Photographic Explorations of Altoona-Pillar Rock Road: Part 2


In my previous story, I had finished capturing my photograph of Crooked Creek (see Part 1 of this Story at “Photographic Explorations of Altoona-Pillar Rock Road: Part 1”).

To pick up where I left off, I continued along the Altoona-Pillar Rock Road to where it meets and follows the north shore of the Columbia River in Wahkiakum County, Washington.

By now, the fog had lifted over the Columbia River. The sky was overcast but clear enough for the sun to cast nice filtered light over the area.

“Two Trees on a Rock, Altoona, Washington, 2021”

I only had to drive a short distance along the river before the first subject caught my eye. I found a rock formation out in the river with two small trees growing on it.

For a few minutes, I studied the landscape before me. My first thought was a wide, panoramic aspect, in black and white. Next, I needed to arrange the compositional elements. I positioned the rock to the left. Saddle Mountain (Oregon) in the middle. Across the river in the image are small sand bar islands called “Miller Sands.”

By now, the sun had risen higher in the sky, causing harsh reflections on the water. I continued my drive to explore and look for Pillar Rock. I drove to the road’s end, past many waterfront cottages. I didn’t see any impressive rock formation worthy of the namesake. Later I found that in 1922, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted the top off Pillar Rock. On what remained, they installed a navigational marker. It now rises only 25 feet above the water, ¼ its former height.

“Grays River, Washington, 2021”

After that, the sun was higher in the sky, past the golden hour light of the morning. I moved from photography mode to exploration mode. My day of photographing was over, so I thought.

I drove back by the Grays River, where I found beautiful filtered light shining on the forested riverbank. It was still near high tide. There was no breeze, and the water on the river was very smooth. There were beautiful reflections of the trees and filtered sunshine. I had to stop for one more photograph.

I stood there and enjoyed the view, taking it all in before heading for the hour’s drive back home—a fantastic way to enjoy a Pacific Northwest spring morning.

Thanks for reading and your continued support.