Back in August 2014 I had the opportunity to meet a friend from college and head down to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Arriving late in the afternoon on our first day we quickly decided to change our plans and spend both nights camped at this awesome location. The tallest dunes in the US (~700′) up against the almost 14k foot Sangre De Cristo Mountains made for a dramatic and beautiful location. Given the craziness that we witnessed the day before (see High Voltage) I was after more of an overview shot of the dunes as they leap out of the plain below and up against the impressive peaks. After shooting sunrise up in the dunes that morning under some pretty wonderful light the day quickly went overcast and dreary. As the afternoon went on I noticed a slight opportunity to the west across the San Luis Valley. Finding a good spot along the road the waiting game began. A familiar one with landscape photographers this was no different, except for the proximity to comforts. The waiting game looked like it was going to pay off as light started to dapple across the grasses below the dunes. But not quite where it was needed. Then, as photographer’s tell stories of, the beam of light moved up over the dunes, for a mere 3 minutes. I rattled off a number of panoramas and then it was gone for the afternoon. Moments like this are what help keep the photographic ambition alive and chasing those moments. Glad I was there 🙂
“Beyond Venus” (unreleased)
This particular shot was taken after my last post with my photography adventures at sunrise down at the Venus Pools on the East side of Maui. You can read the full (wet) story here. As the sun played with the clouds I decided to put on a strong ND filter (basically a black piece of glass to stop light), and do a couple of longer exposures. One of the problems with using this filter is that once it is on it is near impossible to see the composition as everything goes dark! Then of course is the guessing of how long the exposure should be and dealing with the bright and dark parts of the image. Luckily…in this case, I guessed right 🙂 The combination of filtered light and all the colors from the clouds/water/reflection mixing together gave this image a unique feel.
Maui offering up some more magic!
So after spending a day running errands and exploring I ended up settling on this small park south of Lahaina. As I got out of the car I knew photographically it would be a bit of a tricky place. Even though these palms were pretty there was a property just to my side. However being the most dramatic composition I careful positioned myself just to the side. By chance the sun was setting in the perfect spot and was able to get a couple of exposures that ended up working well 🙂 Pau Hana in Hawai’i usually refers to the after work beer that most like to partake in and this spot seemed to collect quite a few for just that occasion. Perfect end to the day.
So about mid August I had the opportunity to visit the incredible place known as Great Sand Dunes National Park. This crazy place is located south of Denver and just a bit west in the San Luis Valley. Nestled up against 14k foot mountains, these sand dunes cover 30 sq miles and rise, at the tallest, about 700ft. Meeting a friend from college the day before we headed out to our date with the dunes. Arriving later in the afternoon (maybe a bit later than planned), there was only one thing to do…climb the dune, aptly named “High Dune” of course. Climbing at altitude is one thing, the dunes start at 8500ft, but climbing up a hill of sand AT altitude….exhausting! That combined with the fact we were a bit late and hustling to make it up for the good light (ok I was trying to make it up for the good light…he was just along for the ride) made for some huffing and puffing. Arriving at the top there were a few people already collected to watch the sunset and the monsoon storms that had started to pop a bit. Then, as sunset wore on, blam!….lighting across the valley. Luckily…right before this trip I had purchased a Lightning Trigger on the oft chance I would have the opportunity to photograph some lightning. Quite pleased with that decision 🙂 Setting up the camera and composing the trigger did its job, firing the camera when it sensed lightning. How? I can only say SCIENCE! As the sunset wore on the lightning continued across the valley, approximately 50 miles away. Then another storm to the south of that as well. What a scene to watch! As the color started to fade and the storms seemed to start to move around a bit we made the DARK hike back down the dunes, which made for an adventurous hike. A few light rain drops hit us as we made the bottom and got back to camp. Checking my camera I found this set of bolts that came down all at once and knew I had something special.
