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Tag Archives: Water

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.


Stacked Wave

I’m a sucker for clear, warm water.  In fact, during this shoot, which lasted about two hours, I went swimming not once, but twice!

Waves that are swimmable AND photographable:  for me, this is as good as it gets!

Cresting Wave

When conditions are right, a wave will make a perfect arch as it collapses.  Shooting late in the afternoon on a west-facing beach on Moloka’i, the waves were backlit by the setting sun, and seemed to be lit from within.

Isolating this section of wave, and freezing it in time gave it a somewhat surreal quality, didn’t it?

A split-second of geometric perfection collapsing into chaos, the smooth green water morphing into frothy white foam…

Every wave is unique, and I never get tired of shooting them!

Grizzly morning silhouette

Bears don’t always show up under perfect lighting conditions.  This grizzly sow was out foraging for clams just as the sun was rising…behind her!  Since she was walking right on the edge of the water, there was no way to circle around to the other side of her to get the pretty golden morning light softly illuminating her orange-brown fur.

One solution was to turn her into a silhouette.  Her pronounced shoulder hump tells you this bear’s a grizzly.  And the simplicity of the image gives it a serene quality.

bathing bear 2

If the focus is a tad soft on this image, it’s because I was shaking the camera (even though it was on a tripod) by laughing so hard at this grizzly sow’s antics.

I think bath-time is the highlight of a sow’s day:  they get away from their cubs (the little bears don’t care for deep water, so they wait on the shore for mom to finish her ablutions), they get to cool off (if it’s not cool and drizzly and breezy, it’s HOT by grizzly bear standards), and–as I’m sure all the moms reading this will agree–you just need a few minutes each day when it’s all…about…ME!!!

I just love the way the sows gave in to totally enjoying their baths, tuning out everything–and everyone–else around them.

When’s the last time you had this much fun?

bathing bear

This grizzly sow is enjoying a refreshing bath on a hot afternoon.

While I was in Alaska last July, the weather was warm and dry.  I liked it, and the cubs didn’t seem to mind it, but the sows were miserable.  I’m sure the fact that they were molting helped a little bit, but their fur loss was patchy at best, and didn’t seem to offer much real relief from the heat.

Imagine having to wear a full-length fur coat that you couldn’t unbutton, let alone remove, on a warm, sunny day.  And no, you don’t get to sit on a park bench in the shade, not for a minute!  You have to spend the entire day dragging your hungry cubs around and foraging for food.  There’s lots of grazing available in the meadow, but almost no shade.  Eventually, you get tired and cranky.  Your cubs’ endless frolicking, which normally amuses you, is getting on your nerves.

What to do?

If there’s a low tide, going clamming is a great way to cool off.  But even if the tide is high, walking to the beach and taking a cool dip is just what you need.  The cubs don’t like the deeper water, so they sit on the sand and wait for you to come back to shore.  You wade in until the water is deep enough to cover you, then you lay down and roll onto your back and enjoy the cooling relief all by yourself.  When you’re nice and refreshed, you return to your anxious cubs with renewed patience, and the three of you walk off together to graze on sedge grass in the meadow until evening.

One definition of nirvana is “relief from suffering.”  A cooling bath on a hot afternoon is the epitome of ursine nirvana.

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 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…  


A coot blends in almost perfectly with the black and grey paint marking the waterline of a boat moored alongside a canal in Amsterdam.

I expected to see many more waterbirds in the canals than I did. I think the reason is that the canals are deep and there are hardly any places in the city where it’s easy for the birds to wade in and out of the water.

Out in the countryside, I saw a number of geese and ducks–as well as many more coots–living alongside the canals. Most had large broods of goslings or ducklings–or cooties?–that had recently hatched. It was fun to see the babies waddling and swimming behind their parents.

But in the city, I saw only solitary birds along the canals…except for the gulls. Gulls seem to manage to live just about everywhere. They are the pigeons of the waterbird species, adaptable to a diet ranging from fish to garbage and everything in between.

I’m fascinated by birds that can adapt to living alongside humans in cities. And that brings us back to coots, who are very tolerant of the presence of humans in their aquatic universe. And humans leave the coots alone as well. I hear that coots taste terrible, unlike their duck and goose cousins. So they’ll probably live safely among humans for many more years…

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…