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Marvels and Wonders Above Manzanita, Oregon Coast: Tricks of Clouds and Light, Video

Published 11/07/22 at 5:09 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Marvels and Wonders Above Manzanita, Oregon Coast: Tricks of Clouds and Light

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – As one prominent Prog band put it: Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends... (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Indeed, ELP could've been talking about Neahkahnie Mountain on the north Oregon coast, that looming, soaring presence above Manzanita. The nature show here never stops. The viewpoints and the highway are some 400 feet above the surf, while the tip of the mountain itself hits 1600 feet, all lending themselves to incredible sights you can't see anywhere else. If conditions are clear enough, you can see some 40 miles south: the Three Arch Rocks of Oceanside are visible.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection has been lucky up here. Some astounding colors and weather situations erupt on occasion, and our main photog has been there for it.

First example: this decidedly purple moment at top. This was about a decade ago, and the Oregon coast was primarily overcast on this particular cold, spring day. But at the end, holes open up in the clouds and crepuscular rays start shooting out. Just barely visible is a singular big one, coming down at an angle and appearing as if it's enshrouding that fishing boat far off.


One of the more spectacular moments happened way back in 2009, near the start of Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Again, a spring day (spring is the best time to photograph the coast because of conditions like these). Thick, puffy clouds abound and the air is thick with moisture: some areas more than others. So you get this unusual mix of dark and lighter clouds, areas between them with varying degrees of water particles, and again the whole crepuscular rays thing goin' on. Then through one big hole, the sun comes beaming through and reflected on the water.

There's always fascinating science beyond each scene. For instance, one thing only recently revealed about Manzanita is that it's in a unique zone that shelters it from cloud cover more often. It's been nicknamed the “banana belt” of the north Oregon coast because of this: Neahkahnie Mountain and Cape Falcon keep marine layers at bay. That's what happened here, although this one was lit from behind in unique ways that made it not only more colorful than usual, but it looked a bit like a haboob (a giant sand storm).


Sometimes the wowing sights have nothing to do with colors, like this night scene. Way out there, the moon was shining down through the clouds and flooding one part of the ocean with light. The contrast between the moonlight and the faint glow of town at the left is remarkable.

Also happening at night, there were these set of fascinating moments. Through various timelapse scenes, you get a glimpse of moonlight dancing on the waters of Manzanita, a marine layer moving beneath the stars at night, and the final section is a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter moving together, dropping below the horizon. This is all took place in 2015.

Speaking of Venus, there's a curious bit of meteorology / astronomy that not many know about, happening with every lovely sunset, called the Belt of Venus. It's the flipside of sunset: they happen on the other side of any clear-sky sunset. It's Earth's shadow at dusk, cast over the other side of the world and creating a subtly colorful band above the horizon. See more about Belt of Venus on the Oregon coast.

This area is so photogenic that even really crappy cameras can get something good out of it. This one happened way back around 2003 or so, with a rather so-so little digital camera. It was an evening full of visual subtleties: from the varying shades of pastels in the clouds, to the small but potent glow of sunset on a patch of the waves.

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