The grey, drizzly skies of the winter season here rarely loosen their grip upon us Northwesterners. The sun remains hidden behind the clouds, and temperatures are generally not cold enough for much snowfall to accumulate in the lowlands.
Just two weeks ago, however, a blast of arctic air made its way down into the region, and along with it came a massive low-pressure system. Depositing over a foot of snow in Olympia, this storm quickly shut down much of Western Washington – I had no electricity in my home for five days! So, with classes canceled for the week, I set out to make some wintry images of some generally not-so-snowy locales. Braving the downright terrible roads, I headed to the first area that came to mind – the Columbia River Gorge, along the Oregon/Washington border.
The Columbia River Gorge is an area renowned across the globe for having one of, if not the highest concentration of beautiful, photogenic waterfalls in such a small area. Most images one might see of waterfalls in the gorge are typically taken in spring, summer, and now and then, fall, but wintry images are quite uncommon, because wintry conditions rarely occur there.
To make this image, I slowly trudged for two steep miles off-trail, with 12 inches of snow underfoot until reaching these incredibly picturesque falls. It was fairly difficult terrain, with rope being a necessity in one particular location, and a lot more slipping and sliding than I would like to admit. After far too long spent perched atop mossy, slippery rocks, struggling to find the right composition while managing to keep my front element dry in the snow and sleet, I came away with this photo.
These falls are located at the end of a steep and narrow 4×4 track, which was a total blast maneuvering in the snow. Photographing image, I chose a simple approach. I set up a very similar composition to the one I had shot last time I visited these falls, but this time around, the fresh snow brought out an entirely different dimension to the photo, and I am quite pleased with the end result.
I’m not sharing any particularly groundbreaking advice here, but I’d just like to remind you all that when abnormal or unseasonal conditions occur, it can be pertinent to use them to your advantage – because you never know what new photographic opportunities they may afford. So, next time you’re thinking of going out to shoot in the snow, and that little, lazy voice in your head suggests otherwise, ignore it!