Just another amazing photo of the San Juan Islands, Washington. Actually, the body of land in the distance is Vancouver Island, Canada with Victoria on the far left but as you can imagine, I took this photo while standing along the banks of San Juan Island. Spring and Summer is the best time to visit and if you’re lucky, you can expect to have the opportunity to get some fantastic sunset shots. Summer will almost guarantee amazing weather with warm days and beautiful sunset views like the one I posted. One of the best things about the islands is that it can be very calm and almost ghostly out along the straight. You would think that there would be hundreds of boats cruising along the glassy water but I found that it’s almost void of all boats. This can really allow a photographer the ability to get some epic shots by setting your shutter priority to 30 seconds and without having to worry about any distractions. I was able to set the shutter speed at 30 seconds for this shot and I was amazed at the colors emulating from above and below Vancouver Island. I was very lucky to have a very clean camera sensor since I ended up taking hundreds of shots while setting my shutter priority between 15-30 seconds each time. Again, I highly recommend that you plan a trip to the islands between Spring and Summer and plan on bringing all of your lenses and filters since you will end up using every one of them.
It looks like the Pacific Northwest is at it again with it’s ridiculous sunsets and over bearing sunlit rocks and beaches. The only thing that would have made last week even more over the top is if there were a pod of whales breaching in the surf. Sometimes I can get a little overwhelmed with the incredible sunsets at Cannon Beach and last week was no exception. You couldn’t have taken a bad photo even if you had tried. The clouds helped create another nuclear like explosion with the sand and rocks creating one of the most epic canvases. I decided to post this photo in order to show the personality of the swirling sea foam in the foreground. I normally avoid getting these types of shots but the sea foam was really dancing along the beaches this night. It literally looks like a snake slithering back towards the surf. The glare from the sun really caused an epic color display with each part of the photo showing a different color. I initially thought that the clouds in the distance were going to ruin my sunset shots but I was amazed at just how many colors they produced. Early spring can really be unpredictable but it can also produce some amazing photo opportunities. It’s hard to imagine but the sun was directly behind the largest of the Needles rock and I ended up using it as a buffer most of the night. It pretty much allowed me to take photos that are normally filled with too much glare. In fact, I usually have to wait until later but since the sun wasn’t as intense and the clouds were subduing the sun, I was able to get some really unique photo opportunities. It also helped to have a flawless sandy beach with a very low tide. If you’re wanting too get some really awesome sunset shots, I would highly recommend that you allow a few days to visit the Oregon coast in order to take advantage of the amazing weather that you could be enjoying. Again, you just want to make sure and bring your tripod, bubble level and remote switch. It’s also pretty cold during sunset so you may want to bring a warm hat and maybe even a thin pair of gloves. I was really surprised at how cold it got and how quickly the temperatures cooled off once the sun set.
Another awesome day along the Oregon coast last Saturday. It wasn’t quite as warm and sunny the last few weekends but as you can see, the weather was still amazing. However, the sunset was somewhat subdued due to a very large system that was hovering along the horizon, which caused for a less than dramatic sunset. I was still able to get some unique shots but I wasn’t able to recreate the nuclear type of explosion of color that I usually look for. I was fortunate enough, though, to take advantage of a very low tide that allowed me to walk nearly to the edge of Haystack rock. I have only experienced one other time that I was able to get that far out towards the Needles and Haystack rock and it was almost as though I was experiencing a summer night rather than a March night. Again, I was fortunate to find a lot less photographers with their tripods but I did encounter a lot of people walking near the edge of the low tide. It made it a little hard to get some of my shots but they cleared out pretty early and I was able to just re-position myself each time someone was in my line of shooting. I took this particular shot north of Cannon Beach and as you can see my Australian Cattle Dog is in the picture. He was having a heck of a time running along the beach so I decided to add him to some of my shots. You will notice the cloud front way out along the horizon. They lingered out all day and into the night. I was hoping that they might burn off but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. This weekend is calling for rain and clouds but the weather is supposed to get better by next week and I’m sure that the coast will be getting some more great weather.
Moon over Cannon Beach, Oregon is one of the best photo opportunities that I can experience while shooting sunset shots in the Pacific Northwest. However, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a large moon but even if it’s as small as the one in this photo, I’ll take it any day. The weather is showing that the summer weather throughout the entire Pacific Northwest will hang around for another week or so and the Oregon coast will again be in the 60’s. I would recommend that you grab your camera, tripod and head out to the coast and hope for another epic sunset. I will be heading out again and I can only hope that my last journey to the coast can be half as good this time. This photo was taken just after sunset and you can see the nuclear colors along the horizon. The tide was very low so I was able to get several other rocks in the photo that normally would be under water. The seabirds were pretty active since that tide was so low and they were scavenging along the exposed rocks, which either hindered my long exposures or gave me the opportunity to get some action shots with moving wildlife. Late winter and early Spring can really create some great sunset shots and my last outing didn’t disappoint. To get this shot I made sure to attach my ND4 filter as well as my UV filter and warming filter. I also made sure to use a tripod, bubble level and remote switch. I set the shutter priority to 5 seconds and increased the ISO to 200. The crowds were pretty small so I was able to move around much easier than other times. I was also fortunate that there weren’t many people walking out near the tide so I didn’t have to worry too much about trying to avoid having someone walk in front of me.
