I’m not a fan of click-bait headlines, so I intentionally avoided titling this post with something hyperbolic like “Is Photography Dying?” or “Is the Demise of Photography Nigh?” or something equally melodramatic.  While it’s always gratifying when more people read one of my entries, the fact is that I make the same amount of money–zero dollars and zero cents–whether one person views a blog post of mine or a million people do.  (Not that a million people have ever viewed one of my posts, but you get the idea.)  As a result, I have the relative luxury of feeling smug about my decision to avoid hyperbole…most of the time, anyway.

San Miguel Range Sunset, Last Dollar Road, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

In all seriousness, I have wondered for some time about the answer to the question posed in the title of this post.  But before I ruminate on the substance of the matter, I’m going to take a moment to explain what it is I’m referring to.  Despite my stated attempt to avoid exaggerated terminology, parts of the title of this piece have the potential to convey charged meanings.

To be precise, what exactly do I mean by “serious” landscape photography?  I can probably best address that question by first describing what I don’t mean.  In my parlance, “serious” landscape photography isn’t synonymous with big, expensive cameras, lenses and accessories.  It’s certainly possible to engage in the pursuit with big, expensive cameras, lenses and accessories, but by no means is it a requirement.  It’s absolutely possible to engage in the pursuit with a smartphone.  (In fact, I’d argue, it’s possible to, in part, engage in the pursuit without a camera at all.  I’ll expound on that point a bit later.)  My meaning behind the phrase “serious” landscape photography, then, has nothing to do with gear.

It also isn’t necessarily a function of output.  To the extent that a consensus exists about what makes a “good” or “bad” landscape photograph (a subject arguably worthy of a series of blog posts itself), it’s certainly possible to produce a “good” photograph without engaging in “serious” landscape photography and to produce a “bad” one while being so engaged.

Waterline Falls Black & White, Letchworth State Park, New York

So what does it have to do with, then?  Intent.  Engagement.  Emotional, psychological and intellectual involvement with the endeavor.  It’s about connection–the photographer and the landscape.  I will concede, albeit grudgingly, that the logical consequence of it being labeled landscape photography does, ultimately, require the use of some sort of device that will produce a photograph, but as I see it, this is a very, very minor part of the equation.  And certainly what specific device you use does not, in and of itself, confirm or deny the degree of seriousness by which someone is engaging in the endeavor.

So, in short–and imperfectly–what I’m talking about is the degree and depth of personal involvement that someone has with the landscape and the exercise of producing a rendering of it.  The making of the photograph can be done with a large format camera, a smartphone or anything in between.

Sunwapta River Rapids, Jasper National Park, Alberta

My sense is that the pursuit of what I’ve described as “serious” landscape photography is in decline.  This is admittedly anecdotal–I’m not sure that anything that we could legitimately describe as objective confirmation or dismissal of this declaration exists, to be frank.  But wherever I’ve been over the last handful of years or more I see fewer and fewer people engaged in what I’ve described as “serious” landscape photography (and it’s pretty obvious when someone is so engaged and when they aren’t–just watch them).  I’ve received a version of the same story from others I know, based on their own observations in the field.

Landscape photography writ large, without qualification–is most certainly not declining.  More images of the landscape, of myriad quality (however that quality is assessed), are being produced on a daily basis than ever before and there’s no indication of an arrest in that trend.  But “serious” landscape photography?  That seems to me to be an entirely different matter with an antagonistic trend line.

Coast Trail, Samuel H. Boardman State Park,Oregon

There’s a purposefulness behind the kind of behavior I’m discussing.  There’s a world of difference in my eyes between the exercise of an outing that involves actively looking for images and an outing that involves the occasional casual taking of pictures.  As I’ve said in the past on this blog, there’s a qualitative distinction to be drawn between a photo trip and a trip where one takes photos.  Again, one isn’t necessarily “better” than the other, but there’s a clear delineation between the two.  Think of what I’m describing as a miniature version of that; the distinction of photographic intent–or lack thereof–applies whether one is on a trip or not.  And whatever the scale, I’m seeing far less photo-trip-style-behavior than I used to.

Lily Pond Reflections, Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

To the extent that what I’m describing as a trend is accurate, two additional questions probably come to mind:  1) what’s the cause of this? and 2) who cares?

With the express caveat that I’m not sure, I’ll take a shorthand stab at the “what’s the cause?” question.  With the secondary disclaimer that it’s almost certainly more complicated than I’m about to surmise, I think the biggest reason for the change is the somewhat ironic truism that picture-taking, in the most superficial, technical sense of the term, has never been easier to carry out than it is today, and it will almost certainly continue to get easier in the future.

The Fire Wave at Dusk, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Humans are interesting creatures.  We are, generally speaking, lazy beings and as a result we’re frequently guided by inertia, surely the most powerful force in the human universe.  There’s a kind of long-standing joke in photographic circles.  Cameras–whatever their platform–have increasingly become auto-everything over the years:  autofocus, autometering, autoexposure, auto-ISO, etc.  Thus–the punch line–the photographer is reduced to little more than pressing the shutter button.  The corollary to this joke is that the final stage of this development will be an auto-composition mode:  tell the camera what kind of an image you want and it will float into place, frame the image for you, run through the rest of the auto-everything protocol and, voila!  Of course at that point, someone will undoubtedly complain about having to tell the camera what kind of image he/she wants:  “why do I have to go that trouble?”  (Get a group of condescending old time photographers together to riff on this story and you’ll have a photo version of the Four Yorkshiremen before you know it.)

There’s a certain compelling irony to the notion that the easier things get, the less we seem to want to do them at all.  The advent of digital capture and all of its components made it immeasurably easier than ever to overcome the omnipresent stumbling block of properly exposing a photographic frame.  And yet, in the now mature digital world, a smaller percentage of people engaging in photography have any idea how to expose a scene than ever before.

Approaching Sunset, Mahogany Hammock Road, Everglades National Park, Florida

As to the obviously loaded question of “who cares?…I’ll frame it a little bit less provocatively:  does it matter?  In the greater scheme of things, I suppose not.  It’s not as though civilization’s sustenance is riding on the answer to the question of whether “serious” landscape photography is on the decline.  But when a subject as close to me as this one is (this blog, in part, has served as a venue for my thoughts on matters such as this since its inception more than 10 years ago) comes to the fore, and with what appears to be such a negative prognosis, it takes on a personal significance that’s greater than it likely should be.  Perhaps it’s an exercise in pure nostalgia on my part, perhaps it’s something equally intangible, but I find the notion that active engagement with the art and craft of landscape photography is diminishing…unfortunate and, at some level, indescribably sad.

Reeds & Lily Pads, Chain O’Lakes State Park, Illinois

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 27, 2020

Hawaii Day 9, Part 2: The Hana Highway Experience

Last time I provided some background to the Hana Highway as a photographic location, along with some images from the sunrise shoot that proceeded my time along the road.  This time I’ll present the images I made during the rest of that day and flesh out the specifics of the highway as a photographic experience based on what I saw when I was there.

Many of the highway’s sights are identified by their proximity to the mileage markers that appear along the road.  That sounds great, but there are numerous cases where the markers themselves are either missing or hidden from view by the lush foliage that dominates the area.  The mileage numbers increase as you travel east (or southeast…or south) along the road; in other words, the numbers go up assuming you’re driving the road in a clockwise direction.  The vast, vast majority of visitors to the area approach the region from the west, so this is convenient.  The zero mileage marker–ground zero, if you will–is located just prior to the turnoff for Maui County Road 365, a.k.a. Kaupakalua Rd.  The road you’re driving on changes from HI-36 to HI-360.  This is the Hana Highway.

Given my head start, it was still early in the morning, a bit before 7 AM, when I reached ground zero, so there was very little traffic.  The first stop I made that morning was Kualanupeo Church, which is a short way down a side road (Door of Faith Road, by name) off to the left of the highway.  The church is in a very picturesque setting and the grounds were deserted when I arrived.

Kualanupeo Church, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Kualanupeo Church, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

If you want to do any significant amount of photography along the Hana Highway you’re well-advised to pick your spots carefully and don’t dawdle all that much in any particular location.  The crowds had not become a problem when I started out that day but I knew they would become an issue eventually.  For instance, I had wanted to check out the Waikamoi Nature Trail, but I was concerned that if I did, I’d spend too much time there and thus, by the time I reached other locations that I wanted to see, they’d be too crowded.  It should go without saying–but I’ll say it anyway–that this is a terrible mindset to have when photographing…or doing much of anything, come to think of it.  I reached a point that day when I more or less said “the hell with it” and stopped worrying about this sort of thing.  I’d go places, take my time, and if that meant I didn’t see other locations–and it would mean exactly that–so be it.  My change in approach helped make the day go by a lot more pleasantly.  It also served as a reminder of something I noted in the previous post:  basing oneself in Hana for a few days would be a major, major boon to photographing in the area.

