Vacation?

“Have a nice vacation, Mom,” Caitlin said cheerfully, when she called me the night before my flights to Kauai. “Thanks,” I said back to her lovingly, as I thought to myself, “Vacation?” I knew I was very blessed to have this opportunity to spend 9 days on Kauai, and I would have a couple free days before my photography workshop to recover from the 17-hour journey and adjust to 6 time zone changes. After the workshop, I scheduled two days of rest to recover from our long days of work that stretched from 4 am until 10pm with precious little time off to rest and eat. But, no question, on the first two days I was on vacation with my daughter Erin, 24, who flew out from New York to join me for the adventure. My work as a photographer would involve a lot of effort, but my husband was putting in long hours as a trial lawyer in a Hampton Inn in rural Indiana. I am sure he would say I was on vacation.

That word “vacation” came to mind this last morning of the workshop at 5:20am along Shipwreck Beach in the dark. I had woken to the alarm at 4:15 and left the hotel at 4:45am for the drive south with two instructors and just two other hearty classmates. After hiking out to the water’s edge with headlamp showing the exposed tree roots and rocks on the path, we could go right or left. First I hiked to the right to this vantage point and spotted this lone fisherman at the end of a sandstone outcropping. Far below him, waves pounded a lava shelf. The first light of pre-dawn appeared in the sky along with a rain squall that would soon find us.  I set up my tripod and shot this long exposure at ISO 100, 52mm, f8 and 25 seconds.  The others decided to leave the location and hike in the opposite direction, where Don Smith remarked, “it was better.”  As they disappeared in the dim light, I stood there with my tripod and camera, waiting for the long 25 seconds to elapse. “Come on!” I said to it. I wasn’t having fun yet.

Shipwreck Beach before dawn, 25 second exposure
Shipwreck Beach before dawn, 25 second exposure

Finished, I packed up my equipment and followed the others to their location, which — I admit — was spectacular 20 minutes later when the sun came up and illuminated the clouds and the ocean in shades of orange and pink. It was a thrilling sunrise shoot, following by a fierce wind and drenching rain.

Sunrise at Shipwreck Beach: heavy rain coming
Sunrise at Shipwreck Beach: heavy rain coming

After a half dozen frames in the second location, the rain hit with a fury and we grabbed our gear and ran back to our cars as fast as we could. Our clothes were drenched! But as you can see, it was well worth it. Vacation? No, it was work, very exciting work. Later that morning when I saw some classmates who slept in and missed the sunrise shoot, I had to say, “You missed it — getting soaked with rain, but getting the unique shots that made our efforts pay off.”

Author: cathykellyphotography

Independent photographer based in Pittsburgh PA and Naples FL. Nature, landscape and portrait photography. Portfolio includes international work in USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Email cathykellyphotography@gmail.com to review work in your area of interest. Nature portfolio includes flowers and wildlife. Prints and digital files for sale. See website: www.cathykellyphotography.com.