And that was just the first night 🙂
Recently I had the opportunity to return to the Big Island for a 5 day trip for a friend’s wedding and some more shooting/scouting. The wedding itself was a very special event with some great friends as well and the weather played a roll in making it all the more interesting. With rain/fog and clouds off and on the bride and groom made the best of it and we were able to get some special images 🙂
Before and after the wedding I had an opportunity to go out and explore more. Returning to a place that we got to visit during the 6 Day 2014 Workshop (and will revisit again during the 2015!). Of course the fog greeted us once again but this time, going off trail, I managed to find this very intriguing (mostly) dry stream bed surrounded by bamboo. But not any normal kind of bamboo as I was to find out…but this crazy KILLER bamboo! What the hell! What kind of bamboo grows crazy spikes?? Understandably that made going up and down a little bit stressful…and much more focused on where the hands were going. Getting down to this part the fog and light gave the area a very surreal place. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on ones perspective), the stream was not flowing, which allowed me to get in there comfortably. Though…it is now a goal to achieve this shot WITH water flowing…but that will require some luck and timing. We shot around and explored a bit more then the hike back out in to the fog. Another fun day exploring what the islands of Hawai’i have to offer 🙂
Much thanks and enjoy!
Recently had the chance to spend a few days on Maui for the first time in about 3.5 years. Probably a bit too long…and with many projects to shoot and still discover, it was a great time. Had the benefit of a great friend/tour guide and some unexpected surprises. Needless to say I have a lot of work to do over there 🙂
This particular image was at the end. Which is usually a great place to start. Camping in the back of the truck the night before, 4am is never a good time for an alarm. Making the drive, finding the pull over and then hiking down in the dark is always exciting, especially to a place unseen (by me) before. As we got down to our intended location I looked across the pool and saw where I really wanted to be. Next step, figuring out how to get over there. Climbing up the rocks, through the forest and then finally figuring out the path we arrived on this ledge. There is a place in my heart for sea stacks (and similar formations) and this spot had me quite happy. Then the waiting for the sun. As it breached the horizon there was about 5 min of good light, then back in to the clouds, then the rain…and more rain. Sometimes having a good friend along pays off in that finally as the sky started to explode with crazy, I had an handy umbrella holder and was able to rattle off a number of shots trying for different water motion. The rest of the morning continued with off and on rain. But finally getting some dramatic light (it has been a while for me), had me in good spirits.
Then of course…was that long, windy drive back to the airport…. 🙂
It’s pretty amazing. In the 6+ years I’ve lived on Kauai I’ve seen the Na Pali coast from the water, twice. Once I was actually kayaking and focused on self preservation, the other time was a couple of months after I moved out to the island. So…it’s safe to say this was a long time coming. So when a friend offered to take a jet ski down the coast for sunset, who was I to argue.
Now, it should be mentioned I am a land mammal by nature. Once in and around water my comfort level drops by quite a bit. Now put me on a jet ski, flying/bouncing/jostling across the water and it’s fair to say my tension level raises just a bit. So…there we go…down the coast, leaving from Hanalei Bay around 430pm. The coast is truly amazing. And being that I do not leave it very often to get these perspectives, I am constantly amazed by this island I call home. The ride is pretty choppy. It’s been pretty windy over the last few days and the wind swell has kicked up to a solid roll. Onward we go; past Lumahai, Wainiha, around the reef at Tunnels and past Ha’ena and Ke’e Beach. And now the epic stretch of coast that is the Na Pali lies ahead. There are a lot of clouds around and off to the west and north the sun is hiding behind layers of cirrus and a rainy cumulus off in the distance. I lean forward and say to Joel and say it’s a coin flip…50/50 on getting any light. As we make our way southwest he shows me the sea caves that I’ve heard and seen photos of but never with my own eyes. Double Door…with the waterfall falling through a hole in the ceiling; Open Ceiling cave…with a giant opening in the roof that fell in. It is here we stopped for a while and the thoughts started turning. Yet another project to chase after. However, we decided that the chance of the good light was too iffy to wait and went back to Kalalau.
