It all began on a winter day. Ok, it was a Kauai winter day and we were at a friend’s birthday party dancing. But I was approached by a couple of friends who were getting married in May 2016 and asked if I could join them on this wedding adventure to Kalalau. Unknowing of my schedule I tentatively said yes, because well, Kalalau. I had actually only been to the beach once before about 6 years prior and was in desperate need to get back. Of course I didnt realize how much I would be working at the time but nonetheless, all in good time.
We arrived Friday morning and got things set up. And was pretty much in relax mode. Without having a day off in more time than I could remember I was now completely off the grid for 3 full days. That evening while laying in my tent I decided to check out my photo apps; The Photographer’s Ephemeris and StarWalk. I knew that summer season is better for viewing the Milky Way and had an inkling that it might be rising over the cathedrals. As for the moon and timing, that I needed to figured out. Doing some quick calculations it seemed that my window would be in the middle of the night so I set my alarm for 1am and went to bed. Hearing the phone go off and wanting to stay in bed are all too familiar feelings for most of us. I through on my sarong and grabbed my pack and walked (ok it was a pretty short walk) down to the beach. However this night it was not to be. Clouds. However I was able to see that my hunch was correct. Now to hopefully catch it. 2 more chances.
Next day was wedding day. Most of the day again, spent hanging out and relaxing. Per the expected forecast we had some clouds/rain start up around early afternoon and the mountains were pretty socked in. With the land/sea breeze regime in place I was expecting the weather to break around sunset…and right on queue as we headed out for the ceremony…blam! Here are some of the first edits from the wedding, but yes, the conditions were amazing! (story below photos)
We returned to camp after an amazing event (and photos) and had ourselves a merry little time that evening. This day however instead of going to bed and waking up again I stayed up until my window. As the night progressed and my time came to be our friendly little clouds decided to make an appearance again while I was shooting! Bastards. At least it was an eventful party (clearly I was the last still awake at this point). Off to bed. Strike 2.
Last day. More of the same. Clouds building up during the day, some slight rain. And clearing toward sunset. My window now pushed back until 3am. Alarm set. I poke my head out of the tent and see some stars. A good sign. I walk out enough to see over the cathedrals and there she is. Milky Way arcing right over. The moon getting close to the horizon gave a sunset/moonset feel to everything and I started to work quickly. Of course after 3 days of shooting, including a wedding, I had already finished one battery and was working on one bar on my 2nd and last one. As luck would have it. That is all I would need 🙂
It surprises me, living so far away from Yosemite, that I’ve been able to now catch snow in the Valley twice. This particular coincidence lined up with my usual mainland trip to sign and ship artwork. Being that the forecast was for a few inches of snow, but not down to the valley floor, I wasn’t sure my plans. When I got word that the webcams were showing the white stuff all the way down I knew where I was headed. At the same time I found out a long term photographer contact I had was also in the area. I made the drive and arrived around 11pm. Of course with an early wake up call coming. As we ventured out in the morning the darkness was starting to give way and we could see that the clouds had parted. A good sign…potentially. Landscape photography is a tricky thing. Too much or too few clouds can be problematic (sometimes). My goal for this morning was Tunnel View. The iconic location that I really was looking forward to capturing with fresh snowfall AND flowing waterfalls (finally a non-drought winter). Arriving to the view in front of me was incredible. White and green speckled throughout the valley. A low hanging cloud among the trees. And of course…chilly!!
As the sun started to rise the cloud that was hanging in the Valley proceeded to flatten out and dance across the trees. Constantly changing and sloshing about it was a smorgasbord of intimate photography. I spent the next 2.5hrs in awe as the constantly changing light and fog really got my creative juices flowing. So much to capture and so ephemeral. To say that the morning was productive would be an understatement! There is lots to share but we shall start with just this one.
Having spent a lot of time in California over the last 4 years it was such a welcome (I’m sure for lots of people!) change to see things so green this year. This is an afternoon shot taken on Mt. Diablo, east of San Francisco. The greens, shadows and clouds were just too much fun to pass by!
This particular day I was headed up from the south shore to the west side to go shoot sunset. At least that was the plan anyway. While heading out of North Kihei I looked in the rear view mirror to see Haleakela clear of clouds. Woah. All of a sudden I had a tough choice of trying to figure out where to shoot. I pulled over and debated a bit then hustled back to an area I had thought had a lot of potential. Careful exploring around it was difficult to settle on a composition I liked best. Always happens when I shoot a composition-rich area for the first time. Bouncing between two spots I spent well over an hour barefoot in the ankle deep water watching and shooting the change in light between sunset to nightfall. This particular image of the earth shadow rising behind the volcano caught me upon review. I’m always a sucker for those deep blues and magentas!
Was recently on Maui for a couple of weeks mostly working at the new aFeinberg Gallery Wailea. On the few afternoons I was able to get out I found myself playing ultimate (frisbee) on the North shore in Paia. This of course meant I was traveling across Maui. As usual the camera gear is almost always in the trunk, especially while traveling. While Maui as a whole is a different beauty to Kaua’i, the West Maui’s are so dynamic with the weather they effect. Over the course of the 2 weeks I actually ended up pulling over and photographing them 3 different times on my drives back and forth. Here, the light was magical and even though I was in a rush to get to the field had to make sure I stopped to get the shot.