The guide book I was using made mention of a number of rainbow eucalyptus trees at a particular spot along the road and I was keen to see the trunks of these specimens, so I found a pullout and, with little difficulty, found some of the trees.  The most interesting bark patterns were located on the trunks well above my head so I used my 80-400 lens to isolate these areas and, using a focus stacking approach to compensate for depth of field, produced the images you see below.

Rainbow Eucalyptus Bark Closeup, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Rainbow Eucalyptus Bark Closeup, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Rainbow Eucalyptus Bark Closeup Black & White, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I stopped and checked out numerous waterfalls along the way.  Some I didn’t photograph because they were exposed to bothersome open sun.  Others I didn’t photograph because I couldn’t park my car anywhere near them due to other vehicles already taking up the extremely limited pull-off spots, which made it all but impossible to stop.  But I did manage to photograph some of the waterfalls, starting with Hiapua’ena Falls.

Haiou’ena Falls, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

The above image was made from an overlook of sorts, maybe 20 or 30 feet off the roadway.  With some difficulty I managed to meander over a boulder field to the left of the above shooting position to obtain a different perspective.

Haiou’ena Falls, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

The highway hugs the coastline not long after this point and I caught a glimpse of some features along the way that made me find a pull-out and walk back along the guardrail to make a couple of images of the scene.  The lush vegetation, contrasting colors, interesting sky background and dancing light were the attractions for me.

Lush Forest, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

People driving by kept seeing me, with my tripod astride the guardrail along the shoulder of the road, and stopping.  Many got out of there cars and I think a few spotted what I’d seen because their phones came out for picture taking purposes.  Others must have wondered what on earth I was doing and were back in their vehicles before long.

Lush Forest, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Before long a road to the left takes the intrepid visitor to the Kenae Peninsula.  This, in my opinion, is a must-do diversion from the main road.  It’s only about a mile down the side road to the end and along the way–particularly near the end of the road itself–you have the opportunity to see some wild coastline with heavy surf.  There’s also another picturesque church near the parking lot at the end of the road.  It was after 9 AM by the time I reached this point and the light was becoming pretty harsh but I was captivated by some of the scenes I discovered.  This would be a great sunrise or sunset location, if you’re staying near by (here we go again).  I tried to make the best of the situation, given that I was not staying nearby.

Ke’anae Peninsula, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Ke’anae Peninsula, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Ke’anae Peninsula Black & White, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Ke’anae Congregational Church, Ke’anae Peninsula Black & White, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

It was probably pushing 11 AM by the time I returned to the highway from my time on the Ke’anea Peninsula.  It was at this point that I recognized that photography would largely be hopeless for awhile.  The sun was out pretty relentlessly by this time (though that wouldn’t be the case indefinitely); additionally, most locations were overrun.  In some instances, as I alluded to above, it doesn’t take many people to jam a spot, as many locations have limited access.  So, I did two things for the next couple of hours; 1) I found myself literally unable to access locations, due to do a lack of nearby parking and moved on, or 2) I scouted spots that either didn’t work well given the ambient lighting conditions, had too many people around to make for anything but a snapshot, or both.

To illustrate the point, one such latter location was Pu’a Ka’a State Park, which is really a wayside, right off the highway west of Hana.  This location actually has more accessible parking than any other spot I found that’s located right alongside the Hana Highway, but when I arrived there it was nearly impossible to find somewhere to put the car.  I found a pullout about 1/10 of a mile up the road and walked to the small park–home of several waterfalls as well as decently maintained restrooms.  There were dozens of people roaming around when I was there and a goodly number of them were swimming or wading in a pool below one of the waterfalls.  Several people were climbing up the cliffside abutting the waterfall so that they could jump into the pool.  Lots of others were staying dry but watching the festivities.  The sun was directly on all of this so I didn’t even bring my camera gear but (in a bit of foreshadowing) I did see numerous possible images that I would make under better circumstances.  I hoped to stop at this location on the way back later in the day, hoping that it would be in even light and (much) less crowded.

The above tale was repeated numerous times that afternoon.  For other spots, I simply couldn’t get even get a glance as there was no equivalent to that 1/10 of a mile down-the-road pullout that I’d found near Pu’a Ka’a State Park.

When I got to the turnoff for Wai’anapanapa State Park–about a mile down an access road from the highway–I made a left and joined countless carloads of my “best friends” into the park.  The lot there was jammed but I lucked out, and snagged a spot that someone was vacating.  There were countless people on site, many of them on the park’s black sand beach, which is easily accessed by a short trail from the bluff above.  I got out–sans gear–and meandered about.  A trail leads to both sides of the cove that contains the black sand beach and I checked it out, found lots to like and returned to the car to get my equipment.  I figured I was there, so I might as well try to make the best of the situation.

Naupaka Shoreline, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Wai’anapanapa State Park is yet another spot along the Hana Highway that’s overflowing with compelling photographic opportunities.  If I sound like a broken record, there’s good reason for it.

Forest Floor Closeup, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Black Sand Beach Black & White, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I wandered the length of the trail, on both sides of the cove with the black sand beach.

Coastal Overlook, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Coastal Overlook Black & White, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

On the far side of the cove, the trail ascends a bluff from beach level, bends around a headland and leads the hiker to another cove, with another black sand beach, this one devoid of bathers.  It’s an enchanting location.  The dark black rocks wrapping around the cove are covered by naupaka.

Naupaka Cove, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

A burst of rain came upon me suddenly while I was here, and I waited it out under a tree.  After four or five minutes it ceased and I made my way back to the parking area.

I ultimately reached the town of Hana by mid-afternoon.  Several of the spots I wanted to visit were no-gos due to lack of parking but I did find a virtually empty lot at Hana Bay and spent some time milling about there.  I discovered a forested area adjacent to the lot that intrigued me.

Hana Bay Beach Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Hana Bay Beach Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I eventually drove all the way to the access point to the Hipalulu District of Haleakala National Park, home to the so-called “Seven Sacred Pools” (more accurately known as Ohe’o Gulch–more on this location in a future entry).  The area was (what else?) extremely crowded, so I turned around and began the long drive back, with the intention of stopping at some of the places I hadn’t been able to photograph on the way in.  That didn’t go very well initially.

My first stop was at Wailua Falls which had been so crowded the first time I went by that I didn’t even try to get out of the car.  It was modestly better this time.  I was able to find a place to ditch the vehicle but the location was still overrun with people.  After about 10 minutes, I gave up and moved on.  Another hour and it might have been workable but I wasn’t in a position to wait that long.

I had better luck at Hanawi Falls, probably because of how much later it was when I got there.  Parking really wasn’t a problem and, once I waited out a couple of people, I was able to photograph the location in relative peace.

Hanawi Falls, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Hanawi Falls Black & White, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Hanawi Falls, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

By the time I got all the way back to Pu’a Ka’a State Park, which had been inundated with people earlier, it was within an hour or so of sunset and the location was completely deserted.  What a difference!  I took advantage of this windfall and really tried to make the most of the situation.

Waterfall, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I made multiple images of the waterfall that people had been bathing beneath earlier in the day, with no interference.

Waterfall, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I then turned my attention to what I termed “waterfall alley,” a series of falls in a narrow slot, plunging over a cliff wall, which I approached from several vantage points.

Waterfall, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Waterfall Alley, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Waterfall Alley, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Waterfall Alley, Pu’a Ka’a State Park, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I still had many miles, and a good solid hour, just to get to the head of the Hana Highway.  At one time, I had hoped to get back to Papawai Point, where I had begun the day with a sunrise shoot, for sunset, but at some point I realized that there was absolutely no chance of that happening.  When I reached a point on the highway–a restricted view ocean overlook–I found a spot to pull off and made a couple of images as the light dropped to nothing.  It wasn’t an ideal end-of-day location, but it would have to do.

Evening Shoreline, Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

I would return to this part of Maui later in the trip, to visit the Hipalulu District, and I’ll relate that experience in a future post.

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 20, 2020

Hawaii Day 9, Part I: Prelude to The Hana Highway

Advance warning:  my account of Day 9 is going to be a two-parter.  Rather than just toss up images and a brief account of this day, I want to provide some background information, for context, regarding the Hana Highway.  As a result, the images that accompany this post will be from the sunrise shoot on that day, prior to my time on the Hana Highway.  Images from sites on the highway itself will appear in the succeeding post.  As I was planning this write-up, it became clear to me that if everything I wanted to say on this subject, along with the imagery, appeared in a single post it would be absurdly long.  Hence, I decided to split the material into two parts.  I thank you in advance for your indulgence.

