalls of the gorge is very readily available, by a quick Google search and/or purchase of an area guidebook, such as Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest, by Gregory A. Plumb, or Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge, by Craig Romano. Most areas in the gorge may be accessed without any visitor fees, but some locations require purchase of a NW Forest Pass to park at the trailheads.

     

  • -Articles-

    Eleven from 2011

    01.19.12 | Permalink | 4 Comments

    Looking back upon 2011, the first thought that comes to my mind is just how extremely busy and interesting this year was for me. Between becoming more comfortable and rooted in my new home, awesome times photographing the grand northwestern landscapes (as opposed to the mid-Atlantic,) being enrolled full-time at the Evergreen State College, traveling the continent with my band, my experiences in the Autumn, traveling and teaching photographic workshops with Joseph Rossbach, and the personal growth I feel I have achieved over this past year, quite frankly, it is completely beyond me how I had a single ounce of time to sleep – or breathe!

    Photographically speaking, it seems 2011 has really marked a year of transition for me. In 2011 I found myself photographing less wildlife than ever, and I truly do not regret it. I came to the realization that I will never be able to focus on both landscape and wildlife photography the way I would like to, and I chose to continue following what I feel really beckons to me.

    Anyhow, these eleven images, my personal favorites from the past year, were chosen for a whole slew of reasons. It was a bit difficult to choose just eleven, and to be honest, I don’t think I could have said that at the end of any previous year. These photographs are not in any particular order.

    Autumn Sunrise from Bear Rocks : Prints Available

     

    Into the Abyss : Prints Available

     

    forbidden,passage,arizona,colorful,reflected,light,shines,arizona,slot,canyon

    Forbidden Passage : Prints Available

     

    Triple Falls at Sunset : Prints Available

     

    Painted Sunset : Prints Available

     

    Short-eared Owl : Prints Available

     

    sunrise,mount,rainier,national,park,washington,first,ray,sunlight,mt.,rainier,foot,over,fog,valley,seasonal,alpine,wildf

    Sunrise over Mount Rainier : Prints Available

     

    Fire, Wave, On, Fire, Valley, Of, Fire, State, Park, Nevada, USA, Mody, Low, Receding, Pressure, Sunset, Light, Valley,

    Fire Wave Fire : Prints Available

     

    archangel,cascades,left,fork,north,creek,zion,national,park,utah,falls,peak,autumn,foliage,series,layered,sandstone,ledg

    Archangel Cascades : Prints Available

     

    fall,foliage,fogliage,colorful,maple,fog,foggy,autumn,forest

    Fall Fogliage II : Prints Available

     

    New Life : Prints Available

  • -Articles-, Arizona, Utah

    Monsoon Light

    01.23.11 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    This article is featured here on Naturescapes.net. This past summer, I traveled and photographed for two weeks in Northern Arizona, chasing after the dramatic skies that so enthusiastically present themselves in tandem with the monsoon thunderstorms and intense 100+ degree heat. Simply put, the monsoon is a daily series of extremely powerful and isolated low-pressure systems that begin to build around midday, caused by the extreme heat of the land disagreeing with the cool, moist air coming off the oceans. While some may think that it’s absolutely preposterous to head out to the desert in ridiculous summer heat, the truth is that thanks to the monsoon, there are incredible photographic opportunities and dramatic cloud formations that are not readily available in any other season. To many photographers’ delight, these monsoon storms tend to dissolve immediately before sunset, often creating beautifully colorful and interesting skies.

    On one particularly eventful afternoon and evening in Arizona’s Vermillion Cliffs NM this past August, the monsoon put on perhaps it’s finest show that I have yet to witness. As I waited for hours in the locale referred to as “White Pocket,” under the continuous rumble of thunder, deep, dark skies, and multiple torrential downpours, I seriously doubted things would clear up by sunset – this series of storms was just too strong, I thought. I relaxed in my tent and read a book.

    An hour or so before sunset, after being teased by the skies brightening and darkening three or four times and not thinking much of it, the storm broke in what seemed to have been a split second. As the storm receded, it left behind an intricate patchwork of mammatus to accompany it’s tall, dark clouds. Seizing the opportunity, I composed a few black-and-white images.

