Posted by: kerryl29 | August 5, 2015

Day 7: The Best Laid Plans

Day 7 was to be my last full day on the Oregon coast and I hoped that the weather would cooperate with my desire to hit some of the locations that I’d scouted earlier in the week but hadn’t yet photographed.  It wasn’t encouraging at first light.  The marine layer, which had played such a big role on Day 6, was still hanging around and it didn’t appear that there would be a sunrise.  As I made my way south from Gold Beach, past the open area surrounding Myers Beach and the mouth of the Pistol River, it became evident that, indeed, sunrise wouldn’t be happening this day.  The layer wasn’t the low-hanging fog that I’d seen during my trip to the Pacific Northwest six years earlier; this iteration of the marine layer had more of a conventional overcast feel.  Visibility wasn’t horribly impacted, but the light wasn’t enticing.  The good news was that, at this point anyway, there was virtually no wind.

As the ambient light came up I gradually made my way south to Boardman State Park and stopped at Spruce Creek Viewpoint.  I’d picked out a couple of compositions on earlier scouting sessions and, despite the lack of dawn color or early morning sunlight, decided to photograph these scenes, to take advantage of the calm with the hope that a black and white conversion might be appealing.

But as I set up and started fine tuning the image, I noticed a bit of a break in the “clouds” to the west.

Spruce Creek Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Spruce Creek Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

I wasn’t sure if I was seeing a true lifting of the marine layer or not, but I decided to take a chance.  The eastern sky, at any rate, was completely hidden by the thick growth of trees on the rising hillsides behind me.  I reached the Thunder Rock Cove parking area and made my way down 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 was almost impossible to set up the tripod, so I’d deferred photographing.  Now, I figured, at the very least there shouldn’t be a wind problem.  I was right; it was dead calm at the overlook.  The contrast in conditions to those of the scouting session was incredible.  The lack of wind is reflected by the lack of ocean swells in the images below.

Pacific Coast from Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Pacific Coast from Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

It was clear by now that the high marine layer was breaking up.  The sun was certainly up by now, but there was still some subtle color showing up on the marine layer remnants.  The views from Thunder Rock Cove overlook are attractive to the south, west and north.  On this morning, unfortunately, the marine layer was holding strong to the north, so I didn’t photograph the scene in that direction.  But things were indeed clearing to the south and, as you can see below, to the west, where the offshore islands, replete with spruce atop the rocky perches, made for a compelling mid-ground.

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

The sky was changing so rapidly that I rephotographed both the southern and western vistas.

Pacific Coast from Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Pacific Coast from Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

I even converted the last western view to black and white.

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook Black & White, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Thunder Rock Cove Overlook Black & White, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

After wrapping at Thunder Rock Cove, I returned to Spruce Creek Viewpoint.  The sun was now finding a gap and making its impact known on the landscape.

Spruce Creek Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Spruce Creek Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

It was still early morning and I decided to make use of what remained of the good light by heading to North Island Viewpoint–another spot where the wind had defeated any serious attempts at photography when I scouted the location during the bluster of Day 2.  It was a much more pleasant excursion this morning, and I was treated to an unexpected phenomenon as I pressed further out on the headland.

Pacific Coast, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Pacific Coast, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Low-lying marine layer remnants, utterly invisible from my previous perches, were now showing up in the form of wonderful contrast patterns when lit by the rising sun, the rays of which were now penetrating the increasingly large breaks in the clouds.  When I got all the way out to the western-most tip of the viewpoint I could see that small, curvy areas of low-lying fog were drifting over the open water of the Pacific.  I didn’t really have a composition that I could form, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to produce a capture or two.  I converted one of the images to black and white to better reveal the wispy layers of fog.

Marine Layer Clouds Black & White, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Marine Layer Clouds Black & White, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

North Island Viewpoint, for those who press the limits of the trails that head out to the overlook, has plenty of interesting subject matter to behold.

Ocean View, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Ocean View, North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

I was treated to yet another view of China Creek Beach, this one looking to the north.

China Creek Beach from North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

China Creek Beach from North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

One more shot to the south caught my eye on the return to the trailhead.

