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December 8, 2013

Horsetail Falls

by Jim

Horsetail Falls
This is Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

(Click here to view the interactive picture in a new tab. When it opens, click and drag to look around.)

Horsetail Falls is perhaps the most accessible waterfall in the gorge because it is just off the road. It is at the east end of the historic Columbia River Highway, near the point where it joins I-84.

This VR photograph was taken during a trip my wife and I made to get apples in Hood River in fall of 2013. We make the trip every year, and often enjoy other aspects of the drive such as this waterfall. I love the look of the Gorge when the trees are changing, but then, I love the look of the Gorge in pretty much every season. 🙂

The way water careens off the rock gives this waterfall a unique appearance. This time, the waterfall’s flow wasn’t that high yet, so I was able to get this picture from the base. The main viewing areas are from above, on the other side of the stone wall. During times of higher flow, the water level rises enough that the location of this VR is too wet for photography. Check out this video, taken during such a time of high flow:

The VR photo was taken fairly late in the day, on our way back, so exposure was a challenge. An exposure long enough to bring out the space around the falls, ended up also being so long that the waterfall got overexposed. Also, sunlight on the bright foliage near the top was much brighter than the dark rocks in shade down below. The combination of dynamic range and water movement made this a challenging shot. I actually took a bracket of pictures, so was able to recover some waterfall detail with one of the other exposures and a little work in Photoshop. I may end up using this for my “Best of 2013” entry in the World Wide Panorama project, and so try to process it better by then.

Waterfalls are physically beautiful, but they are also expressions of spiritual beauty. I’ve started exploring this, and for an initial example, check this out.

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