Cannon Beach, OR

November 10, 2010 | Category: Oceans, Oregon, Sunsets, Timelapse, Travel

Sunset at Cannon Beach

Sunset at Cannon Beach

One of the destinations I’d been itching to visit ever since I first passed through Oregon was Cannon Beach, home of the beautiful Haystack Rock. It was definitely a cool place to visit. 🙂

So after driving in through the Cascades from eastern Oregon, we finally made it to the Oregon coast. We landed in a campground called Cape Lookout. After getting up in the morning, it was another one of those “Ah, we have light now! Let’s go see where the heck we are!” kinda mornings. That’s the thing about showing up to places after dark. 🙂 So with my cameraphone in hand, I trotted on over to the rocky coast to go explore a bit.

Matteo had gotten up early to shoot sunrise while I’d opted to sleep in. I came back to camp at one point to find him with his camera set up on the tripod, baiting some birds with trail mix, and trying to get some shots in flight. He must have shot nearly a thousand photos, machine gunning it every time they flew towards or away the food. There had to have been well over a dozen birds all around the campsite, begging for food. One of them landed on my camera for a bit to stop and observe. 🙂

Steller's Jay on top of my camera

Steller's Jay on top of my camera

Once we got everything packed up, we hit the road and started driving north along the coast. It was nice to drive the “scenic drives” (as identified by the road signs) and actually be able to see everything around you! :p One of the benefits of driving during the day rather than at night.

Our destination for this day was Cannon Beach. Apparently one of the things this place is famous for is that some of the movies “The Goonies” was set here. I’ve never seen it though, but that’s what people say. The reason I know about it is that it’s a popular destination for landscape photographers.

The sun glows behind Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach

The sun glows behind Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach

Ariel snapping some pics at Cannon Beach (shot by Matteo)

Ariel snapping some pics at Cannon Beach (shot by Matteo)

During the middle of the day or even well before sunset, the light isn’t all that special. It’s only when the sun starts to drop that things got particularly awesome.

Haystack Rock at sunset, long exposure

Haystack Rock at sunset, long exposure

There’s this beautiful mist that the sun backlights in the evening and a long exposure really helps soften everything and bring out that gorgeous glow.

A more traditional shot can really help you capture the sun as it dips down behind the stones.

Sunbeams shining from behind the stones

Sunbeams shining from behind the stones

As the sun continues to drop, it nestles down nicely into the crook of the rock and the glow now casts up. 🙂

As the sun continued to dip down, I ran up closer to the stones. My friend Matteo happened to snag a shot of me doing just that.

Ariel running towards the sea stacks at sunset (shot by Matteo)

Ariel running towards the sea stacks at sunset (shot by Matteo)

The above shot is a crop of a larger shot posted here.

Further and further the sun continued to sink.

The sun finally reaches the horizon

The sun finally reaches the horizon

Sunset reflections at Cannon Beach

Sunset reflections at Cannon Beach

Something cool to see was that as the sun started to fall below the horizon, it rapidly diminished in intensity.

The sun's intensity diminishes as it dips down below the horizon

The sun's intensity diminishes as it dips down below the horizon

You can still see a faint half-ball in the distance.

As the sun left the sky, things rapidly started to get darker. At this point, I felt like playing around with some longer exposures to get some softness in the image. Here’s a video of me doing just that.

and the resultant image that was shown on the LCD on the back of the camera:

Long exposure of Haystack Rock

Long exposure of Haystack Rock

I was actually a bit hesitant to put this shot up at first because it actually has some motion blur. At first I thought it was from the ocean waves splashing up against the tripod and shaking the camera, but I think it was actually due to the fact that whenever the waves rush in and out, they actually take with them sand, loosening the footholds where the tripod is standing and actually causing the sand to shift. To get a solid foundation for the tripod while it’s standing in quiet waves coming in and out is surprisingly tough.