Pacific Coast from North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

Pacific Coast from North Island Viewpoint, Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon

It was past mid-morning by the time I wrapped at North Island Viewpoint and I had to decide what to do.  It was shaping up to be a mostly sunny day now that the marine layer had retreated and I’d more or less exhausted my mid-day sun shooting.  I was most of the way to the town of Brookings, the southernmost community on the Oregon coast, and I decided to head all the way down the shore to Crescent City, California, where I’d begin a three-night stay the following day.  It was only about a 30-minute drive from Brookings and I thought that this would give me a chance to get a heads up on scouting the redwoods areas.  I’d only have two full days, plus parts of two others, that I would be based in the area, so this would assist me.  I’d head back to Oregon late in the afternoon and hopefully have a nice sunset shoot.

So, that’s what I did.  I was in Crescent City by roughly 11 AM, and almost immediately found the route into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  My goal was to look over the Stout Grove of redwoods, but the trip into the park–north on the unpaved Howland Hill Road–was a revelation.  The sun was making frequent appearances, and I was in a bit of a hurry to find the grove, so I didn’t stop to photograph, but what a marvelous ride that was.  Walking up and down that road, with gear in hand, would surely lead to the discovery of numerous wonderful photo opportunities, given the right conditions.

Among my hopes for the Stout Gove was that I’d find some flowering rhododendron.  I new that I was a bit early for this phenomenon, based on the usual blooming schedule, but I hoped the rhododendron would be in flower a bit sooner than normal this spring.  While I found a blossom–singular–on a bush in the Stout Grove parking lot, that was the only bloom I saw.  There’s plenty of rhododendron in and around the Stout Grove, but unfortunately it wasn’t yet in bloom.  The same would be true almost everywhere else I looked over the next few days.  But I digress…

Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

It was now around noon on a pleasant Sunday, so the park was more crowded than would probably otherwise have been the case.  Still, the grove wasn’t exactly teeming with people, so I got my share of photography in–when the sun peeked behind a cloud, as it frequently did.

Fern Forest, Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

This was quite a change in subject matter from most of what I’d been observing for the past week, but you’ll recall that I spent some time in the coastal forest 50-odd miles north of this spot on Day 6.  And, of course, I’m no stranger to forest photography generally.  But there’s forest photography and there’s redwood forest photography and I had to spend some time making an adaptation to a setting where the trunks are so massive.  I also spent some time focusing on the redwood trunks themselves, and their innate patterns.

Redwood Trunk, Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

I hoped that I’d get in the swing of things as I increasingly spent time in the various redwoods parks over the next few days.

Stout Grove, Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

When I finished at the Stout Grove, I drove back into Crescent City and checked in at the parks’ visitors center.  (The center covers the consortium of four California state parks and Redwood National Park, which are jointly administered.)  I inquired directly about rhododendron, but–as I expected–the volunteers at the information center confirmed that I was probably too early for many blossoms.  They had seen none in bloom themselves, but recommended a couple of places I might try south, in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Redwood National Park.  I planned to make trips down there after returning to the area the following day.  In the meantime, it was now pushing 2 PM and I decided to take a look at the Damnation Creek and Coastal Trails in Del Norte Redwoods State Park, only about 10 minutes south of Crescent City.

I found the trailhead and wandered around a bit and here–maybe 1/2 mile down the Damnation Creek Trail–I found a potential rhododendron specimen.  This particular bush had at least a dozen blooms and I figured it would only get better in a few days.  After some investigation, I confirmed that I would be able to get a decent view of the blooms–which were nearly 20 feet above the ground–with a workable backdrop of redwood trunks.  It would be a bit of a challenge to pull off given the location of the blossoms and the surrounding terrian, but I figured I’d be able to do it.  Better to give the scene a few more days, I concluded, when the blossoms would be better developed and (hopefully) a bit more plentiful, so I moved on.

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Damnation Creek Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Despite the day of the week, there wasn’t much foot traffic on the trails.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to stroll around a redwood forest in solitude, you’re really missing something.  I would have that opportunity repeatedly over the next few days, much to my memory’s pleasure.

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

I could sense that I was already beginning to “feel” the place as I moved around on the trails, familiarizing myself with the subtleties of variations in the colors of the trunks and the green/brown/gray color juxtaposition.  I didn’t take all that many shots; I was still absorbing the atmosphere and spent a lot of time observing and relatively little time photographing.

