Crashing Waves

A really quick post this time… At the coast the previous night, there had been a windstorm which created gigantic waves. The following afternoon, we passed by a roadside lookout near Depoe Bay, where the waves were still crashing-in. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a few shots.

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Central Oregon Coast

Central Oregon Coast

Waves are pretty unpredictable, so I took dozens of shots of the action. I was trying to get a good mix of rock and crashing waves, and timing was key. Sometimes the waves would cover the rocks in the foreground… sometimes the mist from the crashing waves obscured the rocks in the distance.

By using a long focal length – near 400mm – I was able to compress the elements in the image. Things both near and far look of similar size. This can work well for busy scenes like this. The layers of rocks and mist help maintain a sense of depth – you can readily see what is in front and what is in the distance. Another thing that really helps with this shot is the lighting. The scene is lit from the back/right side. This makes the mist glow, and adds a lot of dramatic shadow to the waves.  In the opposite direction, the waves were front-lit. That added a lot of color to the waves, but there were no shadows,  and the sense of depth was lost. A cloud passed by for part of the time I was watching the waves, and this also killed the depth in the image… this was one scene that really worked best in full sun.

There’s also one element in this picture you don’t see – the house perched on the rocks just outside the frame. The right kind of house might have added to the drama of the scene, but this particular house wasn’t right for that. This did limit my framing somewhat – I couldn’t go any further to the left, but in the end, wasn’t too much of a problem.

One thing I wished I’d done at this shot was to take some video. The scene was so chaotic and ever-changing, I think video would have done it better justice… well, next time!

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