If you’ve been watching “Oregon Field Guide” for a while, you probably know Todd Sonflieth. He’s our senior photographer and has been with the show since it launched almost 30 years ago. He’s also the creative force behind our “Oregon Splendor” and “Oregon Revealed” specials that showcase some of the most spectacular scenes in our state.
Those of us who get to work with Todd day-to-day know him as the Swiss Army knife of “Field Guide.” There’s not a story he can’t tackle, a place he won’t go, or a height he won’t ascend to get the story.
“I was up on the Interstate Bridge,” he says, to photograph osprey nests. “We went up on the girders underneath the Fremont Bridge chasing falcons. That was fun. I’ve been up on top of the Megler Bridge in Astoria, up on the big towers up there.”
He’s also scaled the suspension apparatus of the Wallowa Lake Tramway, the big OPB transmission tower at the top of Skyline and the giant wind turbines that dot the eastern Oregon landscape, not to mention Mount Hood.
“It’s just fun. I’ve loved doing it ever since I was a kid. I grew up in rural Clackamas County and we just spent our days when we were kids climbing these big trees. Yeah, if it’s high I wanna do it,” he laughs.
He proved it again this season by scaling a 300-foot Douglas fir for our story “Search for Oregon’s Tallest Tree.” The story profiled tall-tree climbers Will Koomjian and Brian French as they searched for a champion to rival the “Brummit Fir” – the 327-foot behemoth that is currently the tallest Douglas fir in the world.
The main story aired this past fall. But this week, we take you behind the scenes to watch Todd climb.
Except, there’s sort of an ironic plot twist toward the end of this story.