Yaquina Head lighthouse

I’ll admit it: I’ve done a terrible job of photographing the Oregon coast’s rare but spectacular starry nights. I realized this oversight mid-summer but was unable to correct it until September, when I headed to Astoria and Cannon Beach for some of the best night photography I had ever experienced. (You can see some of those images in my “Oregon coast” gallery.) Since then, I’ve bided my time, waiting for clear skies.

A recent super-cold snap provided such a night, and my friend Savya Saachi accompanied me to Newport, specifically to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. The temperatures weren’t extreme–maybe around 20 degrees or so–but the wind at the head was often brutal, and we both battled numb fingers and toes. The humidity was somewhere around 50%, and this may be the first time I’ve ever been out shooting in which I was hoping for higher humidity, so that the rays of the lighthouse would be better defined. Oh well. Next time.

Other versions of this image can be seen at my 500px, my Flickr, and my twitter.

This is a 5-image pano. (In other words, I should be able to print this thing HUGE.) I took a few exposures that I had intended to use to composite in a non-blown-out lighted area, but I decided against altering the photo after seeing the results. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get the end result to look natural. If the end result had either a) better represented reality or b) looked aesthetically pleasing, I would’ve been all over it. But, for me, it didn’t work. When I looked directly at the lighthouse while it was lit I didn’t see the finer details in the lens area, mostly because the thing was burning out my retinas.

A lighthouse shines brightly in front of a starry backdrop at the Oregon coast.

A clear night at Yaquina Head, the Oregon coast. Andromeda makes its appearance at the top-middle of the photo.

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