MAKE FIRE – TURNING A PHOTOGRAPHIC SPARK OF INSPIRATION INTO FIRE

THE WALL  La Jolla, California

There we were on Shell Beach in Southern California’s “Jewel” – La Jolla.  If you consider shorts, t-shirt and flip flops ideal attire, then the mid-August weather was just perfect.  The sweet morning light was just beginning to show herself to those of us eager enough to be awake, which on this morning included myself and seven photography workshop participants who were joining me for one of my California workshops.  Shell Beach seemed like an ideal location to take seven passionate photographers for a sunrise – it’s small and intimate, yet contains many elements that can be arranged well for a diverse style of seeing photographic compositions.  It’s only as wide as a football field, yet both sides lead upward to steep cliffs that stretch out toward the sea, undercut with partial caves on the sides and a scattering of rocks throughout the beach, with a couple large rocks just offshore where pelicans and cormorants linger about.  Having photographed this spot many times before, I knew good compositional arrangements could be made, but of course, it is also quite easy to include too much or too little and fall short of success as well.  So, an ideal setting to place students – a place where they can make it work, or not, and then discuss the why’s and why not’s as to what is working and what is not working in real time.

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HIKING HALEAKALA CRATER AT SUNSET

One of my favorite things is to hike down Sliding Sands Trail in the Haleakala National Park, the night before the full moon, during sunset time.  It gives me a chance to get down inside the crater, one of my favorite places on the planet, during the time of optimal-sweet light.  With or without camera, I recognize this as an incredible life-experience – one that I always try and make time for, at least a few times a year.  Last night, I was able to share this experience with a Maui photo workshop participant who was looking for an adventurous photographic expedition during his island vacation to Maui.  It so happened that on this particular day, the moonrise was the most dramatic of the year!  With the sun perfectly opposite the moon, the light and size of the moon appeared to be 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal!  It only made sense for us to venture into the crater from atop the 10,023 foot peak, and put ourselves in an epic and otherworldly place (inside a volcanic crater) for this special moonrise!  As good fortune would have it, we were graced with an insane sunset and the light was so sweet.

The Big Island was clearly visible, seemingly close enough to touch, as the large and brilliant moon arose above it.  Me – as much as I was ooh’ing and aah’ing the moonrise to the right of this scene, I couldn’t resist focusing my photographic efforts on the sweet, brilliant, and colorful light that presented itself to my lens in this composition.  Here, in Hawaii, being much closer to the equator, this period of sweet-light does not last long.  It is fleeting.  Ephemeral.  You put yourself in in the right place, at the right time, and hope for the best.  Last night, I found myself at the right place at the right time – very cool to be able to share the experience with another passionate photographer!

LIGHT FALLS AWARDED BY OP’s THE AMERICAN LANDSCAPE

LIGHT FALLS  Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Outdoor Photographer’s inaugural The American Landscape Photo Contest 2012 selected from over 10,000 individual images, and I am pleased to announce that I was awarded with an Honorable Mention for the above photograph LIGHT FALLS.  Additionally, this image was voted People’s Choice Winner.  Many thanks to those who voted! Continue reading

MAUI WINDMILLS

Yesterday I woke up at 4:20 am and headed out to meet a friend for an early morning hike along Maui’s Pali Trail.  After nearly two decades of residing off and on on Maui, this was a trail I had never previously hiked – with the rumors of it being so dry, hot and exposed, it never held much appeal to me.  With the early start and an added sense of adventure, I was finally game.

Surprisingly awake, or delirious, we started our trek on the Maalaea side at 5 am in the pre-sunrise darkness.  The trail was rugged as we made our way up the 1600 feet of elevation gain.  Had it been mid-day, it would had been semi-awful, but with the early hour and the high winds, it was quite nice.

Near the high point of the hike, we made our way through the Kaheawa wind farm.  Since 2006, twenty windmills operated by First Wind have been generating nearly 10% of Maui’s electric power, enough energy to power about 11,000 Maui homes annually.  They are near completion of adding on 14 more wind turbines, enough to power an additional 7,700 Maui homes annually.

The image above are some of the new wind turbines and they continue up the slopes of the mountain.  In this case, a longer exposure and passing clouds help create the feeling of wind, and makes for a more dynamic image of some much appreciated clean energy.