That evening I decided to shoot some startrails behind the stones. It was still a small crescent moon and given that it was just after a new moon, the moon would be low in the sky after sunset and would drop relatively quickly over the course of the next few hours. What this meant is that I didn’t have to stay up as late as I would on subsequent shots (moonrise/moonset is about an hour later every night, progressively), the smaller moon would help against its light totally overpowering the stars, and since it was a growing moon fresh after a new moon (I never really learned the technical terms… waxing gibbous or waning gibbous or whatever they call it), that meant that I could shoot it after sunset instead of needing to get up before sunrise to shoot it.

However you wanna slice it, conditions were great to get some startrails with the moon moving across the frame for moonset. (Like sunset, but for the moon.)

After getting all my gear in order and double-checking everything, I set it up and let it run. It wound up shooting for over an hour before the batteries died. Here’s the end result.

Everything worked out beautifully with the exception of one major problem: Dew was building up on my lens and so through the shot, you’ll progressively see everything get blocked out more and more. After researching this online, apparently it’s a problem that plagues astrophotographers and is caused by the lens radiating heat and getting colder than the surrounding air. Thus dew forms on the front element. I’m not exactly sure why. It’s science.

In any event, there’s different tricks you can do to compensate including putting handwarmers around the lens and wrapping it in a sock, or either purchasing or creating some sort of lens heating apparatus that keeps the lens warmer so that dew doesn’t form on the lens. Either way, definitely something I learned and will look into for future shots like these. I wonder if it’s more of an issue in coastal or humid climates…

In any event, we came back the next day to shoot this place some more. (It’s not exactly a sunrise location since directly behind where we stand where these photos were taken is a sort of cliff with houses on top which totally obscure the morning sunlight.)

Here’s a nice mid-day shot.

Enjoying Cannon Beach during the day

Enjoying Cannon Beach during the day

It was nearly low tide at this point and so you could just about walk out to the big rock, Haystack Rock. (During full low tide, you can walk all the way out.)

See those white signs in the distance on Haystack Rock? They’re actually signs telling people not to go past there.

Since it was cloudy, I figured that is almost always a good opportunity for some timelapse action and so I went for it.

hm, pretty good, but the clouds are moving a bit too fast. Gotta adjust for that next time…

One thing this area is really popular for is puffins. It’s a type of bird that’s like a cross between a penguin and a duck.. or something.

Puffin, from seabird.org

Puffin, from seabird.org

They’ve got puffin statues in the area and everything, but it turns out this wasn’t the time of year when they come hang out. Due to the tide I could only get so close. (I even wound up getting splashed again while trying to get close by standing on a boulder to avoid the incoming waves…) On Haystack Rock I didn’t find any puffins, but I did find some ducks, some seagulls, and some black oystercatchers. (Yay for locals to help you ID birds! and the same for friends on facebook!)

A black oystercatcher looking for food during low tide

A black oystercatcher looking for food during low tide

It’s definitely a cool place here. The people here are also incredibly friendly, almost surprisingly so. It’s like everyone is instantly your friend, even before you say hello! This includes both fellow people on the beach as well as shop owners nearby. The dude at the hardware store helped me find a bit to tighten down a screw on my tripod. The coffee shop owner knew all the locals (small town) and his son is wanting to go to the music school in New York where Matteo went to school, so they had a lot to talk about. The restaurant where we stayed for a bit after shooting the startrail timelapse had some really friendly waitresses. While we plugged in and charged our batteries, they were awesome to talk to and gave us an amazing deal on a steak dinner! One of the ladies we talked to gave us suggestions on the best places to camp. We wound up staying in this area for a few days… spending our nights in this really cool youth hostel just north of town.

Since Cannon Beach wasn’t much of a sunrise hotspot, we did sunrise here in Ecola State Park, as well spent quite a bit of time shoot there. Let’s cover Ecola in the next post. 🙂

One Comments

  1. Stacey
    on December 7th, 2010
    1

    Wow! I was just thinking of Cannon Beach the other day. We are thinking about the Oregon coast as a possible place to live. There is so much beauty along the whole coast, and Cannon Beach is an extra special place.

    Your photos capture the feeling of this area so well!

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