I got some great feedback from the photo I posted the other week with the Nikon 18-35mm lens, so I thought I’d talk a little about the story behind the photo.

On my last trip out west, I knew I’d be near Portland, OR. I love that area so I’m always looking for places to photograph, and I made sure to plan my trip with enough time to shoot a sunset. I jumped on 500px.com and started searching. One of the places that came up in the search was called Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain. I really liked the photos I saw of the area so I set my sights on getting there.

I found a hiking website that showed how to get to the top. It was about 6 miles round trip. It looked like it would take about 2 hours to get up there and the site even had pictures of key areas to look for when you were hiking up.
Recap: It ended up taking me just over 90 minutes to get to the top. And I was moving at a good pace the entire time. So if you ever get out that way, adjust accordingly. Coming down took about 60 minutes in the dark.

The Equipment and Camera Settings
I knew I was hiking a long distance, and I knew I was mostly going to be shooting with a wide angle lens. So I didn’t bring much gear.

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 18-35mm
Aperture: f/16
Shutter Speed:
ISO: 400
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-33
Ballhead: Really Right Stuff BH-55

Who Turned On The Heat?!
On a side note, when I landed that day my rental car thermometer read 101 degrees. It felt like an oven (and I’m from Florida!). But as I drove up the mountain to the trail head, it cooled down into the low 90’s so it wasn’t too bad. Still hot though.

Starting Out
Sunset was around 9pm. I wanted to give myself two hours to get there, and of course time to set up and walk around, so I set out at the trail head at 6pm. There’s a parking lot at the trailhead, and it’s pretty well marked (you do need a pass though).


The trail was fairly simple at first. The first 10-15 minutes winds through the forest and there’s some nice little streams and waterfalls to shoot if you have the time. Then you move to an area where the trail switchbacks and zig-zags back and forth up the mountain for another 15-20 minutes. Along the way, I saw lots of people coming down but I was the only one heading up. After about 30-40 minutes you come to Reflections Lake which is actually a great shooting location by itself.

(Here’s a few iPhone photos)


Once you pass the lake, you start up the trail again. There were some absolutely beautiful views of Mt. Hood along the way.

(iPhone photo I took really quick)

It’s hard not to stop and just stare at it for a while. Wait… who am I kidding?… it wasn’t hard at all. By that point I was ready for a break so I stopped and grabbed my water bottle for a drink. Speaking of water… by this point I looked like I jumped in the lake as I passed by it. Little known fact about me (that probably should remain little known), is that I sweat a lot. Just put me outside in the heat and I’ll be soaked in 10 minutes, even if I’m not moving. I exercise a lot, so I wasn’t even winded by this point, but you’d never know from looking at me. All I can say is “dry-fit” my a$$!!! 😉



Anyway, after about 90 minutes I finally hit the summit. It was at the very moment I walked across the top of the rocks and felt the cool wind, that I was thankful I brought a jacket with me… sadly that jacket was sitting in the passenger seat in my car because, and I quote myself, “there’s no way it would have ever be cold enough to need it” 🙂 It was a beautiful view though. You could see every mountain in the area off in the distance which made it even better.

I had about 30 minutes before sunset. While battling some bugs that were the size of a small bird, I walked around a bit and started looking for for the place I wanted to be when the sun went down.

The Sunset Spot
I almost immediately found the spot I wanted to shoot the sunset at. Because the view in front of me was so wide, I always look for a foreground object of some sort to place in front. This helps put the viewer in the place that I was in, and let’s them see the entire scene as I saw it. The spot I found was this small bush with a few flowers near it. So I set my tripod down and starting composing the photo to include both the bush in the foreground, as well as Mt. Hood in the background.

(click to see the photo larger)

Dealing With The Wind
One thing that was different here, was that the wind was blowing a bit and the flowers kept moving during the exposure. Since I wanted to keep my aperture at f/16, the only way to make the shutter speed faster was to increase the ISO. So I moved it up from 100 to 400 and was able to get a shutter speed fast enough to capture the flowers so they weren’t blurry.

One Last Thing…Turn Around!
As I’m sure many of you have learned in your own photography, turn around. Just when you think the shoot is over, you turn around and see this. I did have my Nikon 28-300 with me. So I put it on, zoomed out to 300mm and capture this photo. It’s not winning me any awards, but I’m a total sucker for clouds and sun beams and when I saw this I couldn’t resist.


Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good one!


Your Cart