Cape Crusaders (Part 2)

Old Stump

“Why are you taking a picture of that trashy old stump?” My wife wondered why I was so intent on getting a picture of a bit of flotsam that had washed up on the beach.

On the face of it, it’s a reasonable question; there was nothing remarkable about it as we walked up, it was just a big chunk of debris. But one woman’s trash is another man’s treasure, and as soon as I saw it, 100 yards away, I was already thinking silhouette and/or black and white photo. The gnarled shape of the old tree root, straining at the sky, reaching for that plant deity – the sun, in its last gasp finally escaping the earth. The darkened shapes highlighted against the white and spume of the surf suggested some ancient alien being trying to return to the ocean.

Ancient Being

Fortunately over the years my wife has grown accustomed to my little photography quirks, and if she rolled her eyes a bit while she patiently waited for me to get my shots, I didn’t notice.

This beach background was at Cape Lookout, the second stop on an excursion brought on by a rare warm dry day in February. Our excursion included three capes on the Oregon coast: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. I showed off Cape Meares and introduced Cape Lookout in part one.

Black and white photography is a new kick for me, or maybe a really old one, like that ancient root, trying to see the light of day once again. I cut my photographic teeth on black and white film back in the early 70’s, and wasted no time before I got into the darkroom. There was something magical about dropping a sheet of photo paper with a latent exposure into a developer solution and watching the image swim into existence.  But that’s old school, now it’s all digital. This new age isn’t as magical, but it gives you a lot more control over the exposure and effects.

It does pose a quandary though. Since you have so many options, how do you pick the one you like the best?  Here are two shots from one of the trails at Cape Lookout: one in color and one in black and white. Which is better?

This trail led all the way to the end of the headland, a nine plus mile round trip. Although I’m sure it’s a nice hike, we opted to move onto Cape Kiwanda.
This cape is another 11.25 miles south, and is adjacent to Pacific City.
Looking Northwest At Cape Kiwanda , With A Haystack Offshore

Geologically, it’s an oddity for the Oregon coast headlands in that it’s made of sandstone rather than basalt. This contributes to a different look and feel: the headland shows a range of browns, yellows, and reds, and the current lighting can make it anything from somber to striking. It is also is more subject to erosion, and surprise, from sandstone you get a lot of sand.

The initial beach access is long, flat, and shallow, which makes for an unusual local fishing fleet. The fisherman use small, flat bottomed dorys, and when they want to come in from a trip, rather than bothering with docks, they make a high speed run straight at the beach and go aground. Launching through the surf can be equally adventurous, and the surf itself is popular with surfers.

While the exposed cliffs of the headland are sandstone, the top is more evocative of a scene from the Sahara; it looks and climbs like a massive dune.

Climbing The Headland

Although you can do a leisurely, flat stroll along the beach, climbing the dune is more interesting, and provides more views of the power of erosion and of the colors that can be found.

The Other Side Of The Headland

The Emerald Sea…

The Cape is Waving

Once atop the headland you can follow the clifftop along the edge, keeping a safe distance. A misstep, a collapsing section of a sand cornice, a slip, and we would not be talking a happy ending. Bounce a couple times, and land on rocks or cold heaving surge.  But as long as you’re careful the views are worth the risk.

A Haystack Formation – Once The End Of The Cape

Heading back you can take the high road and go down a section of dune with a steep slope; guaranteed to fill your shoes with sand on the descent, or maybe your pants too should you do a bit of sliding on the way to the beach. Or, you can take a more civilized return, similar to the way up.

Once again I ask, which is better – color or black and white?

Looking South
B/W Version

In part one I mentioned that my DSLR battery was kaput and I was obliged to see how I could do with a low end smartphone camera and an assist from my wife’s point and shoot. Overall they did pretty well. The phone camera did have a tendency to blow out highlights and sometimes the color balance was a bit off, but I could tweak some of that.

