Best Spots for Photographing Haystack Rock
Published: 09/17/2010
photo by Gary Hayes

Our publisher and resident photographer shares his favorite places to photograph a coastal icon.

It's one of the Oregon Coast's most iconic landmarks. Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach towers 235 feet into the air at the ocean's edge and is the subject for nearly every visitor's camera. Over the years, I've captured the rock from just about every angle and under all sorts of conditions. Whether you're photographing or just admiring "the rock," here are some of my favorite viewpoints:

Ecola State Park
The viewpoint at Ecola State Park looks south to Haystack Rock with Crescent Beach and Bird Rocks in the foreground and successive capes in the background. This is a great spot to capture dramatic light and cloud formations. Breaking waves create lines leading the eye into the photograph. You can use every focal length of lens you have to make Haystack a smaller element in a grand landscape or zoom in to frame it tightly. There are lots of options for foregrounds including trees or people admiring the view.

North End Dunes
Just north of Ecola Creek, beachgrass covered dunes make a great foreground adding a rich texture to your images.

Ecola Creek
As you follow the north edge of Ecola Creek to the beach, the rock begins to reveal itself. The meandering creek offers both a strong line leading into your image and reflections that can repeat dramatic light or clouds.

The Beach
If you're walking the beach, there are many exciting angles to capture Haystack Rock. Observe Haystack looking to the north, south or due west and select viewpoints that separate (don't overlap) the nearby "needles" from the rock. Always consider foregrounds - pools of water, people, birds or the line of the surf to add interest to your image.

Silver Point Viewpoint
Your friends will think you've done a creative job of framing the photograph as you position Haystack Rock between gnarled Sitka Spruce trees from this viewpoint on the highway just south of Cannon Beach. The truth is, this is the only decent composition you can get from this viewpoint.

General Tips
The most visually exciting images capture the many moods of weather and light. The first and last hours of light in the day are likely to provide the best opportunities. Take advantage of any opportunities to add or emphasize light, color and texture in your images. Choose a frame that eliminates unnecessary elements and you're likely to capture your own scenic postcard.
Best Spots for Photographing Haystack Rock