New views of old favorites.
That’s the appeal of the newest calendar, Columbia Gorge 2015, by Hood River photographer Peter Marbach.
“I try to find new perspectives,” Marbach said. In a way, that is reflected in the actual production of the calendar, which features a verdant Oneonta Gorge on the cover. The veteran photographer of scenic books and calendar celebrating the Gorge has hiked and climbed the length and breadth of his beloved Gorge. For nine years he was the contract photographer for Beautiful America publishing, which went out of business this spring in the middle of the production schedule for 2015, forcing Marbach to find a new publisher.
Marbach turned to Columbia Gorge Press, which is part of Eagle Publishing along with the Hood River News (and shares the same building). He approached CGP manager Tony Methvin and publisher Joe Petshow, after remembering the CGP had in 2013 installed a six-color Komori press for high quality specialty publications.
“They really liked the idea, and it was a perfect coming-together of Columbia Gorge Press’s ability to do this high quality project and doing it quickly.” The project was completed in August, and the calendar is available for $12.95 at a variety of outlets (details below).
“I am thrilled with the quality; it is right up there with the quality of any fine art calendar out there,” said Marbach.
“It’s a pretty significant product, and we are grateful that Peter came to us,” Methvin said. “What’s really good is it’s an example of a calendar about the Gorge made in the gorge. And the quality is right up there. It shows what we are capable of doing.”
Marbach agreed on the local-done-locally aspect of the calendar.
The Beautiful America products had been printed in Korea, which involved the logistics of shipping, a major cost and impact eliminated. “I am really excited to have a product that is as environmentally friendly as you can get,” Marbach said.
Marbach also described the efforts behind some of the unique images in the 2015 calendar, which contains a mix of film and digital images, some newly shot this year and others from Marbach’s ample vault.
“The beauty of film is they are still viable images, you just have them scanned and every so often I find something I took 20 years ago and use it,” he said. “I wanted something of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams; the Gorge is the playground between the two.”
You may see views of the Gorge that are unlike any you have seen. For example, the month of May features Dog Mountain at sunset. The wildflowers are vivid, but through a peach scrim of evening light looking west. “It’s a different take on it; there was no one up there. I’m an early morning, late evening guy.”
Then there’s the unusual perspective of the Washington shore from Women’s Forum State Park, just west of Crown Point.
“The thing about this image is that the reason you don’t see it, is there is no safe vantage point for this,” Marbach said.
“I went with a friend with some climbing rope, we bushwacked to get there and couldn’t quite get a vantage point so he put me in a harness, and lowered me so I could get away from the branches and get an unobstructed view. You can’t get that shot otherwise.”
He achieved the cover shot of the Oneonta Gorge in the spring, wearing waist-high waders that filled with water, as he made his way upstream with camera and tripod. “That’s how you get the green, if you want that lush look.”
Turn to October and his offbeat framing of Rowena as a cyclist comes up the serpentining Highway 30 on the east side of the Rowena Crest overlook.
“I was looking for something tight, something different, and was waiting for the cyclist,” Marbach said. “The beauty of having a good calendar is the control and input and a little more leverage in what images are used, and I wanted to have pictures of people doing things.” He noted that the Rowena shot is a suitable preamble to the 2016 Historic Highway centennial, which will celebrate the history and currency of the “King of Roads”.
“There is some thought that goes into this. It’s not just picking beautiful images,” he said. “There is a strategy, picking things that promote certain parts of the Gorge, and I wanted to make sure there is a balance between both sides of the Gorge.”
The renewed views of famous places include that of the petroglyph She Who Watches, the cultural treasure at Columbia Hills State Park in Washington. The November image is taken from a lower perspective rather than the usual straight-on, and with deep blue sky overhead.
The December scene is Horsetail Falls pounding out a frigid mist. It has an other-worldly look that Marbach strove to record.
“These days are rare when they happen in the Gorge, when you have several days below 30 degrees,” he said. “There were a whole lot of people in my way, and I made my way past them and was looking for something abstract in this brutal spray. It’s a case of many shots of taking a shot and wiping (the lens) off, taking a shot, wiping it off until you get the one you want.”
A signature shot of Marbach’s is found in January the summit of Mt. Hood at the instant the sunrise strikes the summit. This is a photo Marbach long wanted to achieve. The man standing, arms up in celebrate, was “a total stranger, it’s a very serendipitous image, the first time I was able to get this shot I had pre-visualized for years.”
He had scaled Hood multiple times, but Marbach said he had “never quite seen it when the sun comes up over the Columbia.
“It had been in my head for years and it finally worked out. You have a 15-20 second window, hoping for that nice warm morning glow, and even though it’s digital and you can review your images, your eyes are foggy. I still wait until I come home and look at the computer to see if I screwed up or not. I’m still a film guy at heart.”