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Mind-Bending Subtleties of Ocean Mist on an Oregon Coast Night

Published 01/10/21 at 1:46 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Mind-Bending Subtleties of Ocean Mist on an Oregon Coast Night

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(Oregon Coast) – One thing that becomes immensely fun if you get deep into photography is shooting the beaches at night. Yet weather on the Oregon coast – big surprise – doesn’t always cooperate with that. The startling truth about that is - so what? One of the more lovely design elements of the region is the mists and fog that envelope the area. The same can be true of night photography here.

The other miraculous and even jaw-dropping aspect of night shooting on the coast is that no two nights look the same. This is especially true of when there’s mist or fog around. The camera always sees things we humans don't, especially after dark. And the results can be astounding.

Newport (at top). At the Nye Beach Turnaround late one winter’s night, a fog is trying to roll in but not quite succeeding. It hints at a takeover. Whatever it’s doing, everything becomes quite purple. Some mix of light sources are blending into the color of Prince. The light mist surrounding the area is lit up even to the human eye, as this atmospheric stuff is rather reflective. Yes, the beach is a bit brighter than usual.

Out in the ocean, fishing boats glide and their lights become exaggerated. They’re now bigger and yet less defined. Right at the tideline, blobs of sea foam bundle together after getting tossed around awhile. Sea foam means lots of phytoplankton, and it could mean the right kind of phytoplankton: the stuff that glows, that creates glowing sand. However, there’s too many lights and too much of it scattered around to let you see the little glowing critters. You have to walk a ways north or south into utter darkness to spot them. Hotels in Newport - Where to eat - Newport Maps and Virtual Tours

Gleneden Beach. There’s a touch of mist in the air, but most of the mist is simply created by the long exposure it takes to capture a dark scene like this – something like four to eight minutes of keeping the camera open. Gleneden Beach is a very dark spot at night, and all that wispy stuff you see is waves, whose constant motion for awhile is compressed into one blur.

The most remarkable part of this photograph is that weird, straight-edged symmetry. This is not manmade: it’s simply that the tideline at Gleneden is at this unique, slightly steep angle, causing the waves to dissipate and stop at exactly the same line all the time. It’s absolutely unlike any night shot Oregon Coast Beach Connection has ever done. Hotels in Depoe Bay - Where to eat - Depoe Bay Maps and Virtual Tours


Cannon Beach. Blobs of low-hanging clouds linger like massive ghosts in the air, with famed Haystack Rock far in the distance. All of it is lit in deep yellows by the street lights, which means they’re sodium. Sodium lamps glow orange or yellow. Then atmospheric conditions can deepen or soften the effect.

Here, they turn the north Oregon coast favorite into an alien place, as if it’s a depiction of what one of our solar system neighbors would look like. Such as Titan and its methane atmosphere. It’s awe-inspiring and chilling at the same time. Hotels in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Cannon Beach Maps and Virtual Tours



Lincoln City. It’s late one night and a beach access in Lincoln City not far from the Inn at Spanish Head. A slight mist rises up from the ocean itself, which really only becomes visible if you view it as some light source streams into it. In this case, it’s the resort hotel itself and its surf lighting, making the flying slurry of moisture a giant, irregular blob. Meanwhile, it’s all low-lying, leaving the stars to beam in their glory overhead.

Closer to the lens are orange sands – again the result of sodium lamps. Hotels in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Lincoln City Maps and Virtual Tours


Manzanita. It’s summer in this lazy hotspot of the north Oregon coast, and not a soul is around. It’s well after midnight, and there’s a touch of cloud cover but mostly a fog lingering against the shore. It leaves a purple, indistinct haze, while the beaches get a touch of orange from the tiny amounts of light way back inside Manzanita. There’s very little light here, so the shot takes a several minutes. The feeling is utterly surreal and ethereal, and you somewhat lose sense of direction.

You also don’t really know for sure where the surf is out there, so you have to keep your wits about you while photographing scenes like this. Hotels in Manzanita, Wheeler - Where to eat - Manzanita, Wheeler Maps and Virtual Tours


Rockaway Beach. Just down the road from Manzanita and Tillamook County’s northern edges, Rockaway Beach is completely socked in at this moment. This time, the lighting is pinkish, and all the light sources along the beach get scattered and combined so densely this photograph doesn’t take much more than a minute or two. When fog hits on the Oregon coast, it has the strange effect of either becoming incredibly dark or much brighter than usual. Hotels in Rockaway Beach - Where to eat - Rockaway Beach Maps and Virtual Tours


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