Photographing the Wild South Coast
With its ever-changing light, varied landscape and abundant wildlife, the Southern Oregon Coast is a photographer’s dream. Just ask Nick Martin, a freelance photographer based in Bandon, who routinely trains his lens on the beauty of this region.
Martin, who has been photographing in and around Bandon for six years after relocating from Colorado, knows a thing or two about capturing an arresting image.
“The light here on the Coast is really crisp, especially after a rain, when the particulates in the air get knocked down,” he says. “The mornings and evenings are the magic hours, when the light is fantastic.”
One of the most appealing aspects of photographing along the South Coast, says Martin, is that there aren’t as many people as you find on beaches farther north.
“You can stop at a wayside with two or three cars there, and you can walk onto the beach, look both directions for miles and, on a good day, not see another person,” he says. “That’s inspiring if you want to get out and experience the wildness of the Coast. You can literally walk from Bandon to Port Orford and not see another person.”
One of Martin’s favorite places to go is Blacklock Point, near Floras Lake and south of Bandon, where you can see Cape Blanco to the south and all the way north to Cape Arago. “You can get some really unique angles and see a lot of the coastline. You get a lot of sky and ocean interaction, as well as sea birds and other wildlife.”
During the fall and winter months, storms create another dramatic element to play with in photos. “The winter swells start coming in and they crash into the rocks down below the cliff at Cape Arago,” says Martin. “If you can get out on the promontory, you’ll see the massive swells exploding on the cliff face.”
Another wintertime favorite of Martin’s is Shore Acres State Park near Charleston, which puts on a seasonal light display. “It’s a great place to wander and shoot portraits and landscapes,” he says.
Regardless of where or what you are shooting, Martin offers a few tips for making your time on the Oregon Coast a photogenic one:
Use the appropriate gear for the setting. Your camera doesn’t need to be waterproof, but make sure the body and the lens are at least weatherproof.
Try to anticipate the scene and then be patient. Watch the skies, the birds and the waves; don’t get frustrated if you don’t get the shot you want right away. Be patient and be willing to sit with the moment.
Get off the beaten track. If you are looking for shots that not everyone takes, you have to be willing to work a little. Walk down to the shore, spend some time observing the light, the water and the movements of wildlife.
Follow the tide. The water is constantly shifting and affecting the landscape and wildlife around it; whether you are shooting wide — bluffs, sea stacks and vistas — or close-ups of flora and fauna, or tide pools and shells, follow the tide and you’ll be rewarded.
Take as many pictures as you can. “The beauty of digital today is that you can shoot 1,000 photos of the same thing if you want,” says Martin. “Eventually, you’ll get something you like.”
Editor’s note: Share your Oregon Coast photos with us by tagging them #thepeoplescoast on Instagram.
Photo by Nick Martin