wave junkies

~ more notes and photos from my October trip to Oregon and California ~

There’s no doubt about it — my friend and I are a couple of wave junkies. No matter where we were along the coast, we spent many hours perched on high look-offs, or clambering about on rocky outcrops searching for the best places to watch the waves come crashing in. I shot literally hundreds of photos of waves on this trip — everything from seascapes of long lines of breakers rolling in, to close-ups of wild waves exploding against rocks just a stone’s throw from my chosen vantage point (click on all photos for larger views).

So, what’s the fascination with these waves?

There’s a hypnotic quality to wave-watching. I find a safe spot to stand or sit, and then let my mind get in synch with the rhythm of the waves. Among my favourites is to find a place where I can watch the seething, frothy riptide as it churns to wash up and away from the shore. The white caps and foam smash together and frequently rise up to form mountainous crests in the surf. Between breakers, vein or braid-like patterns undulate, weaving every-changing patterns. This small movie clip probably gives a better explanation than anything I am able to write.

Of particular interest are places where massive volumes of water are forced through arches, sea caves or other openings in sea stacks or shoreline rock formations. Here’s another small movie that I made of waves rushing through one of these openings.

Perhaps best of all are those spots where I can find a relatively safe perch on a rock formation close to dynamic wave action. When packing camera gear, some consideration must be given to avoiding an unexpected soaking. The above photo was shot at one of these locations. If you check out the larger view of this shot, you should be able to see the arch of a rainbow that shot up each time a good wave crashed through to explode inside a slot in the rock. I’ve also posted a movie shot from the same vantage point to give a better feel for the wave action along that section of shore.

I’ll probably post some more wave photos and footage as time allows.

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10 Responses to “wave junkies”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    Great wave shots, bev. There is something incredibly meditative about watching waves. I’ve noticed, too, that it’s really hypnotic to hear them at night. Like the earth has a heartbeat.

  2. Cathy Wilson Says:

    That had to be a thrill. The noise alone is awe-inspiring. Lovely photos – again, Bev.

  3. bev Says:

    robin – Thanks! It’s that hypnotic-meditative thing that really holds me when I’m watching waves. I love to watch the waves, currents and foam weaving together in endless patters. And yes, the sound of the waves.. especially in places where the waves tumble in over rock, making strange subterranean moans and crunches, or that kishhhing sound they make as they roll in on fine beach stones. Wave sounds always make me think of the wave poetry at the end of Kerouac’s Big Sur. He got it just right.

    Cathy – Yes, it was definitely a thrill. Unfortunatlely, the little built-in mic on the Nikon camera picks up the wind noise more than the wave sound, but it still captures some of the essence of place. Thanks, Cathy.

  4. Larry Ayers Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed your recent Northwest posts, Bev. Fine photos!

    My daughter lives in Portland and I’m looking forward to visiting her one of these days, and I’ll be sure to take my camera!

  5. pohanginapete Says:

    Yes, I know of few better places that encourage contemplation than wild coasts. Also, I generally sleep well when I can hear the sea; even if the sight of deep, surging water scares (and excites) me, I find its sound comforting as I fall asleep. (Curiously, I’m much more relaxed under wild water than on it.) I’m sure the psychologists would have a field day.

  6. am Says:

    I love the your clips and photos of the ocean, Bev! A breaking wave or waves appear in many of paintings from memory because of the countless hours I spent watching waves along the California coast. In one of my recurring dreams, I see the Pacific Ocean sparkling in the distance and experience joy.

  7. bev Says:

    Larry – There are lots of neat places within a day’s drive or so of Portland. I’ll be posting more photos from along coast, so that may give you some ideas for places to visit.

    Pete – I too sleep well when I’m near the sea and can hear those sounds. I know what you mean about deep, suring water being both scary and exciting. I constantly feel both fear and a sort of magnetism when I’m near wild water.

    am – Thanks! I’m just thinking of your paintings — yes! you have painted many waves. I’m not at all surprised iven that you spent so much time along the California coast. It’s really quite exhilarating, isn’t it?

  8. Dave Says:

    A wild coast:
    white peaks of water rise
    between the rocks.

  9. bev Says:

    Dave – Thanks — excellent.

  10. Brittany Says:

    I love your photography. I’m wondering what camera you use as I am in the market for a new one. You’re pictures are preeeeeetty!

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