Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mt. Hood Sunrise: Many Shades of Snow and Sky

For professional photographers, aspiring amateurs, or anyone with a smartphone,  the Cascade volcanoes offer stunning and accessible subjects.  Here in the Northwest we're blessed with the geologic equivalent of high fashion models, gorgeous and surprisingly chamelion-like, constantly changing with different lighting and angles.  

Alluring but sometimes dangerous.  And hard to resist.

Armed with my little Canon and Scott's much more expensive and professional-grade Pentax, three of us tumble out of bed in Government Camp ("Govy" to locals) early Sunday morning, groggy but wired at the same time.  Stars sprinkling the clear dark sky are starting to dim and there's a sunrise to shoot.

As we're driving the 6 miles up to Timberline Lodge, the glow of light emanating from the eastern horizon illuminates the timbered shoulders of Mt. Hood in layers of orange and blue.

While it's mostly clear, we welcome those little jet trails and wispy clouds for the drama and contrast they provide.  When we park in the lower lot at Timberline, flashlights aren't needed with the lightening predawn sky and reflection of all that snow.

Although my zoom lense isn't strong enough, we can see several tiny spots of light from climbers high on the mountain near Crater Rock, along with the moving glow of snowcats grooming the slopes lower on her shoulders. Scott was able to get a shot of the lights.

Climbers on Hogsback above Crater Rock, photo by Scott Conover.

And then we just shoot and shoot and shoot for the next hour.  This is when I realize clearly that I need a tripod and higher end camera to get the quality of images I'd like...that Scott gets.  My predawn shots are pretty much all slightly grainy.

Historic Timberline Lodge with summit peeking behind.

While Scott and Matt are focused on one spot in the parking lot, I wander up to the lodge and shoot Mt. Jefferson turning pink on the southern horizon, pinker than Hood today. Like I said, a little too grainy.  So instead let's say I was trying to achieve the effect of an Impressionist painting. :)

Mt. Jefferson

With the sun cresting over the mountain ridges, Hood takes on different moods as the light snakes up and around her flanks.  Illumination Rock  beyond the Palmer snowfield is one of the last spots to get sun as the sunlight pools on the lower slopes and her southeast side.

Illumination Rock with Palmer Chairlift and snowfield in foreground.


After an hour or so, with the sun fully risen, my fingers start to thaw.  Note to self:  Bring gloves for my next early morning photography outing.  We snap numerous parting shots before heading down mountain for breakfast at the Huckleberry Inn.  'Tis a morning worth savoring.

A room with a view (photo by Scott Conover).
The pro (Scott)

The amateur (me). Shot taken by the pro.

When You Go
Timberline Lodge is 6 miles up mountain off US Highway 26 from Government Camp at an elevation of about 6,000 feet above sea level.  Of course there are a zillion places to photograph Mt. Hood and other peaks.  What are your favorite spots?


Anonymous said...

Love the shots! I have always enjoyed Timberline and Mt. Hood. Have fond Race Camp and beginning of the summer memories there.


Mary said...

Aaaannnddd my list of PNW locations to visit just keeps growing!

Joe Leeak said...

Great pics!

jill said...

Hey thanks TC! Yes, I have fond race camp memories there too.

Mary, you need to come visit!

Thanks Joe, you're getting some great shots in your travels too.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, Jill! Really liked the "Room with a View" photo. Lovely juxtaposition between subject matter: old and dirty AirStream with Texas plates next to crystal clean natural beauty of nature incarnate (but with just a touch of intrusion by man in the form of the contrails).