Crater Lake National Park

In September, my husband and I headed to southern Oregon on vacation. We’d never been there before and our modus operandi is to find an area that interests us and find out what we can see and do in that area. Southern Oregon has a lot to do and see and I think we tried to cram too much in. We ended up doing A LOT of driving – over 1200 miles! Phew. Our first destination was Crater Lake. It’s tourist central, yeah, but worth seeing and even though the light wasn’t especially good, I shot anyway. Dealing with harsh light on vacation is something I’m used to and on this trip I was especially glad for my new Lumix 35-100mm f2.8 lens. Instead of big vistas full of flat colors, harsh shadows and blown highlights, I decided to slice the landscape into smaller shots. The  light still is what it is, but I tried to use it to bring up textures and geometry. Not sure if it’s a success or not, but here goes.

On the way from our hotel, we followed route 62 which runs close to the Rogue river and through a douglas fir forest. After a couple hours in the car, I was ready for a break so we stopped at this little park featuring some really great gorge formations on the Rogue River. The sun being high, it wasn’t suitable light for my normal river work, so I put the longer lens on and hunted for something interesting in the shade. To my delight I found these maiden hair ferns. I love maiden hair fern and had never seen it before outside of cultivation. I like the geometry in this shot and I think the square crop gives it some emphasis.

Maiden hair fern on the Rogue River gorge

Finally we got to the park proper. The sun was still at an angle, but was heading for straight overhead soon. Glad I was able to catch these trees backlit with just a touch of mist. They’re on the rim of the crater left behind by an ancient volcano that holds the lake water. 

Douglas firs backlit by morning sun

Since my husband was sick, we didn’t do a lot of hiking. We followed the rim road and stopped fairly frequently to take in the views. Occasionally we got away from the parking areas where everyone else gathered to take pictures. Granted, there aren’t a lot of ways to shoot Crater Lake and this next shot is practically identical to the first picture ever taken of this majestic lake.

The Wizard Walks By

The island is called Wizard Island so what else can a Black Sabbath fan do? The crater that forms the lake was once a volcano. Oregon is home to a lot of ancient volcanic activity along the Cascade mountain range. Before it erupted, Mount Mazama was probably 12,000 feet high, the remaining caldera not so much, it collapsed and the  lake is 1943 feet deep. The most powerful eruption was probably 7200 years ago. The rising magma and exploding gases caused the mountain to collapse, creating the crater that holds centuries of rainwater. Surprisingly, Mt. Mazama is not an extinct volcano and much like Mt. St. Helens, it could erupt again someday.

Sonic Boom

I couldn’t resist playing with the intense blue color of the water.

Another slice –

Jagged slant

Of course as soon as I noticed Pumice Desert on the map, I knew we’d go check it out. Not much to explore, but I waited out the traffic for this shot. Thanks to Mt. Theilsen for adding terrific drama to my shot. And pointy-ness.

Pumice Desert

I really debated going to this little waterfall because of the light, but it was only a 2-mile hike on nice flat paths and when I got there I figured ‘what the heck’. I couldn’t get a really long exposure even though I used a neutral density filter and low ISO. Knowing to crank down the lens aperture results in image softness, I kept it within the sweet spot. It came out ok after a bit of Lightroom adjustment.

Plaikni Falls

I also had a mini-panic that I’d left a lens cap here. Jogged back and checked. No lens cap. It was back in the car in a jacket pocket. Doh!

Anyway, our last stop at Crater Lake was Pinnacle Valley. It was really interesting and inspiring to see this formation. I love looking at examples of geologic time and how vast that is and how almost incomprehensible it is to us since we don’t live that long. These spires are called fossil fumaroles where volcanic gasses rose through a layer of ash, hardening the ash into rock. Weather, water and wind sweeps away the loose ash leaving these chimneys behind. I love how their shapes mimic the trees (mostly douglas fir). Again, the light was pretty harsh, but honestly, I’m not sure if any light would show these well. I tried to get some good shadows, texture and separation, but again, I don’t know if they convey the specialness of this location.

Pinnacle Valley
Fossil fumaroles

Some of these pointy bits are 100 feet high and Sand Creek, the waterway to cut the valley, hundreds further down. Sometimes getting too close to the edge was scary. Very steep. I loved looking out into the tops of the trees though. Monster douglas firs. Of course, as soon as we got into the redwoods, they didn’t seem so monstrous anymore, but damn, they were plenty big.

Anyway, that’s it for Crater Lake. I enjoyed my time there, but it wasn’t my favorite place we visited. More on that coming up as I process shots from more parks later in our week.

6 thoughts on “Crater Lake National Park

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  1. Hi there,
    I am an OM fanboy as well.
    I am about to pick up the 90 Macro and 100 F2 soon, to complete my collection 🙂
    I own the 21mm F2, but when adapted on a Canon 5D III, I experience a problem with infinity focus.

    I would like to ask, when taking scenery shots, where should the focus point be put? Like which area of the frame?
    Also, in case if I use F2, would that be the reason of non-sharp photos?
    Also, with the OM to EOS adapter, it’s completely inaccurate with the metering…
    any ways to solve the issue?

    1. Enjoy the lens! The 90mm f2 is an irreplaceable gem. Most lenses are their sharpest in the middle of their aperture range and so sticking in that sweet spot will help. If you want to shoot wide open for the bokeh effect, you will have to be critically accurate with your focus on the primary subject. This is because the focal range at wide apertures is very narrow. Other than picking up a Sekonic and learning to use a handheld meter, I have no idea how to fix your camera’s problem. I have heard that a lot of Canon & Nikon bodies just won’t meter correctly with legacy glass. A damn shame considering how popular both lens mounts were. Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by!

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