Trip to Sunriver, OR (day 1) – 20 October 2011

Last October, I was invited down to Sunriver to visit with a friend and spend three days hiking and canoeing all for the purpose of photography.  We would spend these days practicing photography, trying new styles, experimenting with different techniques, and just learning and having fun.  Oh, and hopefully get some great photos in the process.

I arrived late in the early evening and after eating a quick snack we decided to head out for two evening photo opportunities.  The first was to visit the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory.  The sky was completely clear and the lack of city lights really allowed the stars to litter the sky.  The planetarium had six different telescopes set up, each looking at a different star, planet or nebula.

Photo borrowed from Sunriver Observatory website

There was a quick “night sky” tour by one of the volunteers and then we went back to looking at Saturn and three of its moons, a nebula which I can’t remember the name of and a comet (again I can’t remember the name).  It was cold (all but one of the telescopes were outside) but we had a lot of fun and it was worth the time.

20" RC OGS in Dome - photo from Observatory website

One thing we learned was there would be a meteor shower over the next couple days and the best time to see it would be early morning.  We added that to our list of photo events.

After the planetarium, we were going to visit a nearby controlled burn to see if there were any unique photo opportunities with the flames at night.  While there were small fires burning, nothing stood out and the smoke was a little too thick to hang around too long.  So we called it a night and headed back to the house to plan tomorrow’s trips.

We got up at 5:00 am and headed out to place John knew of where we should be able to catch the morning sunrise.  We had to hike up the trail in the dark with our camera gear and tripods.  Our goal was to capture the first light in the sky.

Early morning light captured by clouds, (30 sec, f7.1, ISO 250)

I learned a few things about sunrises on this trip.  I was surprised at the colors the camera would see that we cannot.  Taking a time exposure photo of a dark sky for a few seconds revealed an amazing blue color, which you just don’t see with your eye. At first I thought the blue in the sky was too much, not realistic.  But after watching enough sunrises and sunsets I have come to realize that for a very short time, the sky actually does take on some intense blues.  The camera will capture these easily even though your eyes still see dark.  With the photo above of the first light on the clouds, the sky was actually dark from where I was standing, but a 30 second exposure certainly brightened the sky.

Clouds at Sunrise (15 sec, f 5.6, ISO 250)

We never did get a really spectacular sunrise this morning, just the red and orange reflections off the clouds.  We headed down the mountain and then drove to another trail which took us to a view of Broken Top.  The light was good and the sky still clear.  The clouds rolling in gave Broken Top an illusion of a volcano steaming.

Broken Top with Clouds (1/500 at f/10, ISO 250)

We headed back down and returned to Sunriver.  After a late breakfast, we loaded up the canoe and headed off to Sparks Lake.  Of the lakes we visited during this trip, Sparks Lake was my favorite.  The unique setting of the lake and its breathtaking view of Mt. Bachelor really made this lake enjoyable for canoeing.

Mt Bachelor from Sparks Lake

The sky clouded over in the afternoon which ruined our hopes for photos with bright blues skies and mountains reflecting in glassy smooth waters, but the clouds did add a more dramatic sky to our photos and it turned out to be an alright day.  Hopefully we’ll get clear skies during our next two days.

Common Goldeneye on Sparks Lake


Lots of ducks were on the lake, the two seen the most were goldeneyes and mergansers.  There were mallards as well, but I’ve grown tired of taking photos of mallards.  It’s kind of like taking pictures of seagulls…

Goldeneye Taking to Flight



Wildlife is fun to photograph, especially birds if you can catch them in flight.  I was able to get a few shots of the goldeneye and the merganser taking off after our canoe moved into their comfort zone.

Common Merganser



This day was a good start to the trip.  A late dinner, and then to bed because we plan on getting up at 3:00 am to try to catch the meteor shower.  More to follow…

Regards, Eric

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