The early part of January may seem like a funny time to write about a walk in the woods taken in October. In reality, I think it is a great time. The holidays are all but a memory. Spring seems like a very distant future. Recalling a fond memory of a cool, foggy, October morning in the forest on the Oregon coast brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.
We spend several weeks in October on the Oregon coast just north of Newport and south of Depoe Bay nearly every year. Last October on our way to Oregon, we took Highway 126 from Interstate 5 to the coast connecting with Highway 101 for the last leg of our drive. Highway 126 is a two-lane road that hugs the hillside on one side with the Siuslaw River running along the opposite side. The hillsides were a cornucopia of fall colors. I could hardly wait to come back to play with my camera. Fall colors had eluded me the last couple of years and now I had my opportunity.
I set out early one morning before daybreak on a mission to capture not only the color but also the very essence of autumn on this coastal Oregon corridor. My first goal was to get off the main road (although the color was outstanding) and find a secondary road less traveled. After a couple missteps and bloopers, I found the road I was looking for. Just out of sight of Highway 126, to my surprised, I discovered a covered bridge built in 1925 called Wildcat Bridge, which crosses the Wildcat Creek just before flowing into the Siuslaw River. As I drove slowly across the one-lane bridge to take in all intricate details, I tried to imagine being in an old 1920 Ford Model T hearing the click clank and rumble of the wooden planks. (By the way, that sound of click clank and rumble of cars driving across rickety wooden bridges is becoming an endangered sound as homogeneously silent concrete structures replace wooden bridges throughout the country. Alas, I digress.)
The image above is titled “Over the River and Through the Bridge” and was the first image I took on my venture out that day. Capturing the inside of an old wooden structure is challenging and problematic. If I exposed for the inside of the bridge, which was quite dark, everything outside the bridge would be blown out (overexposed) and you see no detail. If I exposed for the trees and the fog, the inside of the bridge would be almost totally black – again no detail. How could I produce an image that would capture the beautiful of both the inside of the bridge and the surrounding foliage plus create a sense of place for the viewer? With my camera on my trusty tripod, I took three separate images, without moving the camera or tripod, each exposed correctly – one for the inside of the bridge, one for the river and fog along the left side and one for the road and trees at the far end of the bridge. Then I combined (layered) them in Photoshop to produce the image above which closely portrays the scene as I saw and experienced it.
On the other side of the bridge the paved road turned into a gravel road. I parked and, with my camera, tripod, and backpack, walked down the road along the river. A heavy wind had come through the area a few days earlier and the ground in places was covered with fallen leaves. The road was obviously used by locals and maintained, although I didn’t see one car, while just out of sight and across the creek on Highway 126, cars whizzed by not realizing (or maybe not caring) the beauty and serenity just a short distance away. I walked probably a little more than a mile letting my mind wonder and enjoying the refreshing, cool air, the solitude and, of course, taking many images before forcing myself to turn back.
Arriving back at my car, I scrambled down to the edge of Wildcat Creek. The sound of the babbling creek, the breeze rustling through the few remaining leaves on the trees and the sheer beauty and peacefulness made it difficult to leave. It was only after I promised myself to return that I climbed back up and headed back to Highway 126. I did, in fact, return and visit Highway 126 and its various side roads several more times during October and will, for sure, visit again when we next visit Oregon.
To see more of my images from this shoot and others, check out my website, http://gailberremanphotography.com/portfolio/. These images and more are in the Landscape portfolio.
Thank you for reading my blog and viewing my images. Please don’t forget to look for and See the Extraordinary in the Ordinary!