TIME EXPOSED = 8 SECONDS

 

ROAD TO HALEAKALA SUMMIT

While living here on Maui, I try and get up to the Haleakala Crater National Park every chance I get.  One of my favorite things to do is to head up on the afternoon of a full moon, hike down the Sliding Sands trail at sunset, loop around the cinder cone a few miles down, and head back up the trail to the rising moon and the darkening sky.  This is what I was doing a year back when I captured Stillness Speaks, and what Rebecca and I were planning on doing yesterday.  With Haleakala being over 10,000 feet tall, it is often engulfed in weather.  From the sea-level perspective, you can never tell for certain whether or not you’ll be able to get above the weather, so I generally just go for it and hope for the best.  If it’s socked in, as was the case yesterday, then it’s a chance to enjoy a drive.

The University of Hawaii has a live webcam looking into the crater from the summit, but it hasn’t been working for quite some time.  Can we get someone on this, please?

MATANUSKA GLACIER ALASKA

Most people think of ice when they think of a glacier, but let me tell you, there’s a lot more to it than that!  There’s ice, rock and SLUDGE!  For lack of a better word, yes, I’ll call it sludge.  It’s a thick, grey mud-like substance that was almost the end of me! These glaciers are awe-inspiring.  The type of beauty that the eyes don’t tire of looking at…like a sunset, you just stare at them with wonder and in awe of their beauty, their power.  But I have found a dark side to her – this living, moving beast that carves these huge valleys and turn rock into a powdery ash.  It’s this powdery ash-like substance that, with water, makes the vicious and evil sludge!

I arrived at the Matanuska Glacier a couple of hours north of Anchorage.  Awesome!  What a great first place to set up camp and enjoy this vast and powerful landscape. In the morning, I ventured out to get closer to the ice, following the raging grey waters that were pouring out from the underbelly of this gigantic ice cube, Mother Natures refrigerator, and the SOURCE of raging rivers.  WOW.  Reaching a dead end that was a deep crevasse, I cut around and had my first encounter with sludge, when I stepped and my foot quickly disappeared.  ”QUICKSAND!” my mind shouted.  That first day was a slight meeting with her, but it was a week later when I returned to shoot her again did she show her dark side and try to swallow me whole.  This time I had ventured out by myself in the evening.  I had told my buddy, “If I’m not back by 10pm, send in the search party,” not realizing the possible irony.  15 minutes later I had reached a dead end, trying to work my way into the folds of the ice to get some abstract perspectives.  The landscape had already changed in a week, and suddenly I found myself surrounded.  My first step into this new enemy had me nearly waist deep…okay okay, maybe it was just over my boot closer to ankle deep, but it was freaky!  Step after step, I would sink ankle high, and even with my high top laced boots, she was trying to pry them from my innocent feet.  Had I stopped and stood there, I feel fairly certain I would keep sinking away into her abyss!  I could see the orange cones that marked the “proper trail”.  It was 200 yards away.  That became the longest 200 yards I’ve ever passed and I was really freaked.  I was sure I was going to be swallowed by sludge or the earth would crack open and swallow me whole!  After much drama unfolding in my mind, I finally made it to the trail and managed to keep my life!, and my boots (although they’ll never be the same and will never walk through this again!!) But then I arrived at the ICE.  I’m not sure this was much better…or maybe I had just completely psyched myself out, because I could so clearly visualize this cracking open and taking me to a slow and cold demise!

AN IMMORTAL MOMENT

AN IMMORTAL MOMENT  Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

This is why you have to set the alarm to 4-something and get up out of your warm sleeping bag and get out there!  It’s called Sweet Light and it is always a sight for the eyes and makes the heart giddy – or is that the  sleep deprivation?  Either way, it’s well worth waking for, even after a late night of cold-adult-beverages and the company of good friends.  Hell, you can sleep during the day when the light sucks! and if you’re a little slow (a.k.a. hungover), there’s nothing like the Sweet Light to lift you up.

We camped at Oh Ridge Campground for a couple nights which is the perfect place to stay to shoot at Mono Lake.  It overlooks the scenic June Lake and is a 20 minute drive from the campsite to the parking area at the State Natural Reserve along the north shore of Mono Lake.

I went down three times to this area over the couple days and walked away every time with shots I was happy with.  Sure, I was lucky with the stormy skies, but even with clear skies, I think you could make some compositions work here – it’s just that interesting of a place!  This image is looking west with the sunrise at my back.  Most of my efforts during this spell were with a black and white aesthetic, but for this 10 minute period, it was impossible to ignore the color version of this amazing scene.

TIME EXPOSED = 30 SECONDS