Posted by: kerryl29 | March 29, 2021

The Story Behind the Image: Another Example of Perseverance

A couple of years ago I posted a Story Behind the Image entry entitled “Perseverance.”  Upon reflection, it really wasn’t the best illustration of the theme that I could have chosen.  Instead, I should have selected a different story, one that I wrote about nearly 10 years ago, again with “perseverance” as the title.  It was a post that almost literally no one read (this blog didn’t have much of a following back in those days), so I’m reprising it, lightly updated, here.

*                                    *                                       *

Sometimes, getting “the shot” means waiting, and occasionally one must linger longer than anticipated.

Case in point:  when I was out in the Pacific Northwest a couple of years ago, I had the distinct advantage of being advised on locales by Portland, Oregon-based professional photographer Jack Graham.  Among the locations he recommended was Mt. Hood at sunrise from Trillium Lake, in the Mt. Hood National Forest.  He offered to show me the spot and I enthusiastically agreed, so we got up at 3 AM one morning to make the drive from the Portland suburbs in time to set up for mid-July civil twilight at Trillium Lake, about an hour away.

Weather forecasting in the area is notoriously unreliable and while the stars were out in the Portland area, we hit a light mist as we neared our destination.  It was still dark when we arrived at the designated spot, but there was a visible heavy fog.  As the ambient light gradually improved, all it did was make the mist more visible.  It was past sunrise when Jack gestured with his hand, indicating where Mt. Hood would appear if the fog wasn’t blotting out any hope of seeing it.  Sunrise had been a rumor at Trillium Lake that morning and we packed up and headed toward the Hood River Valley and the Columbia River Gorge to check out other opportunities.

I had two more mornings based in the Portland area; my itinerary had me heading to the Oregon Coast late morning of the third day.  Jack was unable to join me again, but I knew how to get to Trillium Lake on my own now and I was hellbent on getting that shot.  (That–being hellbent on getting that shot–was part of the problem, but I wasn’t quite as aware back in 2009, when this occurred, as I am today.)  So the next morning I was up again at 3 AM and shortly thereafter on my way back to the Mt. Hood National Forest.  I drove through a light rain on the way there, but I was hopeful that this day would be the reverse of the last.  This time, I reasoned, I was leaving the poor weather behind me instead of heading into it.

No such luck.  I arrived at Trillium Lake to find it enshrouded in fog and moistened by a light rain.  I waited until after the appointed sunrise time and never caught a glimpse of Mt. Hood.  I finally left, and spent the remainder of the day shooting waterfalls in the Gorge.

On the third morning, in a near-“Groundhog Day” dementia, I was up at 3 AM and hit the road for Trillium Lake.  This was my last chance;  I was off to the coast later that morning.  This time, I had reason to be optimistic.  Not only were the stars visible in the Portland area as I departed, they were still visible when I hit the Mt. Hood National Forest boundary and, better yet, when I reached the turn off for Trillium Lake I could still see them.  Mostly clear skies!  I was finally going to see the mountain at daybreak!

Or not.

The access road to the lake is a couple of miles long and heads downhill.  As I rounded the final turn before reaching Trillium Lake itself, my heart sank.  The lake was enshrouded in a low-hanging fog/mist; the mountain was hidden.  Facing the lake, I turned around and could see sky behind me.  But the lake itself was producing the conditions that were causing the fog.  Still, I was hopeful that as it warmed up the mist would burn off and Mt. Hood would be revealed.  I wasn’t facing a weather system this time, merely a set of present conditions.  So, I unloaded my gear, set up in the direction that I presumed the mountain could be viewed and I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Still no mountain.

After about 30 minutes, another photographer showed up, and we chatted for awhile.  He’d driven down from the Portland area too, in hopes of shooting Mt. Hood.  We commiserated about the bad luck with the mist.  We could see the sun come up, burning through the fog to some degree…but still no mountain.  So much for a sunrise shot.

After another 30 minutes or so, the other photographer left in frustration.  I stuck around.  At this point, it was about more than just getting the shot.  I simply wanted to see Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake!  Three straight mornings getting up hours before the rooster’s first crow can produce some pretty strong emotions, let me tell you.

I figured that I had until about 9 AM before I had to take off.  Sunrise had (allegedly) been around 5; at this point it was after 6.  I still had nearly three hours.  If that mountain was going to be visible, I was going to be there to see it.

For some time, it had seemed to me, the fog was thinning.  Perhaps it was my imagination, I thought, but somewhere around 7 AM I caught a faint outline of one of the slopes of the peak.  Sure enough, I kept staring and more and more of Mt. Hood began to reveal itself.   As soon as I had a full outline, I began shooting.  It was long past sunrise, but the light was still eminently shootable and the mist was still working as a kind of diffuser.  I shot and I shot and I shot.  After about 30 minutes of this, on the left-hand bank of the lake, I could see–through the fog that was still hovering somewhat thinly at water-level–-someone slip a small boat into the lake.  I waited for him to glide into the perfect spot, and snapped the image you see accompanying this entry.

Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

For roughly another hour, I shot countless additional images–wide angles, tight shots, panoramas–from many different angles.  It wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated–no sunrise, of course–but it had been a marvelous experience.  Finally, a bit after 8 AM, I gathered up my belongings and left.

Sometimes, good things come to those who wait.



  1. Perseverance is most definitely one of my weak points when it comes to photography! I imagine the shot that I want but get frustrated easily when conditions don’t turn out right. I should learn to wait more patiently and observe more. Nice shot!

    • Thanks!

      Patience is a virtue, it is said, and that definitely applies most of the time to landscape photography.

  2. “Good things come to those who wait”…absolutely! This shot was worth waiting for.

  3. An excellent shoot.

    • Thanks very much!

  4. Beautiful!!!

  5. I love this shot!

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