Photographing Thor’s Well on the Oregon Coast


I have been looking forward to photographing this blowhole since we planned our trip almost a year ago.  Yes, there are 1,000s of photos of this subject on the internet, but it’s always wonderful to experience it first hand and make your own image.  Here is how you might do it.

Thor’s Well is just 3 miles south of the city of Yachats, Oregon in the Cape Perpetua scenic area.  There is a large parking area and a sign for the Sprouting Horn, another blow hole nearby.  Hike straight down from the parking area and you can’t miss it.

Don’t get too close

The night Mark McDermott and I photographed it, we got there a good 90 minutes before sunset.  I am glad we did because you get to know the hole and its rythyms and signs.  There is probably five good spots for tripods, maybe ten.  By the time sunset came, we did have a crowd of about ten people with us and plenty of room for all.


Beleive it or not, this was a very challenging shooting situation.  I had a wide angle lens.  Aperture prioirty and wanted enough shutter speed to freeze the water.  Also the light kept changing because of the clouds and setting sun.  Finally, when the hole first blows it’s nearly white and then by the time the water all runs down the hole, it is nearly black, so exposure was trickey.  I decided to shoot in burst mode with each good blow and got between 17-20 images for each blow.

The view from the trail above.  I stood just to the left of the guy in dark jacket.

By the time I was done, I had over 900 images and about 50 actual sets.  Many were not that interesting and many had exposure issues.  After careful editing, I ended up with three really good sets with interesting water, sky, color, and sharpness.

The Sprouting Horn

Don’t forget the Sprouting Horn which is just  a few steps away.  Again, it takes some time to understand the sets of waves and what will really set off the horn.  I probably made 50 photos and ended up with two good ones.

Obviously, time, patience, and timing are key, here.

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  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for telling us how many shots you took and how many of those were “good.” It is easy for me to get discouraged when a take hundreds of shots and only a couple are good.

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