JRA Photography : Blog

Adventures in picture taking


Endurance: Foothills of the Cascades

Foothills of the Cascades is a difficult ride that’s been around for something like 20 years. The Ride Managers host camp on their property in Molalla, Oregon. Given the location and season, this ride is notorious for featuring fun riding weather such as rain, sleet, snow, and wind. Usually at the same time. This makes the 70 and sunny weather that DID occur last weekend all that more appreciated. Foothills is located less than two hours from my house so I came down early on Friday to check out trail but didn’t really camp. Well, we slept in the car but I’m done setting up tents for the year. This was the 11th ride I attended this summer, three of which were two-day rides and one was 4 nights of camping for the National Championships.

This was a challenging ride to find a photo op for. Because the LD’s and the 50’s started at the same time but went different directions, there was very little common trail. The common trail that did exist was 90% in the forest. I shoot with a Canon Rebel which just doesn’t have the power to shoot good photos in mixed light. Extreme lighting contrast causes the shadows to go black and the light streaming through the trees to blow out highlights. Not to mention the fact that anything over 800 ISO (400, really) is far too grainy for my comfort. Yes, a body upgrade is the next on my list of items to invest in. I ended up selecting a stretch of road bordering an old clearcut, which didn’t particularly excite me but it was better than trying to wrestle with my camera settings all morning.

The biggest challenge for that spot was a short span of area to take photos. No option for far away shots and a very limited amount of time to get a good shot before the rider came too close, plus riders coming from both directions on the road. Other things included thick brush behind me, putting me right in the road, and being obscured by bushes so as to make the horses convinced I was a cougar. Although from the sounds I heard that morning, I am pretty sure there are cougar-sized squirrels out there.

Saturday morning was crisp and clear, the sun fully rising around 8 am. I had to use high ISO for the first dozen or so riders because the dawn light wasn’t sufficient. I was rewarded later with a brief duration of warm morning light igniting the autumn hues in the background, while keeping the riders in the shade. Despite my ambivalence about the chosen spot, I ended up being very happy with the color and angle for the photographs.


Later on, the light washed some of the colors out. I had a circular polarizing filter on as soon as there was enough light but I still had some mixed lighting issues. Here are a couple of others I liked, including some candids.


Selah & Chewie on the trail ride distance. I love seeing new juniors, it keeps the sport fresh.


Tiffany Buob & Rye on the 50.



Jala Nuefeld & Belle waiting to show for Best Condition

Jala Nuefeld & Belle waiting to show for Best Condition

Brenda Casbeer's horse, McCurdy's Neat Trick

Brenda Casbeer’s horse, McCurdy’s Neat Trick


That was my last endurance ride of the season. I had considered going to The Haunting but its not in my budget, plus family will be in town. I hope everyone had a great season and I am thankful for the support and education the community extended this year.

The full gallery for this ride can be found here: http://goo.gl/28V9CS



Endurance: Jubilee Ranch Endurance Ride

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to shoot a first-year ride. It was held near Tri-Cities, WA at the Jubilee Ranch. The Jubilee Ranch is a part of the Jubilee Leadership Academy, a boarding school for young men. When I left the highway to head towards ride camp, I thought about how desolate it looked out there. I was told it was a scenic ride but all I could see was agricultural zones and rolling brown hills. While a large portion of the area fits that description, the ride camp and miles of trail were nestled in an orchard-covered valley. Ride camp was in a large grassy pasture (nice change of pace from camping in the deserts of Oregon), and the trail wound over rolling hills to overlook the Snake River and down through ripe apple orchards.

It had been raining constantly on the west side of the mountains and the sunny weather near Prescott was a reprieve from the torrential downpour. It ended up being terribly cold at night though. I have managed to separate my air mattress from its plug so we were to sleep on the ground in the tent. My tailbone is still aching from the fall I took off Miles in early September so that was no treat. We woke to frost encasing the tent, reminding us that despite the clear skies, autumn had arrived.


Nikki thought it was way too cold to be out of bed in the morning.

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2013 AERC National Championships

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I made a video scrapbook for our trip out to the 2013 AERC National Championships in Almo, ID. While I went to crew for my mom and friends, I did take A LOT of photos (camera rolled over to 0000 naming; that’s 10,000 photos taken since May). The weather was quite chilly but the scenery was majestic. Its a challenging ride but it makes me want to do The City of Rocks Endurance Ride next year! Here’s a gallery of photos taken of other riders: http://goo.gl/6kzaiP

All videos and photos were taken by myself or my mom, Darlene Anderson.
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
God’s Gonna Cut You Down – Johnny Cash
Down in the Valley – The Head and the Heart
I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons

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Endurance: Old Selam I & II

A few weeks ago, I was asked to photograph a ride in Idaho. My initial reaction was not enthusiastic. In my experience, Idaho was a hot, rolling landscape of dirt. The 485 mile drive wasn’t particularly enticing either. After contacting a friend I knew was planning to attend and arrive at the ride camp early, I decided to go with minimal investment. We are right in the middle of moving to Vancouver and this last weekend marked the awkward limbo between apartments that entails couch hopping and living out of your car for a week. I just wasn’t in the position to spend any money getting there. So Wednesday night, I crashed at my friend’s and we headed out early the next morning. Everything was going smoothly (famous last words, right?) until we passed through The Dalles.


