Just got back from a 10 day trip to CA…of which I was able to shoot for 7 of them. Havent been able to shoot that much in, perhaps years. Not only was a pushing buttons but also exploring places I hadn’t been yet in California, then Central Coast. Even with all my trips I had not made it down to that part of the world. Needless to say I will be returning. Incredible seascapes, rolling hills, incredible Oak trees…dunes (my favorite). After looking out of the window on one of my many plane trips I noticed an area below that I had to explore. Didnt know it would take years to get there but we ended up spending 2 separate shoots there over 4 days. This particular shot was taken on the return trip for sunset. Which started out VERY windy (and chilly, even though the temperature was 15F higher just a bit inland). As the sunset the wind subsided and the light turned magic. In normal aF fashion I was scurrying around as the light dwindled trying to find whatever compositions I could. I was initially above this dune and then noticed the shape of the shadow and curves leading toward the point in the background. After tweaking the composition 3 times the 4th resulted in this image.
There will be lots to share from this adventure and please enjoy this surreal place!
Back in mid February I had the opportunity to work privately with a client on a workshop this afternoon. With the surf being up to significant levels, 15’+, I knew that my usual go to spot would be a bit more challenging than usual. After shooting some waterfalls we made it down to the coast and the waves were POUNDING. The whole area is a very dangerous spot and normally I would not send people down here on their own in conditions like this. Having a great understanding of the area and having a plan in case things get dicey is important. As we watched the surf hit on to King’s Bath there was an area to stand and be safe yet able to scurry away if I thought we needed to retreat. The amount of spray was incredible and therefore challenging to shoot in for sure. After I had set up the client I decided I should join the fun. As we watched, and occasionally ran away, the sun hit this hole right above Mt. Makana and the whole scene became this surreal cauldron of sea, spray and light. I was able to get off just 2 series of photos before the sun passed behind the mountain for the night. Quite the experience for both of us.
To see a slo-mo video please check out the link HERE
It had been years…many, since I had last taken a camera to shoot the Waimea Pier. The chance came up after a camping trip to Polihale on the west side of Kauai. On the way back home it was late enough in the day that we decided to stop by and catch a sunset at the pier. Having a few ideas already in my mind I set to work experimenting with different compositions. Running from standing on the pier to underneath it, trying to work as quickly as possible with the dwindling light. Comical I’m sure to watch. My goal for this session were long exposures so each time I set a shot and clicked I was waiting anywhere from 30-60s. Doesnt make for quick work.
As the sun was dropping I managed to get off this exposure under the pier and was quite happy with the dance of light around the pillars and base. The funny thing is that even making sure my horizon was level, the pier is not straight! Looks like someone needed a protractor when building this one 😉
Spouting Horn is always a fun place to shoot…and a bit tricky. Getting down to the rocks requires a bit of sneaking and a lot of precautions. Ending up as a statistic is never on my agenda. Working around the ocean for so long I always take my time to make sure I’m safe where I want to be and have a way out if need be.
This shot in general has been on the to do list for a while. And knowing myself I’m going to keep trying it. As usual the elements need to align to get the perfect conditions and they were pretty close (at least to what I have in my mind) this night 🙂 But then again…isn’ the fun in trying?
Better late than never. This image was taken on 1/1/2015 in an unassuming kinda place. But the sunset was full on 360 craziness and couldnt resist this simple composition. Here’s to a great 2015! Gonna be a wild ride!
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.
“Bathed In Light” (unreleased)
I find it funny for as many times as I’ve been there and photos I’ve taken around it….I have very few of Queens Bath itself. One of my favorite locations on Kaua’i it can be tremendously beautiful, or extremely dangerous (think 30′ waves). On this particular afternoon I was out on a private workshop and were exploring the coast. As we worked our way down and finally got to the Bath itself we noticed that the waves were just big enough to occasionally refill a pool of water up hill, which would then filter down in to the bath. With the sky to the west clear I had the feeling that the light would be perfect to possibly illuminate the pulsing water. The next key factor was, of course, a wave filling the pool above when the sun was in the right position. For anyone that has been around the ocean, shooting or not, it does not always cooperate. As the sun got lower the client and I were doing our voodoo dance for that one wave….then…”look out!”. The biggest wave of the day came through (not dangerously…just shocking), which caused us to pick up our tripods but woah there was a lot of water! Quickly reset the tripod and started firing off exposures. The light lasted about 5 minutes. We assessed our other photographic possibilities then the victory hike back up to the parking lot. Just another afternoon chasing light (and waves)!
Come join Kory Lidstrom and me in March for a 6 Day Workshop on Kaua’i! More info here!
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.
Had the opportunity yesterday (6/5/14) to go photograph one of my favorite spots on the island. One that I havent really visited much in the recent past. The sky that afternoon was a bit hazy but overcast with high clouds. Without seeing much of the horizon I made a comment to a fellow visiting photog
Of course the bottom line gives it away. After climbing down the trail, a trail that has been much degraded in the last few years. By which I mean slopey dirt/mud and the crux at the end where the ropes are in bad need of some maintenance to say the least). I dropped my bag in my desired location and walked around a little scouting for future projects. The sky being very suspect. As I got back to my bag and wasted some time (read: playing hearts), I poked my head around the rock and the sun was lighting up a tiny section of cloud on the horizon. Gave me some hope. As the sun set the glow stayed…then started to grow…that is when I sent the text. Over the next 10 minutes or so the color crept over the sky causing everything to glow as I giddly laughed to myself….chance of epic. Of course the hike back up to the car still was ahead of me…but we all know up is always easier 🙂
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!