Shi-Shi Beach Sunset, Olympic National Park

Shi-Shi Beach Sunset, Olympic National Park

I made my first-ever backpacking trip to a Washington destination that's been on my must-visit list since before moving here. Up in the northwest corner of the state, on the Olympic Peninsula there's a 2 mile stretch known as Shi-Shi Beach. There's no road to get there, so you have to hike in. It's not a terrible hike, only about 2 miles through very muddy forest, after which you descend down a steep bank out onto the north end of the beach. Two miles to the south is the Point of the Arches - a stretch of sea stacks reaching out into the Pacific Ocean containing (not surprisingly) many arches. With the nicest weekend I think we've had all year, we decided it was time to make the trip for ourselves and I'm very glad we did.

Given that it's the Pacific Northwest, even 'nice' weather meant mostly gray overcast skies during the day, so we didn't hold out much hope for a colorful sunset. But about an hour prior to sunset we started the trek down the beach, about a mile from our campsite, to the Point of the Arches. As the sun reached the horizon we were pleasantly surprised to see some color evolve in the sky.

Chronologically, I think this was the first of the photos where color really started to become apparent, and my plan is to post the next few shots sequentially to show how the color evolved. Light like this changes so fast you have to hope you're in the right place at the right time, or make the most of what you have in front of you when the light is good. To frame this shot I looked for the stone in the pool in the bottom left and brought that into the frame to balance out the sea stacks. There wasn't color across much of the horizon, so I looked for elements to balance the frame as much as I could with the nice light on the horizon. It's a bit of a shame the best light was where it was, as the sea stacks further to the left of the frame were, in my opinion, more photogenic.

I set up my tripod for sunset and took three bracketed frames back-to-back, and blended them here. The overall luminance (lightness) didn't actually need much balancing, so I basically lightly faded in the 'lighter' image in the bottom, and the 'darker' image in the top (mostly to preserve highlights around the sun). Stacking and masking is about the extent of my photoshop capability when I bracket exposures.

Stay tuned for more from Shi-Shi Beach in the coming days (hopefully).

See more related images in my Olympic National Park Gallery.

Nikon D90 | Nikon 18-200VR@26mm | f/8 | 1/100s | ISO200 | Tripod

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