As an aspiring landscape photographer, I have the opportunity to explore less traveled parks and remote wilderness areas. This blog shares of my "notes from the field," including photography techniques, hiking tips and lessons learned the hard way ... like the time I fell through the ice in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park. I welcome your comments and thank you for visiting our site. Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer, Field Photographer
Given the dramatic winter skies on the Oregon coast, the quality of the light and color defy description. Within a few minutes, the coastline transitions from a dull blue-gray to a rich warm color palette. Fog, rain drizzle and clouds create a natural ever shifting light filter. A small clearing in the clouds can make for dramatic light beams, radiant color bursts in the surrounding sky and remarkable clarity in highlighted beach areas.
My most challenging and rewarding photo shoot was our final morning at Bandon Beach. While the detailed weather forecast called for clear skies, it rained steadily from 6:30 AM until about 8:30 AM. While it was still raining, portions of the sky cleared, revealing a glorious sky aglow in subtle pastel colors.
My impressions, as I frantically unpacked my camera gear from the plastic covered backpack: Iconic Face Rock and portions of the distant horizon are awash in a heavenly pink glow. At the same time, the sky backdrop for the closer sea stack rock formations is a surreal mix of vivid pink, gold and muted purple colors. This all lasts about 15 or 20 minutes, before yielding to more direct eastern sunlight piercing through the thick clouds cover.
While I stayed around about another hour photographing tide pools and boulders in bright light, my real work as a photographer occurred in that brief period of special, ethereal morning illumination.
If only we could replicate or stop time in these special moments. Well, we do so, in part, through our rich memories of a glorious time in nature and two dimensional photographic representations.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Related Posts: Oregon Coast Photography: Part 1 – Itinerary, Oregon Coast Photography: Part 2 - Weather to Behold, Oregon Coast Photography: Part 3 – Oregon Dunes, Coastal Photography: Point Reyes National Seashore.
Our brief morning visit to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was both exhilarating and frustrating. Looking back on that morning, our first challenge was a self -imposed time limit of one hour on the dunes. This crazy time crunch was necessitated by our overly ambitious schedule, including the five hour drive north to Cannon Beach that same day.
Also, on the dunes, we encountered a single set of fresh footprints which seemingly traversed every interesting crevice or ridge line in our line of sight. I still wonder whether we were following in the steps of another photographer, one leaving no discernable tripod marks in the sand.
That said, we worked around the foot prints and I was delighted to come upon a small reflecting pool in a low lying area of the dunes. This "oasis" provided a focal point and some smaller scale photo opportunities.
While the dunes are pristine, they are not as high or dramatic as those in Death Valley or White Sands National Parks. Yet, the complex dune ripples and textures provided a rich array of subject matter for abstract photography in the early morning light.
Covering an expanse of nearly 50 miles, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area extends along the Oregon coast from Florence to Coos Bay. The area is readily accessible from Highway 1, offering camping areas, hiking trails and some designated areas for motorized vehicles.
We accessed the dunes from the John Dollenback Dunes trailhead, near the Eel Creek Campground, just off Highway 101.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Related Posts: Oregon Coast Photography: Part 1 – Itinerary, Oregon Coast Photography: Part 2 - Weather to Behold, Black and White Digital Photography: A Peaceful Surrender; Shutterbug Features Reinkensmeyer's "Ripples," New Mexico Landscape Photography, White Sands Dunes Formations, Coastal Photography: Point Reyes National Seashore, California.
Initially, faced with heavy winter rains and sleet, we thought it best to wait for the weather "to clear" for our Oregon coast photo shoots. Our thinking quickly evolved, however, given the rapid weather changes and resulting photo opportunities at Bandon Beach, Oregon.
Here, beyond the challenge of shoot timing, ever changing skies create a sense of drama and strong visual elements. In many ways, weather conditions are the essence of compelling Pacific coast images.
Our first morning at Bandon Beach, we were graced with thick fog, pelting rain and fleeting sunlight. That evening, our quiet light painting session on the beach was abruptly interrupted by fierce winds and hail. The next day offered the same erratic mix, with a sudden afternoon warm-up and the need for sunglasses. Late afternoon ushered in dark foreboding dark skies, but no actual precipitation.
In some of our favorite scenes, thick cloud and fog serves as an ever shifting light filter. The resulting diffused sunlight is at times ethereal, casting a soft shadowless illumination over the scene. This scenario is similar to that of pre-dawn illumination, providing an even, low contrast light from the foreground to the distant horizon. As such, I generally found it unnecessary to use graduated neutral density filters in the field.
