Autumn Arrives in the Oregon Cascades

After finishing up a successful art show in Bend, I headed over the Cascades on Highway 242. Not far after leaving the city of Sisters, the vine maples began to show their brilliant color. They truly run the gamut of reds, oranges, and yellows. I passed a few stellar patches but didn’t stop as they are difficult to capture in a compelling way. When compared to an aspen tree or the maples of New England, the vine maples lack a trunk. The trunk serves two purposes – it gives the image structure and provides contrast to the bright colors. The vine maples appear as a sea of color, a very chaotic scene. I stopped at the Proxy Falls trailhead and headed to the Falls in hopes of getting an image from down below. Proxy Falls has an incredible amount of spray. I shot there in June and it wasn’t possible to get below the falls. Fortunately, by waiting for less runoff, I was successful this go around! I will share the Proxy images in a later post. The loop trail leading to Proxy had colorful vine maples on the way in, but no compelling compositions that I could find. After splashing away in the falls, I continued to follow the loop trail back to the trailhead and that’s where things started to come together. The first thing that caught me eye was the incredible brilliance of red from this tree on the path. After experimenting with shooting the scene straight on and failing due to the white sky, I climbed on a rock and shot down on the trail, framing the scene with the brilliant color. It also helped to have all the leaves wet from recent rainfall, providing more vibrance and texture to the leaves.

Red is the most striking color in nature, it’s always a joy to capture it in a photograph.

A little further along the trail I came to a huge lava field with vine maple spread out everywhere. A gorgeous scene, but again, highly chaotic. And then a stroke of luck, I came across beautiful silver branches rising from the ground, bare of any leaves. They provided the structure and the contrast that I needed to create my vision!

First up, a more abstract composition:

Attempting to give more context to the scene and provide some layers, this vertical composition takes a more standard approach:

The fall color season officially started for me and I can’t wait to see what comes next!


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