I’ve been on Kauai for the past week with the goal of doing some landscape and location work.  The weather has really put a cap on what I have been able to accomplish.  Tons of rain and lots of high wind has made if very difficult to get into the back country, thus no waterfalls.  As an example, yesterday they had 20ft waves along the North Shore.  In hopes of a break in the weather, headed out the Waimea Canyon and inbetween cloud banks lifting from the floor of the Nai Palia  I caught this partial image of  the Kalalau Valley after a short hike beyond the more commercial view point.  The image below is a three image stitch using the RRS panohead and rail system.

From Kauai – The Old Sugar Mill at Koloa

Hello everyone.  I’m on Kauai taking a much needed R&R and photo break of sorts.  Since arriving, it has been raining with heavy cloud cover every morning and the same at night, less last night.  While going for some herbs at the local market, I came upon a view of the old sugar mill from an angle that I had not seen before.  Fact is, I have never taken this particular cut-off road since they built it some four years ago.  On the first pass, it was pretty flat so I continued on for some shallots and my handy ‘Hawaiian  Rub’ for the rack of lamb.  I decided to take the same road on the way back to the condo, and man-o-man, did the clouds part and I was treated to some very long shadows and golden light.  After a number of shots, I decided to head up to the mill for some close-up shots of the structures.  At the gate I was greeted by very forceful looking security guards who made it very clear that I was not to cross the gate.  I made a couple of jokes about myself with these guys and before you know it,  I was able to take a couple of quick photos and off I had to go.  I could have spent hours at the mill, but I was pushing it and so were the guards.  After visiting Kauai on an annual basis for nearly some 18 years, I have never been so challenged with the rain and clouds, as this trip.  My guided trip deep into the highlands to photograph ‘guardian falls’, was canceled due to all of the rain in the upper reaches of the mountains. Despite the rain,  it has been good to catchup on reading and writing.

Koloa Sugar Mill

Nikon D3s, 70-200 f/2.8 @ 150mm, ISO 400, f/8.0 at 1/250 sec

Given the age of the old mill, I thought a B&W conversion would be fitting.  I processed the image below in CS5, with  little assist from Nik Software, to highlight all of the steel structures giving it some additional depth.  Man I just love their control point technology.   The control point tools, allows me put additional emphasis right where I want it, without some very complicated photoshop work.

Koloa Sugar Mill

Nikon D3s, 70-200 f/2.8 @ 110mm, ISO 400 f/8 at 1/500 sec

Enjoy and happy photo’ing


Kauai, Na Pali Coast Line

A visit to Kauai is not really a complete visit unless you see the Na Pali coast.  From air or water, the views of this coastline are simply breath taking.  In all of my trips to Kauai, including numerous trips out the the Na Pali coast, I have always been greeted with fog and low clouds.  My recent trip was the exception with high clouds and near perfect lighting early in the morning.

Fingers of the Na Pali Coast

Coast Line Close-Up

Stacked Coast Line

If you get a chance, visit Kauai.  You might just fall in love with all that it has to offer, just as I have.

Cheers and happy photo’ing


Kauai Travels

There are basically two roads to take up to the Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.  I prefer the Waimea Canyon Drive on the way down, but you should always look in your rear-view mirror or you will miss photo opportunities such as this one below.  Be cautious on your selection of pull-outs, as traffic seems to come out of nowhere on this road.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm @46mm, ISO 200, 1/80 sec at f10

Our attempt to visit the Kalalau Lookout at Kokee to get a clear view of the Na Pali’s Kalalau Valley was unsuccessful due to land fog.  This fog is formed not long after sunrise when the sun starts heating up the ground surface near the ocean.  The warming along with the cool moist conditions at altitude, generates a moving bank of fog that gently rises and falls up and down the valley.  Best times for clear viewing are first thing in the morning, and late afternoon.  In our case, all I photographed was fog.  Next year…..

