I first arrived in Portland, Oregon to attend a wedding several years ago. Afterwards I headed to Cannon Beach. I was smitten by the coastal beach and began to plan my next trip back to spend more time exploring the beautiful natural areas of Oregon.
I travel to Oregon in summer usually July or August when there is little chance of rain and the weather is moderate in temperature. This time of year also provides the best opportunities to photograph the intertidal areas on the coast. Visiting Crater Lake Park and Mt. Hood mid to late summer gave me access to the parks where snow can cover their roads until late June. I monitor the tide schedule to plan a coastal visit to arrive when the low tides are at 0.00 or at a minus level. The tidal regions are rocky enough to require protective waterproof shoes. The water is cold but shallow in the tide pools so I can take my time photographing.
At Cannon Beach the tide pool areas at the base of Haystack Rock are staffed with volunteers that are dedicated to educating the public about the intertidal environment as well as the seabirds that take up summer residence there. They have been the best resource for me to teach me about what I am observing. Each year the volunteers update me on what has changed since the year before: marine life, yield of the sea birds nests. My favorite bird to track is the uncommon Black Oystercatcher.
This past summer I visited Mt. Hood and stayed at the Timberline Lodge. The lodge one night had a “Star Party” out in the parking lot. Local community members brought their telescopes and shared them with us. It was fun to view planets and the star constellations. I was there late August and skiing was still available. Oregon has many outdoor activities to enjoy all year long. In the same day one could be surfing in the Pacific Ocean or rafting in the Columbia River Gorge two hours away. I tried horseback riding along the beach as part of a bargain to get my daughter to accompany me to Ecola State Park. I had never done this before and felt sorry for my horse!
The best time of day to photograph is early in the morning. Sunsets in the summer months are challenging to photograph because it is also the peak tourist season. I try to find areas both for tide pools and sunsets that are off the beaten path. The waves can be strong when the high tide begins to arrive. I have had some close calls going around points and having the high tide begin to arrive when I wanted to return. Now I keep the tide tables with me to avoid being caught off guard. A good reference to read is David Middleton’s The Photographer’s Guide to the Oregon Coast.
My favorite activity in Oregon is to observe and explore the unique intertidal areas. The tidal pools are alive with color especially the sea stars. There is an abundance of natural beauty and life to discover. One of the volunteers at Haystack Rock commented to me one night that I had brought my brain and not my camera. Whether I am traveling to Oregon or elsewhere it was a valued lesson learned. Future plans are to go in fall to photograph the wine country. I can’t wait to go back.
Photographer Kathy Leisten provided the details and images for Cannon Beach, Crater Lake National Park, and Mt. Hood in Oregon.
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