Thursday, March 7, 2013

Capturing Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in all the NW.
Easy access to the lake and its close to Portland location make it a very popular destination for lots of people. Add the fact its absolutely beautiful, has great camping and fishing, an incredible view of Mt Hood and a nice 2 mile loop around the lake, and its easy to see why its such a popular spot for photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.

When I have some free time and am looking to get out, have some fun and shoot some new images, Trillium Lake is always high on my list of places to go. The area abounds with natural beauty that rivals anywhere in the country. Even if the Mt is fogged in, you can pretty much point your camera any direction and find a nice shot. All with the added bonus of a nice workout as you hike around the lake or put your kayak in and head out for a paddle.

The trail is a little over 2 miles and is nice and easy. There are plenty of wooden walkways over marshy areas, a dock, some nice views of the lake and some thick forested areas as you make your way around the lake, all offering a variety of photo ops.


While I have been their many times over the years, hiking, riding, camping and taking pictures, I had never got out on the lake. Well, now I have done it I am so bummed it took me so long!
Since a lot of people do go to the lake, it can get a bit crowded and kinda loud. But, getting out on the water gets you away from all that. Within a matter of just a few paddles, you start to escape the crowds and really get to focus on the beauty of the lake.

But, while I loved being out on the water, it add's a whole new difficulty to taking photos.
Its hard to frame something up when the kayak is in constant motion, and when you make the slightest movement, it sends ripples out and messes up the mirror reflection of the lake. All can be overcome with patience and practice, but it can get a bit frustrating at times. Plus there is the added threat of tipping over or dropping your expensive, nice and shiny DSLR in the water, so ya gotta be careful!

The last day I was there, I had been out riding all day and pulled up a little before sunset to shoot some stock images before heading home,
While there must have been 2 dozen people standing on the road shooting, all capturing the same shot, I wanted something a bit different and really wanted to use the old dock in the foreground and play off all the mist rising off the water. So, moving along the south edge of the lake, I made my way around to the dock and wadded out into a marshy area. I was in regular shoes and the water was up to my knees, but hey, anything for the shot right!. There were to many bushes in the foreground shooting from the trail so getting a bit wet was the only way to get the shot I wanted. The clouds were moving fast and the light was going away quick so I focused on just getting one good shot, and not shooting a big variety of images like I usually do.

Once the tripod was set and I framed up the scene, I stayed still to keep the ripples to a minimum while standing in the water. I shot a few brackets and then, after I knew I had it, I just sat back and watched in awe at the scene before me. The NW is such a great place to live!
When I got back to the truck and reviewed the images I knew I had something special and couldn't wait to get home and process them.
While the color versions were nice, I really liked this image in BW the best.  It helped to make the mist stand out and give it a little sense of mystery.

How to get there.

Trillium Lake is located about 1 1/2 hr east of Portland off HWY 26, just a few miles past Government camp.
The trail is hiking only, but there are numerous dirt and gravel roads to adventure around on your bike.
Campgrounds fill up quick in the summer, so if your planning more than just a day trip, better plan ahead.

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