A Dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night.

This opening is infamous, but why?  It seems innocent enough; descriptive, straightforward, to the point.  Sure, it’s a little redundant, nights are usually dark, but “it was a stormy night” just doesn’t have the same rhythm.

Regardless, that phrase came to mind when trying to come up with a theme for the latest batch of pictures.

(Click on any photo for a much better look)


Waves crashing into a rocky shoreline. You can almost feel the salty mists blowing into your face, and hear the solid thump of tons of water colliding with megatons of basalt.  The irresistible force takes on the immovable object, with the liquid remains fracturing, landing, and draining away. The storming of time; its endless assault ever so slowly eroding even the most determined rock.  Whites of foamy spum, flashing against the dark of the stormy night.

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Dark indeed, a nefarious assault on the… [pflutz, sputter, clunk; overwrought prose grinds to a halt.]

Er, ahem.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t so stormy after all.  Or even dark, much less night.


What it really was, was a stop on the Oregon Coast at an area best known for Thor’s Well and/or Devil’s Elbow.  And for this post, an excuse to experiment with different editing effects on incoming torrents of surf incurring splashy headbanger headaches.


Thor’s Well is a pit eroded into the rock, 20 feet or so from the edge of the shoreline, that has an underwater channel. When the surf rolls in just right, water pressure pushes water through the channel and up the well causing a geyser, often with a companion cascade on the shore’s edge.


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After the crash and the boom, all that water drains back into the well, through the channel, and back to the not so Pacific ocean for another go around.


We onlookers gathered around the well, looking for a strategic position that gave a good view – one without the specter of an unpredictable geyser dumping its wind-assisted contents on our heads.


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The big splash wasn’t just in Thor’s Well. Sections of coastline were conducive as well.


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A hundred yards further up the coast, smaller blow horns exist, along with the Devil’s Elbow.



It may not have been a dark and stormy night. But even on a calm ocean day, Poseidon can show up, hiding his claws in those ephemeral moments that only a camera notices.


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Maybe it does take a dark and stormy night.

For what it’s worth, “It was a dark and stormy night” isn’t the complete text of the notorious opening.  The full treatment?

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

–  Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in his novel Paul Clifford, 1830.

Ok, that is a tad excessive.  Think I’ll stick to Snoopy’s version…

62 thoughts on “A Dark and Stormy Night

  1. These are fantastic, Dave! I am always drawn to crashing waves and you’ve captured some beauties. I especially love the black and whites.
    I must look this area up for my next trip. We’ve spent a lot of time on the Oregon coast and love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thor’s Well is a pretty well known spot. I opted to shoot fast and go for crashing waves because of the time of day we were there, but lots of photographers like to go there in the early/late hours and shoot long exposures of the water draining back into the well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful collection of crashing wave action, Dave. Thor’s Well is a coastal feature I’d love to visit someday. Here on the East Coast we have Thunder Hole in Acadia N.P. The first comment describes my visits there pretty well. Of course it is set up for tourists but often that viewing point is closed during wild weather which is a good thing.. I envy being able to visit the Oregon coast with all the great stacks and other attractions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know, I’ve never read the full opening paragraph. I love the emotion the narrative provides; really does a good job of setting the scene and making you feel like you’re right there. Funny that the Bulwer-Lytton awards are meant to honor bad fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect that if he’d broken down his run-on sentence into several sentences, nobody would have complained about it. (And nobody would probably have heard of him either. Is infamy better than being anonymous?)


  4. No, no — keep the spume. It’s a perfectly good word, and one used more regularly than you might think. Sailors and others (like offshore rig workers) who estimate the force of the winds by the appearance of the sea follow the so-called Beaufort scale, and in many publications, the word ‘spume’ substitutes for ‘foam.’

    The variety of photos is delightful. I’m especially taken by the last image, and the one similar to it farther up the page. They look like engravings in an antique book — say, an 1820’s account of some intrepid explorer.

