One Day I'll Return - Elowah Falls in Autumn

If I had to pick one waterfall that I thought epitomized the Columbia River Gorge it would be Elowah Falls.

As if created for a fairytale, the cold waters of McCord Creek spill over the basalt ledge in a sleek stream, with bright yellow lichen decorating the wall, providing eye candy on the cliff face and situated ever so perfectly in the frame to fill up the dead space. The water hits the plunge pool in a dense current, creating heavy spray that will absolutely drench you as you race across the footbridge near the base. The water cascades towards the Columbia River through a series of drops and pools, providing numerous compositional opportunities. Abundant moss and plenty of big leaf and vine maples make this falls a treat to visit any time of the year. The hike in is gentle and flanked by lush greens in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Yeah, I guess you could say that this is probably my favorite waterfall in the gorge and it’s only a beautiful 35 minute drive from the city of Portland.

In 2004 I had moved away for several years with the intent of returning to Oregon for the long haul. Having such a connection to this part of the country, I kept images of the area handy, one of which was a photo of Elowah Falls from this lower perspective. This was before I had been involved with landscape photography and I can’t recall who had taken the photo, but it was a fond vision of the place that I loved and longed for. As such, I had always wanted to get a photo from this lower vantage that I was happy with. I have photographed it many times, but never felt like I captured that vision I had in my mind… the one that kept my mind on Oregon while I was away.

I feel like I’ve finally done so with this photo. It’s a pretty standard take on an oft shot location, but it means something to me. I may have grown up in another state, but Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge have my heart. I absolutely love where I live and I feel extremely grateful and lucky to live here.

Pertinent technical details or techniques to help others learn:

Repeated visits

If this is a composite please be honest with your techniques and share some details so others can learn:

I used two exposures of water to fill the flow out to the edge of the frame.

Please do not critique this image. Galleries are for sharing and discussion only.

TJ this is on point. I loved the background and your motivation for capturing this…moment. Beautiful subject matter, lovely colors and full tonal values. Yeah, this should hang on a wall and you’ve certainly have my attention on making it to Elowah Falls. Cheers!


TJ, your framing of the scene is spot on for me. There is a stunning dynamic balance and a most interesting interplay of all the diverse elements to my eye. Furthermor I enjoy the beautiful autumn colors a lot.


Oh yeah TJ! This optimizes the Gorge! When was this shot? I’m assuming pre-Eagle Creek fire ya?

Every inch of this is wonderful TJ!

One of the nicest photos of this falls and that is saying a lot…

Thanks @Mark_Seawell! It’s likely to have sustained some altering in the Eagle Creek Fire that we had in 2017. So if you go expect some new scenes to shoot! :slight_smile:

Yeah @Jordan_Inglee… this was taken in 2015 or 16. I can’t remember which!

Thanks for the love @Kah-Kit_Yoong, @Peter_Richter, and @Dan_Kearl!

Stunning! the love you have for the location shows in the emotion of the image.

TJ, What a beautiful scene! Wonderful work capturing this!

Thanks for the compliments @Ed_Cordes and @Nick_Bristol!