Sweet clouds and colors for sunset along the side of the highway

Sweet clouds and colors for sunset along the side of the highway

After our visit to the Alvord Desert all the way on the eastern side of the state, we started slowly making our way west again as the two storms wore themselves out on the coast. One thing I LOVE about storms is their tendency to produce some spectacular clouds and photogenic scenery!

It’s been said so many times that life is about the journey, not the destination, and that’s so true… Long road trips definitely teach a person to really enjoy the ride and fully experience the journey. Whether you wind up photographing it or not, sometimes it’s the stuff along the way that that is the most memorable…

Geographically speaking, the Oregon coast is all near sea level. As you head east, you hit the Cascade mountain range. The Cascades have a tendency of blocking all that weather and rain that you see along the coast and so east of the Cascades you actually have desert! It’s technically a high desert because it’s at 4,000+ feet of elevation.

After leaving the Alvord Playa in the Alvord Desert, we were finally able to see the landscape we had driven through the previous evening. (There seems to be some sort of balance between driving during the day so you can see where you’re driving through and driving at night so you can get to your next location for the following sunrise. Both choices have their pros and cons.)

The drive was quite beautiful…

Country road to the mountains

Country road to the mountains

I am SUCH a fan of getting the “road to a beautiful destination” type of shot. Whenever I find a nice one, I like to jump on it. 🙂

Dirt road to the mountains

Dirt road to the mountains

Along the way we passed lots of beautiful things. For example, there was a small group of cows in some beautiful scenery that we stopped to shoot.

Cows and birds in the fields

Cows and birds in the fields

I’ve noticed that animals tend to ignore moving cars. They whiz by without the animals so much as giving them a second look. When you stop your car and pull over, that’s when you’ll get their attention. The car actually works as a reasonably good blind because when you get out to get closer or get a better vantage point, that’s often when you’ll see the most reaction from them. They’ll either turn and look, approach you (if they’re particularly cool), or turn around and flee. Depends.

One of the times while we were stopped, I shot a video of a tumbleweed that happened to be rolling by. I dunno what it was, but watching it roll by was SO MUCH FUN!!!

It was such a beautiful time of the year to be out. It was maybe two weeks past prime fall colors and the wind had already blown the leaves off the trees. Snow was now layering up on top of the mountains surrounding us and driving through the mountains, we got our first taste of snow for the trip.

Sweet leafless tree

Sweet leafless tree

Driving driving driving, we found a nice overlook with a great view of some weather than was goin’ down, so we pulled out and snapped some shots of the view. Check this out…

Crazy cool weather in the distance

Crazy cool weather in the distance

See that? That’s rain falling down from the clouds up above. Plus there’s some sweet kinda swampy wetlands area that we drove past. Definitely a cool area to see.

For sunset that day, we weren’t sure where we’d wind up or even if we’d get a good foreground to add under some (hopefully) beautiful light for sunset.

It turns out that when sunset rolled around (and keep in mind that DST had just happened and so at this latitude, sunset was around 4:45pm with the main lightshow starting by 4pm or so), we were still cruising on the highway. So be it! We found a pull-out on the side of the road with plenty of room to park, unload our gear, and shoot near the highway, so that’s exactly what we did!

Sweet clouds and colors for sunset along the side of the highway

Sweet clouds and colors for sunset along the side of the highway

I got my camera set up and started shooting the sunset that was beautifully unfolding before us…

Shooting some sunset timelapse action

Shooting some sunset timelapse action

I had recently picked up a 10-stop neutral density filter. Basically it’s a really dark filter that blocks a ton of light, allowing me to shoot long exposures even when it’s bright outside. I got it primarily for time-lapse reasons, but it was fun to experiment with it and see what it could do for regular shots. One great thing I could do with it is get some clouds streaking in the middle of the day or even during sunset.

2 minute exposure of the highway at sunset

2 minute exposure of the highway at sunset

The filter, although it looks black, actually has an orangey/rosy cast to it. Although I can correct it, I actually kinda like it. 🙂

With the beautiful sunset that was unfolding, I decided to shoot some timelapses of the clouds. Here’s the two timelapses I shot:

I’m quite happy with this material. Add some music and add it to a larger collection of timelapses that I’m slowly putting together and we’ve got some potential for a beautiful product!! I’m really liking shooting the clouds here in Oregon. The weather here is so spectacular…

That night we decided to pull into a hotel again and grab a room. It takes far less time than camping and split between two people, we definitely start saving some cash. It’s also nice to get a shower and relax without having to break camp in the morning and put everything away. Just toss everything back in the car and off you go!

At our hotel (I think it was a Days Inn), we found this awesome bench… 🙂

Kiddie shoes on a bench

Kiddie shoes on a bench

Having found this awesome bench, we hopped back in the car and went to our next destination: The Painted Desert!!

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