Thor’s Well is essentially a small, topless sea cave (maybe 5m in diameter) in the plateau of volcanic rock that lines the ocean at Cape Perpetua, just a little south of Yachats. The cave was carved out over the millennia by the incredible and relentless force of the waves crashing against the relatively weak rock (which resulted from impurities in the lava as it was cooling) in this particular area. Eventually, the overlying rock became too weak to support itself and collapsed, leaving the formation we see there today. The end result of these geologic processes is a cavity in the rock that water funnels into from wave and tidal action, which then smashes against the walls and shoots up through the top, sometimes with awesome power. Basically, it makes a really cool blowhole in the rocks.
I spent a fair bit of time before leaving for the site pre-visualizing my shot, planning out in detail how I would set up my gear, and determining what clothes I would wear to avoid getting totally drenched by the water shooting up out of the blowhole. I left for the site more than an hour before sunset, to ensure I’d have enough time to set up. What I didn’t take into account is that it wasn’t super easy to find the exact spot where Thor’s Well is, and I got lost for half an hour, frantically driving around and asking people for directions! As the sun was getting closer and closer to the horizon, I was kicking myself! Fortunately, about 15 min. before the sun hit the horizon, I found the spot, jumped into my rain pants and boots and all that, threw my gear together, and quickly scurried down the rocks to where I wanted to position myself.
Two lessons to myself here: (1) It is a very good idea to plan for a shoot in advance as much as possible and (2) include figuring out exactly where you want to go as part of those plans!!! Luckily, I had at least followed one of these strategies, and so (by some miracle) was able to capture the images I wanted before the sun disappeared into the ocean for the night.
The image was put together by manually blending two exposures, one for the rocks and water, and one for the sky. For the foreground exposure, I used a slightly longish shutter speed and timed it with the draining of the water through the hole to achieve the silky water look. I used the technique of combining two images in part to circumvent the limited dynamic range of the camera sensor, but also to allow me to combine my best-timed water draining image with my favourite sky image from the session (the two images were separated from each other in time by about 20 min. - it was tricky to time that water draining properly!).