The Thoughts and Story Behind Tidal Wash

September 12, 2023  |  Portland, Oregon
Tidal Wash

An outgoing wave washes over a rocky beach on the Oregon Coast.

I really enjoy this image. It's very high-key and low contrast, with a low degree of detail, and I wouldn't change a thing about how I processed it, which was honestly not very much at all.

I wanted calm, serene, soft, and gentle. This is oftentimes the kind of experience that I love and seek with my time in nature. Simple and soothing... but still deeply powerful. And sometimes during even the most invigorating of environments, just losing myself in the viewfinder and really getting to know a particular scene can bring me that feeling. This is one such image.

What was actually happening in this image was fairly violent. This was taken an an anonymous location as a fairly active surf interacted with a steep bank of rocks which were piled up behind a sea stack. The waves would crash with a violent thunder right onto the rocks, shuffling them up and around, and then washing back down, resulting in completely new patterns and alignments every 20 to 30 seconds.

The sun was out and the brightness of the scene in the mid-afternoon April light was uncomfortable to look at, and I knew immediately that I was going to use a very long shutter speed. So I threw on my 10-stop filter, dropped my ISO, and stopped down to f/29 to get a 6 second exposure, the time set by approximately how long it took from the time the wave crashed to the time the water was no longer flowing through the rocks.

I got numerous photos that day, some strong in their own right, some with faults that bothered me, and some I couldn't decide between. But when I saw this image, I stopped looking immediately.

All images that I receive are postcards from the scene, tokens of the time spent together, and represent the feeling that I receive. Sometimes there's nothing to explain by why I choose an image. Some of them, such as this one, are just the right one without a question.

Posted in Musings.