Being from Phoenix, I still marvel at the mercurial nature of Oregon winter weather and the coastal ecosystem as a whole. Properly equipped, we have made peace with the Oregon winter climate, giving us all the more time for exploration under most any conditions.
After getting soaked a few times, we learned to have our rain gear (REI jackets and pants) with us at all times. Other items which proved helpful included camera rain sleeves, deep lens hoods, extra lens cloths, North Face e-tip gloves for our phone touch screens, water shoes with NRS Hydroskin socks and plastic covers for our camera backpacks.
Three Apple i-phone apps were also a big help in navigating the weather, lighting and tidal cycles: Dark Skies, The Photographer's Ephemeris and Tide Chart.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Related Posts: Oregon Coast Photography: Part 1 – Itinerary, Oregon Coastal Photograph: Part 3: Oregon Dunes, New Mexico Landscape Photography Part 1, White Sands Dune Trek, Coastal Photography: Point Reyes National Seashore, California.
My sincere thanks to Capture My Arizona for the Editors' Choice Award, Arizona Scenic Shots Contest. This image of the iconic Wave is from one of my favorite places on the Earth: North Coyote Buttes at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument - Paria Plateau Wilderness Area. Situated on the Arizona-Utah border, this remote area is a true geological wonderland.
< Nikon D70 f/22 @ 18 mm, 1/15 secs
We've made several trips to this location, most recently to South Coyote Buttes (Cottonwood Cove) and Grand Staircase - Escalante, Utah, this past February. Friends and I have been so moved by the area that we created a self-published book, Windswept Landscape: Images from the Arizona-Utah Border.
My sincere thanks to fellow travelers Tom Gendron and Steve Stilwell for this book collaboration and such memorable times at Vermilion Cliffs.
Thanks also to friends and supporters at Capture My Arizona.
Related posts: The Wave: Landscape Photography in a Geological Wonderland, Whirlwind Photography Trek: Arizona and Utah - Antelope Canyon, White Pocket Landscape Photography: Weather on the Plateau and Grand Staircase - Escalante Photography Trek: Itinerary.
"There's something about the Pacific Northwest, the scale of it, and the fact that not so long ago people came here and died getting here, and then died the first winter they were here. There's this breathtaking beauty, just a little bit of moss on the tree, just this little thread of danger, and the sinister. And I really like that." - Chelsea Cain
Returning from a four day photography trek on the Oregon coast, I feel like such an ingrate.
Barring disc failure or other technical problems, I'm confident that we have a solid crop of coastal images and a few real "keepers." At the same time, I'm struck by the realization that we only scratched the surface in our whirlwind trip centered at iconic Bandon Beach (Bandon State Natural Area). In fact, I now realize one could spend a lifetime hiking and exploring photo opportunities in this scenic stretch of the Pacific Coast.
In this five part series, we'll share our travel itinerary, some field notes and favorite images. Our itinerary is by no means the recommended way to photograph the coast, but rather a possible place to start for some longer and better considered trip planning:
Day 1: Fly from Phoenix to Portland and drive to Bandon Beach- the two hours in dense fog.
Days 2 and 3: Bandon Beach
Day 4: Port Orford, Cape Blanco and Bandon Beach
Day 5: Oregon Dunes, Devil's Punch Bowl and Cannon Beach
Day 6: Drive from Cannon Beach to Portland and return flight to Phoenix
We gracefully acknowledge The Photographer's Guide to the Oregon Coast, an invaluable book by David Middleton and Rod Barbee.
Our next postings will share more photos and notes on the ever changing Oregon weather, the Oregon Dunes, a celebration of color and some monochromatic images.
Special thanks to my brother and fellow photographer, Brian Reinkensmeyer; my son, David, and his friend, Ashley, for their wonderful company and support throughout the trip.
Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer
Related postings: Oregon Coastal Photography: Part 2 - Weather to Behold, Oregon Coastal Photography: Part 3 - Oregon Dunes, Coastal Photography: Point Reyes National Seashore, California; Landscape Photography Podcast; Impending Coastal Storm: California Landscape Photography, Lighthouses and Piers: Ten Tips for Coastal Photography and Natural Coastline Shift.
Landscape photography techniques, photo expedition travel planning and hiking tips.