Seizing the opportunity to get out to the Oregon coast for the first time since returning from our trip up north, I loaded the dogs in the back of the Element, threw my photography equipment in the front seat, and headed out west on Highway 26.
The Oregon coast in any season is rugged, salty and weather-beaten. Ocean temperatures never get above "frigid", even on the breeziest summer day, and winds rage year-round. Though neither blanketed in yellow sand nor resting alongside gentle, balmy waters, our coastline is moody and stunning, punctuated with jagged columns of rock (sea stacks) rising up defiantly from the sea. In winter, the drama and melancholy are only amplified under our perpetual gray cloud cover.
Upon arrival at Ecola State Park, just north of Cannon Beach, Oregon, winds whipped through Sitka spruce lining the bluff. Through mist and wind, I brought my Manfrotto tripod and Olympus Micro Four Thirds DSLR to the first viewpoint over the sea, dragging two dogs behind me. With the first release of the shutter, my lens was already covered in spots of rain, and on the second, my camera battery died.
After scouring the car for stray digital cameras (not as implausible as it sounds when you live with Nate Wallace) and calling every potential electronics retailer on the north coast, I settled into the idea of enjoying the views without the burden of equipment or the hassle of aperture or composition or editing. As I locked the pups and my worthless camera in the car, I headed back toward the overlook to enjoy the view unencumbered, only to remember my iPhone 6 in my pocket.
Whether running around the bluff at Ecola, overlooking coves and sea stacks and secluded shorelines, or heading out on a gusty three-mile walk along Cannon Beach to Haystack Rock and back, the ease of making photographs with such a simple device was an unexpected relief. Without the distraction of more involved equipment, I was able to take in the landscape uninterrupted. I still came away with photographs I was proud of and all without the necessity of a viewfinder or the weight of cumbersome equipment.
And it just goes to show: the best camera is the one you have with you.