Tales From The Top…Of The World

Ok…maybe not the world.  But it sure feels like it when standing on the top of Mauna Kea, the largest mountain in the world (top to bottom) and rising 13,800 ft above the ocean below.  I could write for a long time about how I’ve been dreaming for 7 years of skiing this unique place and that finally getting to stand and witness snow in Hawai’i was all too brief but this photograph is more about how freaking cold I was!
Knowing to prepare for altitude is not problem.  I ski bummed for 3 years in Utah.  For this trip I brought many layers…which did the trick…except for the gloves which remained in my bag in the hotel the day of our 6 Day Big Island Workshop‘s trip up to the summit. Not the brightest of ideas. I will say that by the time we left that night temperatures were around 30F with gusts over 40mph (windchill estimates around 13F).  Trying to work with a metal tripod, camera buttons and facing in to the wind certainly made for challenging conditions.  Which means that I’m was quite excited when I saw the results of this exposure pop up on the back of the LCD screen.  The pillar of light you see is called the Zodiacal Light.  A phenomenon I saw for the first time in Death Valley last year. The quarter moon did the job of illuminating the rest of the scene.
An awesome experience for the Workshop and me as well.  Can’t wait until we go back 🙂
Much thanks!

Zodiacal light over Mauna Kea and observatories.
“Phone Home” – Zodiacal light over Mauna Kea and observatories.

The Magic of Snow (Yosemite)

“Pencil To Paper” (unreleased)
Back in March ’13 I had the incredible opportunity of being near Yosemite National Park when the forecast called for an incoming storm.  Knowing that 1) I dont live anywhere near Yosemite and 2) storms/snow arent too common, I knew I only had one choice.  Drive my rental Mustang (yea free upgrade) in to the valley floor and sleep in it overnight.  As far as sleeping goes in cars…I’ve had better…
Waking up the next morning I was stoked.  BIG fluffy flakes DUMPING down.  The great white awesomeness that is snow.  Now, two more things ran through my head 1) where the hell am I supposed to shoot?! and 2) why the f@#$ did I get a Mustang.  Slapping myself awake I donned my winter clothes that I had packed and started driving around the valley scoping where I might want to go.  Having been there before I had a cursory knowledge but still not much of a clue.  I do know that I love trees.  And I love solo trees.  So when I remembered this big Oak which I spotted the summer before that popped back in to my mind.
Walking in to the field I was gitty.  I’m a ski bum.  Snow is my favorite ever.  (Yes I see the irony of living in Hawai’i).  But since becoming a ‘photographer’ I have yet to have such conditions.  Luckily I had my small fold up umbrella with me and was able to hold that over the camera to protect it.  Snow is such a unique precipitation. Because it’s the only one that could be coming down SO hard…and yet be completely silent.  That blissful silence…

Old Oak in snow in Yosemite National Park
“Pencil To Paper”

Devilish – Southern Utah

Another image from my southern Utah adventures in late March of 2013.  After sleeping in my car (like usual) the night before, my alarm went off around 4am to be able to capture the stars I had previously scouted at a different spot in this section.  As the sun rose and the landscape changed I began to wander around to see what I could find.  These amazing formations were all over and the trick was to find something to show off how weird of a place it was.  Luckily the previously clear sky (good for stars) was giving way to some unique clouds and I returned to a spot I had found the evening before.  Given the texture of the rock and the cool clouds in the sky this one had some possibility.  I spent another 30-45 minutes enjoying the solitude as I played like a kid in a playground.  Then off for what was to be an epic day in slot canyons and over 6 miles of hiking.  Nonstop!
Much thanks!
Dramatic black in white in remote southern Utah.

Fun in Fall

Unreleased Autumn Adirondacks Had the opportunity to shoot fall color in upstate NY in late sept. This was taken after scouting the location the day before. I returned for sunrise and preceded to shoot for for over 2 hours as the fog went from completely socked in to completely gone and blue skies. During this transition phase there was some wonderful light coming over the ridgeline and was able to capture this scene!
Much thanks!
Sunlight through fog in autumn. Upstate New York.

