Throwback Thursday: Through the Mists of Time

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Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Throwback Thursday / Waterfall


November 22, 2007, 2:03 p.m. Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. We were visiting our sister-in-law’s sister in Portland for Thanksgiving. In that household’s tradition, complementing the turkey was a board of barbeque so nuanced that only years of practice can produce such a fine result. The feast lasted for hours. That plus a welcoming group of people would have been more than adequate, But I had more.

In addition to the customary seasonal gratitude, I was thankful for a brand-new Canon EOS 40D and the opportunity to visit the Columbia River Gorge and the waterfalls that line its southern cliffs. It’s the greatest concentration of falls in North America — more than twenty within a few miles. Chief among them is Multnomah falls: all 620 feet of it.

Multnomah has two cascades connected by a pool and short stream. A picturesque bridge crosses the stream and affords a view of the pool at the bottom of the upper falls. In the pool is an ever-changing array of rocks. I’ve been back to the falls several times over the years and the rocks are always different. Old rocks are gone or moved or broken and new rocks are always there.

(Next time you play rock-paper-scissors, add water — symbolized by holding your hand out and wiggling your fingers. It won’t be fair, though. You’ll always win. Water moves and eventually dissolves everything.)

At the base of the falls, wafting cascades of water make constantly changing patterns on the rocks, providing hours of entertainment (or frustration) for a photographer who is holding out for just the right look. Finally it came. And here is the reward.

But that exact moment is not the throwback I’m talking about this Thursday. No. We’re looking back at the innocent times when I allowed the camera to make important decisions on my behalf.

In 2007 I didn’t understand the freedom that a RAW file provides in its flexible bits and bytes, so I didn’t set the camera to save a RAW file. That means that the camera gave me an image determined to be acceptable by a consensus of the computer programmers at Canon’s headquarters and not a lot of post-processing by the photographer was possible. Nor did I understand the fine points of color balance and color management and the effect they can have on the final image. So the blue cast that — in my eye — makes this image work was the luck of the digital draw. And I did get lucky. What you see is what I got.

It was a great Thanksgiving.

(Canon EOS 40D, Canon 24-105mm f/4 L lens; Final crop in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. I’ve not only visited the Canon EOS 40D but lived with it for a couple of years. Can’t say the same for the famed Multnomah Falls; in fact I’ve been to Oregon only once. Your post is another incentive to go back there after 40 years. A couple of months ago I even ordered the annual guidebook from the state’s tourist bureau and marked places that sounded promising.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That was my work-horse camera for several years. You should definitely go back. Also, Portland is a foodie and beer-lover paradise, in case you need more incentive.


  2. Your posting reminds me once again of the limited extent to which gear matters. Your 40D can’t stand up to the modern-day fancy cameras in terms of specs, but it would be hard for someone today to produce a better image of the falls. You waited and waited and got a photo that you like–that to me is often the essence of nature photography.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Mike. Of course, in 2007 the 40D was state of the art. Truth is, I don’t know if I could produce a better image today with my current gear. I’ve been back several times, and never were conditions like this. And yes, patience and persistence have a lot to do with it. You should see the scores of shots I threw away. Actually, you shouldn’t see them. 😉


    • Thanks very much Amy. RAW offers many possibilities IN post processing. In this case, mother nature handed me a perfect tone. All I had to do was wait for the right moment.


  3. Oregon really does have a lot of great photo spots, doesn’t it? Then again, the same could be said for the majority of the Pacific Northwest.


    • Yes, I agree: it really does hold true for the entire Pacific Northwest. Actually, for all the Pacific coastal states. But focusing on Oregon, in addition to all else, Portland is the food truck and craft beer capital of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely a great image, Michael. I’m more familiar with the 50D, as that is the camera at the Museum studio. I’ve used it for about 8 or 9 years and it functions flawlessly and provides excellent files. At the studio, I shoot only in the RAW mode. At home, with the Nikon, I shot for months saving the files as RAW and jpg (a feature of the Nikon D610). While I prefer the RAW files to the jpg, I was surprised to learn that the jpg files edited very easily in Lightroom and, on the monitor, were indistinguishable from the edited RAW files. Even so, I still only shoot RAW as many of the photos are printed in a very large format for displays and exhibits. But for catalogs and web work, jpgs seem fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. For years I shot advertising photos in jpg only and did very well. But for my personal work, I sometimes take great liberties with the files and Nikon’s 14-bit RAW files allow me much more flexibility than 8-bit jpg. Although I can and do get remarkable results from old jpgs. The best camera is the one you have with you, and the best file is the one you’ve got.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It took me a while to make the association, but I finally saw it. We had terrific storms last night, filled with continual lightning. Once the primary lines had passed, the lightning show continued, with bolts giving way to the sort of forked lightning that threads its way through the clouds. That’s what this looks like: lightning pouring down over the rocks, filling the scene with that unearthly glow. It’s fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I never made that association myself; but now that you describe it, you nailed it. I don’t know if I have previously invited you to look at my website. If you haven’t, you might enjoy a look. Regarding your comments on lines, there are lots of lines to be seen on that site.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We earn, don’t we. This post tells several good stories…and I know those falls, so it’s fun to see this very different view. Wonderful! RAW or not, I like the darkness, the slight lack of definition.

    Liked by 1 person

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