    Your photos also remind me of one of the most famous photos ever taken in these parts: Hurricane Ike making its presence felt at the Galveston seawall the night before it made landfall. Ironically enough, the sculpture is a memorial to the victims of the Great Storm of 1900.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, spume. Guess I spelled it wrong for the precise meaning. (If it wasn’t for spell check I’d probably get every fourth word wrong. For example, I just mispelled forth. 🙄 )

      I also got the impressive of old timey illustrations when I saw what Topaz spit out of its filters, in particular a famous print by a Japanese artist named Hokusai.

      That hurricane wave is a doozy. I’m not sure I’d want to be that close to it.


      1. Now I can’t help wondering if ‘spum’ might be the oceanic version of ‘spam’ — waves that insist on crashing uninvited on beaches. In this case, your filters didn’t eliminate them, but they certainly made them more attractive!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. There used to be a really funny Bulwer-Lytton writing contest where people had to compose the worst openings to a novel–I don’t know if it still exists but it was hilarious. Those photographs are stunning, and I love the way you’ve played around with the editing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard of that contest. I’ve probably even unofficially entered it. 😉

      The digital darkroom is a whole different animal than the black and white one I cut my teeth on. Kind of mind boggling, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A fun post, Dave. I like the idea of different treatments of these great Oregon coast locations. There’s a nice rhythm to the progression of images. All in all, I think the straightforward color versions appeal to me most, but it’s fun to see the variations. Here’s to the Oregon coast!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been interesting playing with “artistic” looks to see what I can come up with. Of course, one man’s art is another’s dustbin liner – I don’t suppose it’s any weirder than some “real” art I’ve seen.


  7. The “storming of time”…I love that! Sounds like a fantastic fantasy story. Wishing you all sorts of metaphorically wonderful things in the coming year. Thanks for the fun chats and looking forward to many more of them in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been playing more with the artsy stuff lately – Topaz is a good tool for that. I’ve also been trying to find a comfort zone with artistic composites – I think that’ll be an ongoing challenge. I’m glad you enjoyed these.


    1. Black and White can really add drama. Although I did kind of push the limits on this one, going from broad daylight to “dark and stormy”. I’m glad that I can still grab the attention of someone who’s seen the hills age. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We did stop at Shore Acres on that trip, but didn’t get the show you encountered. That must have been impressive to see in person.

      The textures on the last two shots, as well as many other effects can be created via a tool called Topaz Studio.


      1. I believe someone mentioned the Christmas light show at Shore Acres. Last I heard they were adding more lights each season. (Even animated ones!) First time I went to it in 1994 it was impressive… and then the group of volunteers kept adding lights EACH YEAR!!!

        Once again, in order to catch those storm waves crashing it sure helps to live nearby. I was just damned lucky that way!

        I think I made a halfhearted attempt at Topaz, but stuck with Viveza and (mostly) Color Efex, etc (is that what they call a “Studio”? Ensemble?)


      2. That was probably Curt Mekemson. I think he’s a mutual follower and lives down in your end of the state. (Have you read his latest posts? He’s had almost Forrest Gump levels of “being there” for certain historical events…)

        I have the free version of the NIK tools, but mostly I use On1 Photo RAW. It’s a capable tool and locally based, so I like to support them.


      3. Yep… I’ve followed Curt for some time now. In more ways than one. Seems we’ve both lived in quite a few of the same places, but at different times. It’s actually a bit spooky. And yes, he’s not far from me, but farther inland from the coast than I am.

        I’ve read his book from which he’s recently been posting excerpts. He’s quite the character. 😉

        Thanks for mentioning On1 Photo RAW. It looks interesting. I haven’t done an update to Lightroom since they went to subscription. On principle I don’t believe in renting software… so I’ve been stumbling along with the outdated version… What caught my eye was the price to OWN the software you mentioned, rather than renting it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Naturally they sell upgrades with additional functionality every year, but you’re not obligated if you don’t find them useful. For example, I skipped last year but opted for this year. They also have an On1 Plus option that gives access to a large library of training courses. Some are On1 specific, others general photography training. I’ve done that in past years but not this year.

        Liked by 1 person

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