Having transitioned to Maui, there were three principal locations on the island that I wanted to visit:  West Maui (north of Kapalua); Haleakala Crater; and the Hana Highway.  I figured that all of these locations would dominate a full day, at least.  (Actually there was a fourth location I wanted to visit:  Iao Valley State Park, but I figured that would take only part of a day–probably no more than a few hours on the ground.)  There were other spots I wanted to visit, but none of them figured to command as much time as the three mentioned above.  All of these locations are in a different part of Maui and none of them are particularly close to Kihei, where I was staying.

If you take a look at a map of Maui, it almost looks like two islands fused together.

Map of Maui

And, in fact, Maui is made up of two volcanic hubs:  Mauna Kahalawai, a.k.a. West Maui Mountain or West Maui Volcano (the former a.k.a. is how it’s generally referred to) dominates the northwest part of the island.  Haleakala is the most notable feature in the southeastern part.  (The separate island on the map above, in the lower left, is Kaho’olawe, the smallest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands and the only one of the eight without a permanent population.)  The town of Kihei, where I was staying, is located on the southwestern coast.  As my hotel was in extreme southern Kihei it’s probably more useful to use the town of Wailea on the above map as a a rough approximation of my base.  Haleakala Crater, located in the main section of Haleakala National Park, is nearly a two-hour drive from where I was staying.  The West Maui area I was most interested in visiting was, depending on traffic, probably a hair less than an an hour’s drive.  The Hana Highway…it’s difficult to estimate because the Hana Highway itself  technically runs for well over 60 miles but–again, depending on traffic–it probably takes at least an hour to reach the northwest point of the highway that marks the beginning of the photo-worthy locations of that region, which begins well to the east of the town of Paia.

At this point you may be asking, “why did you stay at that location if it wasn’t near any of the places you most wanted to visit?”  (I know that I would be asking that question.)  It’s a twofold answer.  The first part has to do with the fact that there really aren’t any locations that are particularly accessible to all of the places I wanted to visit.  Take another look at the map of Maui.  The three spots mentioned are nowhere near one another.  What would be ideal for one would be terrible for the other two.  The place I selected was a decent, if less than hypothetically ideal, compromise.  I suppose the best real world base camp would have been somewhere in Maalaea, 10-15 minutes north of the spot I selected.  There are a few accommodations there but–and this takes me to the second part of my answer–they weren’t in my price range.  Most places in Maui, in fact, were not in my price range.  In the end, the place I selected was the best compromise regarding location and cost.

Some background on the Hana Highway.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this wasn’t my first time on Maui.  My family took week-long trips to Hawaii in 1978 and 1980 and on both occasions we spent a few days on Maui.  In 1980, we drove part of what was then known as “the Road to Hana.”  Even if you’ve never been to Hawaii, you may have heard of the Road to Hana; it became quite famous…or, perhaps more accurately, infamous.  Back in 1980 (and prior to that), the maintenance for this road–given its name because it leads to the small town of Hana on the east coast of the southern portion of the island–was the responsibility of Maui County.  The county did…let’s say they were a bit lax in their responsibilities because the road was notoriously bad.  Back then, souvenir shops on Maui sold “I Survived the Road to Hana” t-shirts, and with good reason.  Not along after we visited–I want to say 1982 or thereabouts–the State of Hawaii took over maintenance responsibilities for the road; it was renumbered with a state highway designation and at some point thereafter the common parlance name transitioned to “the Hana Highway.”

Somewhat remarkably, given that nearly 40 years have gone by, the road’s reputation for dreadful conditions has hung on.  But the truth is that the state has done an excellent job; the road is in very good physical condition.  The days when concerns about pitted potholes causing flat tires (and worse) are a thing of the past.  But there was always another part of the road’s reputation that went beyond maintenance:  the road is winding, hilly and, most notably, extremely narrow in places.  The route is littered with one-lane bridges, forcing motorists to cooperate to allow traffic to flow.  And, on other spots on the route, the road is simply too narrow for two vehicles to easily pass one another.  Again, cooperation is the name of the game.  Regardless of specifics, it’s impossible to safely travel very quickly on the Hana Highway.  It takes a long time to get where you’re going and just as long to return to the starting point.

There is, quite bluntly a great deal of interesting subject matter to photograph, and that subject matter is remarkably varied:  ocean overlooks, thick rain forests, countless waterfalls and streams, grottoes, historic buildings, beaches–including black and red sand varieties.  Some of these subjects require a hike, some of them are right by the side of the road.  Basically, if you can’t find interesting subjects along the Hana Highway, you probably need a personal reboot.  And there is so much to see and photograph that it’s literally impossible to come close to doing all of it in one day.  It probably isn’t doable in two full days.

There is a problem with all of this, unfortunately, in addition to what I noted about the nature of the road itself:  the area gets crowded.  And given the infrastructure (see above and below), it doesn’t take nearly as many people for things to get crowded as you might think.  One of the consequences of the better road maintenance and the seemingly ever increasing number of tourists in Hawaii is that more and more people are heading to the Hana Highway; it’s kind of a double whammy.   And one of the most intriguing features that makes up the highway’s subject matter is the sheer number of waterfalls that are visible from the road.  Many people like to do more than just look at the waterfalls; many visitors like to swim in the pools below the waterfalls.  Doing this takes time.  People need to find a place to park their vehicles.  Guess what?  That’s right…there are very few suitable places to do this near many of the highway’s most captivating subjects.  Merge this fact with the aforementioned sheer number of visitors to the area and the extremely narrow, twisting mountain road and you have…well, you can imagine what you have.  Backups, crowds, people walking in the road in front of vehicles…you name it.  During the “tourist hours” (roughly 9 AM to 3 or 3:30 PM), much of the area can be sheer chaos.  This is true seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, as best I’ve been able to determine.  I should also point out that this is the wettest accessible part of the island.  It rains here frequently.

But it’s remarkable how much quieter things are along the highway early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Things go, seemingly at the snap of a finger, from overflowing to vacant later in the day (vice versa in the morning).  If I ever get back to Maui, I would try to stay in Hana (there are accommodations) for most, if not all, of the time I’m on the island.  The opportunity to be relatively close to all of these phenomenal photo locations is tantalizing.  On this trip, I ended up spending most of two full days in this area (including the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park–more on this in future posts) and there were numerous subjects I had to forego due to time constraints, crowds or both.  Being able to start–and end–the day in Hana would make it immeasurably easier to squeeze as much as possible out of the Hana Highway than when staying anywhere else on Maui.

And, with that as background, allow me to tell you a tiny bit about what I did on Day 9 before I reached the Hana Highway.  The best way to access the highway’s subjects is from the north, by way of Kahalui.  So, that’s what I did.  I was hoping for a sunrise shoot that day, so I researched locations along the way and discovered Ho’okipa Lookout.  Located about a mile past the town of Paia–technically on the Hana Highway, but before the part of the highway containing all that I detailed above–the lookout is an outcropping right on the ocean.  My research suggested that 180-degree views are available from this spot, so that’s where I headed in the pre-dawn darkness that morning.

It was still dark when I arrived.  There is a formal overlook with a guardrail, but there’s also a trail that heads down to a rocky promontory much closer to the water with far greater options as regards compositions, so that’s where I headed, just as the light was starting to come up.  I was treated to a very nice seaside sunrise location from which I was able to look down the shoreline to the east as well as across the water to West Maui.

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

It wasn’t the best sunrise sky of the trip, by a long shot, but it was pretty nice.

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Dawn, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Ho’okipa Lookout at Sunrise, Ho’okipa Beach Park, Maui, Hawaii

Once the sun came up and I began to lose the light, I gathered up my things, returned to my vehicle and headed east on the highway, toward the day’s principal interest.  In the next entry I’ll detail my experiences on the Hana Highway itself.

