The Right (And Wrong) Stuff

 Mossy branches and blackberry bushes                  Oregon             2018

Mossy branches and blackberry bushes                  Oregon             2018

So I've already blown my New Years resolution to post a blog every week; lets just add that to my list to lose weight and cut back on the tequila. Fine ideas, noble even, but only marginally in the category of possibilities. But here I am nonetheless.

What brings me here are my reflections on a day trip my wife and I took this past weekend out to the Columbia Gorge -- specifically the Dalles and the Dalles Dam -- to witness a feeding migration of the great American bald eagle. We were invited to join a group sponsored by the Friends of the Columbia Gorge, of which she is a long time member. When it came to the introductions, I mentioned that I was merely an acquaintance of said gorge, but the humor was lost on this august group so early in the morning as it was. In any event the eagles made a impressive showing. 

The problem is, I'm not really a wildlife photography guy, so I don't have any wildlife-appropriate lenses. If you know me, you know I'm philosophically opposed to the mindless accumulation of photography gear. Simpler is better, says I, although deep down I'm just as much a gearhead as the rest of them. But my longest lens, a 55-200mm zoom for my Fuji, was clearly designed for non-eagle shooting (although I have some great photos of squirrels raiding our bird feeder). My wife, a watercolor artist, was appropriately outfitted with powerful binoculars and an artist's imagination. I ended up taking photos of my beautiful surroundings, and made no complaints for the opportunity. It was a gorgeous morning.

 

 Old fishing platform and the Dalles bridge on the Columbia River          2018

Old fishing platform and the Dalles bridge on the Columbia River          2018

It's pretty simple and obvious, really: if you aspire to be a wildlife guy (or girl) you have to get with the program and put out the bucks for some seriously long glass. You can only get so close to a bald eagle. Or a grizzly bear, for that matter. My little 200mm lens was the proverbial knife at a gunfight. I have friends who publish world-class wildlife photography with lenses that are upwards of 10-times that humble length. And all of them enjoy getting up before sunrise with much better attitudes that mine.

As for me, I'll enjoy the ambiance. The Columbia Gorge is a treasure; it's Oregon's gift to a barely civilized world (well, that, and a Willamette Valley pinot). And oh, that river. Rain or shine, blustery winter or blue summer, it never fails to impress beyond words. I'm hardly a sentimental guy, but in all my many years of gazing upon it (including my pre-verbal childhood in Washington, the son of an adventurous father) it always takes my breath away. A humble lens can capture its many moods, and probably capture yours too; eagles are only optional. That's why this gorge, and its river, has so many friends.

Or in my case, acquaintances.