Latourell falls locate at the Columbia gorge area near Portland, Oregon. The falls plunge 224 feet over a massive wall of columnar basalt. The fluorescent yellow color on the black rocks is from growing lichens. [+]


  • Selected on Jul 24, 2015
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Aug 06, 2017

Latourell falls, by Shenshen Dou

The Area

The Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon, 80 miles/128 kilometer long and up to 4,000 feet / 1,200 meter deep. There are many waterfalls in this national scenic area. Latourell falls is one of them. It may be not the most popular and photogenic one, but definitely has its charm. Since I live at nearby city Portland, I have the pleasure to visit and photograph this waterfalls many times at different seasons.

Technical choices

I took this picture in a winter month when the water was abundant. I followed a trail down to the falls and took a picture at a looking up view point of the falls with a small bridge as a foreground. It’s nice but not distinguished enough from some other waterfalls in this area. Then I climbed to a higher up view point and shot my second picture, this place was also a common spot for photo, but all the elements that appealing to me revealed well here. I have chosen a vertical frame to highlight the beauty of the waterfalls; and a longer exposure time (0.3 second) to capture the momentum and creamy effect of the water. I didn’t have a finished picture in mind when I started to process this photo. My intention was how to transfer this popular and well know waterfalls shot into a more characteristic and a little more unusual picture. This also means I may have to step out my comfort zone of editing.

Post processing

I believed that “The mass of light and shade, and the reproduction of texture are the utmost importance” (Helmut and Alison Gernsheim) for reaching my goals of this picture. These were a few examples of what I did in post processing with brief reasons. 1. Increased the contrast of the water and the cliff; made a large area of cliff much darker and waterfalls brighter in order to create a visual focus and segregate the main theme (Curve /luminosity in Photoshop CS6). 2. Blurred and darken the edges of the picture to strengthen a mystic mood (Color Efex Pro). 3. Saturated and sharpened the brown oak leafs, green moss rocks and yellow lichens to enhance those delicate textures and colors (Selective color/Smart sharpen in Photoshop CS6). 4. Took out a few small tree branches to make the picture clean (Spot healing brush in Photoshop CS6).

Final global appreciation

I am satisfied with this picture’s prominent and clean forms; and not lack of interesting details. For me, Latourell falls is reminiscent of a lonely poet singing a solitude song; his never weary audiences are the trees. Bring in a personal understanding and feeling into a picture with proper techniques is not an easy task but an enjoyable process.

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