Painted Hills, Oregon

Painted Hills, Oregon

It’s been almost 10 years since Pam and I drove to the John Day Fossil Beds to see the Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon. There is a whole lot of nothing all around that area, so we ended up staying one night in the town of Mitchell. It’s a tiny, depressing sort of place, but it’s only 9 miles from the Painted Hills Unit. We stayed in an old hotel on one end of town. Across the street was a gas/service station that had a cage with an old bear in it. Yikes! Didn’t see that one coming. I only mention it because it was so random and so disheartening.

The hills themselves were fantastic and worth the drive to experience. We visited the Painted Hills before going to Mitchell to check in to our hotel. I was using a Panasonic DMC-FZ28 point-and-shoot back then. It was a great little camera and had excellent zoom capabilities. This trip was a needed boost to my self -confidence as far as photography was concerned. I was particularly excited about the way the zoom opened up abstract possibilities I hadn’t considered before.

Here’s a photo from our visit in the early afternoon:

Painted Hills, Oregon – early afternoon

I was initially a little bummed that I couldn’t get closer to the hills, though I completely understood the need to keep people at a distance. Once I began zooming in with the camera, however, I became more and more excited at what I was able to see and capture.

Painted Hills, Oregon – Zooming in

It is truly awe-inspiring to realize that you are looking at millions of years of shifting climate and geology that has been wonderfully preserved.

Painted Hill, Oregon – ground level

There is a trail that goes up from one of the parking areas that affords a different view.

Painted Hills, Oregon – from the right side

Apparently, the colors can change rather dramatically, depending on the sky, of course, but also the moisture content of the hills themselves.

Painted Hills, Oregon right zoom

After going to check into our room in Mitchell, we determined that there was no reason not to just go back to the Hills. I was excited because I knew that late afternoon shadows would add some interest to the colors.

Painted Hills, Oregon – late afternoon

I had so much fun with these abstracts. It opened up new directions for me to explore.

Painted Hills abstract 1
Painted Hills abstract 2
Painted Hills abstract 3

We didn’t want to leave without hiking up a trail to get the big view. It was during that hike that I determined to quit smoking and did so some weeks later. This view in the late afternoon/early evening was a great way to end the day.

Painted Hills, Oregon – the big picture

Thanks for having a look along with me. I hadn’t seen some of the photos for years. I thought some of these were long gone, but just discovered that there were still a bunch on my old iMac that Pam has in her office. That was a fun. I’m going to put these photos and some others into a gallery under “Jeff’s Galleries,” if you’d like to see more or watch a slideshow.


4 thoughts on “Painted Hills, Oregon

  1. I can’t get over what a strange–and yet beautiful–anomaly these hills are. Form a distance they look like so many alien feet squished together. Or like someone has just taken some giant wool blankets and spread them over the contours of wilderness, smoothing every sharp or jagged feature. And close up–as in your abstracts–they look like the skin or fur of an elephant seal. It reminds me of viewing the contours of the earth from an airplane and how other life forms are often echoed there. Well done, Jeff.

    1. It’s so cool how there are these places where you feel as though you’ve walked onto another planet. In some other areas where you could get closer to those types of hills, the soil texture was like a dried lake bed.

  2. Excellent work! I particularly like the three abstracts. Right down my alley. Beautifully chosen frames, and wonderful play of light, shadow and colors.

    Knowing my love for the shapes and colors of badlands, you probably guessed that you’ve put Painted Hills high on my list of places to visit now. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Alex! I did find myself wondering if you’d ever considered going there.

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