La’a Kea O Pali

While spending a (wet) weekend on Oahu for an ultimate frisbee tournament in Waimanalo I of course had my camera in tow.  Heading back over the pali (cliffs) to townside (Honolulu) I noticed that the persistant rain had started to ease a bit.  Knownig there was a pretty cool overlook I decided to make a slight detour and check out the view from above.  Rain jacket on the spritzing wasnt too bad however the pali was still fairly socked in.  Then I noticed a trail down the edge of the cliff…remnants of the old highway.  So off I went.  Over the next hour or so the storm started to break and this beam of light came flying through the gap in the mountains.  First it illuminated the greenery in front of me.  Then later on, as the sky opened, the focus turned to Kaneohe below me.  I set up to capture this awesome view and was super thankful I made that decision to pull over.  Then again…we should make that decision more often 🙂

"La'a Kea O Pali"
“La’a Kea O Pali”

West Branch…The Ausable

Making my way back to upstate NY at the end of September was a long time coming.  Having grown up spending a lot of time up in Adirondacks and Lake Placid region it had been almost 10 years since I was last up there.  And how good it was to return.  The cause for the trip was a close friend’s wedding which I extended in to a fall foliage photography extravaganza.  Last year I was able to capture the Eastern Sierra of California but the Northeast is a icon of which to view fall color from.   Of course coming from Hawaii to upstate NY there is quite a change of climate…especially in late September.  Packing my bag I had the usuals, long pants, gloves, multiple jackets, long underwear…and as expected all were needed.
On this particular day the plan was to catch some of the early morning fog that was occurring each day before the sun had a chance to warm up the air and ‘burn off’ the low clouds.  This section of the Ausable is a winding treasure hunt.  Wanting a certain flow of color and water I came across this section in the twilight.  Bundled up I was ready to wait for the long haul.  Poking around I found a couple of different options and then to sit and wait…and wait…and wait.  2 hours pass by.  But then almost right on queue the fog began to break and the mountainside in the distance was revealed as the light illuminated the fog above the river.  Admittedly the cold doesn’t feel as bad after being able to capture an image like this. 🙂
Much thanks!

Point Of No Return

“Point Of No Return”
Lighthouse just off the coast of Lihue, Kauai.  Long exposure under some amazing sunrise light. Having scouted this area prior I knew it had potential.  Guess early morning airport runs are a good thing from time to time to get one motivated to shoot early 🙂

Nawiliwili Lightouse in black and white with long exposure
“Point Of No Return”

Adventures at Ke’e Beach

Had a chance to shoot at Ke’e one last time in which this VERY temporary beach existed.  In the 6+ years of living on Kauai I have never seen that much sand at the end of the summer at this spot.  But perhaps I just hadn’t looked before.  Either way this captivated me and spent a number of sunsets here.  This being the most recent.  As the sky was clear, again, my mind turns to twilight and that wonderful transition of light.  The last bit of sunset fades away and gives way to the stars.  Our visiting friend Venus (I think) made for quite a show as well!

Stars appear over the Na Pali coast at twlight from Ke'e Beach, Kauai.
Untitled Ke’e Twilight

