Posted by: kerryl29 | April 12, 2021

The Story Behind the Image: Myers Beach at Sunrise

As I’ve mentioned on this blog in the past, one of the great oversights that can be made when photographing on the Pacific Coast is falling into the trap of assuming that there’s no point in getting up for sunrise. In case you missed the memo, the sun sets in the west, and on the Pacific Coast, that means the sun sets over the water. By extension, it also means that the sun rises over…a typically non-descript land mass. But that doesn’t mean that mornings on the West Coast of North America aren’t utterly engaging (assuming that the marine layer is behaving itself).

Once I learned this lesson–dating back to my first photo trip on the West Coast in 2009–I never forgot it and that stood me in good stead during my extended trip on the south Oregon coast in 2014. I was up and out every morning on that trip and that almost always paid dividends, including my early mornings at Myers Beach.

I will never forget my first glimpse of the Myers Beach seastacks. During a mid-day scouting session I was driving south from Bandon on the coast highway on my last full afternoon of the 2009 trip. This was basically an opportunity to see what I’d missed on that trip as a result of not having budgeted enough days on the coast for much of anything.

Reflecting on the first sight of Myers Beach in 2009, five years after the fact, I wrote the following:

The Coast Highway climbs steadily from Gold Beach as you approach the heights of the entrance to Cape Sebastian State Park and descends abruptly back to sea level on the other side of the cape. The road bends sharply to the east and just as you reach the beginning of the curve the sea stacks of Myers Beach come into view.

If you don’t feel something the first time you view Myers Beach as you approach it from the north on US 101 you’re probably not conscious. I can recall my first experience doing so, on a sunny July afternoon in 2009; I was viewing something special and I immediately knew it. The light was awful that day and I was more than 60 miles away from my base at Bandon so I didn’t have time to do much more than exit at one of the three Myers Beach pullouts and gape. But on this occurrence, in May of 2015, I had time. This time, I got out of the car. This time, the light was improving (even if the sky was almost completely bald). This time, I got out my gear and made my way down to the beach itself.

That was the prelude to the first of at least a half-dozen distinct visits to Myers Beach during my 2014 trip. One of those took place on a chilly, clear but windless morning. I stopped at one of the extensive highway pull-outs that front Myers Beach, which is both miles long and hundreds of yards deep, with the Pistol River flowing through the middle, directly into the Pacific Ocean. The beach was utterly deserted at this very early hour. The almost non-existent surf made the setting more quiet than usual; the silence was only occasionally interrupted by the modest lap of the water and the rare cry of a seagull.

I made my way down the stairs and into the sand on the Cape Sebastian (i.e. northern) side of the beach, which fronts a fascinating stack with a visible window cut into it. Most of the time this feature is hundreds of feet into the surf, but at a particularly low tide it is possible to walk right up to the opening. That was not the case on this morning, but I still wanted to use the stack for background interest. The moon, a regular morning presence during this part of the week I was embedded on the coast, was setting and the sky was on the precipice of exploding with an earth shadow gradient.

That is what nature presented me on this morning; my job was to find the rest of the composition. I walked around a bit and eventually settled on a frame-balancing foreground rock, surrounded by a shallow tidepool; a small arcing of valella, brought in with the tide, in the otherwise undisturbed sand was a pleasing bonus.

Having found the scene I wanted to photograph I simply had to wait for the light to do its thing. At the height of the earth shadow, I made the image you see below.

Earthshadow, Myers Beach, Pistol River State Park, Oregon

Responses

  1. Wonderful picture!!!

  2. Stunning picture

    • Thanks very much!


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