After a successful aerial landscape photography photoshoot on Mount Hood at sunset, we flew east towards Central Oregon with plans to photograph the Cascade Mountain Range at sunrise and capture more images for Qatar Museum’s ‘Year of Culture’ assignment.

Over the years, I have spent a fair amount of time exploring and photographing the beautiful mountains near Bend, Oregon. Some of my favorite  memories over the past few summers were made adventuring throughout the Sisters Mountain Range, Broken Top, Three Finger Jack, Mt Washington as well as Mount Jefferson.

Seeing these mountains from above was truly a dream come true and helped me to fully appreciate more of the rugged wilderness that I’ve yet to explore on foot.

Aerial landscape photography of the Sisters Mountain Range in Oregon taken just before sunrise.
Aerial landscape photography of the Sisters Mountain Range in Oregon taken just before sunrise.

As we approached the mountain range, the pink band of the earth’s shadow began to appear and slowly reach the horizon marking the start of sunrise. I shot this wide aerial image of Broken Top Mountain in front of the Sisters Range with Mount Washington and Three Finger Jack in the distance. It’s incredible how many mountains fit into a single frame. After photographing this wide image, I quickly realized that using a telephoto lens and compressing the mountains together would be my preferred method for this shoot.

Shortly after putting on my 600mm lens, I realized that capturing closeups of the various mountains in front of each-other was something I had not seen done before. I was filled with inspiration to showcase the jagged peaks with other mountains in the distance.

Aerial landscape photography of Broken Top Mountain, North Sister and Mount Washington during sunrise in Central Oregon
Aerial landscape photography of Broken Top Mountain, North Sister and Mount Washington during sunrise in Central Oregon

As the sun began to rise. we flew towards Broken Top Mountain’s western face and I noticed the sunlight striking the mountain particularly well. The light from the rising sun interacted with the orange and red striations on the mountain’s jagged peaks.

Landscape Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain in Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range during a beautiful sunrise
Landscape Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain in Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range during a beautiful sunrise
Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain during sunrise
Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain, Oregon during sunrise.

One of my favorite aspects of using a telephoto lens while on an aerial shoot is that you don’t need to move far to get a vastly different image. From a zoomed in perspective, foreground subject mountain stays relatively consistent while the background mountains 20-75 miles away quickly change and align themselves at a fast rate.

Landscape photography of Oregon's Broken Top Mountain during sunrise
Landscape photography of Oregon's Broken Top Mountain during sunrise
Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain taking during sunrise in Oregon's Central Cascade Range near Bend.
Aerial photography of Broken Top Mountain taking during sunrise in Oregon's Central Cascade Range near Bend.

It was incredible to see how different the mountain looked from each perspective and how quickly our view changed as we flew.

Aerial photography of the Sisters Mountain Range in Oregon
Aerial photography of the Sisters Mountain Range in Oregon with Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood in the distance.

Although I wish I shot it earlier in the morning with better light, I was pleased with this aerial image of the Sisters Mountain Range with Mount Washington and Mount Hood in the distance.

Aerial photography of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range. Olallie Butte, Mount Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt Jefferson, Mount Hood and Mount Adams can all be seen in frame.
Aerial photography of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range. Olallie Butte, Mount Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt Jefferson, Mount Hood and Mount Adams can all be seen in frame with low fog.

For me, the beauty of Central Oregon is told in this image. Here we see Belknap Crater, Mount Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood and even Washington’s Mount Adams rising above the clouds all in one frame. This image also illustrates what is known as the ‘rain shadow’ effect where moist air comes in from the west and becomes blocked by the mountain range. It is what causes the dry and arid climate east of the Cascade mountains.

As the sunlight gradually became brighter and more direct, my eye went to photographing the light moving through the foggy forests below. I loved the way the forests looked as sunlight broke through the trees and created some stunning light beam effects.

Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Oregon Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Oregon Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Oregon Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Oregon Aerial photography of a foggy forest during sunrise
Aerial photography of South Sister Mountain's glacier during sunrise in Oregon's cascade mountain range
Aerial photography of South Sister Mountain's glacier during sunrise in Oregon's cascade mountain range
Aerial photography of South Sister Mountain's glacier during sunrise in Oregon's cascade mountain range
Aerial photography of South Sister Mountain's glacier during sunrise in Oregon's cascade mountain range

We also flew over Central Oregon’s Sparks Lake which had dried up after a long, hot summer. The lack of water at Sparks Lake exposed these gorgeous patterns and it looked stunning from above!

Aerial landscape photography of Sparks Lake in Bend, Oregon during sunrise
Aerial landscape photography of Sparks Lake in Bend, Oregon during sunrise
Aerial photography of Sparks Lake at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range in Central Oregon
Aerial photography of Sparks Lake at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range in Central Oregon
Morning light hits a forest and casts long tree shadows across Sparks Lake, Oregon
Morning light hits a forest and casts long tree shadows across Sparks Lake, Oregon

With the light becoming less ideal for photography, we began to make our way back west and into Portland. As we flew away from the Central Cascade Mountain range, I was able to capture a few additional aerial photographs of the mountains.

Aerial photography of Belknap Crater and Mount Washington above the clouds
Aerial photography of Belknap Crater and Mount Washington above the clouds
Aerial landscape photography of Three Finger Jack and Belknap Crater rising up above the clouds
Aerial landscape photography of Three Finger Jack and Belknap Crater rising up above the clouds
Three Finger Jack Mountain in Central Oregon shrouded in fog and low clouds. Photographed from an airplane.
Three Finger Jack Mountain in Central Oregon shrouded in fog and low clouds. Photographed from an airplane.

Mount Hood Aerial Photography Collection

The day before photographing this collection, I was on Mount Hood putting together a similar aerial landscape photography gallery.

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