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Devil's Gulch | by Mike Olbinski Photography
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Devil's Gulch

Ever since I first saw a long exposure of the Oregon coast, I knew I wanted to shoot something like that...someday. The sunsets there are spectacular, but when you can't get those, the rocks, the water, the waves...they make for some of the most beautiful coastal shots anywhere.


Last week I got sent to Corvallis, Oregon for my day job, and from the second I knew I was going, I got excited. I borrowed a B+W 10-stop filter from my good friend Rick Young to use not just on my recent New York trip, but also for this coastal visit.


On Wednesday night, I bailed out of the office a bit after 4pm and made for Thor's Well, which was 90 minutes away according to Google Maps. The road from Corvallis to Waldport via State Route 34 was astoundingly beautiful. I had so little time to make it to the ocean before sunset, I was groaning audibly in my car at the literally thousands of photo ops I missed along the way. Normally I seem to end up with my best shots on the journey instead of the destination, but this was something different.


I had to ignore the rest of it. I wanted those black rocks.


When I finally arrived, it was only 30 minutes to sunset. And the climb down to the rocky terrain was about 60 feet below the road. The tide was out, which was fine, but to get good shots of Thor's Well, you kind of need the tide to be in a bit more. So I ignored that location and setup right away at the spot above in the photo.


I have to was pretty freaky for this desert boy to stand at the edge of this 20 foot or so drop watching waves come smashing in, splashing upwards at random spots with deep, thundering sounds echoing everywhere. I have zero knowledge of tides, how they work, when it might come back I was doing my best to stay alert.


This exposure was just over 300 seconds. I blended it a bit with another one that had a smidge more detail on the left shore. I definitely am a newbie when it comes to the 10-stop filter, so a calculator would have been a smart thing. You don't realize how quickly you lose light.


I have a handful of other shots I'll show at some point...especially from the next morning. But I have to show this one's my first oceanic long exposure and I was pretty stoked when I saw it in Lightroom.


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Taken on October 12, 2011