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Oak Canyon --  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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Most people think of the Columbia Gorge as a dark evergreen rainforest.  Indeed, that's true in its western portion.  When autumn arrives the western forest has some fall color, mostly from bigleaf maple trees that turn yellow.   But it's not something I'd call spectacular.  The eastern Gorge is a different story.  While not close to New England's display, there are special spots that in good years create a marvelous scene.  This photo is in one of my favorite places, the oak savannas near Lyle, Washington.  I was hiking there in 2009 and as always, kept alert for a landscape that was worthy of a picture.  I stumbled on this forest of Oregon white oak that brought to mind a cathedral.  Besides the yellows of the larger trees, the small saplings in the foreground were deep red, and all the colors were magnificent.  Fortunately, the weather was stable and I returned the following day with my 4x5 camera and had similar light and hardly any wind.  It made for an afternoon of contemplation and excitement, two emotions that aren't easy to encounter together.  But finding them is one of the reasons I continue to do photography.  

I usually fail when trying to use words to describe a photo like this.  Steve Murphy, one of my friends and photographic colleagues with a talent of distilling things down said, "It looks like it was shot in Oz."  

If you like this picture, you might also like Dancing Forest.  It was shot several miles west of this area, and you can see in it the transition to more evergreen trees that mark the start of the rainforest climate.  

This photo appears in the National Geographic book "Life in Color."  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Velvia 100 4x5 chrome, Fuji Crystal Archive CD paper
 

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