As photographers we tend to intake lots of imagery. Being self-taught that is pretty much how I learned over the years. Along this path we come across photographs that tend to stick with us, or at least the idea of a certain scene or conditions. The ‘tree on a hill’ idea is nothing new. But of course I’ve wanted my own version. Well, while on a trip with my partner in March ’17 to the Central Coast of California we had the amazing opportunity to photograph this sunrise. Incredibly this was the property next door from where she grew up. What I couldnt expect was the incredible conditions we were about to experience. As the sky brightened this low ground fog hung around the small rolling hills. Then, all hell broke lose and the sky went nuclear. There are a number of photographs from this morning that are in my back pocket to share along the way but I will say this is a morning that will stay with me forever. Photographs or not 🙂
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.
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!
Ok…couldnt resist taking that Pearl Jam line. But it’s appropriate. 🙂 Wanted to make a quick blog post and share a little before and after, only separated by about 6 years. So as we learn as artists (read: humans) our tastes evolve, our skills evolve, even computers evolve. I know when I first really started shooting seriously that one of my main problems was that I couldnt get the photograph to look how I wanted/experienced. Fast forward 6 years and a lot has changed. The last time I touched this photo was probably about that long ago. Lightroom, which I predominately use, has updated drastically as well as my techniques. That being said here is an image I took in Nov 2008 at sunrise along the east side of Kaua’i. There’s actually some I still like in the old edit but the new image, albeit edited fairly quickly, has a more refined feeling to it (at least I believe). Both are true to the scene however give a different feel to the sunrise.
Much thanks and hope you enjoyed this jog down memory lane 😛
“A New Day” (unreleased….and probably will be forever)
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.
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…. 🙂
Another vision photograph that I had the opportunity to chase a couple of weeks ago. Leaving the house and looking up the clouds were certainly promising. Mentally I gave it a pretty good chance of a fun sunrise. Of course leaving a few minutes late for sunrise meant driving like crazy up to the falls as the sky started to explode with color. Wailua Falls is one of the most popular places to visit as it offers easy viewing to a spectacular waterfall. The key, of course, is getting something different. For this particular shot that means a slightly altered perspective and crazy light! Never a bad combo. Of course this was just the precursor to the ‘real’ goal for the adventure. But that’s another story for another time 🙂
We now skip ahead to my third morning in Death Valley. Having seen plenty of photographs of Zabriskie Point, admittedly I was not overly enthused about capturing this icon. Dont know why really just the pull to capture it wasnt there. However, after photographing an incredible sunset at Badwater the evening before I had the time, and was in the right part of this huge National Park, to be able to try and catch sunrise from here. Easily accessible it’s one of the first stops coming in to the Valley from Las Vegas. This particular morning it was chilly…quite chilly. Even though much of Death Valley is below sea level this overlook is around 5000ft above the valley floor. Bundled up I made my way out to this spire of earth which placed me in a great spot to capture the unique landforms and colors that this location supplies. As the sky was quite clear (not what photographer’s hope for) the best light was actually about 20min before sunrise during the intense twilight glow that happens before sunrise and after sunset. This special light brought the scene to life and really enhanced the striations in the rock. Now if only there was a hot chocolate stand nearby… 🙂
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As what seems to happen in photography more often than not, is that the plan doesnt always seem to work out and we are left to think on our feet (which is weird because I think with my head…or is it on our toes….ah in any case!). Arriving down to the pier on this morning the idea was to head out on some jet-skis to photograph the big surf coming in. Well, the swell was arriving later than expected and I wasnt able to wait long enough as I needed to be at the aFeinberg Gallery St Regis at 9am. With all the large surf a tidal pool of sorts had formed next to and around the pier. Since I’m a sucker for reflections I knew my goal for the morning now. Of course this ment getting knee deep in some murky water with a very slippery bottom. Then waiting approx 30 min…very still to not disturb the reflections…for the light to finally crest the ridges and ilumminate the Ehu Kai or sea mist. The very clear and calm conditions dont happen all that often here on the north shore of Kauai so it was a special way to capture Hanalei Bay.
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Much thanks and enjoy!
Lately there has been a boon of photo workshop requests and on this day, Dec 24, I met with my client on the north shore and off we went to Moloa’a Bay. Now admittedly I don’t always like getting up for sunrises…they’re early :p In the winter at least we are afforded a later start time, 715am at this point, so it’s not quite as harsh. As we drove south/east the sky had already started to glow something wicked…what one sees AFTER a crazy sunset….my assumption…a precursor to an AMAZING sunrise. Arriving on location the light was already very fun. My goals during my workshops is direct instruction both with the technical side of the camera and the artistic side of “what the hell we put in front of the camera”. Making sense of it all. As we got set up and started a few compositions the light continued to increase. My camera was already out as I was showing by example some of the techniques I was talking about. Then….BAM!!! Holy freakin light explosion. (just as I expected…of course) 😉 Quickly getting the client’s composition dialed and settings in order I excused myself and scampered about 30ft over to the side, threw my tripod down around this rock where I saw the ocean washing past. I clicked exactly 4 shots…4. And then ran back to my client to make sure we kept recording this wonder. The explosion lasted just 5 minutes. Sometimes….we just get lucky 🙂