I'm enjoying a nice cold day here at the creative headquarters of Nathan Sanborn Photo (AKA my couch), and there is a lovely ray of sunshine blasting through my window. However, the forecast calls for a rainy/snowy mix over the next few days. With the cold snap that hit most of the US over the last few weeks the fact that temperatures got into the 40's made it feel downright warm here in Portland.
But when you're faced with the cold, what you gonna do? Enjoy it! Remember when it was hot as balls last summer, how great would it have felt to be able to hide from the sweltering temps with a nice snowy adventure? Curt, Jessica and I used that thinking a couple weeks ago.
The idea to get away from town started to take hold, and we were brainstorming for ideas. A popular thought was to go on a road trip south to somewhere warmer. Ultimately we skipped that idea and went up into the mountains where it was even colder! And colder it was. Temperatures were almost exclusively in the single digits while we were up there. Oh, and it was windy as shit too. But that didn't stop us from getting out of the lodge to go on photo safari's, or even from using the outdoor pool! Remember when I talked about wanting the cold to escape from the hot? To truly enjoy this, we went to the sauna, cranked it up to 11, waited until the sweat was unbearable, then went outside and jumped straight into the pool. Now, the pool is heated to 78 degrees, but when your sweaty body feels 5 degree air and realizes you're about to jump into a large body of water, your brain does the math and figures the water must be freezing, so the leap of faith is invigorating. Within seconds your body registers the water as being a nice temperature, and you don't get cold until you get out of the water, but the only reason to get out is to go to the hot tub.
In the time we were at the lodge, we got to capture some brilliant sunsets. The altitude probably had the most to do with this. Usually the sun is only shining through a small amount of atmosphere, but just after it rises and just before it sets it has to shine through hundreds of miles of atmosphere before the light reaches us, and when it does it can make a heck of a light show. I believe the elevated viewpoint allows you to see much farther into the horizon, making this effect even greater.
Mount Hood really is an awesome place to have a winter adventure, but it's not the only place around here. After getting back to Portland, my friend Elizabeth and I went down the Columbia River Gorge in search of frozen waterfalls. I'd never before been to the Gorge during a deep freeze, and it turned out to be something else. On the bigger falls, the water is typically moving with too much speed and volume to freeze entirely, but what does freeze is any bit of mist all around the falls. On the smaller falls that appear as only a trickle in the summer the water can freeze and create a big wall of ice. It was fun to see people gearing up and ice climbing. It was also interesting to see how many photographers come out of the woodwork to capture this rare event. Multnomah falls was a sea of tripods that Sunday. I lugged my camera and tripod all up and down the Gorge that day, and I got some good pictures. The only problem was that I got a great photo with my iPhone.
I'm a huge proponent of the idea that the photographer is more important than the camera when it comes to getting a good picture, but it is a little disappointing to prove it to myself. Especially when I'm the same photographer with both cameras. I've had a dislike of the idea of Instagram, but once I started using it I had to change my mind completely. I kind of like the square format, and those stupid smart phones are not that bad to capture images with. Chase Jarvis (Seattle photographer) made an entire book called "The Best Camera Is The One That's With You" shot on his iPhone. Taking his advice I left the DSLR at home for my next winter adventure.
Oregon has plenty of mountains. Most of these have had at least some amount of volcanic activity during their lives. Volcanoes equals hot springs. I was glad during this cold snap to have my truck still, so Dan, Dustin, Anna and I relied heavy on the 4 wheel drive to make the icy trip down I-5 and out hwy 126 to Cougar Hot Springs (Terwilliger Hot Springs). Even without my DSLR or tripod I still took a ton of photos. It wasn't about megapixels or expensive glass, it was about interesting scenery and beautiful light. Since it was a Tuesday, the hot springs were very uncrowded, and being snow covered it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I do want to go back and make a photo in the springs. Take along some floating candles and a flash and make an idyllic shot. Yes, I will use the DSLR, because even though the iPhone is a great camera, you can't sync a flash to it.
It's going to be cold for a bit. Get out there and enjoy it. You'll never feel warmer than when you've come out of the cold.