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Above Bandon in Snow: S. Oregon Coast Photographer Captures Wowing New Views

Published 03/07/23 at 7:53 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Above Bandon in Snow: S. Oregon Coast Photographer Captures Amazing New Views

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(Bandon, Oregon) – While the majority of the Willamette Valley – and especially Portland – was stressing out over the sudden flurries of snow and icy roads in late February, much of the Oregon coast was pretty excited. Yes, there were road issues there as well, but down south, around Bandon and Coos Bay, not so much. (All photos Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more. Above: Bandon Dunes Golf Course)

There, the layers of white stuff were greeted more with wonder and awe – no real road headaches dampened that twinkle of the eye.

For Bandon photographer Manuela Durson, it all started out as a quiet morning. She's settling down to breakfast when the fluff stuff falls, and all of a sudden this first-of-day calm turns into an artistic frenzy. She grabs her drone and rushes out the door to let her little robot friend loose to document it all.

And all of it is stunning results. Bandon is one heck of a charmer of a south Oregon coast town in any other conditions, but dressed in white in this way it's a knockout.

When she noticed the snowfall, her whole being turned from thoughts of food to focusing on photographic action.

“You have to skip breakfast and drop everything you are doing and photograph it,” she said. “I was not prepared. None of the drone batteries fully charged, controller on empty, no memory card in the camera, but I managed to get these photos.”

Among the snaps were rather jaw-dropping looks at Bandon Dunes Golf Course covered in white. It brings to mind that old impressionistic song by Bill Bruford, Sahara of Snow.

Photographing with a drone can be an adventure, but add the elements of snow, cold and not having everything fully ready and you have quite an escapade. She had to use her husband's phone to fly the drone fairly quickly. After the first flight, her own phone got soaked and wouldn't work.

What Durson got are nothing short of a few masterpieces – from a photog who regularly gets amazing captures of the south Oregon coast. She managed to even outdo herself.

“The aerial of the lighthouse and Bullards was one of my favorite photos ever taken,” she told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. (Photo below)

And for good reason. They are truly distinct, gorgeous captures of the Coquille River Lighthouse. She also took some amazing video, which you can see here.

She said she was really lucky, however. Her iPhone cashed out quickly but there was a solution.

“The connector got wet from it snowing so hard, so it would not get connected to the drone,” she said. “If I could not have used my husband’s phone with the drone app already downloaded I would have been out of luck. There is also the challenge of the small phone screen which is hard to see even in good weather, but when it is snowing it is even harder.”

Then there's the technical aspects of the drone itself. It has a setting for “obstacle avoidance,” which keeps it from bumping into stuff. However, that had to be turned off to even left the thing off the ground as it sees the snowflakes as obstacles.

Durson then gives a little glimpse into the techniques of a drone photog. The drone can go about 26 minutes on a battery, but that depends on the wind.

“It can take winds up to 30 miles easily, but challenging to take stable photos, have to make sure shutter speed is fast enough,” Durson said.

The wee flying wonder can fly at a distance of six miles away from the controller, she said, by the way.

“But I would never fly it that far, might not be able to make it back with the battery,” she said. “It goes about 25 minutes on a battery, depending on wind of course.”

You can get copies of Durson's work at her website.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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