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Needles and a Haystack #1 - Cannon Beach, Oregon | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Needles and a Haystack #1 - Cannon Beach, Oregon

I just got back from a trip along the scenic Oregon coast. One morning on Cannon Beach, a small hole opened up in the dark clouds for just two minutes. Just long enough for me to capture this scene of 237ft. Haystack rock and the needles. Light sure does matter! No HDR


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Settings etc.:



Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 17-40L @ 19 (very wide to get it all into the frame)

1/8-second exposure @F11

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.75

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

No polarizer!

ISO 50

2-second shutter delay. (My remote shutter release died!)

Small Slik tripod with Manfrotto Pistol-grip ball head.

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop


Canon Beach in Northern Oregon is an exceptionally wide, long and flat beach with a number of large rock islands and sea stacks offshore. Low tide is often the best time to see it because you can get closer to the rocks and the sand is glossy and smooth both for walking and for photography. On this morning, I moved into a good position with the ripples pointing towards the middle stack. Then, I waited for a small hole to open up in the cloud deck. For two short minutes, the sun illuminated this scene against a dark sky.


Before and after this good light, this scene looked dark and dreary. But I could see small holes in the clouds heading towards the rising sun. So I waited and waited. The holes seemed to close up just as they reached the sun because they would hit the mountains behind the beach and get thicker. But finally this hole lasted long enough.


I've seen lots of sunset shots from this beach with no detail on these rocks whatsoever, so I decided to work on the sunrises with the light hitting the rocks. It is good to try something different.


The map shows exactly where this is. It is a short hike from the nearest road.


See my Flickr profile for a link to my newly designed website.



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Taken on August 10, 2009