Kalalau is a magical place. Massive fluted cliffs rise out of the beach, the Valley just to the left (looking at the coast from the ocean). The only way to reach this mythical destination is hiking a very strenuous 11 miles from Ke’e Beach or by boat. And it’s worth it. Just ask someone who’s been. We sat off the coast and watched the clouds and chances of good light. Snapping a few photos (yes the camera was in my hand while sitting on a jetski and I was holding it tight). While shooting we generally have the motor off as to not disturb the water around us and keep still. I mentioned we should reposition a bit further back and to the left. **click click click** motor didnt turn over. NOT a place one wants to get stuck. Joel turns the starter again and after sputtering it turns over and the engine is on. Now it’s decided that we keep it idling, and therefore moving, until we get back as not to risk it. Yikes. As we circle back around the sun starts to hit the gap in the clouds we saw across the horizon. The light is on the beach but the clouds and mountains are still dark. Clicking away as we circle around. Then the real show…the sun fills the coast and finally bam! Because we couldnt shut the engine off I was standing on the jetski, holding on to the back of Joel’s life vest with one hand, and photographing with the other. Snap snap snap.
Ok…time to get back north! Pack up the bag, on the back and off. Even faster than we got down the coast. The constant shaking is briefly abates every so often as we take air over the waves, only to be smacked right back down to the surf. Getting back to Hanalei finally we witness an awesome light show. I take a few more photos but in the back of my mind I already got what I needed from the day. What a ride!
100% view of the detail in the shot:
On my recent trip to Salt Lake City the afternoon I arrived look promising for sunset. Having lived in and around SLC for the better part of 3 years (a lifetime ago) I never did shoot any good cityscapes. In fact I had just only had the camera in my hand a year when I left. That first afternoon back I decided to head up behind the Capitol and get a sweeping view of the valley below. Salt Lake has a spot in my heart and it is truly a beautiful place to live. Here is one of the captures from that eve. The shortness of breath hiking up to get the perspective was worth it 🙂
When I get to do my road trips around the country there tends to be a lot of driving. Much of that through very pretty places. When I’m driving my general thought process is ‘get there as fast as possible’. However when in these circumstances the opposite is generally true. Well…at least it’s fast driving and then a fair amount of stopping and sometimes turning around 😛 But the idea is there. Sometimes I even have to remind myself that the reason I’m even in the car in the first place is to shoot…which includes more than just my destination. Then I get that sense of relaxation…that my time is my own…just me and the road and the camera (which often sits on the passenger seat next to me). It’s these moments that I often cherish while exploring. And sometimes, the road becomes the subject itself 🙂
Remote Southern Utah.
Just getting back from Utah and had myself an adventure! Last year, around the same time, I found myself in Southern Utah for 5 days. Exploring the truly incredible landscape that is that part of the world. One in particular slot canyon in Escalante National Park eluded me. Hiking by myself the waist deep and cold water thwarted my attempt at this place last year. This year…while the water remained and was a longer slog, I was able to successfully enter this magical place. Getting to the entrance of this slot greets you with brown water….and judging by my experience last year, and the fact that the low the night before was around 20F…very cold. I brought my waterproof pants again and seal skinz (socks) to be able to make the adventure more comfortable (oh, and long underwear under the pants). This time around there was a group of 3 women that had hiked down just in front of me. They weren’t expecting the water like I was but one of them was adventurous enough to want to give it a shot. As we ventured deeper in to the slot it narrows further and further until the choke (where I was stymied last year), except this time the water level was slightly lower, I wasn’t 5 weeks off a knee injury, and there was the fact that I wasnt alone. My excitement once stepping up in to the main chamber was palpable. Not only did we make it in but there were NO footprints. We were the first ones in since either the last flood or the crazy dust storm the day before could have filled them in. Either way…wow! My accomplice spent about 15 minutes with me and then I was alone…for the next 2.75 hours. Over the course of the whole experience inside the canyon I heard voices two different times…both inquiring as to if there was anyone in there (I left extra supplies outside the entrance to lower my load). Both times they failed to make the journey. Sollitude! This allowed me to study and shoot at my own pace without having to worry about any sort of pleasantries :p As the time passed and the sun a bit too vertical the amazing glow in the canyon eventually washed out…and then it was time to go. Getting back in the COLD water was a necessity but the warm sun once exited was very welcome. So was the victory beer back at the car 🙂
Some behind the scenes shots with my phone are added…and yes…a few more photographs to come (plus the rest of the trip; Goblin Valley, San Rafael Swell & Bryce Canyon).