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 🙂
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).
So many stories surrounding this image. Of which include; powering through a month-old knee injury, getting a bit lost and then un-lost, ‘no fall’ zone hiking, fellow hikers lending me their trekking pole for the night and spending hours alone in the dark in a cave to then hike out in the dark, alone. Of course returning with a successful image always makes those details worth while when the effort is rewarded. This location, on the edge of a cliff, tucked in to a cave, was used hundreds of years ago by the Anasazi Indians, though the details and usage are still unknown. Being as I was out there, with a very clear sky, my instinct turns to photographing the stars. It’s amazing how much light cameras can pick up nowadays. Watching the nocturnal transition from such a remote location, one cant help but be transported back to ancient times. Chills. And then for that very dark walk back to the car….