The world of the Pacific Northwest in the United States might have a reputation for being dark and gloomy, but not through the eyes of photographer TJ Thorne. Born in Pennsylvania, Thorne credits his childhood as one of the reasons why his photography incorporates so much brightness and motion. “I spent the majority of my free time outside. There’s nothing in my life that has brought me to my true center in the way that nature has.”
“It’s meditation. It’s balance.”
With a passion to explore the outdoors, the images that TJ shares are deeply personal, introspective, and touch the soul. Taking advantage of the natural movement of nature itself, for TJ, it is a glimpse of the cycle of life. “Nothing gets me out of my funk faster than walking directly up a hidden, moss covered creek,” TJ says. “Standing waist deep in rushing water simplifies existence.”
The essence of the efforts that TJ takes to capture his images is portrayed through his unique vantage points. “Each of these images are moments in time where I was breathing, feeling… living,” says TJ. “At the end of the day… this is my thing. I NEED this.”
Oregon received about a weeks worth of freezing temperatures, causing the beautiful Columbia River Gorge to become a zoo of photographers, each doing their best to capture this rare event.
The freeze lasted long enough to get some really good ice buildup on the myriad of waterfalls easily accessible from the highway. With the absence of precipitation, the roads remained clear and easily navigable. The longer the cold lasted, the more ice was built up, and the more that the creeks started to freeze over.
The winter flow is different. It’s deeper. Bone chilling. To get this shot I had to bust through thick ice in order to wade upstream, cross over a very large and icy log jam, dip back into the creek, and venture under walls with overhanging ice that would come crashing down every once in a while. It’s a sight not many people get to see and I worked meticulously to capture every detail. I can’t wait to print this the size of a building.
This place is definitely one of the greenest places I’ve been to in the spring. The sword, maidenhair, and lady ferns, combined with the carpet of moss covering the trees and cliff walls make it seem like you’re existing in a fairytale.
Making the trek alone in the winter was worrisome.. but with my trusty Kahtoola Microspikes and a certain level of carelessness I was able to jump from ice covered rock to ice covered rock with excellent traction and grace. I should have videotaped myself. You’d be amazed.
I spent about 4 hours at this location trying to capture every comp in perfect detail and exposure. Focus and exposure bracketing each comp.. I wanted to come away with winners.
So this is my first image from there. This is DIRECTLY in the spray zone. With the sub-freezing temperatures the spray instantly formed ice on my camera and lens. Thus.. I would have to scrape my lens while covering it with my hat. Then I’d hang my hat off the lens and wait for a lull in spray and fire off my bracketed exposures. Then I’d focus in a little closer, scrape, cover, wait, fire. Focus scrape, cover, wait, fire. Wash, rinse, repeat.
In the end.. it was worth it. I got this shot with barely any water spots. I had to wait 5-10 minutes for the spray to lull… but that’s never something to complain about when this is what you’re looking at when doing so. This is four shots for focus bracketing.
I love where I live.
We met up at the powerful Spirit Falls, and for the first time in a long time I was able to immerse myself in capturing images. And did it feel good.
Yes.. the water really is that blue.
However, as I was thinking about the title for this, I went back to the things I remember about the moment, as I always do. Ferns that extended past my shoulders, wonderful light and fog, and old redwood trees towering over… really putting me into my place in the world. When I feel ‘put into place’ I am overcome with a huge level of gratitude. Gratitude that I’m lucky enough to be experiencing that moment, that scene, those conditions. There’s something bigger than me. I don’t know what it is.. but it’s something profound. And I get to be a witness. I am THE ONLY ONE in this world who got to experience this scene in this way. And that makes me happy.. lucky.
I was determined to be satisfied with this photo and ‘get it right’. I learned a ton along the way which included hand blending it from the ground up 4 times and doing 6 different edits on it. I’ve spent far too much time on this one image (20+ hours!) but it was all in the name of learning. It’s not a bad image but I don’t think it’s worth 20+ hours of editing either. 🙂
I made a major life decision to step out of my role at work. As much as I loved it, the job was stressful, consuming, and draining. The change happened abruptly. I took this one my first day ‘off-the-job’. I was originally supposed to work this day. After some meetings in regards to a position I’m pursuing, I dashed off to the coast to catch the sunset. This is the image I came away with. One that portrays the cleansing I felt.
I feel like I have a new life in front of me. I’m in that space where there’s not much weighing on my shoulders… on my mind.
I’ve been released.
I was reminded of this fact when I took this non-typical image of 198 ft. Palouse Falls. I spent the majority of the 15 degree winter night and early morning perched on very edge of a 275 ft. cliff, being careful to not misstep on the icy ground. The freezing mist of the falls covered my clothing, camera, and exposed skin, making the task of getting a clean exposure a lot of work. My fingers and toes were frozen and the howl of coyotes was just a little too close for the comfort of the mind. I’ll never forget those sensations.
I welcomed the beginning of a new day in the same spot, hoping for a glorious sunrise over the deep canyon and falls. The glory never happened. But the warmth of the sun cutting through the cold air was invigorating for body and mind.
We packed up camp and on our way out, took in a final look from the viewing platform. The mist being illuminated by the early morning sun cresting the canyon walls communicates a different glory I found, and a rare and nonchalant hand-held shot from the viewing platform did the trick this time.
There’s a ‘moment’ that I feel when I am finally in tune with the world and with myself. It’s an overwhelming rush of emotion and adrenaline that causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up and goosebumps to cover my body. My skin buzzes with stimulation as warmth courses through my veins.
I’ve named it gratitude.
My girlfriend, son, and I made the drive to Cape Kiwanda, OR expecting again to find foul weather and unfavorable photographic conditions.. the same thing we expected a year earlier.
When we arrived, fog and rainy mist resigned my outlook to just being grateful for the trip to the ocean and breaths of coastal air, but closer to sunset the clouds started to part.
With my son in tow, I kept it safer and perched on the edge of this cliff, facing the action instead of being down in the surf.
We were treated to this glorious display of light as the sun ducked behind the clouds.
And then it was gone.
2014 is certain to bring more amazing pictures from TJ Thorne. We offer many thanks for providing these stunning images and we all look forward to seeing more of his breathtaking work!