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Best places within a day’s drive from Portland to photograph

Portland has long been recognized for its prime location that makes it equally easy to take day trips for either skiing or surfing. And along the way, there is no shortage of photographic opportunities. Once, I photographed the sunrise over Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake and photographed the sunset over Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park in the same day. So if you’re looking for a quick getaway that offers some stunning scenery, here are a few of my favorite spots. (Note: you can find directions and trip tips to all of these places by visiting our friends at Outdoor Project.)

The Columbia River Gorge

I mean, duh. You probably already know about this one. The Gorge is one of Oregon’s most awe-inspiring natural features. Everyone loves Multnomah Falls, but I actually prefer many of the lesser-known (and much less crowded) waterfalls. One of my favorites is Wahclella Falls, which I have returned to many times to photograph. I’m also a big fan of Elowah Falls which you can see in the image below (which now hangs on my wall mounted to a beautiful 20x30” bamboo Plwyerk panel).

Elowah-Falls-by-Daven-Mathies Elowah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. (Daven Mathies.)

The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

Looking for a bike adventure? The car-free Historic Columbia River Trail cuts through the Gorge high above I84 and allows you to take in all of the surrounding beauty. Strap your camera to your back and head from Hood River through the Mosier Tunnels (for some awesome portrait lighting) and eventually end up in The Dalles. Then grab a beer and head back!

Mosier-Tunnels-Portrait-by-Daven-Mathies Biking through the Mosier Tunnels. (Daven Mathies.)

The Portland Japanese Garden

Portland’s Japanese Garden seems to be the place that every well-known photographer has to visit on his or her visit to the city.   Focusing on seasonal themes, the garden offers a variety of attractions year-round.

Trillium Lake

This place is so crazy beautiful, with Mt. Hood perfectly positioned behind it, that it’s hard to believe it was simply created by happenstance. Trillium Lake is one of those photographic conundrums, where it is simultaneously impossible to get a bad shot and impossible to do it justice.

The Oregon Coast

I can’t just pick one town or spot. Everywhere is beautiful. If you have a weekend to spend, start in Astoria and then work your way south down the 101. Some key features: the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the shipwreck at Ft. Stevens State Park, Ecola State Park, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and so, so much more.

The shipwreck at Ft. Stevens. (Daven Mathies.) The shipwreck at Ft. Stevens. (Daven Mathies.)

So get out and enjoy summer! We can’t wait to Plywerk your photos!

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