PHOTOGRAPHING BEAUTIFUL NEWPORT OREGON- Updated

Photographing Newport, Oregon is a grab bag of photo opportunities that include quaint seaports, beautiful bridges, historic lighthouses, the tallest sand dunes in the United States, nautical items, cool beach towns, stunning rock formations, an aquarium, and a brewery to name just a few subjects.

 Since Newport, Oregon can be a bit overwhelming to photograph, the purpose of this blog post is to highlight some of the major photographic areas in Newport as well as provide tips for photographing them. But first, let me tell you a little bit about my time in Newport.

Summer in Newport

I specifically chose summer for this photography excursion so that I could capture the coast with wildflowers in bloom.  However, weather conditions were poor with mostly foggy skies and rain.  Of the 2 months I spent on the coast, there were only 3 days where photographs of sunsets, sunrises, and beautiful skies were possible with the exception of an hour or so of brief sunlight on the foggy days.  

This weather pattern is typical for summer on the Oregon Coast due to a marine layer caused by a temperature inversion.  On my next trip, I will forgo the wildflowers of summer and visit in fall.

About Newport, Oregon

Newport is located on the central coast of Oregon and a favorite playground for Oregonians as well as visitors from all over the United States. Although the year-round population of Newport is just over 10,000 people, I will venture a guess that it is at least twice that in the peak of the summer tourist season. There is good reason tourists flock to Newport; it is home to a famous Oregon Coast Aquarium, world-class fishing and crabbing, the stunning Yaquina Bay Bridge, the quaint Old Town, cool summer weather and so much more.

Where is Newport

General Photography Tips

  • If possible, plan to spend at least a week in the area, especially in light of the fact not every day on the coast will be beautiful.
  • Bring water shoes for photographing the haystacks from the water and for walking out to the tidal pools. Water socks also help on cold days. 
  • Dress in layers and be sure to include warm clothes since Newport can be cold even in the summer.
  • Bring every piece of camera gear you own. If you shoot with two cameras, I recommend having a wide-angle on one of the cameras,  a 70-200 telephoto lens on the second camera and a macro lens handy.
  • Manage expectations so you don’t get disappointed by cloudy and foggy weather. Find creative ways to produce images in those conditions. 
  • The coast can be very windy so be sure to bring weights of some type for your tripod. For photographers who do not own a stable tripod, handhold the camera.  See my tripod post Guide to Selecting a Tripod. This is a better alternative than having all your gear crash to the ground which I witnessed twice in one week. 
  • Most importantly, slow down!  Be warned, Newport is so filled with the photographic potential it is very tempting to want to rush around to photograph everything.  

Newport Oregon’s Best Photo Locations

1 – Port of Newport Marina 

What to Photograph:

A. Yaquina Bridge -The Yaquina Bay Bridge is an arch bridge spanning the Yaquina Bay and one of the more recognized bridges on the Oregon Coast. 

Photographed from the Fishing Pier by the Rogue Brewery

Photographed from the Marina docks.  

B. Rogue River Brewery –On the grounds of the Marina. 

C. Boats in Marina-The marina itself is a large area that includes an RV park, the Rogue River Brewery, and a number of boat docks.  The area is a great place to capture a variety of nautical scenes bathed in early morning light.  Here are a few images taken from different areas of the Marina.

2. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Park

On the northwest side of the Bridge is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Park which includes another lighthouse and a couple of small pull-offs for viewing the bridge as well as a trail down to the river shoreline.

3. Southwest Jetty Highway

The southwest side of the Bridge is easily accessed from the Southwest Jetty Highway which runs along the river’s edge and offers numerous views of the bridge. Although the sun was too far north to really light up the bridge during my visit, in fall and spring this spot could be a great location for photographing the Bridge and other coastal subjects.  In fact spending half a day here is very possible.

 4. The Harbor and Old Town

Located on the northeast side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge is a picturesque fishing village full of photographic opportunities for travel photographers. Old warehouses have new life as seafood restaurants or beautiful fine art galleries. Boats of every size and shape dock at Newport’s Old Town marinas filling the spaces with endless stacks of crab cages, fishing nets, floats, and ropes.  Amidst all this, sea lions are known to hang out on the docks.  If possible, plan to spend a lot of time in this one area to capture it.

If conditions permit, photographing this area in predawn and evening light is highly recommended.  

Entrance to Old Town

Scenes from the waterfront

Other Photography Spots around the Newport area.

Yaquina Head Light–  Yaquina Head Lighthouse is one of the most photogenic lighthouses on the Oregon Coast in a spectacular coastal setting. Plan to spend at least half a day here or longer as there is much to see and photograph.  For more information about the area be sure to check out my Photographing Yaquina Head Lighthouse post.  

Nye Beach -The quaint town of Nye Beach is actually minutes from Newport and offers wonderful shopping and is home to the famous Chowder Bowl Restaurant. Let me tell you, it is popular. I made two attempts to dine at the restaurant, starting around 4 to beat the crowd. In fact both times, I encountered over an hour and a half wait and left since I was starving despite those in line raving about the food.

Seal Rock -Just south of Newport is the beautiful Seal Rock. Although the large haystack rock formations located in Cannon Beach, Bandon, and the Southern Coast are the most photographed,  the rock formations here were certainly worth the visit. Even getting to the overlook was photogenic.

Devils Punchbowl is located on the coastal highway just north of Newport and is a state natural area. As its name implies, the main feature of the area is a large rock formation with a big hole inside it. The hole is filled with a variety of sea life but should only be explored at low tide. Under no circumstances would I recommend attempting a hike to the Punchbowl at incoming or high tides. Also, adjacent to the punchbowl, is a cove that is a favorite location for surfers. 

Photographing Devil’s Punchbowl does present the following challenges:

    • The sun needs to be high enough in the sky to light the interior of the Punchbowl otherwise deep shadows will be present on portions of the bowl.  Therefore plan on a midday visit.  
    • To capture the interior of the Punchbowl and to walk inside the Punchbowl, as previously mentioned, one needs to visit at low tide.
    • High tides or incoming tides, however, provide some very interesting photo opportunities that low tides do not provide.
    • For those visiting the area, it is highly unlikely one will be able to capture midday light for both low and high tides.  Therefore be prepared to make some tradeoffs between tides, shadows, and access to the bowl. 

Oregon Coast Aquarium – The aquarium is literally walking distance from the Port of Newport and offers wonderful opportunities to view coastal sea life.

Well this sums up my quick overview of opportunities in the Newport, Oregon area and for those who have photography trips planned to the area, I hope you enjoy Newport as much as I did.

Thanks for joining me in Newport, Oregon and I will see you next week at another Road Trip Friday location.

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