What do you do when on a “vacation” dedicated explicitly to photography?

You may think, from the wealth of pictures I post to this blog, that all those outings are done with photography in mind. That is not the case.

Normally, these are excursions that my wife and I agree on.  We frequently do these trips as guided tours, along with a group of other sheep tourists being herded around on a tightly defined schedule of someone else’s design.  While enjoyable, it’s not that conducive to picture taking.  Photography is secondary, something I squeeze into opportune moments.

Last September, for a few days, that narrative changed.  I enrolled in a photography workshop.

These days, with everyone and their brother sporting camera phones, it’s harder for photo pros to find ways to make a living.  One of these ways is photography workshops: the pro picks some picturesque part of the country and sets up an excursion that’s part classroom and part go out and take pictures.  In this case, a local pro featured the local region.  I didn’t have to spring for travel and hotel expenses, the classroom was in town, and most of the spots were areas I was familiar with.  It would be good to see it with fresh eyes.

Our first destination was Mount Hood.  Specifically, Timberline Lodge, on the south side of the mountain, about 60 miles east of Portland.


The lodge was built in the mid 30s, as a “New Deal” WPA project intended to give jobs to those impacted by the Great Depression.

The exterior may look familiar – it was used for the Steven King film, “The Shining”.


The interior looks nothing like “The Shining”, it’s much more rustic.  The emphasis is on stonework, ironwork, and heavy beams, with an artisan’s touch.

Staircase newel





I suspect this piece may be more contemporary

The entire lodge was built for $700,000 – about 13 million in today’s dollars.  I doubt they could do it for 13 million today, even if they could find artisans qualified for the work.

Who goes to a mountain to stay inside?  Not me.

Looking up the mountain, with a painterly effect
And back down, towards the lodge


Timberline has a ski area – it probably saved the lodge. After they built the lodge, the operators didn’t put much effort into maintenance.  By the early 1950s the lodge was closed and in disrepair.  Fortunately, skiing became more popular in the late 50s and 60s, and the lodge reopened. Now it has the longest ski season in the USA – it’s open year round.

Only the upper lift, on a glacier, is open in the summer.



Wandering around the grounds, I found a few others enjoying the site.

Mountain Beaver
Chip and Dale

Did I take better pictures because I was in a workshop? Not necessarily.  But I did have more of a sense of freedom.  I was there with other photographers, most of whom hadn’t seen the place before.  We had free rein to do our own thing, to shoot whatever, or just kick back and enjoy a beer and a view.  There was enough time to not rush, and I didn’t have to worry about my wife or others getting bored while I puttered with this shot or that.

Mount Hood on a different day

In short, it was creative fun.

We had more stops, more days of shooting, more comradery.   But that’s grist for future stories…

42 thoughts on “Timberline

  1. The workshop looks like a great way to improve your skills. It shows in your pictures. I like the bannister picture, and how you captured the reflecting light on the polished wood grain.

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    1. For me the getting out and shooting part is more useful (and fun) than the classroom part. I’ve spent enough time studying photography over the years I don’t learn much from lectures anymore, it’s practicing it that brings the returns.

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    1. In truth, I’d enjoy a workshop of this nature even more with less classroom and more shooting/touring time. It was a blast just hanging out with other photographers, kindred spirits if you will, and showing off our local beauties. Our pro not only knows his stuff, he’s a super nice guy. Now I just need to convince my wife to let me do it again, further afield.

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  2. The lodge looks beautiful! I love how attention to detail was so common back in the day (look at that staircase, for instance. A whole plank of wood as the runner!). I, too, doubt that it could be done for 13 million bucks today.

    Would I go to such a workshop? If everyone was as rubbish as I am, and as aware of being rubbish… yes. If there was a snobbish Mr Know-It-All or somebody who had to brown-nose the ‘teacher’ then I would go full Jack Nicholson.

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    1. I think you underestimate yourself, Fabrizio.

      I’ve only ever been to this one workshop so I can’t speak to them all, but the folks I attended with were all quite supportive and more interested in having fun with kindred spirits than showing off.

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  3. Your pics are always great! I liked the history bit about the New Deal. I didn’t realize how many many things were built because of it. The main police precinct (1 Police Plaza) and court houses near where I grew up is all New Deal (actually a lot is, a lot of government housing as well). The court houses were built in the 1930s and the police place in the 60s or 70s. I was surprised about the precinct because it was decades later. I’ve been reading about local history and keep turning more and more up about New Deal. I never learned about it in school which is very disappointing. I have a vague idea from my Dad’s and Aunt’s stories but thats about it.

    I love The Shining! The lodge looks pretty neat. I especially like all animals.

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    1. I suspect there’s a lot more new deal projects back east, as there’d be more folks that likely needed jobs. I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons FDR was so popular. I wonder if they all have this level of artisanship.

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  5. Hi Dave, Great photos! I especially like the result of the photo “painterly effect.” I am intrigued on the photography workshop. I have been reluctant to be part of any course or workshop since I feel it may take away the fun factor. Your post has made me reconsider:) Erica

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    1. Well, the classroom part may not be quite as fun as the excursions, but overall we had a blast. Think kindred spirits doing one of their favorite things. I suppose each group will have its own dynamics, but working on this set of posts makes me want to do it again.

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  6. You must have drank the perfect number of beers for the sweet spot because you got some nice pictures on this alpine excursion. On a somewhat related note, do you know if the U.S. Ski team still trains on Mt. Hood in the summertime?

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    1. I seem to recall having a good beer and some Mexican food in one of those small “towns” on the way back. I’m not sure if they still train there. They may go to the southern hemisphere for their June winters. I haven’t been skiing or followed it for several years now.


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  8. Gay Julian

    Great pictures once again. I have seen several ads for beautiful Portland and it’s region recently. They must be true. I think you would really enjoy some time free wheeling on Santorini.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gay. We’re still interested in Greece. We’ve been a bit buried lately, and will be even more so for the next few weeks, so we haven’t spent time looking into it. (Ever squeeze about two years worth of social calender into a month?)


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  10. Whilst you may not necessarily have taken better pictures, as you say, I suspect you would have seen and photographed things from different perspectives you may not have otherwise, after interacting with the tutor and other photographers. For me, when photographing with others and seeing their photos I’m tempted to try different techniques and viewpoints.

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    1. Well, maybe, a little. But simply having the time and opportunity to seek out compositions without having my wife or a tour group tugging at me was the most freeing aspect. Hanging out with other photographers just made it more fun.


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