Posted by: kerryl29 | June 8, 2015

Day 2: Scouting the South Oregon Coast, Part II

As mentioned in the previous post, Day 2’s sunrise was to be spent on South Beach, at the far southern edge of the town of Gold Beach–located only five minutes or so from where I was staying, which made it quite convenient given that sunrise was at roughly 6 AM.  I arrived on site a bit before 5:30, parked at the large highway pullout and made my way down to the beach.

South Beach Moonset, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach Moonset, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach doesn’t have a lot of rocks or seastacks offshore, but there is one prominent offshore rock.  The beach is long and broad, bisected by Hunter’s Creek, and inhabited by some strands of driftwood with sections strewn with small beach stones.  As the light came up, I saw that there weren’t a lot of clouds in the sky, but there was just enough marine layer activity to produce some cloud-like apparitions to the southeast.  I positioned myself to take advantage of both of these features, as the rising sun brought the colors in the sky to the fore.

South Beach at Dawn, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach at Dawn, Curry County, Oregon

The flat areas of sand held the moisture left by the breaking waves for a long time, which provided extensive areas of reflected sky.

South Beach at Dawn, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach at Dawn, Curry County, Oregon

In a happy coincidence, moonset was correlated with sunrise during most of my week shooting on the Oregon coast.  I made use of this circumstance frequently during my morning shoots, including this initial instance.  The nearly complete lack of cloud cover produced a substantial earthshadow effect to the west prior to the sun’s appearance behind the hills to the east.

South Beach Moonset & Earthshadow, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach Moonset & Earthshadow, Curry County, Oregon

When sunrise light began to fade, I moved on, traveling the coast highway to the south.  I briefly stopped along Cape View Loop, a rarely used road that runs above and to the east of US 101 that provides some aerial views of Myers Beach.

Myers Beach and Cape Sebastian from Cape View Loop, Oregon

Myers Beach and Cape Sebastian from Cape View Loop, Oregon

The views ran nearly 180 degrees, from Cape Sebastian to the north to Pistol River and Crook Point to the south.

Myers Beach and Crook Point from Cape View Loop, Oregon

Myers Beach and Crook Point from Cape View Loop, Oregon

I spent some time up on Cape View Loop playing around with a long lens and some neutral density filters, focusing on the breaking waves to the south, varying the exposure time to see what kinds of effects could be produced.

Off Shore Rocks from Cape View Loop, Oregon

Off Shore Rocks from Cape View Loop, Oregon

Off Shore Rocks from Cape View Loop black & white, Oregon

Off Shore Rocks from Cape View Loop black & white, Oregon

Crook Point from Cape View Loop, Oregon

Crook Point from Cape View Loop, Oregon

By the time I finished shooting at this location it was approaching 8 AM.  It was shaping up as another clear, exceptionally windy day and I decided to proceed into full-blown scouting mode.  I continued the journey south, and wandered around the mouth of the Pistol River, where it feeds directly into the Pacific, and then to Samuel H. Boardman State Park, where I spent most of the rest of the morning and afternoon scouting a broad variety of viewpoints, trails and beaches.  I made my way down the short but steep trail to Miner Creek (a.k.a. Secret) Beach and determined immediately that I would have to return to the spot–with plans to do so at sunset–and also took the much longer jaunt to China Creek Beach, several miles south of Secret Beach.  I also spent time investigating Whaleshead and Lone Ranch Beaches, and made my way around the viewpoints at Thunder Rock Cove, Natural Bridges, Arch Rock, Whaleshead Viewpoint, North Island Viewpoint, Spruce Creek Viewpoint, Indian Sands, Cape Ferrelo and others.

Did I mention that the wind was ferocious?  It–literally–nearly blew me over on the trail to North Island Viewpont, forcing me to turn around and head back.  At Thunder Bay Cove, I was loathe to get too close to the cliff’s edge to investigate a possible perspective–without my camera gear, mind you–due to concern over gusts.

I also spent a fair amount of time hiking different segments of the coast trail that connects many of the above locations.  I found a few new vistas worthy of mining but mainly turned my attention to tighter, more intimate scenes to photograph under the appropriate conditions (i.e. less wind and even light).

In all, essentially no photography took place during these many hours, but it was time very well spent.  I had never visited any of these spots south of Cape View Loop and this time spent simply investigating granted me the opportunity to make the most of the rest of my time later in the week.  Remember, all of this scouting was conducted under cloudless skies (read: harsh light) and high winds, so it wasn’t as though a lot of great shooting opportunities went by the wayside.

The lone exception to this no-photo policy was Whaleshead Viewpoint where I hauled my equipment out to a spot along the trail to obtain some images of waves.  (Note the effect of the aforementioned strong winds.)

