Posts Tagged ‘Oregon Coast Photography’

We’ve had two whopper storms to kick off the winter rainy season.

The first, October 25, brought sheeting rain, unbelievable wind and waves. The Port of Port Orford, which we visited in the morning, had, by afternoon, sustained heavy damage, in the end estimated at over $1 million.

The Port 10/25 courtesy of Melissa Campbell

The Port 10/25
courtesy of Melissa Campbell

No people or fishing vessels were lost but a fish processing building went over the edge taking numerous fish storage tanks along, the Port office had 18” of water, waves topped the rock jetty damaging it, and one side of Griff’s, a seafood restaurant on the dock, was pushed out.

Griff's, two days later

Griff’s, two days later

Port, 10/28

Port, 10/28

The surf was amazing, totally covering the port beach and the wind was so strong our 10-year-old grandson had to run to stay in place at the overlook. The pelicans and seagulls came onshore en masse and hunkered down to wait it out on the headlands.



Gulls and Pelicans

Gulls and Pelicans

The second storm, which hit Port Orford Friday managed to tip over half a trailer home on Highway 101 just where it enters Port Orford from the south. (I guess those high profile vehicle warnings on the weather went unheard or were ignored. They were predicting 70 mph gusts!) The wind and rain was hard enough to wake me up Friday night but by Saturday all was just a passing memory.

Today, the sun is shining. And the streets are dry. No one can say the weather around here isn’t dramatic.

blown over trailer house

blown over trailer house

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There is a magical garden tucked away within Mingus Park in Coos Bay.

Morning Song Bridge

Morning Song Bridge © SR Euston

We discovered it recently while having a picnic at the park. At the west end of the big pond we spotted a gracefully arched, bright red bridge. It turned out to be the entrance to a lovely Japanese-style garden named for Choshi, Japan, Coos Bay’s sister city.

Quiet Pond © SR Euston

Quiet Pond © SR Euston

Work on the garden began in 1985 by the  local architectural firm Crow/Clay, assisted by an army of volunteers, and in consultation with city officials from Choshi. It was dedicated in 1996 ceremony which Choshi representatives attended.

From Morning Song Bridge © SR Euston

From Morning Song Bridge © SR Euston

It is a 2.4 acre promenade-style garden, where a seemingly meandering path leads from one “scene” to the next, each meticulously composed with tranquil diagonal view lines across moving water and among carefully chosen plantings. It includes the standard Japanese garden elements: water which begins in a small pond and then cascades gently down a narrow stream (the “Creek of Whispering Waters”) and ultimately into the park’s main lake; carefully chosen and placed rocks; artful bridges and benches; a 3000 pound granite lantern (“Snow Lantern”) on a tiny island in the “Pond of Illusion”; fish; and plantings including flowering cherry trees, Japanese maples, dogwood, azaleas, rhododendrons and bamboo. Taken together they form a lovely, seemingly natural but perfectly conceived garden which welcomes leisurely strolls and quiet contemplation.

Contemplation © SR Euston

Autumn Scene © SR Euston

Time seems to slow down for everyone who enters Choshi Garden. Nothing rushes; no one skate boards; people talk in lowered voices. It is immensely calming.

The red bridge, “The Morning Song”, was rebuilt in 2007 and shored up in 2009. It is painted red like the Japanese garden bridges which it copies.

Choshi is maintained by volunteers who keep its trees and shrubs artfully manicured and is a part of the Coos Bay City Park system. When you go, perhaps you’ll even be greeted by this graceful bird—a perfect symbol of  a magical  Japanese jewel in this lumber city by the sea.

Heron © SR Euston

Snowy Egret © SR Euston

Choshi Gardens is open every day. Off US 101, take Commercial Street west to 10th Street. Turn north. Mingus Park is one block away on the west side of 10th. Choshi Garden is on the west side of the park.

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In mid-September an early autumn storm loaded with copious moisture from a Pacific typhoon roared over the Oregon Coast. Rain was heavy, five to ten inches, with 70 mph winds on the capes, dangerous seas worthy of Winslow Homer, and 23′ breakers.

Often the most impressive displays of oceanic fury follow shortly after Pacific storms move eastward. As the cold front passed, we headed for Shore Acres State Park, near Coos Bay. Shore Acres is the place for storm watchers on the south and central Oregon Coast, and that is our destination, our pilgrimage to see the salty essence of oceanic power.