You may think that this photo was taken in July but I actually took it in November. You wouldn’t think that the Oregon coast could produce such awesome weather in November but fortunately we are blessed with some pretty amazing weather during Fall and Winter. However, the storms have rumbled back in and we are looking at about 2 to 3 weeks of rainy and unsettling weather. If you’re able to check the weather forecast on a daily basis you might be lucky enough to find that small window of opportunity and find a sunny day along the coast. This would be the best time to get an amazing sunset shot as well as have the ability to stroll along the beach like it was summer. I took this shot while visiting Ecola State Park and I was pleasantly surprised that there was absolutely no wind and no clouds. The temperatures were even descent. However, once the sun started to go down, the temperatures started to drop and the wind picked up. The photo from my previous post is what the sunset looked like. The colder months are much better at producing better sunsets, than at any other time during summer, and I would highly recommend visiting during Fall or Winter since you can also avoid the crowds and get a much better deal on a place to stay.
This photo may be the last clear sunset shot at the Oregon Coast for 2014. Oregonian’s know that Fall and Winter bring the most dynamic and amazing sunsets but unfortunately they are hard to come by and you have to ask for a little luck. One of my favorites reasons for going to the beach, during the cold months, is that sunset is between 4:30 and 5:00 pm but if you go on a day when the skies are clear you will wish that you had more time to explore and take in the sights. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. However, I didn’t bring my ND filter so I wasn’t really able to set the exposure time for more than two seconds. I did attach my CIR PL, warming filter and UV filter in order to take advantage of the warming tones as well as remove any unwanted noise. The one thing to remember is that when you are taking sunset shots, during the month of November, the sunset comes and goes lightning fast so you want to be sure and keep on your feet. Luckily, there are usually less people so you will normally have the opportunity to move about more freely without running into people or finding them standing in your way. The tides are also much more aggressive and the swells move in and out pretty quickly so you will want to keep that in mind since you may find yourself getting caught in a fast moving swell as you take that epic shot. The most important thing to remember is to think outside the box and stay creative since you can sometimes get that perfect shot when you least expect it. I was really impressed with the crashing waves moving left to right once they reached the beach so I waited for the best chance to get this particular shot. I really liked the way the water was dancing just above the beach but at a very fast pace. Even though I couldn’t set my camera to shutter priority, I was able to keep the aperture at only F-4, which allowed me to get the movements of the waves as well as the colors of the skies drenched in reds, yellows and orange. I also made sure to keep the ISO at 100, the WB at 0 and held the shutter speed at 1/60 second. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 42mm in order to frame each of the rocks in the shot. Since I only shoot in jpeg mode I was able to keep the photo at only 1.67mb, which keeps it from being too big. The next several days is calling for some pretty rainy weather but I would recommend checking the weather for the next sunny days and take advantage of sunset opportunities like this.
The Pittock Mansion is located in Portland, Oregon and is one of the best sites to get some great shots of downtown Portland with Mt. Hood in the background. The Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style Château and it was built in 1909 and sits on 46 acres of beautiful and scenic land. The mansion has gone through many upgrades and renovations but recently the city of Portland took out many of the vegetation around the building. Now you can get a better view of the mansion while standing on the lawn. They city also took out several of the tall trees that blocked the view of downtown Portland. It was kind of a double edged sward since I hated to see the trees taken out but they really blocked the panoramic view of the city. Now you can get the most epic views of the city without having anything blocking your view. However, those of us that had taken photos in the past are pretty much needing to throw most of them out and start taking advantage of the views available now. I’m pretty sure that I recently added a panoramic photo of Portland with the new view. The site surrounding the Pittock mansion is a must stop for travelers or photography junkies visiting the area. There are several hiking trails in the area as well as dozens of flowers and rare vegetation that several volunteers maintain year round. You also have the opportunity to view bald eagles, osprey, hawks, turkey vultures and other birds soaring above. On a clear day you can see Mt. St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and just the tip of Mt. Jefferson. It’s also a great place to bring a lunch and sit on the manicured lawn or sit along the small bleachers that face towards the city.
If you are ever interested in getting a beautiful and unexpected sunset shot along the Oregon Coast, I would recommend that you visit during a time when the weather is stormy and unpredictable. You can almost always expect the weather, along the Oregon coast, to be unpredictable but you can never be sure what to expect. The summer months are the most predictable unless the fog stays enough offshore that you aren’t able to get a good sunset shot. This is usually the only thing that you will ruin your shots. However, if they are predicting stormy weather, you can have a much better chance of being surprised by some crazy sunset opportunities. It’s important that you closely watch the weather predictions and then adjust for the chance that they will get it completely wrong. However, if you’re wanting to get some crazy sunset weather, you don’t really need to check the weather unless you want to be sure and pack the right clothes. I find that rainy and stormy weather offers photographers the chance to really step up their game and allows you to really step out of the box. I try not to be a storm chaser but rather choose a location that will create the best canvas for some stormy weather shots. Utilizing rocks, sand and trees can really enhance your photo and if you can include the clouds and sun, you really have a winning shot. I took this shot and it shows how I took advantage of the offshore rocks, beach, clouds and sun cutting through the clouds. To get this shot I set the camera mode to shutter priority and set the speed at 10 seconds. I wanted to get the movement of the clouds and make the ocean look frothy. You can’t really see the beach but it’s in the foreground and the beach is made of medium sized black rocks. I attached my CIR-PL, warming filter and ND filter in order to increase the shutter speed and not have too much glare from the sun. I also wanted to capture the reflection of the sun beaming off the frothy ocean in order to create a biblical type of photo. I also set the ISO at 100 and put the white balance at +1. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 55mm.
