When I was a teenager, we lived on the seafront in Cowes. The road was a short distance in from the waterfront but a side street led down to the sea itself and you could walk along from there in either direction, either along to Egypt Point or in to the town center. The railings that stopped you falling in to the sea (if standing up was not something you could manage on your own) were mounted between a series of posts and, on one of these posts, there was a sculpture of a lion. Clearly weathering had taken a toll on this lion but repairs had been carried out over the years. When I was there last year, we took a walk along this same stretch and it was great to see this familiar old fella still guarding the shoreline.
The walk along the beach in Deception Pass State Park starts out in amongst a lot of people. The West Beach near the parking lot had a lot of people enjoying themselves while we were there. However, they didn’t want to go too far it seemed as, when we started walking along the shoreline towards the North Beach, we rapidly found ourselves a lot more isolated. There was the occasional person passing the other way but we were, for the most part, on our own. Standing on the shore and looking out across the water on a sunny afternoon was really relaxing.
The stormy waves coming ashore in Yachats were providing some great splashes as they broke on the shore. They would crash into the rocks and send spray high into the air. If you were further along the shore and looked back at the people closer to the rocks, they would occasionally be silhouetted against the plume of spray. The cool thing about shooting this with a long lens is that it looks as if they are almost being overwhelmed by the waves. Get a bit closer and they are clearly a long way from the water and in no danger of getting wet (except for a bit of the mist if you are downwind of the impact point).
After dinner one night in Yachats, I decided to go out and see what I could make of the waves crashing on the shore at night. A number of lights were trained on the shoreline from the local properties so it wasn’t too dark out there. Even so, it certainly wasn’t very light. Time to test the low light capabilities of the cameras. The fact I was going to get slow shutter speeds didn’t bother me particularly as I was interested to see the effects that I could get showing the motion of the waves.
Light levels were indeed better than I had anticipated and I was able to get a lot of shots that came out okay. There was a good element of luck involved too. Waves are horribly unpredictable. If you see something good, you can almost guarantee it won’t do it again and, even if it does, it will be ages before the next set of waves comes in and, even then, the big wave will break differently. Also, some of the shapes they make turn out to look good in the shot and others are just indistinct messes. Nothing to do but hang around for a long time and try and lot of different shots and see which ones work. This randomness is a little frustrating as you feel you should be able to do something to improve but, in this case, it is a case of being there.
Standing on the shore in Vancouver on a sunny Sunday afternoon provided a great view of North Vancouver. Plenty of boats were making their way across the bay including some large ones which proved a little problematic for this task. I figured I could use the long lens, shoot a large sequence and create a panorama when I got home. It turned out that Photoshop and Lightroom both struggled compiling this panorama so I ended up positioning everything manually. However, it all worked out pretty well. Here is the result. Feel free to navigate around to see what you can find.
One evening, while having dinner near the beach, we saw a flash of wings as a bird flew down to the water’s edge and landed. It was a heron. He was standing on the rocks as the waves washed in. Every once in a while, he would catch a fish and then walk away from the water before dealing with his meal. We talked to the staff about him and they told us he was a regular feature every evening. They had even named him Roger. Each night we came by to see if Roger was there and, sure enough, there he was. Same spot each time, just standing and waiting for dinner to come to him. On our first night he was joined by a manta ray that came in very close inshore but, sadly, he never showed up again while I was there with a camera. Roger was far more reliable though.
Being lucky is so cool. I don’t know how many excellent opportunities I have missed without realizing it (that’s the benefit of not realizing it), but I have been fortunate to stumble into some good stuff. We were driving down towards Hilo when we came to an overlook above a bay. We pulled over and walked up to the edge to see a great view down into a lovely looking bay. The waves were crashing in from the ocean and the place looked cool. We were so close to moving on after a few minutes.
Just before we turned to go, we saw a couple of people down on a headland in the bay. We weren’t in a hurry so we figured we would head down the trail and see what was there. The area was butted up against a botanic garden which we weren’t planning on visiting so we knew we wouldn’t go far. As we got to the bottom of the trail, we came to an entrance to the garden with a security guard sitting watch over who came through. Then we saw a small side track alongside the fence heading to the water. A short excursion brought us to a beach. The waves were crashing up on the shore by our feet and everything was covered over with a dense canopy of trees. A little climb took me out onto a spur of rock with the waves crashing either side. A rocky cliff face was on one side and the waves were striking it violently.
There was a small blowhole in the rock near where I stood. As the waves came in just right, the water would fire out of the hole. Other times nothing would happen or there would be a small gurgle. I talked to a couple of guys out there who obviously knew the place well. They pointed out how far out you could go without getting completely drenched by the waves. More importantly, it looked like the sort of place that you could get caught out by a wave easily. If you went into the water, I suspect it could have ended badly.
Forget that though. The place was gorgeous. When the guys left, we were the only ones there. The waves were pounding the shore, the scenery was stunning and you felt like you were the only person in the world who knew it was there. It was hard to break away. We stood there for ages. Sometimes the waves would come that bit further up the beach than normal and they would wash over my feet. No point in objecting. Just stand there and enjoy it. Of course, we had to leave eventually. Those visiting the botanic garden had a promontory a short distance away but they were really not in a good position to enjoy the experience because they were on one of the nicer parts. We met a couple coming down the trail as we left. They looked ready to turn back and had not seen where we had gone. We made sure to explain where they needed to go. I hope they liked it.
While watching the waves come rushing in to the Santa Cruz shore, I saw something floating on the surface just a little way out. It appeared to be seaweed but that wasn’t all that was there. A look through the longer lens confirmed that a sea otter was sitting out there enjoying the ride. The clump of weed was drifting closer in so, when the waves started to break over the top, the otter would dive underneath and pop back up once the turmoil had passed. The current was taking him along the shoreline over time so we lost track of where he ended up but he seemed to be enjoying the ride quite a lot!
Do you ever see an advertising image of someone doing something artistic outdoors and you think to yourself, “No-one ever does anything like that. It’s so contrived.” How about a guy standing on a rocky outcrop above the pounding surf playing the trumpet? That is exactly what we came across on the shore in Santa Cruz. This guy was just standing out there playing his trumpet. What a strange thing to see. It did sound pretty good though. He was a pretty decent player!
Further up the coast from Grandma’s Cove was Lime Kiln State Park. The area used to be a hive of lime production – hence the name of the park – but now the focus was on the lovely shoreline and the great views. The inclusion of a lighthouse certainly did nothing to harm the view. There were also the remains of a fortification of some sort on a headland which we had seen from further away when traveling towards to the park up the coast road.
The lighthouse provided a base for a volunteer group that was tracking the wildlife in the area. They had some signs identifying which whales had been seen in the area and when. We did not time our visit there well to see the whales although we did catch some later in the day further up the coast. The volunteers had binoculars to lend out to visitors if they needed them but, with no whales to be seen, we didn’t require them this time.