At the park, a trail leads through sitka spruce towards the grassy cliff and to numerous viewing angles. We first hear the bombardment, water thundering shoreward before reaching the cliff. A few steps further, and we see a great plume of water climbing 50′ vertically, rising almost to the cliff top in a powerful crescendo, until gravity brings down a  frothy white plume that splashes the roiling surf below and coats my camera lens with salt spray.

The surf  for a few moments is quiet. A momentary lull. But a new wave of big breakers then rolls in from the deep ocean, breaking near shore or against the cliffs, one after another, five or ten in a row, roaring like a cannonade, reverberating across the headlands, only finally muffled by the silence of the deep forest.

My photographs taken that day give only a few dimensions of the reality. The camera clicked and clicked, slowing as the computer tried to process so much intense light. Many wave pictures are now taken with a slow shutter, thus blurring and smoothing what is really wild and chaotic action. The fast shutter of these pictures emphasizes that wildness and chaos. But it’s the viewer who must anticipate the almost terrifying audible dimension of crashing water, the taste of salt spray, the smell of brine and damp forest, in fact all the senses and emotions when confronting such spellbinding nature as a Pacific storm. A photograph can only suggest.  SRE



all images © SR Euston

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New River ACEC

New River ACEC

We’ve visited the New River (a river which runs north behind the foredunes and tidal zone along about ten miles of the Coos/Curry coast) many times before, both at Floras Lake near where the river begins and at Storm Ranch about five miles north.

Recently we decided to try the other two entrances to this 1100 acre Bureau of Land Management Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The New River area has been set aside because of its biodiversity. (It includes sand dunes, pine forest, wetlands, meadows and shrubland as well as an abandoned cranberry bog!) Portions of the foredunes are off limits from March 15 through September 15 to protect nesting snowy plovers. We’ve spotted bald and golden eagles, Aleutian cackling geese, terns and otters.

This time we took the Lost Lake Trail which is accessed just south of Bandon in Laurel Grove. The trail leads to a quiet small lake dotted with lilies and snags and in shallow areas, contains a wetland. The lake is edged with spruce. Beyond the lake the trail continues through steep dunes to the New River.

The second trail we followed was a short one (only one-quarter mile), on the northern side of Four Mile Creek. It passes among large beach homes, through a shrubby archway and a meadow, covered in yellow composites. In winter this can often turn to an impassible wetland. There are huge pieces of redwood driftwood on the eastern side of the river at Four Mile Creek. Perhaps they were stranded when the New River was formed after the Great Flood of 1890.

There are many freshwater lakes separated from the ocean by foredunes and a steep beach around here. Most are the result of migrating sand dunes which close off creeks or valleys, impounding and collecting fresh water behind them. While fairly common on the southern coast, it is always a surprise to come on a lake from whose shore I can hear and often see the ocean.


© SR Euston

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It’s about a four hour drive from our place on the southern Oregon coast to Eureka, California, where our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren (Boys 14, 11 and 8) live with a dog, a cat, five chickens and a duck, all on a kind of urban farm. We are spending Thanksgiving in Eureka this year, a “To Grandmother’s house we go” in reverse. As we leave on Wednesday, the weather in Oregon has just opened up after a storm. By the time we reach our daughter’s place in Eureka the skies have cleared. This holiday weekend has materialized the kind of weather residents of the wet and green northwest coast  take solace in.  Afternoons in the 60s, the evenings a bit chilly but the air full of remembrances of harbor and sea and winds and douglas fir and redwood forest. This wonderful weather imparts a holidayish patina, a warm autumnal mood  as we sit down to fresh turkey, fresh cranberries from our own Curry County,  and about ninety accoutrements of a good Thanksgiving feast.


This slide show is a sort of travel log of this Thanksgiving weekend,  beginning with shots of the rugged Curry County coast, then down Highway 101, the Redwood Highway, to Eureka. It includes a few family pictures, but features lots of photos of a picture packed place called the “North Jetty”.


The Humboldt South and North jetties, massive linear rock filled projections into the ocean,  protect vessels entering Humboldt Bay from notoriously dangerous Pacific storms. But more to the point for our son-in-law Tim, the North Jetty is a favorite surfing destination, and rolling long period waves are out the afternoon of our visit, as were wet-suited surfers out for a sporting chance at some pretty decent waves, peaking at 15′ or more. Tim has brought us here to find what we will.