Heart Lake; An Evening In The Adirondacks

Here I am; sitting in LAX on a 8 hour layover headed back to Kauai.  It’s here that for the first time since my photographic adventures over a week ago that I get to look over images from the trip.  And in somewhat of an unusual turn I actually started at the beginning 🙂  Late September I found myself in the incredible little mountain town of Lake Placid, NY.  A place that I visited fairly frequently as a kid and college ‘adult’ however it had been nearly 10 years since I had returned.  Even more to the fact that I can never remember seeing fall color up there.  Well…I was in for a treat.  New England and the high peaks range are home to some of the most spectacular color displays in the US.  Now, with only 4 days to shoot and a bit of memory loss from my childhood it was time to do some research.  Which, on the first sunset of my session lead me to Mt. Jo.  A relatively easy hike (about 1 mile with some decent elevation gain), it offers great bang-for-the-buck with views to some of the highest peaks in the Northeast.  And this time of year…fields of color as far as the eye can see.  🙂
Arriving at the trailhead I aimed to get myself up to the top around 45min or so before sunset.  Given that there were NO clouds i wasnt in much of a hurry as without them the sky is remarkably boring.  But up we go.   Making good time, about 20 min to the top, I was glad I brought layers.  Not quite the same temperature as Kauai in September!  A few other photographers were scattered about taking in the afternoon light while I bounced around the rock figuring out what I would do.  Now, my normal train of thought is that if there are no clouds…shoot stars.  So the plan was to wait until dark and then hike down with my headlamp (ALWAYS carry at least one in your bag).
As darkness fell the other people disappeared as well.  Until it was just me.  Much more of what I am used to when photographing 🙂  Of course being alone in the dark in the woods lets the mind wander…and I try my best to not be a wuss…but it’s bound to happen.  :p  Staying warm, 3 layers plus hat plus gloves, etc, sunset faded to twilight which gave way to the heavens above, and my goal for the evening.  To my incredible surprise as it got darker I noticed a familiar streak across the sky.  My old friend the Milky Way!  No way.  Directly in front of me right over the peak I was photographing.  Well…wasnt going to let this go to waste.  Managed to capture a few images as the light balanced out.  Back down to the car in about 25 min with that feeling of ‘I hope I didnt screw that up’ it was a great way to start my week.
Now sitting in LAX…finally getting to review images I can say that am quite happy I was able to pull off something ‘on the fly’.  More to share from the week and my apologies for the small size.  The full resolution has some stunning detail 🙂
Much thanks and enjoy!

Milky Way over Algonquin Mt as seen from Mt. Jo in the Adirondacks
“I Heart Lake”

Hā O Ka Mo’o (Dragon’s Breath)!

Admittedly I do not get out to shoot as much as I once did.  While my production has slowed a bit the ideas that I have had and still come up with do not cease.  On Monday night I had the opportunity to actually attempt one of these such ideas that could probably date back 1-2 years.  After leaving aFeinberg Gallery Poipu I got in to my car after catching a quick bite, and while tired, the sky had actually cleared up from the rainy weather we had had over the last couple of days.  Seeing as that I had my gear in the car the only thing left was to head out and give it a go.
For those not familiar with the area this is Spouting Horn.  A hugely popular attraction during the day, especially in the summer months when the south swell is more predominant.  The ocean gets forced through an old lava tube and sprays upwards like a geyser. Pretty spectacularly at times.  Of course venturing down is never recommended.  I spend a LOT of my time around the ocean photographing and have a healthy respect for what it can do.   Then add in the night time aspect and all the more creepy.  Especially since that as the horn spouts there is a huge whistling sound.  But this startling noise comes from about 30yards away from the water!  Watching one direction…noise from another.   After watching for a number of minutes I decide we’re good to go and grab the gear.  I carefully make my way to where my approximate shot is and watch the ocean some more.  Getting accustomed to the sound and pattern of the waves.  Then the tricky part.  Composing, focusing and shooting in the dark.
Now one of the things that I had not realized when visualizing this image was that there were street lights all around, thus bathing the area in artificial light.  Rats, was my first thought.  I had wanted it dark so that I could light paint the scene together.  I took a test shot to see if I had my composition down and the result was pretty crazy!  The whole ground was glowing bright red….like a dragon’s lair.  And, as predicted…the milky way BLAZING off the horizon up in to the sky.  Now the next part; figure out a way to capture the splash properly.  Over the next hour or so I spent rattling off 25 second exposures and playing with different lighting…all while waiting for the right wave to send the spray shooting upwards (but not getting blown too much to block the milky way!).
Finally, toward the end, and getting fairly tired, I decided to call it.  Hoping that at least one of the shots I had captured would work out.  After all it took me almost 2 years to even attempt this…and the wait was worth it :0

Spouting Horn on Kauai under the Milky Way
“Dragon’s Breath”