#1027. Cascade Undestination: Pandemonium Wandering

By Mark Raugas | Travel Photography

Jul 24

This year, to date, most all of my photography has been confined to my living room and small garden. I focused in the early evening hours, as the days grew longer, on using a Voightländer 65/2 Macro lens and capturing flowers in bloom and trees as they began to grow leaves on the hill behind my house.

Maple Leaf Explosion
 
 
Rhododendron Dance
 
 
 
 

A rainy spell interceded and I grew tired of taking pictures of my turntable and speakers, and film camera, and cat. I grew frustrated with being home bound, as I imagine many people are, and continue to be. To distract myself (with little success) I even performed a fairly extreme gear swap to shake up my habitual patterns of behavior.

After what seemed like far too long, my wife and I ventured out carefully, into the dangerous world, for a weekend-long road trip through the local geography of Washington and Oregon. Keeping to ourselves, we drove first South down the coast of Washington and Oregon to Cannon Beach, and then East through Eugene to Bend, and then North past Smith Rock and Mt. Hood and Portland, before returning home.

I share with you this undestination, having never quite gone anywhere, except in a wide circle through several different climate zones and altitudes. Maybe it is for all of us wanting to feel free again, and those of us who also hope that we might learn something from solitude and contemplation, in whatever way art might manifest itself in our lives, while things might rage around us.

 
Sunset well before Neowise
 

The journey began in a conversation looking out towards the Olympic Mountains, wondering if we would brave the wind to catch a glimpse of Neowise, and realizing we were not dressed properly, and had not planned, and what were we doing not having gone anywhere in six months. Would it, could it, be possible, to safely explore our surroundings to the extent we are allowed, under current circumstances?

 
Ocean Hidden
 

The gear swap found me deciding not to hold out for the Fuji 50Mp camera bodies that seem to be at times on sale and to embrace the apparent idiocy of moving from the Sony A7R III to the A7R IV with megapixels I might not ever need, but in a package I was familiar with, having first moved to Sony with the A7R.

Many adapted lenses left my home as well, such as my beloved Leica R lenses, leaving me momentarily with the Voigtländer 65/2, 50/2, and Zeiss 135/2.8 FE mount lenses. I love the 65 Macro and yet this time left it home to explore its 50mm sibling.

 
Cannon Beach Contrast
 

The cold of the wind on Cannon Beach, hitting us from the Pacific Ocean like something alien to the concept of summer, but with it bringing fog and light and shadow.

 
Pandemonium Wanderer
 
The Road to Newport
Pacific Vantage

Bend, OR is located in the high desert, on the eastern side of the Cascade mountain range. The heat and dry air took me aback at first, soft tones giving away to contrast of low shrubs, hardened lava, and dormant volcanoes in the distance. A former ranch turned into a city park sits next to the Deschutes River, the earth a fragile form of soil crust formed by symbiotic organisms including cyanobacteria.

 
Wild Sagebrush
 
Volcanic Echoes
 
Stay on the path
 

Traveling north, nostalgia for my youth spent rock climbing in the Shawangunks mountains near New Paltz, NY, took us to Smith Rock State Park. I braved the harsh midday sun and strange directions from my phone and wondered if I could tame, or take advantage of the resulting contrast. I could not imagine climbing in that heat — visitors must arrive early and shift routes to chase the shade.

 
 

The larger mountains lie quiet in the distance, calling us towards them. Mt. Hood is not far away, accessible and disarming and quietly dangerous, much as the world seems to be.

 
Stillness or What lies under the surface?

So far on the trip we managed to feel safe in our wanderings, staying away from others within our shared American pandemic experience, but Mt. Hood was crowded with tourists and our brief time in Timberline Lodge was limited and uncomfortable.

Nervous Indoors

What if everyone who approached one of these mountains had to sit in quiet contemplation of their grandeur, for some set time less than an hour, before striding through to interior or beginning their activity? How would it change their experience of the place?

