OREGON COAST NATURE AND SEASCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY

For the west coast of the United States, there is no better coastline than Oregon for nature and seascape photography. The rugged sea stacks, the sand beaches, the natural arches and many more areas provide interest for all who visit. Most of the locations are a short walk from the parking lot with breathtaking views.

The Oregon Coast has three sections totaling 362 miles. North, Central, and South coasts. From the Columbia River to Cascade Head lies the North Coast. The Central coast goes from Cascade Head to Reedsport, and the South is from Reedsport to the California border. As tourists drive the coastline, they can see a shift in the landscape. The North Coast has very sandy beaches and as you drive south, the sand gives way to cliffs and sea stacks.

The Oregon Coast and photographic opportunities.

Early light on the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon. Standing 93 feet tall, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse was first lit on August 20, 1873. Typical cloud bank on the horizon but the alpen glow gave some nice color. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

ASTORIA

The “best” area doesn’t exist on the Oregon Coast. All three sections of coastline offer something different. The North Coast has small towns like Astoria and Cannon Beach. At the mouth of the Columbia river is Astoria. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest town in Oregon. Points of interest for photographers in Astoria is the Astoria-Megler bridge and wreck of the Peter Iredale.

People and supplies crossed the Columbia River to Washington from 1921 to 1966 by use of a ferry. The Astoria-Megler bridge opened in 1966 and completed Highway 101 from Los Angeles, California to Olympia, Washington.

On the beach of Fort Stevens State Park, is the wreck of the Peter Iredale. The Peter Iredale was a four masted steel sailing vessel that ran aground on October 25, 1906. Strong winds and rough seas pushed the Iredale onto the beach while it was trying to enter the Columbia River on its way to Portland. The bones in the sand of the Iredale are a great tourist attraction. During low tide, visitors can walk up to the wreck since it’s the most accessible shipwreck in the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Best locations on the Oregon Coast for Photography.

A perfect cloudy day to shoot a black and white fine art image of the bones of the Peter Iredale. The ship ran aground in a storm in 1906 while navigating to the Columbia River. No casualties among the 27 crew but the ship was never salvaged. After a couple weeks on the sand, the hull became damaged and was left alone. It has since become a major attraction around Astoria, Oregon and Fort Stevens State Park. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

CANNON BEACH

Why is Cannon Beach so popular? It could be the 4 miles of pristine beach. Maybe it’s the towering Haystack Rock. Most likely, it’s a mix of everything. For small towns on the Oregon Coast, none of them get the tourism like Cannon Beach. During low tide, Haystack Rock has countless tide pools for the kids to enjoy. You may also notice the beach looks a lot like the one filmed for Goonies. That reference may show my age, but still a fun movie. As a photographer, I spend little time at Cannon Beach because of the crowds and trouble finding parking, but it’s still a great town to visit.

TILLAMOOK

South of Cannon Beach is the small town of Tillamook. Yes, that Tillamook. The Tillamook Cheese Factory is on the highway and gives daily tours. Although Tillamook is not on the ocean, a confluence of three rivers is great for kayaking. Is Tillamook worth visiting? If you have never been, the cheese factory is worth a stop especially on a hot day. Stop in for a couple scoops of ice cream, stretch the legs for a bit before getting back on the road.

Photography locations on the Oregon Coast.

Sunset at Myers Beach on the Oregon Coast. Once the sun dropped below the horizon, the clouds started to light up and create the dramatic color. The Oregon Coast offers some of the best scenes with all the sea stacks and large waves constantly crashing in the shore and rocks and the Boardman Corridor. Limited edition of 100 prints available.

