The dumb things we do for photographs.

There’s an obscure tract of Oregon coastline south of Portland, nowhere near anything that stays open past 4pm (if open at all in the off-season) and on Saturday late afternoon after shooting in the polar waters of the Columbia Gorge, I was driving there as fast as I could.

Flanked by a violent cove on the left and an explosive inlet on the right, set in the ground near the edge of where rising tides smash into sharp lava rock is what can only be described as a portal to the Underworld.

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Of course I had to go see it. And more than see it, I had to photograph it. This well of despair, this suckhole of life forces, the circular bastion of watery doom.

Because Oregonians are not pampered dumbasses like people in southern California, there’s no one there stopping you from venturing out onto the rock ledge during high tide. And that’s exactly what I did.

In 40+mph wind and hail-rain. Standing on the ledge, flanked by watery explosions right, then left, then right and hearing/feeling the constant *boom* that shakes through you when the waves crash and spray upward of 35 feet on either side of me, I felt small. Small and helpless and incredibly alone.

And then the water rushes up around you.

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In highest of tides the water flows freely up and around the rocks all around you, and then gets sucked back into the Portal of Hades. In my case it was a big wave every 7 or so minutes that did this, and in those moments I blindly fired off my shutter while doing my best not to lose my footing.

Because it becomes clear very quickly that you’d die an agonizing death if you got hit by a sneaker wave and sucked in and down into this Hell Basket. And you’re getting soaked not just from the jetty explosions every few minutes but also from the sideways rain. And your feet are wet from slipping on sharp, slick rocks into the tidepools. And the plastic bag you wrapped your camera in is threatening to tear open from the force of the wind. And you are very, very afraid.

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I didn’t get the epic shots I fantasized capturing, but man am I proud of these shots, even if I didn’t stick around for the peak of high tide. I at least had the foresight to leave all other lenses in my car which, when my Kata bag dumped itself over into a tidepool and started to tumble away, I was very grateful about. I caught my bag before it blew into one of the inlets and paid the price of cracking my shin on a rock in the process. Hades will have His payment.

Once I scrambled back up the cliffside I sat and watched the phenomenon for a while, forgetting it was raining. It’s maybe one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Also, it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.

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