I feel grateful I was able to move through the natural world and look forward to another small travel. For now, we return to stillness, and wait.

 

Gear: On this trip, pictures were shot with Sony A7R Mark IV with Zeiss Batis 135/2.8 and Voightländer 50/2 APO lenses, developed in Capture One. Garden pictures were taken using the Sony A7R Mark III and Voightländer 65/2 Macro.

 

Some more of my work can be found at http://innercapture.com.

 

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Fascinating journey – thanks for sharing these images with us – places I’ve never seen, and never will – this is something no other medium can do for us.

    My first “real” camera after I graduated from the second hand Kodak Box Brownie I was given for my 10th birthday was a second-hand Voigtländer Bessa II. Chosen because my father had owned a pre-World War II Voigtländer Bessa. Loved its smooth trigger action shutter release – beautiful camera, got plenty of great shots with it – and then tried a Zeiss Super Ikonta. I’m afraid that started a lifelong love affair with Zeiss glass – even my spectacles have Zeiss lenses (which, BTW, I can STRONGLY recommend to anyone contemplating buying spectacles). So it was interesting to catch up with Voightländer again.

    I am jealous – I can’t possibly grow rhododendrons in this garden (I did at my previous house – but the dappled shade of the trees, the soil conditions, and the ability I had in that garden to create “micro climates” combined to make it possible, and they even managed to thrive – till the current owner of the place pulled them all out and replaced them with lawn!). If you are ever planning to visit George Clooney and his wife at Lake Como, you will find a villa on the west bank of the lake with the most beautiful rhododendron garden.

    • Mark Raugas says:

      Thank you — these flowers are all due to the previous owners of our house, it has been a joy watching them bloom at various times throughout the year. They took care to figure out a way for something always to be happening in the garden.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Nice un-destination post, Mark! Being from the PNW, I recognize many of my favorite haunts in your images. I especially like your Cannon Beach Contrast image where you shot Haystack Rock from the south side – quite unique! Also, your portrait of Mt. Hood is a “not the postcard” view – nice.
    If you ever get to Bend again, you should travel further southeast (about 90 minutes) to the Summer Lake area. It’s also high desert and the seasonal lake (really a playa) is mostly alkaline which billows into huge white funnel-like formations nearly every afternoon in the dry season. The cloud formations and colorful dawn light are worth the drive. I once saw (and photographed) a tornado shaped snow dump which took place on an otherwise clear day in November – quite bizarre. There’s also a marsh area where you can drive on the top of the dike systems to see many birds and mammals.
    You’ve inspired me to take a road trip to Joseph, Oregon, a very photogenic place that I’ve never been to. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mark Raugas says:

      Thank you — it is a fun challenge to not take the same kind of picture of well known places. I will definitely check out that area you mention on our next trip south. The salt lake sound beautiful.

  • Mel says:

    Thanks for sharing your wanderings in this time of COVID. I live in Northern California. I am always amazed by the sight of the fog bank rolling in from the ocean, which you captured beautifully. Before parting with them, what was your experience using the Leica R lenses?

    • Mark Raugas says:

      I had a 135/2.8 and the 180/3.4 APO and really enjoyed both of them but found getting focus difficult at times with the EVF on the A7R II. I do have one picture of Grand Teton I took with the 180 that wound up being very pleasing and feel like it is an excellent lens if you take your time with it. The 135 had a color rendering I preferred to the Zeiss 135/2 Zf.2 and was much smaller, but I opted for the Batis 135 for more reliable focus. I hope this helps.

  • John W says:

    Over the last couple of years some photo buddies and I a number of trips down the Oregon coast and the back roads of Washington and Oregon. I recognize a number of the locations. Spent the better part of a week in a rented house with a view of Smith Rock but never got into it – just did not appeal to me. If i ever get back to Canon Beach, I’ll definitely check out that angle from down the beach. But my flat out favourites are the two images just above The Road to Newport (where we also spent a few days) and the last image of the sign. Great job and thanks for sharing.

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