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 13, 2020

The Story Behind the Image: Snowy Sunset Tarn

As some of you may remember, I took a fall color trip to Colorado a few years, ago.  In chronicling the adventure, I discussed my entree to Colorado, a long day of driving that commenced in western Kansas and concluded at Silverton, Colorado, just below Red Mountain Pass.  The trip over the pass was the most harrowing experience of the day.  I described the events in an entry and will re-post a bit of the description here:

The drive over Red Mountain Pass is pretty eventful under the best of circumstances.  The pass itself is more than 11,000 feet above sea level and the section of US-550 that accesses it is steep, winding and mostly devoid of guardrails.  By the time I reached the town of Ridgway, about 10 miles south of Ouray, it was raining, lightly but steadily.  When I hit Ouray it was a moderate steady rain; the air temperature was about 40 F.  Ouray is situated at about 7800 feet above sea level, so the trip up to the pass from Ouray–which is 10 or 11 miles–involves an elevation increase of more than 3200 feet.  You can probably see where this is going…

Just north of Ouray, in the early stages of the trip up to the pass, the rain increased in intensity.  Water was cascading down the steep mountainsides–which, at this point of the trip, run right alongside the highway to the east–and pouring across the road.  By the time I was about halfway up to the pass, I was beginning to see signs that the rain was changing to sleet and shortly thereafter, as the temperature continued to drop with the elevation increase, it was coming down as a heavy, wet snow.  Within a short time, the snow was sticking on the pavement as well as the side of the road and when I got to within a mile or so of the pass itself, it had already accumulated to the tune of three or four inches.  We crawled along–I was stuck behind a huge RV, with Florida plates, no less–and then, just below the pass, we came to a full stop, smack in the middle of a steep hairpin turn.  I noticed motorcycles (!) abandoned along the side of the road.  Why people were trying to drive motorcycles over Red Mountain Pass when it had been raining–hard–below, is beyond me, but the full stop was caused by a group of motorcyclists who were abandoning their bikes and boarding an RV which was presumably going to take them down the mountain.

I mentioned that this drive is a pretty iffy one for many people, even when the road is bone dry.  People with a fear of heights often find it difficult, bordering on impossible, to make the drive given the proximity to long drop-offs and a lack of guardrails.  These conditions were anything but bone dry.  I’ve driven in snowy conditions so many times over the years that I’ve lost count…but in snowy conditions on steep, windy mountain roads (while following an RV with Florida plates)?  Not so much.  But I was careful (as, apparently, was everyone else on the road).  We cleared the pass and began the somewhat shorter descent to Silverton (elevation approximately 9300 feet) and, ultimately, the snow turned back into rain by the time I reached town.

Shortly after I reached Silverton the rain stopped and a partial clearing took place.  Despite the long drive–or, perhaps, because of it–I was itching to do some photography and I couldn’t think of a better place to do so than Red Mountain Pass itself, now that the precipitation had presumably stopped for good that day.  When I reached the pass, which is closer to Silverton than Ouray, it was only about 30 minutes until sunset.  I found a broad pull out and got out of the car.  The wet snow that had been falling during my trip in coated everything, at a depth of about five inches.

It was quite a beautiful scene.  I photographed some snow-covered trees and then wandered along the shoulder of the road–few vehicles were traversing the pass at this hour–until I reached a small tarn, right alongside the highway.  The conifers on the other side of the pond were covered in freshly fallen snow.  The setting sun was bathing the clouds in gorgeous light, which was nicely reflected–there wasn’t a breath of wind–in the waters of the tarn that hadn’t iced over.  Though the temperature was right around freezing it didn’t feel all that cold, probably due to the lack of wind.

I meandered into the snow on my side of the water and found the spot where I could:

  1. see the broadest reflected area;
  2. include the entirety of the near shoreline but none of the roadway;
  3. avoid any possibility of tumbling down the fairly steep slope into the icy water.

If that sounds fairly difficult…well, it was.  I spent the better part of 10 minutes fine-tuning my position and then the composition of the scene in the viewfinder.  It hadn’t seemed cold at first but after standing in five inches of snow for 10-odd minutes, that no longer seemed the case.  You see, on this particular brief shoot, I hadn’t come particularly well-dressed for the occasion.  I was simply wearing my hiking boots and while I had a warm coat on I had discarded my gloves while doing most of the already mentioned fine tuning.  But I digress…

The end result was the image you see below.  It wasn’t what I necessarily expected on a fall color shoot, but I was pretty happy with the end result nonetheless.

Tarn at Sunset, Red Mountain Pass, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Posted by: kerryl29 | January 6, 2020

Hawaii Day 8: On to Maui

Day 8 in Hawaii was the end of my time on Kauai; I had an early afternoon flight to Maui so I did have time to photograph early in the morning.  Based on my experience on Day 7, I had decided to photograph sunrise from the stretch of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path just south of the Kealia Beach area.  Having spent a couple of hours in this area on the morning of Day 7 I had been struck by the numerous different perspectives available at this location, many of which were very easily accessed.  (Some of them were obtainable from the paved path itself.)  I could only hope that there would be a nice sunrise this morning and, fortunately, I was rewarded with one of the nicer sunrise skies of the two-week trip.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

It took less than 10 minutes to arrive at the now familiar parking area just west of the path itself.  30 seconds or so after I’d hauled my gear–exposed to the humidity overnight on the balcony of my hotel room to avoid having to deal with the condensation issue–out of the trunk of my vehicle I was on the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path.  It was still dark but the first signs of light were visible in the eastern sky; the possibility of something really nice was evident, given the partly cloudy conditions.  Within a few minutes developments led to worthwhile shooting conditions.

As you can see in the image above, I started with long exposures and it was quite some time before they shortened all that significantly.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

I changed my shooting position–and shooting direction–a bit, which had a significant impact on the composition itself.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

I eventually shortened the shutter speed to the point where some semblance of the structure of the waves was discernible.  The nature of the sky itself continued to evolve throughout.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

I continued to alter my position, sometimes subtly, sometimes substantially, before the pre-sunrise period came to an end.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Eventually, I returned to the spot with the mangrove tree that I’d found the day before and made one final image before calling it a morning.  The sun crested the horizon during this time.

Kealia Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

I packed up and headed back to the hotel and did what I needed to do to prepare for the transition to Maui.

The flight from Lihue, Kauai to Kahalui, Maui wasn’t a particularly long one.  In fact, the wait for luggage at the airport in Maui was about as long as the flight had been.  The wait at the rental car counter was almost as long and then I was finally able to make the drive to my new accommodations, in the southern part of the town of Kihei, on the southwest Maui shore.  It was late afternoon by the time I had checked in and dragged my belongings into my room.

As had been the case in Kauai, the hotel I was staying at was right on the beach–the west facing Keawakapu Beach, in this case–and I could have stayed put and photographed from there but I was itching to do a bit of exploring so I made the very short drive south to a public parking area that serves Wilaea Beach.

It was less than an hour until sunset when I arrived.  There’s a paved pedestrian walk along this part of the Maui shore–the Wailea Beach Path–that runs for several miles, from Ulua Beach on the north end to Polo Beach at the south terminus.  This is a very ritzy part of Maui, including extremely expensive homes, rental properties and resorts–for too rich for my blood, but state law in Hawaii requires public access to the shore and the path itself is accessible to the general public.  I picked it up just north of Wailea Beach and wandered, ultimately, all the way to Polo Beach (and back) of course.  I wasn’t sure what I would find, so this started out mostly as a scouting session.  Still, I couldn’t help but make some images, first of a stand of palms that I found, right along the path, adjacent to Wailea Beach.

Wailea Point Palms, Maui, Hawaii

Wailea Point Palms, Maui, Hawaii

I found more palm trees as I moved south on the path.

Wailea Point Palms, Maui, Hawaii

I dawdled at Wailea Point.  Dodging other pedestrians, I found access to a small, rocky beach and discovered some compositions I liked in the ever-improving light.

West Maui Mountain from Wailea Point, Maui, Hawaii

I turned my gaze to the southwest, in the direction of the island of Kaho’olawe…

Wailea Point at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

…then more to the northwest, in the direction of Lanai…

Wailea Point at Sunset, Maui, Hawaii

Then it was back to palm trees…

Wailea Point Palm, Maui, Hawaii

At this point, I wanted to view something with a wider lens, so I pulled out my 14-24/2.8, swapped out the 24-70/2.8..and that’s when I realized that there was something wrong with the ultra wide lens:  I could barely move the zoom ring.  It was as though it had jammed or something. This was one of the “equipment problems” that I referred to in a previous blog post.   I couldn’t understand what was wrong as I had used the lens without incident a few days prior, when I was at the National Botanical Garden on Kauai.  It literally hadn’t been out of my camera bag since that time, so I have absolutely no idea what the cause of the problem was.

The best of the light had already peaked by the time I switched lenses and what was still worth using dissipated while I was unsuccessfully fooling with the damaged lens.  All I could do was pack up my things and make the trek back along the path, in the gathering darkness, to the parking area.

As far as the lens is concerned, in a tiny spoiler alert–it was unusable, so I was restricted to a wide angle limit of 24 mm for the duration of the trip (this turned out to be pretty much a non-issue, luckily).  When I returned to the mainland I sent the lens off to Nikon for repair; the more than $700 it cost to repair the lens (which costs well over $1500 new) was covered by my personal articles insurance policy, fortunately.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the last problem I had with a lens on this trip.  I’ll discuss that matter when I relate the experiences that made up Day 9, my first full day on Maui.

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 30, 2019

A (Belated) Happy Birthday to the Blog!

