A couple weeks ago I went up to Pacific City and Cape Kiwanda with a couple buddies (Cody Cha and Majeed Badizadegan) to photograph the sunset and the high surf at the tail end of a storm. The night consisted of some great storm clouds, awesome color, and yes, the wave action was quite good as well.
The evening started off with a little rain as we were just getting in a place we could photograph. Not to be deterred as we always go prepared with rain gear and covers for our equipment, we set up to shoot what is probably the most popular spot at Cape Kiwanda. It wasn’t long that the rain let up and Cody pointed out a rainbow starting to form to the east!
In roughly the same spot with a much more common composition, the high water created some great contrast and movement on the sandstone.
After getting our fill of shots down here, we headed up to the tip of the cape where there’s a great bowl in the rocks that the waves crash up and flow back out to sea. Another popular spot as you can get the big haystack rock in the distance as part of your composition.
This next shot is unprocessed and straight out of the camera just to show what the area we were shooting looked like. This is another popular spot on the cape that photographers love to shoot.
It’s hard to get the perspective here, but that water coming up the rocks was a good distance away from us, and we are roughly 50′-60′ above the ocean. With some reasonably sized waves and the color setting in nicely, we setup to shoot and we were all safe and thought to be in a good place.
After a few minutes we were unfortunate enough to have this happen……
This huge wave came flying up at us and it was well above our heads. The force of the wave knocked me to the ground including my tripod with the camera and lens on it of course. The only reason this shot happened was I was already set up and firing a series of shots. The gentlemen you see in the picture was just fine, just got a little wet, but he was very lucky the wave was not heading directly at him like it was to us.
Majeed didn’t have his backpack on his back and it was nearly washed back out to sea with the water. Luckily the guy out here was able to grab it before it made it all the way out. After a few moments and realizing we were all okay, we quickly headed to a much safer location. Had a few nervous laughs as we settled back down.
We were all okay, just rather soaked from the salt water, but some of our equipment was not so fortunate. Majeed lost his phone and had to get it replaced, but his camera equipment was alright after drying out for a couple days. Thank goodness for the expensive gear being okay!
Just Friday (the 27th), 3 days before this occurred I had purchased a new Nikon D7100 and an LG G2 phone. Both of these ended up with fatal wounds 🙁 The phone does not have a removable battery and when I pulled it out of my pocket, the LED notification light was flickering and acting like it was shorting out, which I believe it really was. The phone never came back to life but was insured and a replacement should be here by the time this post goes live.
The D7100 I was thinking would be alright after drying out for a couple days. I pulled the battery immediately and as soon as I got it home, I put it in front of a heater. After a couple days I put a battery in and attempted to turn it on with no success. Being super bummed about that I took a closer look and realized there was some separation in parts of the body that would allow for water to go pretty much directly inside.
In addition to that, I had my wide angle lens on the camera, and I do not yet know if that is alright. It makes some interesting clicking noises when turning the zoom ring, but it does move as before, as does the focus ring. Without a camera to test it on though, I’m not sure if it works or not. Here’s to hoping it does!
Here’s a couple shots of the camera’s damage which is now better than it was after I pushed it back together some.
Even after growing up on the coast, and fully understanding and respecting the power of the ocean and it’s dangers, it can still throw some unexpected danger your way. Everyone made it out safely and that is the most important thing, but it was also an expensive reminder of the dangers that can come from nowhere.
My friend Majeed made a blog post the other day about some Landscape Photography Safety Tips. Be sure to check it out by clicking the link! It’s well worth the read and some great advice to heed before your next outing.