We finished our time at Cape Kiwanda by hitting Pelican Pub and Brewery for a beer, burger and chowder. Pelican is a local microbrew pub right on the beach, and I’m partial to their Scottish Ale. It also spaced out the timing nicely; if we’d have started the two hour drive back to Portland directly we’d have hit the height of rush hour.

And so ended the crusade. A mission to take advantage of a warm day in winter was complete, thanks to wearing three capes.

25 thoughts on “Cape Crusaders (Part 2)

  1. There’s something timeless about black and white. I love b&w portraits, including your portrait of the stump! Positively Gothic.

    But I prefer the colour version of the trail; the misty quality of the light is more apparent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. pinklightsabre

    I’m with you, I like them both and much different moods, for sure. I think I swing to the color side if I had to choose, though. These photos make me miss home: one of the best roadtrips we made as a family was Seattle to the Redwoods via Portland, the Seal Caves area, Oregon coast, and back up through Crater Lake to visit friends, Mt. Hood, etc. The dunes remind me of a place we camped, and our kids got to stay in their first yurt. Good times. Looking forward to being back in the PNW in a couple months. Thanks for sharing these great photos and times of yours, like opening your photo album with people all around the world, innit? Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That does sound like a pretty awesome road trip. I haven’t been to the Redwoods (I assume you mean Avenue of the Giants area in the north) or Crater Lake for years, it’s time for a return trip. As for dunes, the real dunes area is further south from Cape Kiwanda, in the Florence area. I’m glad the photos bring back good memories for you.


      1. pinklightsabre

        Jesse Heineman or something? I think that’s where we were, near Florence. We went to Jebediah smith state park, loved it there. Probably can’t go wrong in those parts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Close, Jesse Honeyman for the dunes. I haven’t been to Jeb Smith park, but I remember that road to Crescent City was beautiful, especially as the one time I saw it was in fall color season.


  3. Neither is better, they are both great. I do have a weakness for B&W, and love your shots. That said, the colour ones are fantastic, with a special shout out for the haystack and the wave. I would have taken those shots of the stump, too, although the difference between us is that my wife would also have been taking photos of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, so far some like B/W, some like color, some like both. That’s appropriate, it reflects my quandry – some shots seem to ask for B/W, some have to be color, and some I can’t decide, I like them both ways. I guess I’ll just have to keep publishing both variants, and flip a coin on some of them to decide which way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s amazing how different a photo can appear when you compare the color and black and white versions. They elicit very different emotional responses from me! What an interesting experiment you’ve initiated here. I can’t say that I prefer one to the other, but I can say I find the color images more welcoming. I feel that I could walk into those shots. The black and white photos are lovely, but they feel more distant.

    Beyond that, it looks like a lovely time you both had. My wife and I have grown accustomed to each others’ photography quirks as well; I’m going to stop and take a picture of a strange tree, a turn in the trail, or a paw print in mud, and she’s going to stop and ask me to shoot a few photos of her doing yoga poses on a fallen tree. We’re an odd set, but we work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True that, black and white doesn’t have the warmth that color often provides, and seems more a moody document than a “you were there” moment.
      If the rest of us could do your wife’s yoga poses we’d be asking for photos too. She must have been a gymnast.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good observation. The black and white shots do have a very documentarian feel to them.

        Though never a gymnast, Clarissa could fool even me, contorting herself in seemingly unnatural postures with apparent ease. Perhaps in another life?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Telling, your use of the word “art”. With B/W it’s pretty clear that an art form designed to elicit a feeling is intended; with color sometimes it just comes across as “I was there”. But done well color can still bring a feeling, just a different one than B/W.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really got into photography only about a year ago, and I know what you mean by too many options! I often find myself flipping through different filters and settings, thinking that several has an equally nice but different effect. Your photos are beautiful, I think B/W and color are both amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was surprised how much I liked them too. I obviously need to start taking black and white photos on occasion. I’ve only used it when I’ve shared what a picture looks like using various filters.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s the beauty of digital editing tools. Every color picture you take has a black and white picture within it, trying to get out. There is an art to doing the conversion though, as I discovered by taking an online class on the topic.

        Liked by 1 person

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