In what will be my final post of 2019 I want to make note of an anniversary that went uncommented upon when it occurred:  10 years of this blog’s existence.  The actual anniversary took place back in September, just as I was returning to the mainland from Hawaii.

Cape Royal, Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim, Arizona

This blog debuted on September 25, 2009 with an entry that purported to answer the question “Why Blog?”  If you check out the (extremely brief) text you’ll see that I didn’t have a particularly good answer then; I’m not sure that it’s all that much better now, quite honestly.  But I’ve now posted 373 entries, including this one, since then.  I’m not sure that there’s a real coherence to those posts; at one point I thought that there might be some sort of overarching theme to this blog, beyond the vague my “thoughts on nature photography” tag that appears on the header.  But that hasn’t really been the case, for better or worse.

Sparks Lane Morning, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

It took quite some time for this blog to find much of a readership.  Well over two years into its existence there were, I believe, fewer than 100 people following the blog.  And then, due to a series of events, readership increased dramatically.  Today…[checks site stats]…Wordpress counts 9417 followers of this blog.  More than 8500 comments have been posted–about half of them by me, as I try to directly acknowledge every comment posted by a reader.  Many of the comments produced by readers over the years have been remarkably incisive and thought-provoking and this interactive nature of the blog has been extremely gratifying to me.

Cottonwood Cluster, Lake Michigan Overlook, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

Since beginning this blog I have made countless trips–day-long, weekend-length and much longer–to numerous spots in the United States and Canada.  I have, in one form or another, chronicled all of them, though that really wasn’t on my mind at all when I began the blog.  Again, for better or for worse, to the extent that there has been a thematic exposition represented by the contents of this blog, a repository of the photographic trips I’ve made over the past decade has been it.

Horsetail Falls, El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California

I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue to present this blog.  I had no idea how long I’d keep it going when I started, though I don’t recall having any sense that it would last for 10 years.  But here we are.  I thank everyone for reading.  I expect to continue providing content well into the future and I hope you’ll all continue to follow along and accompany me, albeit vicariously, on my travels.

On to 2020!

Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Sunset from Height of Land Overlook, Franklin County, Maine

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 23, 2019

Hawaii Day 7: Finding Something New

In each of the past two chronological entries (Day 5 and Day 6) I mentioned that I’d fallen into a bit of a malaise.  I kind of felt as though I’d explored what I could and didn’t have much new to photograph on Kauai.  On this day, I would realize how wrong I was.  But first, it was time for another sunrise at Waipouli Beach.  Maybe this was where the day’s exploration really began as I decided not to simply rely on the same spot on the beach I’d utilized in my earlier sessions.  This time, I headed about 1/8 of a mile north on the beach, to check out a spot I’d scouted earlier.  The sunrise itself was kind of disappointing, but the new location was a bit more stimulating.

Sunrise, Waipouli Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Given the different elements, I gave some thought to returning to this area of the beach the next morning, which would be my last on Kauai.  (I had a flight to Maui very early in the afternoon the next day.)  These plans would not come off, but for a very good reason, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Sunrise, Waipouli Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Given the relative paucity of clouds at this time of the morning and at this location, the scene became more or less unshootable quickly but before I left I turned my gaze in the opposite direction.

Palm Moonset, Waipouli Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

I had to decide what to do next and I decided to take a peek at a location just down the road–literally a few miles to the north, just beyond downtown Kapa’a.  I’d passed this area several times during my travels while on Kauai without ever having the opportunity to explore.  Now, I felt, I had nothing better to do, so I thought I’d take a look.

There’s a paved pedestrian/biking path on the eastern shore of Kauai called the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path.  It begins at Lydegate Park, south of Kapa’a, and runs for about eight miles along the coast all the way to Kuna Bay.  I was particularly intrigued by a section that is visible from the the Kuhio Highway that begins south of the bridge over Kapa’a Stream and Kealia Beach.  There are numerous picnic areas along this stretch of the path, as well as public restroom and shower facilities and ample roadside parking.  I pulled into one of the parking lots and, without my gear, started walking the path to examine the coastal views.  After about 15 minutes I returned to the car to get my things; I had already seen plenty to photograph.  I’d arrived with low expectations but had inadvertently discovered a treasure trove.

This stretch of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path runs right along the coast, on a bluff 40 or so feet above water level.  There are a number of spots where, with a modest amount of effort, one can go all the way down to the beach.  The path runs north to the formal sandy part of Kealia Beach, but the area I found most compelling is south of the designated beach park.  I still labeled the images from this location as “Kealia Beach” because it’s the nearest named feature to my photographic locations.

Kealia Beach, Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

The options here were nearly endless.  I could shoot from the bluff or I could go down to the rocky beach.  I had all sorts of foreground options at my disposal, from rocks to naupaka to mangrove trees to driftwood.

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

There were a series of coves, offshore rocks, crashing surf and, just to help things along, all kinds of interesting clouds had drifted across the ocean waters to the east to be part of the scene before me.

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This wasn’t golden hour light but it was still pretty nice.  The clouds were filtering the sunlight, which helped keep it from getting truly harsh for quite some time.  When it did start to get a bit harsh, I started shooting with the intention of converting to black & white.

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

The spot that really captivated me during this extended scout/shoot was a tiny cove, with a small, rock-strewn beach and a single mangrove tree.  I spotted this location fairly early on in the process from up on the bluff and found a way to access it directly that didn’t require a tremendous amount of effort.  I was just steps away from the water when I produced the series of images you see below.

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kealia Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

These images were made at the beginning of the shoot–it was this scene that encouraged me to retreat to the car for my gear–when the light was at its best.  But before I left the location altogether I returned to the cove to produce an image destined to be converted to monochrome.

Kealia Beach Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

I was so captivated by this location that I determined, as I was gathering up my things, to return to this spot for sunrise the next morning.  I really wanted to photograph here, at least a bit, when there was a chance for the light to be at its best.

The unexpected experience at Kealia but a bounce back in my step, metaphorically speaking, that I hadn’t felt in a couple of days.  It reminded me that there are always places to explore, especially at a place as beautiful as Kauai.  One simply has to put forth the effort.  With renewed vigor, I set off to the north to check out a few locations on the northeast part of the island that hadn’t been particularly high priorities for me.  Once again, I was glad I decided to check some other locations.

I drove all the way up north to Hanalei; it was early in the afternoon by the time I got there.  My destination was a park/beach on the edge of Hanalei Bay.  It wasn’t a spot that came particularly highly recommended, but when I got there and poked around just a bit, I was quite pleased that I’d made the trip.

Hanalei Bay Black & Whitey, Kauai, Hawaii

There were some boats moored in the bay, and palm trees in the park.  There was also the Hanalei Pier, which isn’t the most photogenic such structure I’ve ever seen, but has a certain charm, if you look closely enough.  The image above, with the boats in the foreground, was made from the covered end of the pier.

Hanalei Bay, Black Pot Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

A series of palm trees, right along the shoreline of the bay, became a frequent component of my compositions while shooting from Black Pot Beach.

Hanalei Bay Black & Whitey, Black Pot Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei Bay, Black Pot Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Finally, there was an opportunity to utilize the pier itself as part of the image.

Hanalei Pier Black & White, Hanalei Bay, Black Pot Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

When I was done here, I made the short drive to the town of Princeville.  I wanted to take a look at a spot called Queen’s Bath, a kind of natural lava shelf swimming pool that is refreshed by the ocean tides and surf.  There’s a trail down to this feature, that emanates from a wealthy neighborhood in the town.  There’s a small parking area, but it was completely filled when I went down there.  The surrounding neighborhood was filled with “no parking, under penalty of death” signs.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but there were signs all over the places threatening three figure fines and towing vehicles to Honolulu or somewhere if you parked anywhere other than the six or eight–a totally inadequate number irrespective of the specifics–designated spots.  Rather than push the issue, I decided to move on.

I settled on a public park in Princeville because, when I’d driven past it on the way to the Queen’s Bath parking area, I’d noticed a flock of nene–the native Hawaiian goose–in the park.  I parked my car in the lot–there was space to do so here–grabbed my camera with the telephoto lens and went off to photograph the geese, without spooking them.  I had seen nene during my 13-mile hike in Koke’e State Park, but I didn’t have the opportunity to photograph them.

Nene, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

The geese were pretty cooperative.  Given that they were in this park, they were clearly quite acclimated to the presence of people.

Nene, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Nene, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

In addition to the geese, there were some cattle egrets in the park and I snapped a few images of them as well, as long as I was there.

Cattle Egret, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Cattle Egret, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

On my way back to the car I spotted a pair of cook pines off to my left.  These are some of the most intriguing trees I’ve ever seen and I hastened to produce an image.

