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Monthly Archives: May 2013

hula dancer


A beautiful woman dances a beautiful dance.  A dance both ancient and timeless.  A dance in which every gesture has meaning.  A dance which tells a story…

My photograph freezes her story mid-word.



hula dancers

A group of hula dancers is dwarfed by the tall coconut palms they are performing under.  The palms fronds sway gracefully in the sky, and the dancers sway gracefully on the ground.  As above, so below…

mo'omomi morning

A long exposure allows the jagged rocks to be outlined by the smooth white surf.  I like the contrasts in this image:  soft vs hard, light vs dark, still vs moving.  I also like the fact that there’s no signs of humans.  This area is really an ancient landscape, containing petrified dunes and fossils of extinct creatures.  Swept by strong winds and pounded by large surf, the coastline has been sculpted over millions of  years into its present state.  This is land that should  be visited with reverence.  It was an honor to get to shoot here and to experience the magic and mystery of a unique place that hosts very few visitors.

evening sea

If I had to pick my absolute favorite time of day for landscape photography, it would be that narrow window between day and night when long exposures are possible but there’s still enough ambient light to walk around without risking life and limb.  And my favorite place to shoot during that window is at the seashore.

This image was taken on Moloka’i last April.  The lava rocks anchor the bottom of the image, while the ocean above dissolves into a blurred mist-scape

I’ll be posting a series of late evening and early morning shots over the next few days.  I hope you enjoy them.

ghost crab

This crab was ready for battle!  I crawled after it on my hands and knees, then layed on the damp sand for a close up shot.  Frame, focus, snap.  I took a shot, blinked, and then the crab was three feet down the beach.  I crawled after it again, got another shot, and away it went.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

The crab and I played out this scenario a number of times over about a 100′ stretch of sand.  Each time I was only able to grab a shot or two before Mr. Crabs decided he had had enough and cruised a foot or two out of reach.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

This is a horned ghost crab (Ocypode ceratophthalmus).  According to wikipedia, it can run almost seven feet per second.  According to my observations, that’s true.  Amazing that a creature with eight legs can move that quickly…and sideways at that!

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

Fortunately the crab is not a distance runner, and only sprinted for a second or two at a time before coming to rest again, too far away to shoot.

Crawl.  Shoot.  Repeat.

I found out later that other photographers further down the beach had been watching my antics with bemusement.  They were too far away to see the crab, and figured I had simply lost my mind, crawling in rapid bursts along the beach.  Too many hours in the hot tropical sun, and all that.  I’m sure that from a distance, my behavior looked pretty comical.

But I was on a mission.  I knew I only had a few minutes of wonderful golden sidelighting from the setting sun during which to grab an image, I wanted to be as close to Mr. Crabs’ eye level as possible, and even with his eyes handily placed on stalks they were still only a couple of inches above the sand.



Mission accomplished!

table and window

…a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.

So sings Leonard Cohen, one of my favorite songwriters.  And like most good song lyrics, they can be taken literally or metaphorically.

I couldn’t help thinking of those lyrics as I was shooting in an abandoned building on Moloka’i last April.  It was precisely the cracks and the holes in the wooden walls that let the late afternoon sunlight come streaming in, created those beautiful sunbursts, and softly illuminated the scene.    (This image was shot with only existing light.)

I have no idea what this building was used for.  I don’t know what was in the bottles and jars on the counter.  You can see that everything had a thick patina of dust on it.  I didn’t move a single object, but shot it just as I found it.

If it wasn’t for the cracks and the holes in the walls, this image would be dark and lifeless.  It is precisely the cracks that make it beautiful…at least to me.

garden spider

Though quite fearsome-looking, the Hawaiian Garden Spider (Argiope appensa) is harmless to humans.  The do like to eat cockroaches, however, which makes them welcome in most gardens in the tropics.  The zig-zag pattern seen in the lower left of the image is often found near the center of their webs.

These spiders are a couple of inches long, and their webs can be two feet in diameter or even bigger.  They seemed to be woven across every garden path I wanted to walk down.  Their penchant for draft-free, sunny pockets of foliage made me uncharacteristically take the road MORE travelled!


Bamboo makes a fun photographic subject for me, because the combinations of patterns are almost infinite.  The challenge is finding a focal point amid all the clutter.  Here the two angled stalks in the foreground that run parallel to each other make a nice contrast with all the upright stalks in the background.

Shooting with a wide aperture, I focused on the widest slanted stalk on the left.  The other slanted stalk on the right is slightly out of focus, and all the vertical stalks in the background are even more out of focus.  The relatively shallow depth of field helps define the subject of the image.

Shooting a bamboo forest is a great way to flex your composition muscles.

Ginger 2

Another ginger calls attention to itself in a tropical garden.  It’s competing with Heliconia, so it had better be bold.  Fortunately, the green foliage is the perfect foil for the bright red flower.  It stands out like the proverbial sore thumb (but much prettier to look at!).


Another tropical show-off flower is the ginger blossom.  This one, a soft blush pink, is actually pretty understated.  I’ve seen some red, burgundy, and yellow specimens that are quite the attention-grabbers.

The ginger zinger:  Why are the words “zinger” and “ginger” spelled the same but pronounced differently?  Inquiring minds want to know…