Enjoy here but the detail on the large scale is amazing! 🙂
It’s amazing how images to come to life. Sometimes they are the work of years of planning coinciding with perfect conditions. This very well may have been one of those photographs….had I actually knew what kind of conditions I was to expect this evening. After spending the afternoon and sunset exploring the southern coast of Maui in the La Perouse area and photographing down there I packed up and started the drive back north. As I made my way down the bumpy road the stars were absolutely blazing. With only a crescent moon hanging in the western sky I was still able to see the landscape but the Milky Way was clearly visible arcing all across the sky. I pulled over to the side of the road and took some images of the scene facing Haleakela. Of course at this point I realized my battery was hanging on to one bar. Uh oh. Change batteries. Dead. Crap. I forgot to charge everything after Burning Man. Back to the first battery and now with every exposure I’m worried about my evening ending early. Especially with night time images they take more power as the exposure times are around 25 seconds. I make sure to only take a few shots on the side of the road and continue up. Next stop Secrets beach.
Normally Secrets is not so secret. There are weddings almost every day of the week and it’s a great spot to hide out and watch the clouds pass by. However, at night, it is a different story. As I walked down the path and to the shore and set up the waves were pounding pretty good. Lessons learned in the past means keeping my bag well above the high water line. Then approached. At this point I heard voices…what?! I looked around in the darkness. There were houses around so maybe it was there. Then again. Finally I noticed a couple tucked in the back corner of the beach near the wall enjoying the evening as well. Not even alone at night!
Of course the obviously difficult thing of shooting stars is that it’s freakin dark out! With the little bit of moonlight I was able to get my composition pretty close and fired off a test shot. Keeping one eye on the ocean to my right I spent the next half an our or so adjusting and trying again. With each shot worried my battery was going to kick out on me. After seeing this one pop up on the back of the camera I was pleasantly surprised. The little but of moonlight was enough to give enough color and definition to the landscape without hiding the blazing Milky Way.
Whew. On ward to my next stop where fingers were crossed I could get a few more shots before I had to call it quits. What an awesome night!
While spending some time on Maui a couple of weeks ago I managed to rally back to Ho’okipa to attempt to capture more Honu, the endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. This time at sunrise. At first I was suspect as getting to the beach I didnt see any. Especially after last time where there were about a half a dozen hanging out. Walking closer I realized that there was in fact one…and a big un! As I set up and spent some time with him/her (I didnt check) the sun started to rise behind me over my right shoulder. The clouds scooted by. Some high clouds lit up and the occasional sprinkle of rain passed over. As the sky brightened and the waves lapped up around our new friend she (I’ll go with she now) decided it was time for breakfast and started her morning wake up routine. It was at this time that I had decided to slap (ok…carefully screw on) a 10 stop ND filter. This allowed me to take 30s captures of the scene while maintaining the proper exposure. I was able to get 2 shots off before she decided it was time to head in to the water. As she approached the water she paused as I took one last shot. And then moved again. After the camera finally clicked I wasnt sure I got anything as my main subject moving would obviously create blur. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that she moved the perfect amount. The balance between movement and stillness. You can see her motion but still make out the detail in her huge frame.
After that I decided to switch gears and put on my long lens to capture some of the surfers. Not a bad way to start the day!
Back in May 2014 I was on Maui visiting a friend, which in turn would lead to the eventual opening of aFeinberg Gallery Wailea. As we adventured around the island we had the opportunity to check out red sands beach. A truly awesome place where the sand is red from the surrounding cliffside. Amazing. While this was a scouting mission I did manage to take the camera out and shoot a bit. Even though this was a test shot I still think it captures the uniqueness of the place though I have some ideas for going back for sure 🙂 To be continued 😉
After living on Kauai for 8 years Waimea Canyon blows me away every time I make the trip up to visit. I’ll forever remember my first visit, not knowing what to expect, and coming up the path to the great reveal to the canyon below. Nearly had tears in my eyes. It’s one of those places that just seems to defy the eyes. The colors, textures, depth all create this surreal seen that is oh so real. Now in that last 8 years I still haven’t successfully captured the essence of this spectacle. Too cloudy, too clear. Not the right combinations of conditions. Whatever the reason it just hadnt happened. After spending the weekend camping with friends in Koke’e (and hiking just before this…but that’s another image for another day….with another rainbow) we decided to hit the main Waimea Canyon overlook on the way down. Given the conditions we had earlier in the day it was setting up quite well. Again, coming over the ridge to the view the magnificence overwhelming. And a blazing bright rainbow off to the right. Woah!! Then it was the sit and wait game. With all the clouds, which are obviously necessary for the photograph, it meant that the light wasnt necessarily in the proper spot (from my perspective). Over the next 30-45 minutes I probably shot a dozen or more panoramas of the scene as the light changed, the rainbow always there ebbing and coming back again.
Getting back home the process of figuring out which series of images hopefully encapsulated the experience of standing there. Luckily after going through way too many I came to settle on this image below. A great combination of lighting and hopefully gives you the feeling of being there with me on that picture perfect afternoon. I’ve included an inset image that shows the detail in the scene as the panorama is composed of 10 vertical images. The waterfall, Waipo’o Falls, is on the far left side of the image.