NEWPORT

Newport offers more options for shopping and lodging than most towns on the coast. Newport is known for the 2 lighthouses (Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay Lighthouse), the Yaquina Bridge, and beaches. Downtown offers small shops, candy stores, the marina, art galleries, and other attractions. Aside from the sandy beaches, Newport has access to woodlands and waterways for hiking, biking, and paddling. With so many options, you may forget to slow down, look for whales, or watch the bald eagles soaring overhead. Early morning is when the eagles are most active while looking for their breakfast. A favorite attraction is the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where you can enjoy small tide pools and learn about the local ocean ecosystem. With all the food and fun available, Newport, Oregon is worth a visit for a couple days.

LIGHTHOUSES

The Oregon Coast has 11 lighthouses. 9 are public and 2 private and were constructed to support shipping and fishing along the coast. The first federal lighthouse on the coast lit up in 1875 on the Umpqua River. Of course, four years later, the lighthouse fell into the river. Some are perfect photography subjects like Haceta Head and Yaquina Head (not to be confused with Yaquina Bay Lighthouse). During low tide, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse has lots of tide pools for all to enjoy. The lighthouses receive about 2.5 million visitors a year and enjoyed by all visitors. The public lighthouses can be toured but the private ones can only be viewed from outside.

Heceta Head Lighthouse at sunrise on the Oregon Coast.

One of the most photographed lighthouses on the Oregon Coast, Heceta Head Lighthouse was completed in August 1893. The light can be seen from 21 nautical miles away making it the strongest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. The assistant keepers house is now maintained as a bed and breakfast. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

SOUTHERN OREGON COAST

The southern coast of Oregon is where you can find fewer people. This stretch of coastline runs from Reedsport to the California border. If you enjoy long walks on the beach with sea stacks everywhere, Bandon is for you. The famous sea stacks in Bandon are the Howling Dog and Wizard’s Hat. For lighthouses, the north side of the Coquille River lies the Coquille River Lighthouse.

For peace and quiet on the Oregon Coast, Gold Beach is the town for you. Nestled between the Pacific ocean and the Rogue River, Gold Beach offers thousands of acres of protected lands for activities. Hiking, biking, clamming, and fishing are just a few options in this quiet coastal town.

Between Gold Beach and Brookings lies the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Arguably the most amazing stretch of coastline in the lower 48 states for nature and seascape photography. The craggy bluffs, offshore rock formations, and secluded beaches fill the area. A few of the more visited areas in the corridor are Secret Beach, Thunder Rock Cove, Natural Bridge, and Cape Sebastian. Although it’s only 12 miles in length, The Boardman Corridor is a must see. When the tide goes out, you can walk from Secret Beach to Natural Bridge. The Boardman Corridor is where you may find the most photographers. The seascapes are amazing and only a short walk from the car.

Boardman Corridor on the Oregon coast photography locations.

A misty evening at Thunder Rock on the Oregon Coast for sunset. The mist from the ocean spray creates a lot of atmosphere and depth to the image. I feel like One Eyed Willy from the Goonies would be floating by on his pirate ship. Limited edition of 100 prints available.

CONCLUSION

The Oregon Coast is one of the best places in the lower 48 states for dramatic seascape photography. With all the lighthouses and sea stacks create an amazing area. The southern coast is the least populated with the Boardman Corridor, Gold Beach, and Brookings to name a few. If you ever get the chance, spending a few days on the coast is worth it. The best part is that camping is allowed in most parking areas. Be respectful of the no camping signs as Oregon is nice enough to let us camp in most locations.

Sunrise at Secret Beach on the Oregon coast in the Boardman Corridor.

I have been to Secret Beach many times waiting for some good light. It finally happened on my last trip to the Oregon Coast. The Oregon coast is some of the most amazing coastal scenery in the world. Located in the Boardman Corridor near Brookings, Secret Beach is well worth the stop. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

Arch at indian sands in the Boardman corridor on the Oregon coast near Brookings.

One of the many amazing locations in the Boardmann Corridor near Brookings, Oregon. Indian Sands is not as popular as Secret Beach or Natural Bridges. Indian Sands trail has sand dunes, forests, creeks, wildflowers, and an ocean view. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.