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Wildhorse Lake, Steens Mountain, Oregon

 

Wildhorse Lake -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com Previous Next

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Oregon's Steens Mountain, located in the state's southeast corner, is a gem--relatively undiscovered but gaining in popularity.  Recently it received federal designation as a "Cooperative Management and Protection Area", an action that will create a wilderness of 169,465 acres of land free from cattle grazing.  In the summer of 2000 I made a visit and brought home many great pictures.  This is one of the best.  Wildhorse Lake is visible after a short walk from the highest point in the area accessible by road.  The next day I went with a friend on a three-day backpack into the land you see in this picture and we didn't encounter another person for the entire trip.  

This photo was shot in early afternoon.  It's a difficult time to photograph owing to the high contrast in the scene from the gathering thunderclouds.  The flowers in the area were at their peak and the magical shadows of the clouds dancing on the land below made an unforgettable sight.  I knew the shot might not turn out but it was worth a try.  

After getting the film back this image looked the best but resisted printing in the darkroom.  I spent well over a hundred dollars trying different combinations of exposure, dodging, and burning but to no avail.  Then I attended a lecture by Charles Cramer, an accomplished digital photographer whose work clearly demonstrated that a digital approach would help.  I paid for a professional scan of the film, worked for many hours at my computer, and got the results I wanted.  I'm grateful to him for the inspiration that made this photograph possible.  

Despite the dreamlike beauty you see here, the area is a desert and can be harsh.  Even early in the season water is very scarce.  On our last day of the trip my friend Rob and I ran out of water even after careful planning.  We were able to hike down a slope to a patch of snow and melted some on our stove to fill our bottles again.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Provia 100F 645 chrome
 

 

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