Five Favorites from the Oregon Coast

I recently got back from ten days shooting the southern Oregon and northern California coast. The scenery there is simply amazing, with rocky shorelines and giant offshore sea stacks emerging from the turbulent waters like mighty ship prows. When it wasn't raining, I actually got some decent light from time to time. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from the southern Oregon coast, and save a few more from Oregon and California for some later posts.

This first image is from Samuel H. Boardman State Park, where I spent most of my time. For this composition, I used a technique known as counterpoint, something I discuss in great length in my eBook Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition. The primary counterpoint relationship is between the foreground rock and the large sea stack in the background to the far right. I made this visual relationship the focus of my composition. "Counterpoint"—Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera, Canon 24-105mm f/4L, ISO 50, f/16, 1.6 seconds.

For the image below, also from Boardman State Park, I was lucky enough to have a faint "rainbow" around the setting sun—formed by ice crystals in the sky—which is known as a halo. In order to reduce the extreme contrast in the scene, I put the sun behind a large sea stack, positioning the stack perfectly within the frame created by the halo. Using a wide angle lens, I included a generous amount of foreground, waiting for a wave to come in and fill the space. "Hidden Guardian"—Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, ISO 50, f/16, 0.5 seconds.

The next image, also from Boardman, was taken at twilight after the sun had set. I was standing in water waist deep, waiting for a wave to come in at the correct angle to create the streaking leading lines seen here. I was on a low, sloping beach, which meant the waves broke several hundred feet offshore, providing me some protection against "rogue waves," which can be very dangerous when working near or in the water. I am always very careful before getting near the water, studying conditions for several minutes and doing my best to find the safest places possible. "Dreaming of Atlantis"—Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera, Canon 24-105mm f/4L, ISO 50, f/16, 0.8 seconds.

The image below was taken at Bandon Beach, a little over an hour north of Boardman State Park. I only photographed Bandon once at sunset. I got a few breaks in the clouds, but no spectacular light. I took this image well after the sun had set, letting the moving clouds streak across the image frame during the long exposure. The streaks form radiating diagonal lines which center attention on the sea stack. "Abandonment"Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, ISO 50, f/16, 2 minutes.

I almost didn't make this final image. After shooting sunset at Boardman State Park, I was getting ready to hike out when I noticed this scene. I was attracted to the complementary colors and the arrangement of the shapes formed by the sea stacks. I waited for a big wave to come in during the six second exposure, filling the dark space in the lower left and creating streaking lines which added compositional interest. "Nightfall"—Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera, Canon 24-105mm f/4L, ISO 100, f/11, 6 seconds.

I'll be posting more images from the trip soon. If you want to learn more about the composition techniques I discussed above, download your copy of my critically-acclaimed eBook Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition today. I promise you won't be disappointed!


    Very nice images, as usual. In “Counterpoint” what’s as important as the opposing rock and seastack is the very cool cloud in the on the left side. If that was not there for balance, the photo would not be as good, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing and look forward to more.

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