‘Within a day’s drive’

A church in the Palouse area of Eastern Washington sits among the endless wheat fields on a summer day.

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Photographer Mark Forbes loves the outdoors, and spends much of his free time capturing images in different scenic areas of the Columbia River Gorge and beyond. He is the featured December artist at the Second Story Gallery at the Camas Public Library.

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This image is a “impressionistic” close-up look at a windsurfer on the Columbia River Gorge near Stevenson.

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Latourell Falls is the farthest west falls along the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway in Oregon.

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This view, looking up, shows many of the glass objects in the ceiling of the Chihuly Bridge, outside the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash.

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This photo was captured from behind North Falls at Silver Falls State Park, Ore.

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Horses stand in a field near Glacier National Park in Montana.

What is there to see in the Northwest? Plenty, according to Washougal photographer Mark Forbes.

His upcoming exhibit, “Within a Day’s Drive,” showcases the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest in a series of pictures.

The show will begin Friday, Dec. 6, at the Second Story Gallery at the Camas Library.

Forbes, who is also a travel enthusiast, considers a day’s drive to be 12 hours or less, and includes places ranging from the Columbia River Gorge to northern California.

“This exhibit focuses on what we often ignore, our own back yard,” he said. “The variety of geology and scenery within that day’s drive radius is stunning.”

Forbes grew up in the Midwest and is still in awe of the Northwest, even after having lived here for 10 years and visiting more than a dozen times before that.

“Back home, if you didn’t want to photograph a cornfield or plains, you were out of luck,” he said. “Here, you only need to walk out your front door.”

Forbes first caught the photography bug in junior high.

“There was a darkroom, and I became fascinated with it,” he said. “I think I was more interested in the darkroom process than taking photos.”

That changed at the age of 14, when he received a Petri Ft camera for Christmas.

“I started working at the high school yearbook, doing sports photography,” Forbes said. “That’s when I dreamed of becoming a photographer for Sports Illustrated. Then I looked around, and realized there were a lot more NFL quarterbacks than photographers, so I decided to choose a different career.”

Forbes became an electrical engineer and currently works at Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville, Ore.

He has kept active as a photographer over the years, including taking some shots of professional basketball and baseball games, auto racing and other sports.

He and wife Lan plan trips with photography in mind.

“I discovered that I could easily couple it with my love of the outdoors and travelling,” Forbes said. “We love to travel, and alternate between a big trip and more local stuff. This is such a cool place to live, with all of these national parks and cool things to see within 12 hours of here.”

Forbes’ favorite place is Glacier National Park.

“I have been there at least 10 times, and I love it,” he said.

Of all the places they have visited to shoot photos for the upcoming show, Banff, Alberta, is Forbes’ favorite.

“The water is amazing,” he said. “The lakes are a gorgeous color of blue.”

Another favorite is Mono Lake, Calif., where Forbes captured tufa limestone growing out from the lake during a sunrise shoot.

“They make the landscape at the lake eerily extraterrestrial, especially at sunrise,” he said. “The clouds on the outing produced a single ray of sun for a few minutes.”

Forbes said he had seen that only one other time in his life.

“Fortunately, that morning was one of them,” he said.

Forbes feels fortunate to have a spouse who also has a passion for photography and travel.

“It is really cool that she enjoys it,” he said. “Before we got married, she liked taking photos but over the years has gotten more into it and captured some really good stuff.”

Currently, his camera of choice is a Cannon 5D Mark III.

“I enjoy the image size on there because it is full frame,” Forbes said.

His favorite aspect of photography is getting an image to match what he sees in his head.

“There’s usually a bit of work to be done in Photoshop,” he said. “But when it matches up, that is very satisfying.”

“Within a Day’s Drive,” will be his third show. Forbes is looking forward to sharing his images of the Northwest.

“I think this is the most beautiful part of the country to live,” he said. “I hope this resonates with people and motivates them to visit beautiful places that aren’t that far away.”