Cook Pines, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

It was pushing 4 PM by the time I finished at Prince Edward Park and I began to make my way back south, in the direction of Kapa’a, but I decided to check out some beaches along the shore on the way.  I did a lot more looking than photographing, but I finally pulled the gear back out when I got to a spot at Anini Beach that caught my attention.

Anini Beach Balck & White, Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Anini Beach, Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

I ended the day back near Secret Beach, which had been my end of day destination on Day 5, but clouds billowed up to the west and completely snuffed out any semblance of a sunset, so that was the end of the day’s photography.  But I had become seriously inspired and I had a firm plan to return to Kealia Beach for sunrise the next day.  I could only hope that the sunrise, on my final morning on Kauai, would be a good one.

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 16, 2019

Hawaii Day 6: Productivity? Not So Much

This was, photographically speaking, the least productive full day of my entire two-week trip to Hawaii.  Weather, as I’ll detail, is part of the explanation, as is a temporary malaise that had kind of set in.  I mentioned in my previous daily chronicle that I’d felt that I’d kind of run out of subject matter on Kauai and wondered, rather stupidly it turns out, if I’d scheduled too much time on the island.  I hadn’t, but I didn’t fully realize it until Day 7 (which will be the subject of a future piece).  Hawaii is the kind of a place where sloth seems to naturally occur,  as it sort of had for me the previous day and it essentially carried over into Day 6, at least for part of the morning.

The day started with a would-be sunrise shoot at Waipouli Beach, which was becoming something of a crutch for me, since it eliminated the need to get up extremely early to potentially catch first light.  Sunrise during my time in Hawaii was before 6:30 AM, but I like to be on location and set up at least 30 minutes prior and if there’s travel involved…you can easily see how this can lead to some very early mornings.  Being able to get to my destination in less than two minutes was a bit of a luxury and I’d fallen prey to it, at least somewhat.

It turned out to be a good call on this morning.  When I got out to the beach, with the light just coming up, it wasn’t looking very promising.  There was a lot of cloud cover and not much hope of anything particularly impressive.  In fact, right about the time that the sun was supposed to come up, it was actually getting darker as heavy clouds rolled in.  I anticipated the rain and managed to get myself, and my gear, below the hotel’s canopy before disaster struck.  Good thing because it poured.  This was, by far, the heaviest rainfall I saw during my time in Hawaii and it lasted awhile–a good 30 minutes or so, I’d estimate.  Water was pooling all over the place on the hotel grounds, but I stayed dry in my location and waited it out.  In fact, while I was standing there, waiting for the rain to stop–or even slow down, I noticed what I considered to be a nice composition and interesting light, obtainable right there from my spot under the canopy.  So I set up and made the below image.

Waipouli Beach at Daybreak, Kauai, Hawaii

That was the sum total of my “sunrise” shoot.  Eventually the rain stopped and, very quickly, it became sunny.  In fact, within minutes, the sky had almost totally cleared.  People talk about changeable weather all the time, and it’s certainly something that can happen in Hawaii.  The topography/geography, especially in specific locations, lends itself to rapidly changing conditions.

Before I left the beach area I saw another composition that intrigued me.  It was now, as I mentioned, sunny, but the sun was still quite low in the sky.

Morning Palm, Waipouli Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

This image was made with my 80-400 mm lens and required a focus bracket, though only a two-shot stack was needed.  The cloud bank you see at the horizon was drifting away and the rest of the sky was nearly totally clear at this point and that’s what almost all of the rest of the day would be like.  The day started with a deluge of rain and ended up being almost devoid of clouds for the remaining daylight hours.  It was also quite breezy.

I poked around parts of the eastern part of Kauai for part of the morning, doing some soft scouting, but no photographing.  At some point it occurred to me that I’d read, in a guidebook, about the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTGB), located near the Poipu area.  The guidebook had a positive review of the place, though it noted that reservations were needed to visit.  I checked out their website and saw that they opened at 9, so I had to wait to call to see if I could make a reservation.  But while perusing the website, I saw that they were part of the reciprocal garden program that exists throughout the United States.  A membership at one affiliate often leads to discounted–or free–admission to other partners.  You have to check to find out specifics, but given that the base price for visiting the MacBryde Garden (one of two gardens located near Poipu–the other, the Allerton Garden, requires a guided tour, which I figured wouldn’t lend itself to photography) is $30, it was definitely worth inquiring. The MacBryde Garden is accessible via a self-guided tour.  (I am a member of the Morton Arboretum, located in DuPage County, Illinois, which is a reciprocal garden program affiliate.)

I called the NTBG shortly after 9 AM and found out that there were available reservation spots pretty much all day–roughly every hour on the half-hour.  The garden closes at 5 PM so the last tour leaves at 3:30 PM, which gives you about an hour to tour.  I was told that, if I went on the 2:30 tour I could stay until about 4:30, or roughly two hours.  That sounded pretty good to me, since the light would be improving later in the afternoon (and it would only be getting worse for the duration of the morning and early afternoon).  So I reserved the 2:30 time, then asked about the affiliate arrangement.  I was told that, as a member of the Morton Arboretum, I would be admitted for free.  That sounded even better.

So, I now had my afternoon planned.  It would take about 30 minutes to get to the garden’s visitors center.  I decided that I would go back to Poipu Beach after the tour was over, as I’d be less than five minutes away and it had proven to be a fine sunset location when I visited on Day 3.

What to do before mid-afternoon?  I spent a bit more time kicking around the eastern shore of Kauai, then returned to the hotel to pick some things up and, very late in the morning, just said the heck with it and drove down to Poipu.  I figured I’d kill a bit more time at the Spouting Horn Park, located right across the street from the NTBG visitors center.  So, that’s what I did.  I arrived there around noon, about two hours before I needed to be at the NTBG (they recommended showing up 30 minutes before the formal reservation time).

I’d photographed at Spouting Horn on Day 3, later in the afternoon than my arrival on this day.  The blowhole, while active, was a bit less impressive than it had been three days earlier, almost certainly because the tide was somewhat lower.  The surf appeared to be just as strong.

While I was there, I spotted some green sea turtles swimming in the cove just to the west of the lava shelf that contains the blowhole, so I spent some time trying to photograph them.  You will note that no sea turtle images appear here.  That’s because, candidly, none of them are any good.  Oh, you can tell, when viewing some of what I didn’t simply delete right off the card, that you’re looking at a sea turtle, but that’s about as good as it gets.  I did take a bit of time to photograph some of the numerous feral chickens that are always ubiquitous at this location (and just about everywhere else on Kauai, as I noted in an earlier post.

While I was at the Spouting Horn overlook people were coming and going, as they always do at this location, but at some point a tour bus showed up and disgorged a slew of Australian tourists who, collectively, turned out to be my afternoon’s entertainment.  I remember thinking, after I left, what a miserable experience it would have been to be part of that tour.  Most–but not all–of the participants were retirement age.  One of them came up to me, while I was trying to photograph the turtles–which required me to rack the lens all the way out to 400 mm, given the distance involved–and said, in a very thick Australian accent, “That’s a big lens.  You could see the fuzz on a peach from 500 miles away with that.”  Uh huh.  I explained that I was trying to photograph green sea turtles.  Without skipping a beat he said: “Sharks like them.”  And walked away.

My position was to the side of the main viewing area, since I wasn’t trying to photograph the Spouting Horn itself.  Good thing, that.  Dozens of people, almost all of them from the bus, had crammed themselves along the guardrail that provides the best vantage point to view the blowhole.  Remember, the blowhole only does it’s thing a few times a minute, when a wave with sufficient oomph crashes into the lava shelf.  Frequently, particularly when the tide isn’t at its highest and the surf isn’t monstrous, not much happens.  You may have to wait for awhile to see good action.  And, after you’ve seen it once, there’s a tendency to want to hang around and see if you can see it again…or something even better.

As I said, I was off to the side, not in anyone’s way.  But the folks from the bus were getting in one another’s way quite a bit.  Many people wanted to photograph the Spouting Horn in action–with their cellphone cameras.  And since this requires a bit of good timing–which takes a little while to figure out–and some halfway decent command of the cellphone camera’s controls, which many of these people didn’t have, there was a tendency for these folks to hang around, in place, even longer than many visitors.  After all, given the press of the crowd at this point, if you left your spot you weren’t getting it back any time soon.  And, since this was a tour, these people weren’t going to have the opportunity to hang around the overlook all afternoon.

