Oregon Adventure Day 5 – Thor’s Well

Thor’s Well is a large hole in a rocky area of the coast along Cape Perpetua in Oregon.

Here is where I got my absolute favorite photo from the Pacific Northwest 2013 trip, by far. Getting this shot took a whole lot of work, luck, and patience; I’ve never worked harder to get the perfect photo. I’m especially grateful to my girlfriend for being willing to suffer through it with me, as we spent a good 4 hours here waiting for the rising tide and setting sun to converge in a moment of colorful, awe-inspiring perfection. The entire trip would have been worth this photo alone.

This place was phenomenal. The hole is around 15 feet across, and 20-30 feet deep. When the tide is rising, waves crash through a keyhole in the cliff, causing water to explode upward 30+ feet into the air. Every time this happens, it makes a deep BOOM that you can feel when it vibrates through your body.

Day 5 of our Oregon adventure was the day we had chosen to explore Cape Perpetua, and what a lucky day it was. It was the only day of the entire trip that gave us a colorful sunset, as every other day brought cool evening rain off the sea that blocked any color that might lie on the horizon.

Even though it’s less than a 10 minute walk from a pull off along the highway in Cape Perpetua, it isn’t officially marked by the state parks service and few people know how to find it or even know about it at all. I only know about it from seeing a photo of it online, which caused me to become obsessed with finding and photographing it.

I have read about other photographers spending hours searching for it, sometimes failing and just giving up. I was fortunate enough to spot it immediately after my hike down from the highway. We decided to find it first thing that day, then come back to shoot it later at sunset.

We arrived well before sunset so that I would have enough time to really plan my shot. I wore knee-high waterproof boots to avoid soaked shoes and pant legs, and I’m really glad I did. After finding the perfect spot to shoot from, we waited for the tide to rise and the sun to set.

I realized that really nailing this photo would require blending multiple exposures so that the sky wouldn’t be overexposed or the rocks underexposed. I was initially worried about being able to shoot a longer exposure of the water since it was so windy, but my luck was favorable that day. The wind stopped entirely for the longer exposures, then picked back up! To keep my tripod in the exact same spot to ensure ease of multiple exposure blending, I used a remote to control the camera. It worked like a charm, and everything aligned perfectly. I had to wait until the sun was well-below the horizon to get the soft, violet hues you see in the sky.

After a very long wait and dozens of shots, I had finally captured the wow factor that Thor’s Well exudes. We hiked back to the car in near darkness, with not a soul else anywhere near us for miles. I’ve never been happier with another photo or experience.

Click here to view the resulting photo.