A 2 km hike at the east end of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail will take you to Mystic Beach. It is a relatively easy hike through a coastal western hemlock forest with some steep steps to maneuver to which my knees did not take kindly too. These steps were a reminder of the fact that I am in not in the greatest shape and also that my knees can no longer perform as they did as a twenty year old when I was young and foolish or as I like to say…younger and even more foolish. My intentions for Mystic Beach was to hike in for the beautiful evening light and to hold out for a great sunset and put my flashlights to use for the hike out in the dark. While scouting the trail upon my arrival, I found myself veering off the path and having to look ahead and sometimes backtracking to regain the trail. Now while I have done my fair share of hikes, my experience at night hikes is limited and my thoughts here were that if I am veering off the path in the daylight, what would happen in the dark? Would I be able to regain the trail? Well, I will apologize for those that will not understand this Star Trek reference but… to quote my favorite Klingon Worf, my thought was perhaps “today is not a good day to die.” I didn’t think getting lost hiking alone at night on a trail I wasn’t familiar with was a good idea and while Mystic Beach is for the most part a sunset photographic location, I opted and hoped that soft early morning light could produce some nice images.
This beach is simply gorgeous with many possibilities for making great images. I was happy to find the morning light pleasant with some soft clouds providing texture to the sky. I focused my shooting along the cliff walls making images that emphasized the texture and size of these prodigious ocean facing cliff walls.
I wanted to find some different perspectives and often found myself shooting close to the cliff walls. Crouching down, getting low to the ground and as close to the walls as possible, I was oblivious of the fact that my back was brushing up against the green “slime” on the walls. Not the easiest stuff to clean off but I was thankful that there was no disgusting smell that would accompany me for the remainder of my trip.
I can only imaging how the image below image would look at sunset with the sun on the horizon to the right of the frame. In my case here, I visualized this image in black and white and used texture and contrast to bring this image to life.
As high noon approached, the clouds dispersed and sun beat down in all its glory. I embraced this and decided shoot directly into the sun and use it as a compositional element. Knowing that lens flare could not be avoided, I would not concern myself with it and felt it would in fact add to the mood and feel of the final image. Despite the flares and challenges of dynamic range, a single exposure was used in post processing to achieve the final result in the image below. I must have processed the image of this tree and log about 15 different ways using HDR and manual blending techniques in color and in black and white. The black and white single exposure version was my final choice and has become one of my favorites.
My knees ached and burned as I hiked back to the trailhead and decided that I must return to this beach in the future and camp overnight to fully appreciate the area from sunrise through sunset and take advantage of the best light possible for making images.
The journey continues in – Vancouver Island • Sooke to Port Renfrew: Part III…