The Oneonta Gorge and 5 Feet Down

There is a smaller gorge within the Cokumbia Gorge called the Oneonta Gorge.  It’s more of a slot canyon, but we’ll stick with “gorge” for now.  I’ll start by saying that I have no pictures of it.  Here’s why.

The Oneonta Gorge lies just east of Multnoma Falls (Oregon’s most popular natural wonder), and cuts perpendicular to the Columbia River.  Through it flows Oneonta Creek: a small stream that picks it’s way over waterfalls, around boulders and through log jams on the way to the Columbia.

I had wanted to hike it for years.  I finally had the chance one day after work.  I parked along the Historic Columbia River Highway, and walked to the gorge.

The going was easy at first.  A pair of large boulders presented the initial challenge.  I met a couple of women-of-a-certain-age there who were trying to get over them.  When I was young, these boulders would not have presented the slightest obstacle.  At age 52, I found myself wishing that I had done more yoga.  The women and I picked a path over, and made it with only minor damage.

Next came the log jam.  That was just a matter of balance.  I traversed the 20 or so feet of jumbled logs easily.  So far so good.  This was where I found out that the hike would be through the creek.  I tried to roll up my jeans, but they weren’t cooperating.  I started trudging through the water in increasingly wet and heavy clothing.  I clearly wasn’t dressed for it.  Still, I made it a quarter mile in, until the creek became too deep.  I decided to turn back.

I had been talking with one of the women, both of whom turned out to be Girl Scoutmasters.  I had stuck close to the older of the two in case she got hurt. I said goodbye when we caught up to her troop, and started back.

I was wet, but the air was warm.  I decided to use a fallen log to cross a section of creek.  At the other end, I was presented with a choice.  I could attempt to jump down to the ground, about 5 feet, or step down to a lower log and then down to the ground.  Both logs were wet.  My shoes were soaked.  Gravity made the choice for me, because I slipped, and fell off. I landed with both knees locked.

My left knee went to the right.

So, the woman with whom I had stuck close to be of help, came to my rescue with her Girl Scout troop.  They found me a stout stick, one of the Scoutmasters kep thold  of me while I hopped on one foot through the creek.

The going was hard. I’m grateful for the help I was provided.  My good leg got very tired.  Every slightest pressure on my left leg caused it to dislocate.  We finally reached the log jam after about a had an hour.  One of the Scoutmasters’ husbands shows up, and had the girls scout a path over the logs.

In a sitting position, with my bad leg held up, I lifted myself over, or sidled along, massive and rotted trees until I reached the boulders.  The girls had scouted well, because I had little difficulty getting to the others side.

Next came the final trek back to the road.  I was exhausted, and my good leg was giving birth out.  Another stroke of luck happened along: an Army medic on leave appeared on the scene.  He and the Scoutmaster’s husband fireman’s carried me the rest of the way.

After thanking everyone, I drove to the hospital.

After over four weeks on crutches,  I took my first steps on my own this morning. They weren’t graceful, and it hurt, but I’m on the mend.
Relegated to small cameras for the summer, I’ve shot mostly digital and 35mm since the incident.  I had the Hasselblad out once, but not being able to carry a tripod, I put it away for the immediate future.  Needless to say, the 8×10 camera is staying home too.

Thanks to all the Girl Scouts out there, and especially to the ones who came to my rescue.  Buy cookies.

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Between darkrooms and making due

Well, the new house in Hood River is very efficient, but not conducive to containing a production darkroom.  I set up the third bedroom with the D5XL enlarger, and some of the framing equipment, but it’s carpeted, so all of the wet stuff has to happen in the bathroom with my Jobo CPP processor.

So….

I bought a digital camera to keep me going until I carve a darkroom out of the garage.

The impossible happened.

I have the photos to prove it.

Ruthton Point, October 2015 # 2I bought a used Nikon D300 with a 24-120 VR lens.  Then, I had my Nikon prime lenses converted to AI at Blue Moon Camera.  These include the following:

20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 65mm Macro (Vivitar), and 135mm.

Add to that my 300mm Tamron with a 2X teleconverter, and the package is complete.

The interesting part of this is that it made me a better film photographer.  Having the ability to see how my shot will turn out immediately enabled me to get the most out of my film shots.

I’m still shooting film, but I don’t get around to developing them as often as I’d like to.  I hope to get the Jobo fired up this weekend, so I’ll have some early spring shots coming up soon.

Moving to the Columbia Gorge. 

The house is sold.  Part of the selling process was the Dismantling of the Darkroom.  It was a very sad day.  I tore apart the 7′ sink that I built, tore down the shelves, painted the walls white, and installed a carpet.  Another part of the selling was packing up the computer and scanner.  I have no way of producing work for display on the Internet for the next few months.  

  The Columbia Gorge offers not only a wealth of photographic opportunities, but also a chance for my wife to heal.  

This picture was taken near Goldendale, Washington, on a dusty back road to nowhere in particular.  We were driving out of Goldendale, when, from out of the dog-eared western songbook, this barn and wheel presented itself to us on a bone dry August afternoon, and we stopped to take a few pictures with infrared film.  

Losing my darkroom.

Black is turning to white.  My darkroom since 2005 is turning back into a bedroom.  

We’re getting ready to move into the Columbia Gorge, so I’m getting the Portland house ready for sale.  The saddest part of this tearing down the darkroom.  On Tuesday, I ripped apart the sink that I built from plywood and boat paint, and I had the first coat of white paint on it by this morning.

I waited 10 years to have my own darkroom.  I’m hoping that it isn’t another 10 years until I get another one.  

Zillah, Washington

Zillah Teacup

Digital Hating Hipster.

I received a comment on my blog recently that stated simply, and in its entirety, “You’re a digital hating hipster.” Well, I wasn’t even hip when I was the right age for it, but, more to the point, I don’t hate digital. I choose not to use it. As I’ve stated in previous posts, art is as much about the medium as it is about the product. What we do is informed by how we do it. I choose film because of the lack of instant gratification, and the meticulous process of large format photography; what I refer to as “the slow zen of quality.” I have spent so much of my life hurrying about, trying to get everything done from work to home to fitness, and back again. I do so much in my line of work that revolves around computers and high-tech gadgetry. When I get to take pictures, or work in the darkroom, I get that rarest of opportunities, which is to take a breath, and let the world pass around me for just a little while. I get to live briefly in the world as it was when Ansel Adams climbed the Sierras, and developed his film under the stars. It doesn’t take hating digital to want that. It takes loving film.

Off-Walker-Farm-Road,-Oregon

The Rainshadow

I wanted to photograph this building for years. It’s located in The Dalles, Oregon.

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One of my favorite places for photography these days is the eastern Columbia Gorge. It’s really the “old west.” Once you pass Hood River going east, the landscape changes from the pine-encrusted rainforest west of the Cascades to the arid grasslands, and sparse oak forests of the rainshadow.

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