Taking a bite out of the Southern Oregon Coast

Over memorial day weekend I decided to get out and do a circuit of the Southern Oregon coast.   So after receiving a couple tacit smiles of approval from my dogs I packed up our gear in our 4Runner and headed south.  After a long day’s drive down the I5 corridor we caromed West on Highway 38 and flanked the Umpqua River all the way to the ocean break at Winchester Bay.   On arrival I let the dogs stretch out their legs and race down to the waters edge while I ate an apple and watched the seabirds.  We then nosed south down the 101 to Bandon by the sea.


The Southern Oregon coast is a knitwork of golden beaches, tossed blue ocean and lonely sea stacks.  A landscape literally calling your camera out of it’s sleeping bag to come create some images.   Neastled between the slow moving coquille river and a stunning beach front the relaxed coastal community of Bandon is usually my home base on visits to the area.   The local shops are filled with colorful kites, tie-dyes and an assortment of familiar seaside treasures.   A few beach combers wander the shoreline with an occasional dog chasing the break but the beaches are for the most part all yours.   Cloud formations vary but often at dawn a misty “marine layer” hangs just offshore which is great for extending shooting time furthing into the day and adding color to your sunrise shots.   I think you will find these features make Bandon a unique location to photograph and well worth the drive.

Ok now let’s get down to shooting.   As with any location time of day, weather conditions and perspective are your key elements.   If you see blue skies and interesting clouds don’t be put off.   Break your polarizer and take some shots.   Above is a wide angle shot of the beach front taken around nine thirty in the morning using a nikon 12-24 wide angle zoom.  The blue sky and scattered whispy clouds help work with the forground and sea stacks to create a nice summery image of the oregon coast.   All that is required for this shot is a polarizer and a good vantage point.  Below is a much more time sensitive image taken of some of the sea stacks around seven in the morning.  The marine layer I spoke of earlier was catching some good color in the distance due to some clouds obstructing part of the sunlight while the sea stacks in the forestgound were catching the first rays of direct sun.   The colorful display only lasted a couple minutes.   I’m dialed in directly on the sea stacks for this shot trying to highlight them with the beautiful clouds in the background.  This image was created using both a graduated 3 stop ND filter, the 3-1 singh-ray polarizer, warmer, vara nd circular filter,  a nikon 12-24mm wide angle zoom and gitzo tripod.

_DSC0359_BANDON_BEACH_SMALL The next evening I returned to shoot the same sea stacks from a little different angle just as the sun was starting to sink under the horizon.  The image is much darker (as I expected) but I really liked the shadowy feel.  To reduce the light in the center of the image I use  a 3 stop inverse graduated ND filter.   I likewise used the singh ray  3-1 trio circular polarizer,  nikon 12-24 wide angle zoom and gitzo tripod.   The following day I shot several of the small streams jutting across the beach and got some great texture shots of sand on the tidal flats.  Oregon never ceases to provide if you are ready to explore.

For my return trip I went north up to Cape Arago to do some beach combing and retrace some of my college history at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology a couple clicks further north.  If you are ever in the area during a storm i highly recommend going to Cape Arago to watch the breakers crash against the giant rocks.  It’s an amazing sight.  Later I changed course and headed up to crater lake and returned home via Bend\Sisters and the Columbia Gorge.  All said and done a fantastic trip.