At some point, after this noisy group had been in place for some time, one of the younger tour members–I’d guess she was in her mid-20s–seeing that no one was going to move, just kind of slipped her way to the front, saying, pleasantly, “Can I slip, in there?  Thanks, thanks.”  No one was moving much, but she was determined and somehow made her way to the rail.  She was there for several minutes–I’m not sure exactly how long this went on, as I really was trying to concentrate on the turtles.  But, when she’d gotten the image she apparently wanted, she said “Thanks very much” and navigated herself away from the rail and out of the crowd.  Once she made it to the periphery, one of the older male tour members said, very loudly:  “‘Bout time!  You just pushed your way in there!”  To which she replied:  “I’m sorry!  I did say ‘excuse me.'”  This was done in a tone of…how should I put this…politeness, because it was very clear that she wasn’t sorry.  The older gentlemen just grumbled something inaudible and things settled back into a dull roar.  But I couldn’t help but think what fun that tour would be.  Tour buses aren’t my thing to begin with and I overheard one of the participants comment on the fact that this was the first full day of the tour and that it would be going on for at least another week.  First day and it was already a gripe fest.  What would the seventh day be like?  These people might kill one another before they returned to Australia.

I spent as much time at Spouting Horn Park as I could stand but by 1:30 or so I’d had enough and made my way over to the NTBG visitors center.  The drive took about a minute.  I was at least 30 minutes earlier than I needed to be and had nearly an hour to kill before the tour itself so I spent some browsing in the gift shop and examined some of the trees and flowering plants near the building.  The NTGB itself requires a shuttle bus ride from the visitors center; it takes about 15 minutes to get there.  There were only two other people–who were together–who were part of my tour group.  The bus driver, a musician who had moved to Kauai 15 years earlier, had an excellent sense of humor, and provided us with an entertaining narrative, giving us some background about the garden, some of the plants we’d see and so forth, as we drove to MacBryde over a bumpy, unpaved road.  When we got to our destination, we were told that he’d be back in an hour with the last tour group, if we were ready to head back, or in about two hours if we wanted to stay on until the day’s last pickup.  I knew I’d be in that second group.

When we got to the drop off spot, I headed one way, the other two people headed another way, and I never saw another soul until an hour had gone by when I spotted three people–again, all together–who made up the entirety of the final tour of the day.  I never saw the other two people who came in on the bus with me; the driver told me later that they’d gone back on his earlier circuit.

The weather was, to put it bluntly, awful for my purposes.  It was full on sun and breezy; just about perfectly imperfect for the kind of photography I wanted to do.  For a general walking tour of the garden, it was just about ideal, as the breeze made the standard Hawaiian heat and humidity quite tolerable.  The garden itself was quite beautiful; two hours isn’t nearly enough to see everything if you’re trying to photograph, as I was.  I saw maybe half of it.  If it had been cloudy and calm, I doubt I’d have seen 1/10 of it in two hours, I would have spent so much time photographing.  Weather notwithstanding this made a nice diversion from most of the photography I’d been doing since arriving on Kauai.

Banana Leaf Closeup, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

I didn’t have my macro lens with me–I couldn’t justify trying to bring it on the trip, given all of the issues with size and weight on the airplane/luggage hold–so I relied on my 80-400 and 24-70 for the closeup work that I did.

Palm Trunk Lichen, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

There were plenty of subjects, despite the far less than ideal conditions, that caught my eye and I did what I could to eliminate hot spots from my compositions.

Tree Roots Black & White, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

Ficus Tree Closeup Black & White, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

In good weather conditions, to the extent they ever really exist at this location, I could have happily spent all day in the garden…though I’m not sure that’s allowed.

Fallen Frond Abstract, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

Thatch Palm Closeup Black & White, MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

Before it was time to depart, I did something different and pulled out my 14-24 mm ultra wide zoom (the relevance of this will become apparent in a future post) to produce a skyward image of a majestic tree that captivated me.  It was a completely different approach compared to everything else I did while I was at MacBryde.

MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

It was just a bit before 5 PM when the last bus of the day returned me and the three people who had been on the 3:30 incoming tour back to the visitors center.  As I had planned, I made my way over to Poipu Beach Park from this point; the trip took less than 10 minutes and I had a bit more than an hour’s time before sunset.  I’d given this beach area–which still had quite a few visitors late on this Sunday afternoon–a good scout three days earlier and so on this occasion, perhaps inspired by my time at the NTBG, I decided to try and photograph some of the flowering bushes I came across.

It was a bit of an exercise in frustration because I was getting slow shutter speeds and there was still a persistent breeze to deal with, but I eventually persevered.

Frangipani, Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Before heading down to beach level I produced a couple of images of the park’s palm trees, as I am wont to do given my affinity for palms.

Evening Palms, Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Evening Palms, Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The sunset this evening didn’t hold a candle to the spectacular event I’d witnessed and captured on Day 3.  But the innate subtly of the scene was quite attractive to my eyes.

Poipu Beach at Sunset, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach at Sunset, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach at Sunset, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach at Dusk, Kauai, Hawaii

Poipu Beach at Dusk, Kauai, Hawaii

And with that, another day of photography came to a conclusion.  The next day, Day 7, would be unexpectedly rewarding and served as a good reminder that there are always locations worthy of exploration and revelation.

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 9, 2019

Thematic Interruption: THAT’S Hawaii?

I alluded to this in an earlier post:  I came across very, very few other people during my time in Hawaii whose primary reason for visiting was photography and I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out why this was the case.  I think that the principal reasons are that 1) Hawaii is an expensive place to go and, 2) perhaps more importantly, there’s a kind of stereotype that Hawaii is essentially beaches and palm trees and little else.  Couple them together and…it’s pretty easy, I think, to conclude that there are cheaper places to photograph beaches and palm trees…so if you want to photograph beaches and palm trees…well, you get the idea.

The problem I have with this thinking is that half of the stereotype about Hawaii is dead wrong.  Yes, Hawaii is expensive; but there’s much, much more to photograph than beaches and palm trees (though it is, in fact, a great place to photograph beaches and palm trees}.  Like most stereotypes, there’s an element of truth embedded within.

Since I’ve returned and completed the post processing of the images I made while in Hawaii, I’ve shown the odd photograph to people I know and I’ve been struck by the frequency with which I’ve been greeted with the statement (or some variation thereof):  “I never would have guessed that’s Hawaii.”  Here’s a sampling of those images presented without further comment…other than to note that nary a beach nor a palm tree appears in any of these photographs.

Ukumahame Beach Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater, Keonehe’ehe’e Trail, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Black Swan, Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Banyan Tree Black & White, Pipiwai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Feral Goat, Hoapili Trail, Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve, Maui, Hawaii

Rooster, Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Iao Stream, Iao Valley State Park, Maui, Hawaii

Pali, Awa’awapuhi Trail, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Haleakala Crater from Kalahaku Lookout, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Sunrise, Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Mushroom Rock, Maui, Hawaii

Moluccan Albizia Meadow Black & White, Upcountry Kauai, Hawaii

Acid War Zone Black & White, Maui, Hawaii

Moluccan Albizia Forest, Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Haleakala Mountain, Maui, Hawaii

Cook Pines Black & White, Prince Edward Park, Kauai, Hawaii

MacBryde Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, Hawaii

I’ll move on to Day 6 in my next post, when beaches and palm trees will undoubtedly make return appearances.

Posted by: kerryl29 | December 2, 2019

Hawaii Day 5: Plugging Gaps

Weather considerations and reservation limitations had caused me to do my two longest planned hikes on the second and third full days on Kauai.  But I still had three full days–and the morning of a fourth–left on the island and I didn’t have all that many planned locations left to visit.  I was beginning to wonder, somewhat absurdly, if I’d scheduled too much time on the island.  I’d already visited Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks twice; I’d used up my reservations at Ha’ena State Park.  I’d visited the area around Poipu Beach and been treated to a phenomenal sunset on Day 3.  Visiting Polihale State Park had been ruled out based on my experience on Day 4.  The only specific places left on the docket were three waterfalls, two of which were the overlook type that wouldn’t take much time.  My plan was to knock off all three of these on Day 5.  What would I do the two days after that?

I started with sunrise–not a great one, as it turned out–at my “home” beach.  I’d become somewhat spoiled with the ability to more or less roll out of bed and be on Waipouli Beach in less than a minute.  It was a lot easier than getting up an hour or two earlier and driving to some remote spot.

Waipouli Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Waipouli Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

From there I got in the car and made the 10-15 minute drive to Ho’opi Falls, reached via a trailhead abutting a residential area.  Here, Kapa’a Stream cuts through a gorge and spills over two waterfalls, both of which lie on public land and are accessible.  There’s some disagreement over which of these is technically Ho’opi Falls; some say it’s the upper tier while others favor the lower cataract.  Neither side appears to feel that the unfavored falls is deserving of a name.  Being solutions-oriented, I decided to split the difference by referring to them as Upper and Lower Ho’opi Falls.

