Photographer Captures Mesmerizing Blue Bioluminescent Glow off the Coast of Oregon

Bioluminescence in Oregon by Jay Shah

Based in the Pacific Northwest, photographer Jay Shah is passionate about night photography. Not only that, he's also fond of working with single exposures, which means that his images require precise timing. And he certainly got his timing right in mid-July, when he was able to capture “sea sparkles” off the southern coast of Oregon.

Shah had heard that bioluminescence occurred in the area during the months of June and July, so he picked a weekend with clear weather and headed out to see what he could find. The phenomenon occurs when living organisms in the water produce light due to chemical reactions in their bodies and is short-lived, so Shah needed to act quickly to catch the moment on camera.

Positioning himself at Arch Rock, he gave himself two evenings to photograph the event. The two resulting images show how changes in the weather can dramatically alter the mood of the image. The first night was clear, allowing Shah to capture star trails during the 15-minute exposure.

Bioluminescence in Oregon by Jay Shah

On the second night, the intense marine layer created a moody atmosphere. In fact, visibility dropped just five minutes after Shah finished his 8.5-minute exposure. Luckily, by timing things correctly, Shah was able to walk away both evenings with memorable images.

Understanding that Shah's work is the result of great photography on the ground makes the images even more impressive. “I find single exposures incredibly rewarding as you really have to push the dynamic range of the equipment to its limit to get good foregrounds and night skies while managing noise,” he shares with My Modern Met. “I find this challenge very motivating, and when I get it right, incredibly rewarding.”

He hopes that others will see his work and see his passion for night photography. For anyone who wants to try it themselves, he suggests arming yourself with a lot of patience and seeking out mentors who can help you hone your skills. To see more of Shah's night photography, follow his Instagram.

Jay Shah: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jay Shah.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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