Recently, I set off on a flight with the goal of capturing an image that combines the aviation experience with one of Oregon’s most beautiful and unique landscapes; the Painted Hills. From an aerial perspective, the intricate striations, colorful patterns and overall history of the Painted Hills become so apparent. The yellow portion in the hills are from a drier and colder period in time while the soil found in the red bands is actually from a more tropical point in time. Thanks to a team effort with several talented pilots, and a whole lot of planning, I was able to capture the following collection of images in camera with zero compositing or blending.

In partnership with Dell, this behind the scenes film was produced which documents how I was able to create this photoseries. I hope you enjoy the making of film!

Landscape photography of the Painted Hills, Oregon during sunset
Landscape photography of the Painted Hills, Oregon during sunset

We began the flight from Twin Oaks Airpark near Hillsborough, Oregon and flew east towards Central Oregon. Within thirty minutes or so from takeoff, we had beautiful views of the Cascade Mountain Range. Although the light wasn’t quite ideal, I shot the image below of pilot Brody Fry’s Carbon Cub plane with Mount Hood & Mount Jefferson in the background.

Aviation photography of a carbon cub airplane flying over Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson, Oregon

After another hour or so of flying we stopped for fuel fuel at an airport and met up with a third pilot who would join us over the hills. Shortly after, we were above the hills with evening light beautifully illuminating the colorful patterns & striations.

Aerial photography of the Painted Hills in Oregon during sunset

After several failed attempts and a short amount of time until the light would leave the hills, the lower two planes finally looked as though their flight path would align with the landscape from my perspective another thousand feet above. In less than a second, the two planes crossed over the hills and I had the shot.

Aviation photography of two airplanes flying over the Painted Hills in Oregon

Shortly after, the light had left the hills and we refocused our efforts for sunset photography of the two planes with Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood & the Sisters Mountain Range far off in the background.

Aviation Photography of two airplanes flying over mountains in Oregon during Sunset
Aviation Photography of two airplanes flying near Mount Jefferson in Oregon during Sunset. Shot using a telephoto lens.

To process these images, I used Adobe Lightroom on my Dell XPS 17 with NVIDIA Studios’ RTX 2060 Graphics Card. Although my editing process was very minimal, the overall speed and capabilities of this system are truly impressive. Use your mouse to slide and see a before & after view of my editing process below.

Aviation photography of two airplanes flying over the Painted Hills in Oregon
Editing on the Dell XPS 17 with NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Card