Redwood Trunks, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwood Trunks, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

As I was heading back toward the trailhead after a hike out of perhaps three miles, I started to see what I’d been promised would occur every day, morning and evening:  fog was drifting into the grove.  What a wonderful atmospheric element fog is in forest settings.  I paused to take a shot, fully expecting that this would be a regular occurrence.  I never saw fog again, during the parts of four more days that I’d be in the region.  Good thing I nabbed this single shot (though the lack of coastal fog would have its benefits in other, unanticipated ways later on).

Redwoods in Fog, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

Redwoods in Fog, Coastal Trail, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California

It was nearly 5 PM when I got back to the car and I swiftly made my way north, back to Oregon.  I reached Myers Beach before 6 PM, still more than two hours before sunset.  Things looked promising, with the exception of the fact that the north wind had returned, with a vengeance.  Still, I donned my rubber boots and headed out on the sand.  The light was already pretty nice and I decided to take advantage of it.

Myers Beach Evening, Pistol River State Park, Oregon

Myers Beach Evening, Pistol River State Park, Oregon

Myers Beach Shoreline, Pistol River State Park, Oregon

Myers Beach Shoreline, Pistol River State Park, Oregon

Unfortunately, as sunset approached, the marine layer returned, almost as quickly as it had on Day 4 back at Floras Lake.  By roughly 8 PM, there appeared to be no hope of a sunset.  Between the increasing cloud cover and the annoyance of an unforgiving wind, I decided to pack it in and head back to the motel.  As I drove north of Cape Sebastian and approached South Beach, something caught my eye.  A tiny band of clear sky to the west had opened up and so I quickly pulled off the highway at the Kissing Rock Wayside, at South Beach (scene of Day 2‘s sunrise shoot).  Sure enough, something was going to happen, so I decided to check it out.  From the parking lot, I quickly set up with the telephoto lens, braced myself against the wind which was blowing from right to left where I stood and waited to see what would happen.

South Beach Sunset, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach Sunset, Curry County, Oregon

The light was truly strange during the very brief point when the sun hit the slit in the marine layer.  It remained odd, though less intense, after the sun’s ball dipped below the crease.

South Beach Sunset, Curry County, Oregon

South Beach Sunset, Curry County, Oregon

And, just like that, no more than five minutes after it had begun, it was over.

Very, very little on this day had gone the way I had anticipated when I had planned things the previous evening, but it still turned out to be a rewarding experience, both photographically and in general.

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Responses

  1. Śliczne fotografie 🙂

  2. Super fantastiche le tue foto, bellissimo post!
    Saluti, Patrizia

  3. While the weather may not have cooperated with your plans, I think that the photos from this day are some of the best so far, and that’s saying a lot.

    I’m amazed that you can pull up stakes and move to another location as easily as you do, that must come from experience and practice,. I’m completely lost when I plan landscape shots and the weather is wrong for what I had in mind.

    • Thanks very much.

      Yeah, experience is a factor, but it also helps to have looked over every location at least once prior to photographing at them…excepting the redwoods spots (those images came from my first look at those places)…but I think my photography in the redwoods got better the longer I was in that environment. No question in my mind, when it comes to landscape photography, familiarity breeds better imagery.

  4. Well, Day 7 turned out really well even though you didn’t have much sun and then when you went to Pacific Coast, North Island Viewpoint anf the Red Wood Forest…WOW, things really turned around for you. Great image and the effort paid off with the Sunset. Very nice work !

    • Thanks. No question, when it comes to photography, you have to roll with, and make the most of, the conditions you’re handed.

  5. The fourth one is an eye-catcher but they all are gorgeous.

    • Thanks very much!

  6. […] of Day 11.  I’d spent a bit of unexpected time in the Del Norte County redwood groves on Day 7; now I’d be poised for several more, theoretically uninterrupted days in the […]

  7. […] recall that I first investigated the Damnation Creek Trail briefly on the afternoon of Day 7.)  The Damnation Creek Trail winds its way into the best of the redwood groves in Del Norte Coast […]

  8. […] scouted the location as far back as Day 7, I knew that absolute calm would be needed because I was going to have to photograph the scene with […]


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