Editor's Note

Mission (Barely) Possible

By Jill Davis May 19, 2009 Published in the May 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

Rain boot gytlks

Image: Michael Novak

Portland Monthly’s photo shoots are often waylaid by uncooperative weather. The shoot is scheduled, the clouds converge, it rains. We shrug, reschedule the shoot or rethink the idea (“Hey, let’s go with an illustration”), and move on. As we all know, such meteorological unpredictability is a fact of life here, and one with which our art staff has come to terms admirably. San Diego magazine? It does not have these problems.

Still, no photographic project in Portland Monthly’s history seemed to have such a high probability of failure as the one our art director, Pete Ivey, assigned to Daniel Root. Root’s mission was to shoot the images for this month’s cover story, “The Hidden Coast,” a roundup of little-known beaches, trails, and other sweet spots along Oregon’s and Washington’s shores. This sounds simple. Except that Ivey told Root that the pictures should not look cold, dreary, or foggy; instead, they needed to emanate warmth and sunshine. And it was late February.

We endured an anxious month. For weeks, Root and Ivey stayed dutifully plugged into the weather via their iPhones and several websites. Root even tracked down an online “coast cam” that allowed him to see what was going on in real time—a move that paid off, for what was happening in Bandon often did not jibe with Weather.com’s assessment. And when his incessant information-gathering showed the clouds might part, when it seemed that here … comes … the … day, Root would immediately load up his car with 40 pounds of camera equipment, kiss his wife and daughter goodbye, and drive west with a bevy of Google maps in hand.

In just a few days, Root racked up 1,400 miles retracing most of writer and intrepid explorer Tom Colligan’s steps. You can judge the result of this Herculean effort for yourself. On calendars and postcards, there are many idealized shots of the Oregon Coast—the sort taken at slow shutter speed with a polarizing filter to render the sunset an unnatural shade of pink. But I think Root captured the place at its natural best, when the skies are cloudless, the beaches and cliffs kissed by golden rays. Our coast doesn’t require photographic trickery to make it spectacular.

We do have to confess, though, that this month’s cover shot may give you a false impression: It looks like a hot July day, but it was actually 43 degrees outside. And to reach this particular cove and the waterfall that seems to be scattering diamonds onto the beach, you’ll have to walk around a rocky headland. Which you can only do around low tide. Wait too long to make your way back to the parking area, and you may have to wade home, as Root, Ivey, and those shivering models did. Fortunately, we show you how to read a tide table on page 89. And the cove itself? You’ll find the name of it on page 82. On some sunny day real soon, we hope to see you there.

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