The North Jetty is an a photographic puzzle.  Several other photographers were out, kneeling, craning necks, searching for a certain angle. But many who were carrying cameras seemed uninspired. For me, it  was my first real opportunity to shoot large waves from a side angle, as opposed from straight on from shore, opening up possibilities especially for B/W, emphasizing  the sinuous, emergent power of the long period swells. But equally interesting is the jetty itself. To exploit this subject, one must like geometry.

Contrasted with the oceanic rolls and swells and wave crashes, the jetty is one solid piece of Corps of Engineers construction, including seemingly randomly placed hulking concrete structures looking a bit like giant jacks—like the kind kids once and maybe still do play with. The camera sees shapes and forms and lines and mass in all this. And that is just the beginning, because all this solidity frames a churning kinetic sea.

On our return trip, we stopped in Arcata, and while Ann and Dawn shopped, I came across a couple of urban shots that ratcheted down the drama of waves into in a quiet mood of a dwindling late November day.   SR Euston  All Photos Copyrighted

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4th of July Anticipation © SR Euston

Friends of the Library Kazoo Band and Drill Team Member in uniform © SR Euston

This year’s Port Orford Fourth of July Jubilee theme was “The Best in the West.”

Crowd Waiting Outside the Savoy © SR Euston

And our parade certainly was.

’52 Chevy © SR Euston

There was Langlois’ giant ag float, a perennial favorite with the crowd. (They always have live chickens.) There were people on horses and people on bikes. There were old tractors and fire trucks. The Farmer’s Market folks had banners and carts filled with fresh local produce. A friend had on a hat beautifully embellished with flowers from her garden. Another had decorated her glasses with snow peas. There was a little boy who rode his toy tractor the entire parade route—14+ blocks.

The Blue Crustaceans

And then there were the Blue Crustaceans, a local bluegrass/folksy band who rode on a float playing and all wearing hats shaped like crabs.

The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) came armed with buckets, shovels and wheel barrows, symbolizing their latest campaign “Let’s Get Dredged”, a citizen advocacy effort to get Port Orford’s channel opened. The Port’s only useable right now at high tide. Yikes. It’s slogan? Put the Port Back in Port Orford. Here’s a short video : www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVewO9qo0f0

Yes we do know how to throw a parade here in Port Orford.

Friends of the Library Gather for Parade © SR Euston

I take particular pride in being a member of the crack Friends of Port Orford Public Library Kazoo Band and Drill Team. After extensive practice (well, OK two meetings in the library parking lot and a warm-up at the staging area behind the Crazy Norwegian), we took to Highway 101 banner blowing, float rolling, following our majorette who led us in two (semi)perfect lines, all 24 of us wearing our matching red tee-shirts, cowgirl hats and unique sashes.

Receiving Marching Orders © SR Euston

I was “Miss Inform”. I was followed by “Miss Cast.” Others included “Mis Spelt” and “Filed Miss”. We had practiced marching, turning, approaching the (hopefully) appreciative crowd, marching in place while giving them time to read our sashes, pivoting and returning to the center line. All while kazooing from our extensive playlist—“Yankee Doodle” and “You Are My Sunshine”. After 14 blocks I must confess I was truly out of breath.

Still, all the hard work, stick-to-itiveness and gentle correction by our drill instructor (She knows who she is and I can still hear her shouting “Head North, Head NORTH!”) paid off.

We. Won. Best of Show. And a big purple ribbon. Congratulations and Hooray for the FPOPLKB&DT!

And We’re Off! © SR Euston

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The structure, the form is the thing. The genius of the arch? I’m still in awe how engineering of the soaring arcs, meeting at the keystone, holds up the mass of Roman aqueducts, Gothic cathedrals, or even more humbly, rough hewn, adobe brick Spanish mission porticos. Even more remarkable, this elemental architectural and engineering form, going back to Roman times and before, has a symmetry of restful gracefulness, yet in cases—like in bridges—also power and boldness.

The architectural arch has been copied and recopied, oftentimes as a decoration, aka fake. It flourished especially in the California mission style of the first half the last century, only to remerge in subdivision McMansions, east and west, in an odd pastiche of styles. But if one is not a purist, even modern decorative arches I think can present  photographic possibilities of formal power.

Below are photo interpretations of mostly developer-designed modern mission style architectural arches from southern Arizona, some used for structural support, some as mere decoration. Also included are two bridges of very different design from coastal Oregon, and arch forms from historic, much photographed Mission San Xavier de Bac, south of Tucson, and crumbling arch ruins from Tumacacori Mission near Nogales. Here is authentic architecture straight from the Spanish-Mexican period.

