The day started as any other Hawaiian day. The sky was cloudy at the northeast end of Kauai just as any other day of the last vacation. My first look out of the window at the clouds, palm trees, the ocean, beach, and mountains in the distance. Hey, there in the mountains something interesting was going on. The sun broke through the clouds and lit up one of the mountains in the ridge.
That was interesting. I setup my tripod in my hotel room, put my camera on, pointed it out of the window at the landscape outside and took a photo.
The fall weather in northeast Kauai is typically very unstable. In just a few minutes the light completely changed. I took another photo. The change itself had become interesting. Thus a day long project was born: the composition was framed and unchanged for the whole day but any time light changed I would take a photo.
Here is the final selection of the images from that day.
Are you like me and take a camera equipment with you on a family vacation? And I don’t mean a small camera for family snapshots. I mean large tripod and backpack full of lenses, filters and big camera. Even if for a moment, even for a little bit I want to enjoy the new place thru a viewfinder.
I’ve just come back from a trip with my son to Hawaii. There is not mucch opportunity for photography with a 10 year old who does not like hiking. Fortunately, our hotel location in Kauai happened to be picturesque. I did not need to wonder far away for a sunrise, just sneak out of the hotel grounds.
I’m not sure whether it is a period in my life or my art but I’m more and more drawn to pastel colors. I remember seeking the brightest most vivid colors possible. I remember pushing colors as much as they’d go. Don’t get me wrong. If a photo has bright colors and it works I’ll keep it that way. But I see more and more photos in my collection with muted soft pastel colors.
Such as this photo. The is no awe inspiring sunrise or sunset on it but there is soft pink glow in the clouds that make my crazy about this photo.
The challenge with sharing such photos digitally is that subtle variations of color in most cases are lost when viewing them on non-calibrated monitors which is vast majority of monitors. Well, not much I can do about that.
Photographing sunrises and sunset is hard on Hawaii. Being close to equator the Sun pops up and quickly rises in the morning and it quickly drops down in the evening. There literally second to photograph sunrise or sunset.
Additional challenge for me was that at the place where we stayed the sunrise was blocked off by a mountain and clouds that the mountain attracted. I would have a peak of great clouds and light over the mountain thru trees, wires and buildings, wishing I’d be there every morning. Unfortunately, the was no road there.
Then one morning the clouds over the mountain cleared out and the light of sunrise spilled over the whole sky. The sky turned red and cast red light on the ocean and the land. And the ocean and the land turned red. Good thing I was persistent in going out every morning, hoping for a great light show. Persistence pays off.
Photography for me is about having fun, experimenting, trying out. It jump starts my creativity. Many of the photographers of the past and of today talk about previsualization, trying to compose and envision photo in your head before taking a photo. For me trying to do that with every image would be a limiting factor because we can only previsualize based on experiences we already have and we won’t learn anything new, gain new experiences.
The element of “randomness” is very important for me. Seeing something for the first time is what brings me joy. So, when one evening when I was ready to photograph sunset that did not happen I looked around what else I might take pictures of. I saw waves running to the shore and surfers occasionally running the waves. And I thought what if I pan the waves by rotating camera horizontally on the tripod with long exposure.
I took one image there was something in it. I started doing more and more. It was fun since I could not predict ahead of time what the image would look like. Trial and error, trial and error. As Jai Maisel once said “there is a reason why it is not called trial and success”. Here is a couple of the best trials:
A few posts back I was writing about blowhole north of Napili at Maui. While I went there because there is blowhole there which I wanted to photograph, I also looked around for other opportunities as I always do. And as I always do I found several more interesting images to make. Here are a couple.
First one with cliffs going into the ocean in a warm light of an early morning:
The second with a violent ocean crashing against the cliffs of lava rock:
I think there are even more opportunities there – as always there is even something better ahead.
As I mentioned in my first post about my family’s recent trip to Hawaii I bring my photographic gear with me in case opportunity of a lifetime presents to me. I would not want to miss that. And there was such opportunity on this trip.
Most of the time I have my camera with me. Of cause I take memorable family photos with it. One afternoon we went to Lahaina for some late lunch and walk around the town. Lahaina is one of old towns on the west side of Maui with its heritage and famous Banyan tree that makes up the whole park that has become the center of the town.
We were strolling in the Banyan tree park in the warm Hawaiian evening. It was an overcast day. Our son was enjoying his Maui Rainbow shaved ice. Nothing promised a sunset. Then all of the sudden the whole sky lit up with bright red colors. It was amazing.
We rushed to the the boat harbor from the cover of trees and building to get a better look. I started taking photos along the way at least to be able to remember this sunset. Our son got onto excitement and was running ahead of us.
I did not have tripod and other stuff with me but that just made me to push myself and camera to get the best with what I had. I was using whatever I could find to steady the camera for longer exposure. I was taking panoramas handheld rotating it with my body. I was pushing ISO to get sharper images.
I’m proud of what I got. That’s one gift the Nature gave me that I did not miss.
It so happened that our travel coincided with full moon. Every morning for a few days I was going to the same spot and watching moon setting below horizon right before sunrise. It was majestic.
These three very much different photos were taken at the same place. (Click on the images to see them in larger size.)
If you go over and over to the same place something interesting is bound to happen.
There is a well-known blowhole north of Napili on Maui. I’ve been to it and photographed way back on the first trip. The photos back then were just documenting an event of water blasting up from the blowhole. This time I went there at sunrise. I knew that it was not a great spot for sunset ahead of time from looking at a map. The location of it is such that sunset light is blocked by a mountain.
The wind was great. It was a soft breeze from the show to the ocean. It was blowing off water dust. I remembered last time I had been there there was a strong wind from the ocean and I could come anywhere close to the blowhole. It would quickly soak me with water.
This time I could come close to the blowhole. It turned out there was a nice niche by the blowhole where I could setup a tripod and stay out of the water’s way. It was also facing sunrise – a perfect spot.
The first time I went there the blowhole was putting out a great show but the sky was grey and uninspiring. The second time there was some color in the sky but the water from the blowhole was too dark in a shadow. My persistence paid off the third time. I waited a little bit longer and the sun broke thru the clouds and lit up the blowhole fountain. NOW everything was in place!
The first place to look for photo opportunities on a family trip is of cause right next to the hotel. There was quite large area of lava rock right next to the hotel with a sandy beach next to it. Last time I made this photo of that place (Sleepy Beach) my focus was on the beach. This time I focused my attention on the lava rock.