Thursday, 26 April 2012

Colourful Valley Floor

Colourful Valley Floor, originally uploaded by

After having exhausted almost all of the main locations that were on offer to me during my first main stay in Oregon in the second half of 2010, I set my sights a little further afield to allow something new to be added to my ever growing portfolio of landscape images.

It was purely by chance that I even found out about the Painted Hills in Central Oregon, as there was a family event due to take place at one of the other areas that make up the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The story made me check the internet to see where the park was actually located and then while doing a google search a photo from the mid 1970's caught my attention.

A little digging later and I had found some up to date images and the info on how to get there and back and most importantly I was already dropping POI's into my satnav software on the laptop to help guide me to the right spots once I reached the park.

Just heading off to visit such an awesome place wasn't enough for me, by now you'll all be well aware of my crazy daytrips and weekenders which see me cover hundreds or thousands of miles just to take some photos, so I set the alarm for early o'clock in the hope of a nice sunrise over Trillium Lake, which lies just to the South of Mount Hood which itself is located South East of Portland.

Sunrise came and went, and I must admit I was a little disappointed in the lack of colour in the sunrise, but a few decent shots of the morning mist dancing on top of Trillium Lakes surface with Mount Hood's snow covered peak in the background made the early start worthwhile.

Onwards to the Painted Hills as a couple of carloads of weekend fishermen arrived to relax in front of natures spoils, and within a couple of hours I had passed the small town of Mitchell and was turning off the main road into where I hoped the clay-coloured hills would be hiding.

After visiting so many huge mountains the previous year I was kind of expecting a dramatic scene to unfold way off in the distance, but that wasn't the case, after turning a few lefts and rights, all of a sudden the small hillocks to the right of the road started to burst alive with reds and oranges that sparked new energy into me.

As nice as it was, I found myself thinking "surely this isn't it?", and ventured a little further along the snaking road until a small building came into view in the distance over on my left, with an American flag flying above it's roof.

As I was about to pull into the small dirt road that led to the building I had spotted a minute or two before there was something else catching my attention, straight ahead I could already see the sweeping hills with red clay flowing over and under, creating patterns that just screamed out to be photographed.

Considering the painted hills section of John Day National Monument is relatively small with several short and a few medium sized hikes, it just gives more power to the patterns and colours which were on show being 110% of the reason that I spent the entire day there until the sun began to drop documented the changes in the colours and textures as the light changed throughout the day.

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