I though about, but buried immediately, the idea of including a shot of the golden arches at the nearest McDonalds.The sacred and the profane so to speak. It could have been open to a lot of pseudo-philosophical interpretations, maybe even landing in a museum exhibit.  SRE

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I love children’s books. They are my “go-to” source for straightforward explanations of difficult scientific concepts as well as a reassuring fount of seemingly simple but actually quite astute and often great wisdom.

Bottles and Waves from Dorling Kindersley "Ocean" p. 13

Consider this: A few weeks ago we were down at the beach watching waves. Digging deep into my graduate school education (what was I thinking? A marine biologist who’s afraid of water?) I remembered the physical oceanography course that spent weeks,  and countless words and diagrams trying to explain waves. At the library I was reminded of the very complicated (and incomprehensible to me) nature of waves by an entire 267 page book devoted to the subject called Waves and Beaches by Willard Bascom (1964). In the textbook An Introduction to the World’s Oceans (fifth edition, 1997) all of Chapter Nine deals with the topic, “The Waves.” I looked, I pondered, I scratched my head. As they used to say, It’s all Greek to me.

Waves © SR Euston

But a quick tour of the children’s room landed me Ocean, a Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Book. This is truly a remarkable YA series—now covering over 120 subjects from Epidemics to Baseball, Shipwrecks to Climate Change. And DK did it again. In two sentences they told me just what I needed to know: “Waves are formed by wind causing friction on the surface of the water….Waves that are driven by winds toward a beach, break when the water becomes too shallow.” Oh. I get it now.

Quiet Water © S.R. Euston

As for great pearls of wisdom, whenever the world gets just too crazy (think Republican “debates” or bombing Iran) I can always turn to Wind in the Willows. In the very first chapter, “The River Bank”, Mole is drawn up from his underground spring cleaning into a warm grassy swale. And then he finds the river! By its side “he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last by the insatiable sea.”

And back at the beach, the waves. We, who live next to the ocean, are gifted to listen to their “insatiable stories”. Who cares if  we “understand” what waves are or not.

At the Beach © SR Euston

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One of the many attractions on the north crescent beach of Cape Blanco is the tide pools, which are exposed at mid-to-low tides. A few weeks ago a sunny day and a low tide allowed us to examine up close some of the more amazing flora and fauna found between the tides. With my new, 21st century Brownie (completely and utterly Point and Shoot) I took some snapshots of what I saw. AME

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After weeks of unusual mostly dry weather, winter rain finally arrived on the Southern Oregon Coast. Storms began to roll in last week and by Tuesday, a day we had to travel north, rain began to fall in earnest.

Thursday, Port © AME

Wednesday weather’s was a nightmare forecast—slashing rain, storm force winds with gusts to 100 mph (!) at Cape Blanco, worst where we would heading—into a south wind down oceanside US 101. Areas of particular concern? Ours: Bandon, Port Orford and Gold Beach. The national weather service’s computerized robovoice warned: Don’t drive, Watch for road debris, Stay off area beaches (high surf, 25+ foot breakers) and jetties. Oh and BTW, surfing and swimming not recommended. (No joke, the computer said that too.)

Flooded Dunes © AME

Taking a chance, we returned. And yes, there were gale force winds on US 101. At Reedsport, we saw half a trailer house in transit, blown over on its side off the road, plastic sheeting waving, tires in the air. By the Sixes River valley the rain was sheeting toward the car as we headed directly into the wind. Cresting the next hill (at the Cape Blanco turnoff) it wasn’t at all hard to imagine 100 mph gusts just six miles west. Entering Port Orford, the Hazardous Winds Next 27 Miles if Flashing sign’s lights were definitely blinking. Stan couldn’t feel his hands for clutching the steering wheel.

Griffs Sandbagged © AME

We headed directly to the port to see if the parking lot was underwater, another of the worst-case predictions. Nope, but all was dark and quiet. Turns out all the dock businesses had sandbagged and left, literally turning off the lights (the electricity had been disconnected) behind them.

Once home, the County Sheriff’s Wednesday morning robomessage phone alert (a first) underscored the storm’s potential. All told we got close to nine inches of rain, over seven of it Wednesday.

Today, we hit the beach to view another high surf event, 25-30 foot breakers. Right now it’s sunny. But we’re just between the acts. We’re supposed to get rain for the next seven days.

It’s beginning to look like winter in Oregon.

Thursday Mists at the Port © AME

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