I have concluded that this area–the gorge that Kapa’a Stream flows through, including both sets of Ho’opi Falls, is the most humid place on the planet.  It certainly was that the morning I visited.

During my time in Hawaii, I was extremely cognizant of the condensation problem created when photo equipment is taken from a cool, dry place (read:  a hotel room) into a warm, moist place (i.e. anywhere outdoors in the State of Hawaii).  My hotel room on Kauai had a balcony, inaccessible to anyone without going through my room.  I took to leaving my photo backpack, with all of its key contents, on that balcony overnight so I wouldn’t have to deal with the inevitable condensation on the glass of any of my lenses when exposing them to the elements each day.  I dutifully did that on this day and, as you can see above, made some images first thing that morning without succumbing to any issues.  I then transported my gear, in the backpack, to my vehicle, put the backpack in the non-climate-controlled trunk, and made the relatively short drive to Ho’opi Falls.

When I got to the location and discovered, with little difficulty, the somewhat obscured trailhead, I found everything absolutely drenched with dew.  It had not rained in the area since some time the previous day.  (It rains for part of just about every day on the east side of Kauai.)  The trail, which descended gently, was slick as all get out, significantly worse than the Kalalau Trail had been two days prior.  Just walking down this trail, which was plenty wide, was a dubious proposition.  The trail followed Kapa’a Stream downriver and gradually descended to near water level.  Negotiating a modestly sloping bank to get down from the trail to rapids well above the still unseen Upper Ho’opi Falls was a dicey proposition, but I managed to make it.  I then climbed back up to the trail itself, with less difficulty.  The falls were now audible and, after a bend in the stream, they came into sight–about 25 feet below the trail itself.  Worn areas on the embankment showed the way down–there were several paths–but it was steep and, again, extremely slick.  I very carefully negotiated the worst parts and managed to reach a point where I could walk down to the stony area abutting the falls.  This area was slicker still than anything I’d seen to this point.  It was extremely warm and I was now drenched with sweat–a now recurring theme on this trip.  In an ominous sign, my eyeglasses kept fogging over.  The humidity was so thick it could have been sliced with a butter knife.

I set my backpack and tripod down in a safe spot on a wide, protruding rock and proceeded to check the immediate area out, sometimes by literally sliding on the rock surface.  I found all kinds of interesting angles and, again with great care, took hold of my camera and tripod and began the photo process.  I removed the lens cap and the front element of the camera immediately fogged up with condensation.  I wiped it off with a cloth and it fogged up again.  I was simply going to have wait for the acclimation process to mature and, given how humid it was, that took some time but eventually I was able to begin photographing.

Upper Ho’opi Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Ho’opi Falls Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

Moving into some of these positions to photograph the falls required great care.  My stone platform was plenty wide, but to achieve the perspectives I wanted I had to get fairly close to the edge.  Upper Ho’opi Falls is roughly a 30-foot drop into a narrow, rocky gorge, with rapidly flowing water.  The stone platform I was on sloped gently toward the gorge and was beyond-description slippery.  There were a few spots I would have liked to check out but didn’t dare, even without my gear, as falling into the gorge would have been a very bad scene and a very real possibility.

Kapa’a Stream, Kauai, Hawaii

Kapa’a Stream Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

Kapa’a Stream immediately above the falls was itself quite interesting and much more easily investigated safely, as there was no drop-off to speak of.

Upper Ho’opi Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Ho’opi Falls Intimate Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

I got to the stream as early in the day as possible both in an attempt to beat the inevitable crowds (this was a Saturday, so things would be even worse than normal) and to give myself the best chance to make images while the light was still even.  Sure enough, while I was working on the upper falls, sunlight started to encroach on parts of the scene.  I worked in some areas that remained tight, in open shade, and in other cases waited for a cloud to drift in front of the sun.

Upper Ho’opi Falls Intimate, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Ho’opi Falls Intimate Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Ho’opi Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

White Lady Intimate, Kapa’a Stream, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Ho’opi Falls Intimate, Kauai, Hawaii

When I finished at this spot–perhaps more accurately, when the sun became enough of an annoyance to finish me–I decided to follow the overgrown trail downstream nearly half a mile to Lower Ho’opi Falls.  In a sense, the lower falls are more impressive than the upper falls, but less photogenic in a way.  While it’s impossible to get into a position to photograph the upper falls from below–there’s literally nowhere to stand to do so–the lower falls, which drops roughly 40 feet, can be rendered from both above and below…though getting down to the “below” spot requires some effort.  By the time I got to the upper falls, the sun was out full blast and other people had shown up.  After investigating what it would take to get down to water level, I decided to stay up top.  Had the light been consistently even, I would have gone down to the lower location and poked around but that felt like a needless waste of time and effort under the circumstances.  I found a composition I liked from above, set up and waited for a cloud.  That wait lasted a solid half an hour, if not more.  But eventually, the scene was bathed in even light; that lasted about 20 seconds before the sun reappeared.

Lower Ho’opi Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Having obtained the image, I retreated to the blessed cool of my vehicle.  It was now late morning.

With the sun fully out now–it was as close to fully clear at this stage as at any point since I’d been in Hawaii–and with other waterfalls the only other things directly on my agenda, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I retreated back to the hotel.  The sky was virtually clear, the light was awful, there was no specific place that I wanted to scout and so I did something that I basically never do:  I hung out on the beach for about 90 minutes.  The place I was staying had some lounge chairs out under the shade trees on the beach; I sat down in one and inertia took over for awhile.  Once it reached early afternoon I noticed that some clouds were blowing in and I arose, hoping that it would cloud over enough to make it possible to photograph the other waterfalls on my list.  It did so and I was on my way.

My first stop was the overlook for Opaeka’a Falls, only about 15 minutes from the hotel.

Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

This is a bit of one trick pony; the only way to photograph the falls is from the overlook.  There are some compositional choices, however, partly because the overlook walkway wraps around the edge of a cliff for about 500 feet and partly because there’s always the option to include or exclude certain elements.

Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Literally across the street from the Opaeka’a Falls parking lot is the Wailua River overlook, which has an attractive scene of its own to reveal.

Wailua River, Wailua State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

When I was done at this location it was on to Wailua Falls, about 10 minutes further into the interior part of Kauai.  While it’s possible to photograph this waterfall from below, there’s no official trail or uncomplicated way of getting down to river level.  I satisfied myself with the lookout point above.

Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Wailua Falls Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

As attractive as Wailua Falls is, I was almost as intrigued by some of the trees in the thick forest surrounding the river.

Moluccan Albizia Forest, Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Moluccan Albizia Forest, Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Though these Moluccan Albizia trees aren’t native to Hawaii–they were imported from Indonesia–I found them fascinating, particularly when observable in isolation.  On my way out of the Wailua Falls area, I passed an open pasture that included some mature specimens of this species and I stopped to make an image that caught my eye, though the light wasn’t ideal.

Moluccan Albizia Meadow Black & White, Upcountry Kauai, Hawaii

It was now early evening.  One of the things about Kauai is that finding good sunset locations is a bit of a challenge when located on the eastern side of the island.  There are some decent locations far to the north–in the neighborhood of Princeville, Hanalei and all the way up to the end of the road at Ke’e Beach, where I’d ended my first full day on the island.  And, all the way down at Poipu, and points further west on the southern shore, also make potentially good end of day locations.  Unfortunately, I was nowhere near any of these places and really didn’t have time to get there before the appointed hour.  So I decided to make my way to Secret Beach, north of my location on the east coast, where the Kilauea Point Lighthouse could be seen from water level.  I hadn’t visited this spot yet but had read about it.  I figured I had about enough time to get there with 30 minutes to spare before sunset.

The thing about Secret Beach–and presumably the reason it got its name–is that it’s a pretty decent walk down there from the parking area.  This is not one of those fall-out-of-your-car-onto-the-beach locations.  There’s about a quarter of a mile hike, on a steep path, down to the sand and the beach is quite deep, so it’s a decent walk from the point one reaches the beach until one nears the surf.  Still, I got down there roughly when I expected–about 30 minutes before sunset.  There weren’t that many people on the beach when I arrived and more were leaving with each passing minute as the daylight dwindled.

I found a rocky area and set up shop.  The lighthouse (it’s hard to see in some of these images due to the size) is in the background, on the cliff near the upper right-hand part of the frame.

Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

The sun was setting more or less directly behind my position and there was really nothing particularly compelling, photographically speaking, in that direction, so I simply continued to focus my attention on the lighthouse as the light got better and better.

Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kilauea Point Lighthouse from Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Kilauea Point Lighthouse from Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

And with that, the light was gone.  By the time I reached the trail at the back of the beach it was almost completely dark and the steep path through the thick woods was absolutely pitch black.  Good thing I had my headlamp.

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