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Rock in Surf

Through the magic of continuous shooting at some crazy number of frames-per-second, I was able to capture the exact moment that this wave came into contact with this rock. This is the sort of thing that happens, quite literally, in the blink of an eye.  Our minds register the water washing over the rock, but the nuances of the event escape our consciousness…like the way the wave explodes into hundreds of individual droplets before “re-forming” as foam…or how the rock, which is clearly a three-dimentional object, appears almost two-dimensional from this perspective…or how opaque the spray of even this crystal-clear tropical water becomes as it literally turns into “white water” before our very eyes.

Look at the shape of the rock, the scalloped edges standing out against the surf, and marvel at how many millions of times that rock was struck by waves to erode the way it has.

So much drama takes place each day in just this one square yard of shore…now multiply that to encompass all the coastlines of the world…most of it unwitnessed by humans…neat.


Molokai View

I’m back!  One of the reasons for my absence was another trip to Moloka’i.  A favorite place to visit and photograph, and it gets harder to leave every time I go.

This image was taken on the east side of the island, looking across the sea to Maui in the distance.  My trip was in early December, so I missed all the fabulous surf the islands experienced this month.  But then I also missed the huge crowds that flocked to the North Shore of O’ahu to watch the waves and those who ride them.

That’s a big part of why I love Moloka’i.  There are no crowds.  And there are plenty of views like this to feast your eyes on.

I’ll be back…

beach 4

This is the last in a series of night beach scenes I shot last December on The Big Island (Hawai’i).  Today’s image, as well as those from the last three posts, were all shot on one night by moonlight.  For the record, it was not a full moon, but roughly about half-full.  These were all 30-second exposures.

I didn’t really set out to do night photography per se that particular night.  Rather, a friend who lives on The Big Island and I were going to hike out to see and shoot the lava.  When we got to the end of the road, we couldn’t see much of a glow from the lava, and rather than “waste” a hike out and back, we decided to try again the following night.

So there we were at 3:00 AM, all dressed up and nowhere to go.  My friend decided to drive along the coast to show me some pretty beaches that visitors seldom find.  Since I had all my camera gear with me in anticipation of shooting lava, I shot some beach scenes instead.

Some people think there’s some trick to shooting these scenes at night.  Honestly, the adage of “90% of success is just showing  up” holds true here.  A tripod is a must.  It helps to have an eye for landscape composition.  Exposure is a little trial and error at first to get a well-exposed image with as slow an ISO as possible to minimize grain.

I’m partial to 30-second exposures because I like very blurry water.  But you can certainly try a 10 or 15 second exposure and see if you like the results.

beach 3

Another image of a moonlit beach on The Big Island (Hawai’i).  This is the third in a series of four images.  Tomorrow I’ll explain how I found myself doing night photography at zero-dark-thirty on these beautiful shores…

beach 1

See if you can guess what’s unusual about this image I took on The Big Island (Hawai’i) last December.   The graininess is a clue…  

Sea Cliffs

This is the view from a clifftop on Moloka’i.  And yes, I was standing way, way, WAY too close to the edge to get this shot.  As you can see, I’m looking almost straight down the almost-vertical cliff to the jagged rocks and crashing surf below.  The boulders on the beach are huge, though they look like pebbles from this far away.

I love the layering of the image, the diagonal bands of different colors and textures, and the way the camera magically compresses a great distance into a two-dimensional plane.

Thank goodness I don’t suffer from vertigo…

Wave explosion 2

The convergence of water and land can range from calm and peaceful to destructive and even deadly.  This is “just” a wave hitting a rock, but the way the wave exploded into thousands of smaller droplets ricocheting in all directions was nothing short of amazing.  A shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second barely freezes the flying water!

lava surf

I watched these two little rivulets of lava keep pouring…and pouring…and pouring, despite the incessant surf that kept pounding against the base of the cliff.  As each wave struck, it obliterated my view of the lava, and buried the flow under several feet of water.  And each wave receded to show the lava persistently flowing, and the rock steaming from the latest impact of cool water.

I took a number of images of this little flow, varying the shutter speed to get different exposure lengths and therefore different amounts of blur in the water.  I focused on the lava and the rock above it, which is dark and stands out in sharp contrast to the white steam.  Because that area is the brightest and the sharpest, that’s where your eyes are drawn, and where they keep returning as they explore the rest of the image.

Interestingly, one “rule” of photography states that to have an interesting image, don’t center the subject.  I’m sure most of you have heard of the infamous “Rule of Thirds.”  But in this photo, even with the subject almost dead center, it’s far from being a static image.  There’s enough movement and variety in the water and steam surrounding the lava that I think it works quite well.

lava cliff

Multiple rivulets of lava cascade down the cliff and into the ocean below.  Jagged chunks of basalt, broken off the cliff face, lie scattered at its base.  Every time a wave hits the lava, it sends a huge plume of steam billowing skyward.  The ocean begins to erode the cliff literally the second it is formed.  The waves pound the cliff relentlessly, continuously…

In several thousand years, this may become a beautiful black sand beach.  But for now, it’s best to stay out of the water.  Not only are there falling rocks, strong surf and dangerous currents, but the water may be a bit warm for your liking in some spots…

Last week I took advantage of a sunny morning after several days of rain, and visited a few beaches to see what the storm surf had tossed ashore.  On one beach I found an impromptu “sculpture” that someone had made recently.  I’m guessing it was made that same morning, since the strong winds of the previous few days would have most likely blown it over.

I made the above image with my smart phone, since I didn’t have much time to linger that morning.  Despite my laziness, I’m happy with the way the image turned out.  There’s plenty of detail in the wood and rocks, and the background is also adequately sharp.  I love the play between the foreground and the background, the softness of the lighting and the sky, the contrast of the textures of the wood, stone, sand and water.

The whitewater in the surf is too “blown out” to make this more than a snapshot, but as snapshots go, it’s a keeper.

Meanwhile, approximately 3,200 miles northeast of where the above image was taken by the Pacific Ocean in California, I took the image below by the Atlantic Ocean in Maine.  It was on Isle Au Haut, which can only be reached by boat.  A friend who lives in Maine and I took the first morning ferry to the island, and spent the day hiking miles of beautiful trails through the forests and along the shores.

Maine is one of my favorite states, and if you’ve read my blog from the beginning you may remember me rhapsodizing about the heavenly concoction known as a lobster roll.  Besides having great eats, Maine also has an abundance of photo-ops.  Since I’m passionate about photography, food and travel, Maine is a favorite destination.

I built the cairn in the image below, and must admit that I was very pleased with my engineering skills as well as my artistry.  I wanted a pleasing variety of sizes and shapes of rocks, and most of the Maine coast has rocks in abundance.  I also wanted the sculpture to have a bit of a whimsical air, almost like a fairy tale castle.  I believe I achieved that goal.  I think my construction is a bit more creative than the one at the top of the page, where the sizes and shapes of the rocks are much more uniform (and thus balance more easily upon each other).

Like the image above, the image below is a snapshot and not fine art.  The lighting is harsh and the focus is soft.  However, it memorializes a fine day spent with a fellow photographer in a spectacular setting.  But it has more meaning for me than the image above, since I created both the cairn AND the photograph.

Rock on!