Wind & Surf black & white, Whaleshead Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Wind & Surf black & white, Whaleshead Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

About an hour before sunset I made my way back to Secret Beach.  The trail to the beach is short–perhaps 1/4 mile–but quite steep.  At the bottom, you find yourself about 15 feet above the sand, but you can climb onto a tall stack and then make your way down the rock face to the beach itself–it’s not as difficult as it sounds.  I climbed down to the beach–for the second time that day (remember, it had been my first scouting stop of the morning).

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Miner Creek Beach (sometimes referred to as Secret Beach–I’m using the terms interchangeably) is a very, very pretty location, with marvelous seastacks, several of which are topped by conifers.  Two creeks–one of which contains a significant waterfall–empty onto the beach and into the ocean.  The only negative to the location is the shallowness of the beach…that and the footprints in the sand which aren’t routinely washed away, even at high tide, without a significant ocean surge.  I also noted that the best perspectives–at least in my opinion–were facing to the south and southwest, which meant that the very best sunset colors would be absent, at least at this time of year.

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

While the light was wonderful, the sky conditions were less than ideal:  no clouds at all.  There was a nice orange gradient along the western horizon, but the conditions were hardly spectacular.

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Secret Beach at Sunset, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

I made my way back up the trail in the dark; I had a headlamp and a flashlight with me, and since it was pitch dark inside the densely wooded area, they were welcome.  Even though conditions hadn’t been ideal at either sunrise or sunset, I was reasonably pleased with the day’s activities.  I certainly anticipated a return to Secret Beach later in the week.

While I had scouted the vast majority of locations I’d wanted to investigate to the south, I still had spots to the north of Gold Beach that I wanted to explore–I would cover most of that territory the next day…



  1. Enjoyed seeing some images in B&W. Did you look at your second shot of Secret Beach at Sunset in B&W. Great sense of motion!

    • Thanks!

      Nope, didn’t look at any of the Secret Beach images in b/w; I didn’t want to lose the sunset colors.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed your tour of South Oregon’s coast. This maybe close as I get being from the east coast. Liked the rock with the moon the best. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Just FYI, there will be a number of additional posts covering my time on Oregon’s southern coast…at least six more, bare minimum.

  3. I absolutely love the images that you have included in this blog. They are fabulous; so peaceful and evocative.

    • Thanks very much!

  4. Beautiful. Thanks a lot. Happy week Bless You

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    El 08/06/2015, a las 07:54 a.m., Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog escribió:

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  5. Some very lovely shots for World Ocean Day!

  6. Wow, I can’t wait to see your images from when you did more than just scouting!

    • Thanks. Hopefully the images from the non-scouting days will live up to expectations. 🙂

      Truth is, I did a significant amount of scouting each of the first four days I was on the coast. Part of the reason for that, I think, is that there was bright sun and strong wind so actual shooting opportunities were fairly limited in the middle of the day and I figured that this time could best be spent scouting. The other reason is that a couple of the places I was intent on checking out involved a significant amount of hiking, which meant a notable commitment of time.

  7. Wonderful shots! Thank you!
    Could you tell me what kinds of neutral filters you used making the above photos? I plan to buy Cokin split ND filters and plain ND filters plus a polarizer, but don’t know how strong they should be.
    Sorry for bothering, but I’m new to photogralphy (being a bit older in age 🙂 and have never bought any filters before.
    However, I must confess that I’ve made two quite good fireworks shots on full manual, a few days ago!!! A great success for me 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      Re filters…I’m not a huge fan of the filter holder system format (like the Cokin set up); I find these setups to be clunky and an encumbrance to haul around, but if you’re going to use graduated ND filters, you really have no choice. (I’ve never liked grad NDs. They’re a pain to use, IMO, and an even bigger pain to use well. I used them back when I was shooting film and one of the first things I did after moving to digital capture 12-odd years ago was learn how to do multi-exposure digital blends. Between that and HDR, I’ve retired the GNDs.) There are some screw-in GNDs made but they are, IMO, worthless because you have to place the grad line in the center of the frame. With the filter holder system you can adjust the filter up and down (as well as rotate it).

      Re straight ND filters, keep in mind that a polarizing filter serves, in practical terms, as a practical 1-2 stop ND filter, and I will frequently combine a polarizer and a neutral density filter. I have two ND filters–a three stop and a six stoop. Between those and a polarizer, I basically can obtain anything between one and roughly 11 stops of exposure suppression.

