A Photographer’s Playground

Written by Alan Caddell.  Alan is a frequent visitor of Jacksonville, professional photographer and brother of Susan Roos, proprietor of Jacksonville’s Magnolia Inn.  Alan Caddell’s work can be seen at Jacksonville’s Magnolia Inn or at www.aspenstream.com and www.digitalwarbirds.com

As a professional photographer, people often ask me the secret to taking beautiful pictures.  Well, I’ll let you in on the closely guarded secret: take your camera to beautiful places!  It’s true… with today’s cameras, even novice shooters have a great chance of taking a memorable photo, but it sure helps to be in an area where beauty and variety abound and that’s certainly true of Jacksonville, Oregon.

It’s not just that the area includes incredible natural beauty, the town itself holds architectural and cultural sites that can really add to your photographic repertoire. From the classic buildings of the quaint downtown, to the historic cemetery, Jacksonville’s rich past provides you with views not found elsewhere.  Looking for landscapes or nature shots? The town serves as a great “base camp” whether you choose to photograph the covered bridge on the nearby Applegate, wildflowers atop Table Rock, the carved canyons of the mighty Rogue River, or the many moods of majestic Crater Lake. A myriad of exceptional photographic opportunities can be found well within a couple of hours of town and even the rugged Oregon Coast, a longtime destination for photographers, is but a few hours away  via scenic highways.

Oregon is blessed with an abundance of lakes, waterfalls, and rivers that are easily accessed by good roads and are quickly reached via short hikes or sometimes, with simply a short stroll from the parking lot!  And these areas are usually–and surprisingly–un-crowded allowing you great access to photograph the scenery.  Nearby White Horse Falls, for example, can be heard from the parking lot and it’s only a very short walk to a beautiful wooden deck that offers you a raised view of this misty waterfall that tumbles into a tree-lined pool; getting a great shot here can’t get much easier.

Hoping for wildlife?  I’ve been fortunate to have photographed bald eagles, osprey, herons, Maganzers, ducks, otters, deer, bear and other creatures along the Rogue where local guides can take you down the river into areas not otherwise accessible.  There is something truly special about quietly floating past rugged carved canyons while you wait poised for the appearance of something wild and free in its natural element.  Perhaps a shot of an osprey crashing into the water to snag a fish, or a bear pulling salmon from the rocky banks, will be your “shot of a lifetime” but you can’t get it if you’re not there.

Jacksonville also offers “four-season” photography that provides changing views and challenges whatever the time of year you visit.  You can capture the crispness and colors of fall, the beauty of snow covered landscapes in winter, the exploding wildflowers of spring, and the incredibly lush forests overlooking fast running rivers and streams in summer.

Want to improve your photographs?  Get out to where the beauty is and practice.  Try different shutter speeds to blur water for a velvety effect or freeze the action for that perfect shot of a bird diving into the river. If you have them, use a variety of lenses to get a different perspective, like perhaps a low angle view of one of the Victorian headstones in the town cemetery, or a telephoto shot of a wildflower to isolate it from its background atop Table Rock.  But most importantly, get your camera aimed at beautiful things. Often, it’s as simple as that.



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