One of the trailer tires died a horrible, rubbery death. We had to take a detour into Pendleton to get a new one but the Les Schwab had wi-fi so I couldn’t complain too loudly. After an hour or so we were back on the road and the terrain was starting to resemble exactly what I expected: brown sagebrush-covered hills as far as the eye could see. I put my audio book on and went to sleep.

As soon as we reached the Boise area, we left the highway and headed into the country. Within 20 minutes, we were in a totally different type of area. Pine and Douglas Fir covered the hillsides thickly and what appeared to be gravel piles started becoming the primary land feature. We drove through Idaho City and off the beaten path to Centerville. Along the way, I learned about how the entire valley had been dredged and mined in the search for gold and silver decades ago. It is both amazing and appalling. On one hand, nature has pushed its way through the rubble and began reclaiming the soil but on the other hand, the destruction is still very obvious.


Most of the valley resembles this: brown granite gravel with shrubbery and small trees poking through.

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Trail Log: Sauvie Pt. 1 – Oak Island

Hike Name: Oak Island
Date: Sunday, August 18, 2013
Trail head: Oak Island trail head, end of Oak Island Rd on Sauvie Island, Oregon.
Distance: ~2.5 mi
Difficulty: Easy

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland (4th Ed): #57, pg. 257

Last weekend, we were in search of an easier hike close to home for Sunday. Now that my little dog was feeling better, I wanted to choose a trail that was doable for her. We found two on Sauvie Island and decided to do them on the same day. The first one was the Oak Island trail. You do need to buy a $7 Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife parking pass to park at both trail heads, which can be picked up at any of the little stores out there.


Small plane flying over the pasture near Steelman Lake.

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I didn’t immediately post after the Bandit Springs ride because as most in our region knows, there was not one, but two tragic events that occurred at the ride. I’ve probably been to over 100 rides in my life, whether riding, crewing, or photographing. I can only think of a small handful of events where a horse or rider was hurt very seriously. Not only are we left to deal with the emotional aftermath of losing a friend or colleague, but we are directly and abruptly faced with the dangers of any equestrian sport.

At Bandit Springs, I was situated less than 2 miles out of camp taking photos of riders coming in. I didn’t know there had been an accident further up the trail. I saw a rider come over the hill and she appeared to be leading another horse. Initially, I assumed the second rider was on the ground tailing or just out of view. At this ride, I was trying to get people coming over the small hill, then again as they went by the trail in front of me. I took her photo, then shouted, asking if everything was alright. We were close enough to camp that I could have had Justin drive someone back if needed. She told me a rider had taken a pretty bad fall. A different rider had been ponying the horse back to camp but the horse the lady was riding was acting up badly so she took over. I was seriously concerned and felt that continuing to take photos would be exploiting the situation. I assumed that someone wouldn’t want photos of them ponying in a fellow rider’s horse.


We had seen a helicopter circling overhead earlier and it didn’t occur to us that it was an airlift because it wasn’t anywhere near where it should have been to pick up the rider. Later we learned they had trouble finding the rider, and I found out what happened to the rider. It was very serious. And it was a complete accident. Beth Bliss, the rider that fell, was airlifted out and later passed on at the hospital.

I hadn’t posted the photo of the horse being ponied in and even considered leaving it off of my online store. I didn’t want anyone to think I was taking advantage of the drama for attention to my photographs. I decided to leave the photo on the store but didn’t make mention of it anywhere. A friend of Beth’s bought the photo and posted it on Facebook where it was quickly shared to other pages. I was seriously worried that some people would think I was being unethical in allowing the photo online. No one said that. It touched people. A show of sportsmanship in the face of a terrible accident. I still don’t know how I feel about it, and its taken me a few weeks to come up with the words to express my sadness over the event and grapple with my confusion on how to handle the ethics of photographing something like this, and I think this is the best I will be able to do.

I am sincerely sorry to anyone the photograph might have upset, even if they didn’t speak out about it. But it seems that most found some amount of comfort in it. My condolences to the family and friends of Beth.

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Endurance: Bare Bones

I spent the last few weeks living out of a duffle bag so I have a lot of catching up to do. While I haven’t yet written a post about our hike in Macleay Park or the Bandit Springs ride, I’ll try and keep this current with the ride I went to last weekend: Bare Bones.

I’ve never been to this ride or spent time riding in Capitol Forest but from what I understand, its a popular multi-use trail. It seems that here, somehow, bikers, horses, and hikers co-exist in relative peace. This weekend was no exception and everything we heard about encounters with mountain bikes was positive. Everyone we ran into was friendly and helpful.


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