Day two and three of Jaimee and Matt’s Oregon engagement session took us to a few more places around Central and Eastern Oregon!! If you remember, the day prior, we took a breathtaking drive through the historic Columbia River Scenic Highway, through the gorge, to Hood River, and due south towards Bend, making a ridiculously-memorable pit-stop at the Dee Wright Observatory for dark sky portraits! We made it safely to Bend, grabbed a quick nap until about 12pm the next “morning”, then we decided to take a photo ‘break’ for most of the day! We grabbed some local coffee, lunch, and of course, when considering dinner in Bend, you MUST include some local brews, so we made sure to hit up Sunriver Brewing Company for a delicious and hearty dinner! The beer was so good, and we had to make sure we grabbed a photo of Jaimee and Matt with Bird!
We needed the fuel, because Jaimee and Matt signed up for a second dark sky portrait session on day two, and Steven was SO excited that their good friend Bird wanted to tag along! After filling up the gas tank, we began driving due east, into the desert of Central Oregon! Looking out of the windows, you could gradually see the stars start appearing and the light pollution fading away! We won’t lie, the trip was about one hour and fifteen minutes east of Bend, however, Eastern Oregon is home to one of the DARKEST skies in the continental United States…that’s right…anyone living in Bend is less than two hours away from a natural, ancestral night sky, not fair!!! :) We all exited the car, and Steven told everyone to keep their eyes down to the ground for about 5 minutes, to give their eyes a chance to adjust to the darkness for a bit. Then, on the count of three, we all looked up at once…and you can’t record how wonderful the reactions were!! Bird’s octave levels increased three-fold, he was amazed, and instantly laid on his back on the dirt and stared at the cosmos above, almost instantly spotting the shooting stars!! Even Jaimee and Matt both agreed that this particular night sky was darker than the previous night! We HAVE to give credit to two sources for relatively accurate light pollution data, see below for our resources when hunting for dark skies on this planet:
- DarkSiteFinder.com – Free website that offers the ability to search for locations via a search bar. Compatible with both Iphone and Android devices, this app utilizes the Bortle Scale to measure light pollution, which offers a very user-friendly, color-coded system to identify bright to dark skies based on a scale from 9 to 1 (9 being super bright like New York City, and 1 being humblingly dark, as we experienced outside of Bend!) DarkSiteFinder also includes GPS tagged locations that are exceptional for dark-sky viewing, submitted by passionate users and fellow-astro-photographers!
- Dark Sky Finder App– A paid app available (as of this blog post) only to the Iphone, whcih offers the same Bortle Scale-based light pollution readings. This app utilizes a Google Map overlay, making it very user-friendly to Google users, and includes a very handy ‘Locate Me’ button, useful if you are actively navigating or curious about what the Bortle Scale rating is in your current location! It’s worth the investment!
We experimented with some new lighting techniques with this session, although we were certainly fighting the clock on the setting of the Milky Way core (how cool is it to say that??). Jaimee and Matt were up to the challenge, so we had them stand, kiss, look up, and even sit on the ground and cuddle up to try some new ideas!
Once Steven knew he got ‘The Shot!’, we began getting silly, and Bird made a few cameo’s in the background, resembling the sasquatch in a few images lol!!! He was such a good sport, and of course Steven had to step in for a few goofy silhouette shots as the Milky Way began descending into the southern desert horizon! Everyone was SO great during this night sky portrait session, success was certainly in the air on that right back to Bend!
The next day, we were back out again for more photos (of course after a good night’s sleep again!) We have to hand it to Jaimee and Matt, they brought so much energy with them on this trip, we can only imagine the days off we hope they took upon their return to Orlando! We began the day with an amazing, healthy brunch in downtown Bend at Bethlyn’s Global Fusion. With food in our system, they took us all on a beautiful forest hike to Tumalo Falls, right outside of Bend, where we definitely had to grab some posed and candid photos of the trail, as well as a few fun distractions along the way! It was quite a refreshing break from the posing for them, and Oregon’s natural landscape did not disappoint!
After the hike, we proceeded to an amazing park called Smith Rock State Park, thanks to Bird’s expert recommendation! As we were driving into the park, you immediately feel as if you’re approaching the desert canyons of Arizona or Utah. This is what makes Oregon such a magical state; there’s so many different natural landscapes in which to photograph, it’s pretty breathtaking! We immediately began photographing to take advantage of the gorgeous sunset opportunity, and we photographed well into civil twilight!! Steven was certainly feeling ‘adventurous’ in this landscape, and gave a valiant attempt at a double exposure, that our wedding photographer Michael is known for; we hope he approves!! With another amazing engagement session day under our belts, we headed back to Bend, said our goodbyes to Bird, and retreated for another night of rest!
The next morning, we proceeded to a small town called McMinnville, where Matt’s family lives; right outside of Portland! However!!!!! They insisted that we make a fun, impromptu pitstop before beginning the long leg of the journey, and it happened to be the VERY last Blockbuster store in existence! (if you haven’t followed their twitter page, you owe it to yourself too subscribe!) We had to take a few photos in front of this iconic store; if only it’d been one hour later, we could’ve gone inside!
This officially began engagement session day three, and Matt and Jaimee made sure to stop halfway at a sentimental state park to Matt called Suttle Lake Lodge, nestled in Deschutes National Forest, where Steven gladly captured a few relaxing, lakeside portraits! They even volunteered to hug and pose with a few native pine trees in the forest, which just further solidifies how perfect these two are for us and our company values as well as our eco-initiatives!! Nothing wrong with a little tree-hugging!! :)
That night, we arrived at Matt’s family’s beautiful home, and enjoyed a delicious dinner, beautiful sunset, and wedding-planning conversation before it was time to sleep and head back home the next day!
To say this engagement session was inspirational to us is still an understatement! Steven made sure to include this statement in this blog post:
Jaimee and Matt are the epitomy of our couple ‘style’. Wedding vendors and venues, and even casual friends, ask me all the time who our ideal couple is. The immediate answer is anyone who cares about their photos!! However, Jaimee and Matt encompass everything else that we desire from our brides and grooms; someone who wants to take their photo sessions and plan something memorable and unique! We offer these dark sky portrait sessions as an opportunity to raise awareness to the perils of light pollution, but to also take our couples somewhere they’ve never been in their life (possibly never again too!) Not only did they embrace this challenge, but they took me on the same journey, on a tour of the enchanting state of Oregon! It’s also worth noting how much of a compliment it is that a couple can tolerate having me by their side for four days straight without kicking me out of the car…a very sincere form of flattery lol!! I can’t thank them enough for bringing so much inspiration, patience, and just overall positive energy to this trip, and I have to thank their parents for opening up their home to me and making me feel like another member of the family!! They make me want to keep pursuing this photography career, and they inspire me to continue caring for this planet, planting trees, fighting the effects of climate change, and inspiring everyone (young and old!) with our precious dark skies! This wedding day is going to be that much more personal for me, and I hope Jaimee and Matt take home some of their new light pollution knowledge to their home, neighborhood, and workplaces!! THANK YOU!!
We hope Jaimee and Matt enjoy day two and three of their engagement session sneak peek, we sincerely thank them for taking this adventure with us, we will NOT forget this!! Congratulations guys, and we’ll be seeing you soon for your Highland Manor wedding!
Oregon Dark Sky Photographer: Steven Miller of Steven Miller Photography Oregon