Oregon is well-known for its lush vegetation, its mountains, and its generally mild (if not overly rainy) weather and temperatures. But “the Beaver State” is actually one of the most geographically diverse regions of the United States. Western Oregon boasts a west coast marine climate, while Central to Eastern Oregon consists of a semi-arid climate, complete with deserts.
This photograph, which depicts Eastern Oregon’s arid disposition, was taken by landscape photographer Alex Noriega during a camping trip in Oregon’s Alvord Desert, near Steens Mountain:
Noriega recounted how the lightning storm suddenly blew over Steens Mountain without warning while he and his companion were grilling hot dogs near their campsite. As they hurriedly packed their vehicle, Noriega set up his camera and remotely triggered 30-second exposure after 30-second exposure to get a shot of the lightning illuminating the atmospheric downward wisps of precipitation, known as virga, as the storm rolled in.
“The second I got this exposure, we raced off the playa and up the long dirt road at 60 mph, as the storm rolled in behind us,” Noriega said. “We didn’t want to be the tallest objects for miles, in the middle of a lightning storm (nor did I want to pay for a tow out of mud).”