Behind the Lens: "Tamanawas Falls"

Finding unexpected beauty in less than ideal conditions.

Why did you take this photo?

I captured this image in early spring of 2014 at Tamanawas Falls just as the snow was starting to melt around the falls. I was initially kind of disappointed in the conditions when I arrived. The trail was really icy and snow covered but I wasn't expecting the falls to be so covered as well. I was debating whether I wanted to deal with getting my gear out to shoot in the rain when I saw the two large chunks of ice almost right in the falls. I knew then there was a compelling shot to be found but it wasn't until I saw it on the computer that I realized how unique and incredible the capture really was.

How did you capture the scene?

I took this shot in the afternoon after a morning of trail running in the Columbia River Gorge. I was on my way to Smith Rock State Park and decided to stop for a short hike after seeing a signpost for the falls. It was really overcast when I arrived and the clouds were spitting the occasional rain at me, perfect for waterfalls!  I shot this with a Sony a7R and Zeiss 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. The sky was thick with clouds so I didn't need much to get a long exposure, just a circular polarizing filter, which I spent more time cleaning off rain and mist from than actually shooting with.

What kind of processing did you do?

I edited this image completely in Adobe Lightroom. I processed the shot for greater contrast and a more natural white balance to keep the water or ice from appearing too blue. I made a small increase to overall image saturation as well as small increases to the green/yellow saturation to help the moss and lichen stand out more.

Photography Advice:

Always keep an open mind when photographing a new location. Depending on the time of year it might not look anything like other photos you've seen but you could actually end up with a much more dynamic image as a result.

Published: May 9, 2017

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Jason HatfieldExplorer


Adventure and travel photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. I teach photography workshops and offer private guiding around the west. More at