Kalalau Lookout Ridge Line Clouded in Fog

At the bottom of the lookout, assuming you can see through the fog, you would see just beyond the very end of the bluff below, the true beginning of the Na Pali Coast.  Park your car, kick off your shoes and go for a stroll along the seldom populated Barking Sands beach.  Once of the longest stretches of  beach in Hawaii, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen – it’s hot and totally exposed.

Na Pali Coast, Barking Sands

Walking to to the end of the beach, you will soon see a mariners cross which serves as a reminder that the loss of life is often just a wave away.  Please note,  Barking Sands is frequent to serious undertows.  Please proceed with caution when playing in the water.

Barking Sands, End of the Beach

Kauai Beach Photo Shoot

Funny thing on Kauai, the golden light for photography fades very very fast in the evening.  In this case, I had about 10 minutes to get set up and get Paul and Coogan in place.  Once in place and a short discussion about angles and where to look, I had less than 15 minutes to do this shoot before the sun went from horrible to perfect to totally lost.  It still amazes me just how fast the light falls.  I placed Coogan in about 4 inches of water in a small bed of sand with the SUN directly to her back creating a nice rim light on her hair.  To her right (camera left), off about 30 degrees was a Nikon SB900 (in swimming mode) in a Lastolite 24″ EZ Hotshoe Soft Box on a light stand.  The stand was pushed hard into the sand to avoid accidental activation of the swimming mode on the SB900.  SB900 was used remotely and set from +1.3 EV to +3 EV and uniform coverage with no diffuser.  SB900 was controlled from the CLS manager within the Nikon D300.  D300 with 70-200 or 17-55 was used for all images.  D300 was set to -0.3 to -0.7 EV to increase the background saturation.  For those images with both Paul and Coogan, an additional 30″ reflector was used mid to high camera right alternating between the sliver and gold sides.  The reflector allows a small amount of fill light to be bounced back onto Paul or the side of Coogan depending upon its position.  Throughout this shoot, my goal was to use the light shaping tools to create some dramatic shots that they could use for their anniversary celebration.  All processing was done in lightroom, what little there was.

Here is a general shot of the beach area with Paul and Coogan kicking around while I started putting  things together.

This shot is using only direct sunlight and was done for the sole purposes of demonstrating what unfiltered and unmanaged sunlight will provide.  In this particular shot, I have them facing directly into the sun.  The harshness is mitigated only be the warmth of the evening light.

OK, now on with the light show using the light shaping tools previously mentioned.  BTW, I also had a SB800 at the ready just in case I needed additional fill light.  Enjoy

Nikon D300, 17-55mm @55, 1/400 sec, f9.0

Nikon D300, 17-55mm @55, 1/250 sec, f9

Nikon D300, 17-55mm @ 38mm, 1/200 sec f9

I’ll post additional images in a couple of days.  Meanwhile, enjoy and happy photo’ing


The Beat of Hawaii and Beyond

Hey folks, I wanted to share with you a nice web site I found some time ago focused on Hawaii.  I have been following these guys for several months and have concluded that they are NOT jaded by the commercial travel industry.  They continue to be a great source for outstanding airfares and other solid values in the islands that are often over looked or simply not published.  They have become my one stop shopping for Hawaiian travel.  So hike over to their site and give it a look.  As they put it ‘We’re Hawaii Based, Irreverently Not Commercial, and All Travel‘. Want to keep up with them?  Simply grab their feed and put it in your favorite reader and off you go.

Yes you guessed it, I will be heading to Hawaii for a little fun and some serious work.  While there, I hope to put to use some new lighting equipment that should be arriving shortly.  Specifically, I’ll be using some Lastolite light shaping tools and the new Nikon SB900 coupled with two or more SB800′s.  My goal is to better harness the fading ambient light with balanced fill flash.  I’ll be using a rear curtain drag for scene motion as well.  As you can tell, I already have some shots in mind.  Keep posted for the images and let’s see if I can get all of the calculations to yield a decent photograph. Look out beach folks, I’m looking for a cute couple with a surfboard.

Cheers and happy photo’ing