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Oregon is known for its diverse landscapes and beautiful views, making it a great destination for travel photographers. Whether you are looking for a place to take frame worthy landscape shots or gorgeous portraits, these are the Oregon photography locations you must visit this summer.
- Silver Falls State Park
- Wreck of the Peter Iredale
- McDowell Creek Falls
- Thompson Mills
- Painted Hills
- Tokatee Falls
- Fort Stevens State Park
Silver Falls State Park- This Travel Photographer’s Favorite Oregon Photography Location
Silver Falls State Park is a double dose of photo bliss when it comes to Oregon photography locations! Not only does it contain beautiful landscape opportunities, but it is one of the best places in Oregon for portrait sessions.
Silver Falls contains 10 different waterfalls to photograph, including one with a walking path behind it, so you can photograph the back side of water. All our Disney fans will laugh at that reference, but even if you’ve never heard the joke, imagine the pristine beauty of cascading water. Then think about it taking up the full of your shot. That’s a unique perspective you don’t often see in travel or landscape photography.
Besides endless Oregon landscape photo ops, Silver Falls is
an ideal place for portrait sessions. With the year-round green canopies, your
portraits will have perfect lighting no matter the weather or sun position. The
many falls also give a beautiful backdrop to any engagement or family photo.
As a travel photographer, one of my favorite things about Silver Falls is the fact that it is dog and horse friendly (on certain trails.) No portrait session is complete without photos with your favorite pup or pony.
Wreck of the Peter Iredale- The Most Unique Oregon Coast
The decaying bones of the Peter Iredale shipwreck jutting through the crashing waves, makes for a perfect Oregon photography location. The metal frame of the ship is all that is left, but it is quite a sight.
The shipwreck makes for compelling photos at any time of day, but the really stunning shots are taken with the sun behind the ocean at sunset, or at high tide with the waves almost overtaking the ship’s bones.
McDowell Creek Falls- Waterfalls and a Nice Hike
The McDowell Creek Falls hike not only offers travel photographers the chance to capture captivating shots of one waterfall, but two. If you’re not into hiking and lugging your gear, there is a parking lot at each fall.
The Royal Terrace Falls is 119 feet tall and has water cascading down terraced rock faces, surrounded by green ferns and trees.
The second falls of McDowell Creek are the most photographed. The Majestic Falls, while not even half the height of Royal Terrace Falls, is famous for its photogenic quality. Multi-tiered layers of wooden stairs contrast spectacularly against the foliage giving this area a mystical quality.
As you walk up the stairs, the viewing platform puts you up
close and personal with the falling water, giving you an ideal vantage to frame
that perfect shot.
Thompson Mills- A Historical Oregon Photography Site
Thompson Mills may have its own fascinating history, but nowadays it is a historical museum to remind us of what used to be.
Thompson Mills landscape photos ops are, without a doubt,
some of the most unique and interesting I’ve ever shot. If you’ve never
considered photographing old grain silos, think again.
If you’re forte is animal photography, this is a great location as well. When you first arrive, you will be greeted and surrounded by happy hens and ducks at the Mill Keepers house. Here you can get great photos of a historic home along with its friendly feathered residents.
The Mill itself is also stunning. With its bright white buildings standing out against a stark blue sky and a gorgeous pond in the foreground, the photos you take will certainly be frame worthy.
Additionally, if you are interested in antique machinery, the inside of the mill contains all the equipment from the mill’s operational time period. The lighting is tricky, but if you can get it right, these shots are really unique and amazing.
Painted Hills- John Day Oregon
The Painted Hills are known nationwide for their beauty and distinctiveness. This Oregon photography location contains large mounded hills with streaks of orange, red, yellow and black running across them. The unique colors come from thousands of years of changes in the Earth’s surface, but all you need to know is…Wow!
Along many of the hills are boardwalks giving you a close-up
view of the bright colors. Not too far from the Painted Hills, in the same
park, are the fossil beds. Fossils are not allowed to be removed from the park,
but you can certainly photograph them!
With crystal blue water pouring down two separate falls stacked on top of each other and collecting in blue pools at the bottom, Tokatee Falls is the ideal Oregon photography location. Moss covered rocks open up dramatically to let the falling water through, creating a beautiful contrast of colors.
The hike to Tokatee Falls may be short, but it can be
treacherous in winter, so secure your gear. Just leave one camera free to
capture the many photo opportunities
along the trail. Traveling the path is made easier and more photo-worthy with
the addition of handmade stone staircases winding through tall old growth
At the top of the trail is a beautiful view of the ravine down below with the blue water flowing between the tree tops. From what I’ve seen, some of the best views are at the base of the falls. However, there is no real path down, so you’ll be scrabbling down a very steep slope while worrying about expensive equipment.
I visited in winter and didn’t want to risk a fall in the snow. I might feel differently when I return in the summer.
Fort Stevens State Park
Abandoned buildings always hold a certain appeal for me, as they do for many travel photographers. Maybe it’s the mystery and sadness of so many beautiful places going to ruin, but one thing I know. Some hauntingly beautiful photo opportunities await.
Fort Stevens as a state park, is a little different. Many of the bunkers are dark, making it hard to get a good “abandoned” shot, but outside the colors are spectacular and put a whole new patina on abandoned.
Elk herds also call the park home, so you’ll have the chance
to photograph some wildlife as well as ships on the Columbia River.