      There’s something to be said for the variable neutral density filter, which–depending on the specific variety–allows you to dial in 2-8 stops of neutral density. The advantages to this approach are obvious:

      1) You can make neutral density decisions on the fly; much of the time, it’s difficult to know, creatively speaking, how much neutral density to apply. With a variable filter, you don’t have to guess and then (potentially) add or subtract a filter. To make an adjustment, you simply rotate the filter.

      2) One big problem with large amounts of neutral density is that it can be almost impossible to focus. The view in the viewfinder becomes extremely dark; autofocus (if you rely on it) may be disabled. You can get around this, potentially, by popping into Live View, adding a ton of exposure compensation, and focusing manually. But with a variable ND filter, all you do is dial the ND effect down to its minimal level…then you can easily see to focus through the viewfinder (and, if you depend on AF, it will probably work). Lock focus, then dial in the amount of ND you actually want. That’s as easy as it gets.
      The disadvantages:

      1) Cost. Good variable neutral density filters are very expensive

      2) Concerns about how “neutral” these filters are at high levels of density. There’s some risk of color shifting when you get up near eight stops of ND with some of these filters

      Those two disadvantages outweighed the advantages for me when I was deciding what to do a few years ago, so I purchased a 3-stop and a 6-stop ND filter from B+W. Your mileage may vary.

      Hope this helps.

      • Many thanks!
        I’m learning a lot from your posts and pictures, but I’m extremely grateful for your sharing your knowledge and answering my questions.
        Thank you very much!

        • Glad I could be of help.

  8. Hi Kerry, We were just recently in Vietnam and Indonesia and I have couple of sunrise photos I took I would like to share. Still going to buy your pictures.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Looking forward to seeing the sunrise images from Asia!

  9. Hi, Kerry. It’s good to see you’re still so ensconced in your landscapes, and of course doing such a good job with them, as always. I like the pastel colors in photos #2, 3, and 4. In fact #4 reminds me of the tonality of a type of old postcard.

    • Thanks very much, Steve. For what it’s worth, you’ve identified my favorite set of images from the day. The combination of ambient conditions–including, but not limited to, the quality of the light–was really at its best that day during the time surrounding sunrise.

  10. […] to coincide with the rising sun and the early light remained exquisite.  As I’ve noted in earlier posts, Myers Beach is long, broad and flat and when the wind isn’t gusting the reflections in the […]

  11. Kerry, what a joy to see these beautiful shots. I particularly loved “South Beach Moonset & Earthshadow” – a striking image. I’ve always wondered but never asked, do you take notes when you are scouting locations? Or photos for reference? Or record voice notes? Or do you just remember everything? I’ve been doing more scouting and recording voice memos on my cell phone because its quicker in the field but a pain go through later and organize.

    • Thanks, Lynn.

      Re note taking or the taking of reference photos when scouting…at this point, I very seldom do either. Not that it’s a bad idea at all, mind you. I rely almost entirely on my memory. On occasion, when things might get a bit hairy in terms of recognizing spots, I’ll take a handheld GPS into the field with me to mark a location (and I routinely will use the GPS unit to mark roadside locations for trailheads, etc.–places that might be very difficult, if not impossible, to spot from the road, especially in the dark).

      The idea of using a smartphone with images and accompanying voice files strikes me as a potentially very good way to reference scouting sessions. Way back in the film era, I used to use a small digital recording device to take notes of this sort in the field, and I found it useful. I think the key is creating a folder superstructure that will allow for relatively easy organization and retrieval. Perhaps create a new folder for each excursion into the field and deposit the source material there. By sorting on certain fields contain within the EXIF information available for each image, it should be relatively easy to recreate each day’s wanderings chronologically.

      • Thanks, Kerry, very helpful. I love the GPS idea; I could probably use the Google maps app on my cellphone for the same thing.

  12. […] leave the marine layer behind me, my target would be China Creek Beach, a spot I’d scouted on Day 2, but hadn’t paid a return visit.  China Creek Beach, located n Boardman, was a solid 70 […]

  13. […] my plan was to head to Whaleshead Beach for sunrise.  I’d visited Whaleshead as part of Day 2’s Scoutapalooza and had deemed it well worth a photo session.  With easy access to the beach from the parking […]

  14. […] the approximately 1/3 mile trail all the way to the overlook.  I’d scouted this location on Day 2 and was nearly blown off the cliff.  The wind was so strong at the overlook that afternoon that it […]

  15. […] once as a pure scouting expedition and twice to photograph–with modest success at sunset on Day 2 and as part of an utter (figurative) washout during the evening of Day 5.  I had been truly […]

  16. […] one of my extensive scouting sessions during the harsh light hours early on the trip, I made the descent from the elevated Coast Highway […]

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