My first trip to the San Juan Islands in Washington State was an awesome experience. The weather was stellar and the sights were an amazement of incredible views. San Juan Island is one of the largest of the islands and it’s about 55.3 square miles and about 6,950 residents. However, I’m not sure if that’s full time or part time residents. Friday Harbor is the only town on the island and also where the ferry drops visitors off. We caught the ferry at Anacortes and it was about a 45 minute trip. However, make sure to get there early and plan on waiting for a while before boarding the ferry. It’s pretty expensive on the island so I would recommend bringing as much food as possible and make sure you fill up your gas tank in Anacortes. When driving through the island, it looks more like an agricultural area more than an island. It reminded me a lot of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. However, the rocky shores were teaming with viewpoints that included Mt. Baker to the east, the Olympic mountains to the south and Vancouver Island, Canada to the west. There are also two lighthouses on the southern part of the island, several densely forested areas as well as numerous fresh water lakes dotted along the island. There are plenty of historic places to visit and the interior has several rolling hills that offer some of the best road bike riding I have ever seen. We saw several deer as well as several sea otters in Mitchell Bay. There are several places that you can view orcas from the island, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. There is a small winery and an alpaca farm. Several cattle, horses and sheep are raised here as well as wheat and grass. There are several old barns and houses to photograph and with the Olympics always close by, you can sometimes get the mountains in most of your pictures when visiting the southern side. There are two harbors and dozens of coves and bays throughout the island. I was amazed with the amount of kayaks on the island. Most visitors coming off the ferry had either a bike or a kayak strapped to their vehicles. Sometimes they had both. I was able to get a lot of photos with kayaks in the picture, which made for some great sunset photos. I was able to kayak where I was staying, which was at Mitchell Bay on the north side of the island. You could see Vancouver Island, Canada and I paddled near several sea lions, kayaked through a kelp garden, saw several jelly fish and watched as some very expensive sail boats and power boats steamed by. There is also a 1 mile hike up Young Hill, which is about an 800 foot elevation gain. It provides a fantastic panoramic view of the Olympics, the many harbors and Vancouver Island. One of my favorite spots to photograph and visit along the shore was at tiny Reuben Tarte County Park, which is on the north east tip of the island. You have an incredible 180 degree view with several islands in the distance. You can see the mountains on Vancouver Island and photograph the ferries heading to Sidney Harbor as well as the many sailboats and power boats in the San Juan Channel. Since I was limited on time I visited San Juan County Park to get my sunset shots. It was only about a 10 minute drive from Mitchell Bay and there were several areas to set up my tripod. To get this photo, I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 38mm. I was using my CIR-PL, warming filter and UV filter as well as my tripod and remote release. The sun had just set so I was able to get the orange glow exploding over Vancouver Island and Andrews Bay. I wanted to get a good glare from the sky but I was afraid that the moon would come out too blurry so I only set the shutter priority to 10 seconds. The F stop was at F-5.6 and I set the ISO to 100. I have several photos where I had set the shutter to 30 seconds but this photo really shows the colors of the sunset. While I was taking these photos, I noticed several sea lions swimming by and I was hoping to maybe to spot a pod of killer whales but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I would highly recommend visiting the San Juan Islands if you want to really experience an epic journey. There are several other islands that the ferries can take you to, but I was very impressed with what this island had to offer.
One of the best Coast lines, along the Pacific Ocean, sits between Brooking’s Oregon and Gold Beach, Oregon. Here is where you will find Oregon’s Gold Coast. You will find yourself drenched in the warm evening sunset’s, warm breezy afternoon’s and sunny and cool morning’s. Late summer and early Fall are the best times to experience the Mediterranean type climate that rushes through Southern Oregon’s coastline. Here you will also find Oregon’s pine apple express that brings warm offshore winds as they collide with the warm beaches. There are also hundred’s of miles of trails that take you inside the coastal mountains or drop you into the many private and hidden beaches. You may also spend several days navigating some of the amazing river’s that work their way towards the Pacific Ocean. If you don’t want to spend all of your time in hotel’s you can choose from the many camping grounds that are scattered throughout the region. If you enjoy taking photos I would recommend that you bring all of your camera gear since you will be amazed at the possibilities available. There are botanical gardens, rocky cliff’s, wildlife, waterfalls, creeks, lighthouses, seabirds, and the list goes on and on.