    As the sun became lower and lower in the sky, it lit up the entire cumulonimbus formation all the way until it’s very last rays of the day. Having scouted many locations in the area with this in mind, I climbed up onto my favorite section of brain-rock, waited until the light was just right, and fired away.

    Feeling greedy after such fantastic light, I stuck around and photographed in the idyllic “desert glow,” twenty or so minutes after sundown. As the storm clouds further dissipated, I was able to pull one additional “keeper” from the gorgeous conditions nature presented to me. What a day!

  • -Articles-, Virginia

    Photographing Great Falls National Park, Virginia

    03.24.10 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    Just ten miles from Washington, D.C., Great Falls National Park is an often overlooked gem of our National Parks system. Here the mighty Potomac River, which acts as a watershed basin for a 11,000+ square mile area encompassing sections of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, drops 77 feet in just a half-mile, separating Maryland and Virginia in quite a fierce manner. The great volume of water is funneled into the 60-100 foot wide Mather Gorge, thus creating the fast-flowing, intense, and incredibly photogenic section of rapids we now call the Great Falls of the Potomac. The gorge has been cut through layers of sharp metamorphic rock formations, providing many beautiful scenes with rushing water and jagged rock shapes for your eyes, camera, and lens to feast upon. This makes Great Falls easily my favorite place to photograph in the immediate Mid-Atlantic area, although it doesn’t hurt that I live a mere fifteen minutes away from the park’s Virginia entrance.

    No season is the wrong season to be at Great Falls, though I typically like to avoid it after massive snowmelt, or in the middle of spring when the water is up at it’s highest. High water usually means the river is quite muddy, and that most of my favorite rapids are obscured by the high flow. With late spring and summer usually come the fearless Great Blue Herons and their fishing antics, beautifully foggy mornings, and preferable water levels. In autumn, the fog and water levels are likely to remain, and there is excellent fall foliage throughout the park. In winter, it is possible to get lucky with a snowstorm, or find fantastic ice formations to photograph if we’re experiencing a cold snap.

    Great images can be made on either side of the park, but I tend to prefer photographing the Virginia side at sunrise and the Maryland side at sunset, due to having slightly different angles of view.

    There are three main overlooks on the Virginia side. While one could conceivably make very nice photographs at these locations, I’ve found that all of my best shots have been from when I bushwhack down to the river and search for compositions upstream of the main falls and overlooks. I can only wholeheartedly recommend this to adventurous photographers in reasonable physical condition, because the rocks are steep, and extremely slippery when wet. There’s a very astute sign in the Men’s room at the visitor’s center that reminds me to stay careful when I’m down there. It states, “IF YOU FALL IN, YOU WILL DIE” and highlights that on average, seven people drown per year in the park. The well marked and easy to get to area called “Fisherman’s Eddy” is also a wonderful place to photograph on the Virginia side. I usually head there with my super-telephoto lens after sunrise or in the late afternoon to try and photograph the Great Blue Herons present from May to July. In addition to being a fantastic spot for the Great Blue Herons, if the weather is nice in the afternoon you will likely be able to photograph kayakers dropping the main falls and braving the Class V+ rapids.

    Things are slightly different on the Maryland side, with even more walking and much more scrambling in rocky areas involved with getting to the most photogenic spots. The six-mile long aptly named “Billy Goat Trail” runs along the Maryland side of the Potomac. It takes some scouting out in advance, but there are plenty of nice views of the Potomac and Mather Gorge from along the trail that can be photographed at both sunrise and sunset. Be careful when visiting on a weekend, though, as this is perhaps the most popular hike in the D.C. area. Also on the Maryland side is the Overlook Trail. If you’re sure footed and in good shape, you can scramble down to the river from the overlook to find a plethora of compositions that I prefer to shoot at sunset.

    The natural beauty present at Great Falls is easily unparalleled in the area. If you find yourself around Washington, D.C., or if you’re looking for a location to photograph in the Mid-Atlantic, I highly recommend visiting Great Falls National Park.