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.
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