Crashing Waves

While visiting Kauai, I was drawn to the explosive power of the crashing waves. It’s really fun to experiment with some long exposures while watching the waves crash on lava rock, and it’s entertaining to review the results later.

 

This image from Secret Beach is one of my favorites. It features a high splash, more incoming waves and rushing water coming from both the left and right. Adding to the drama are some heavy rain clouds overhead. (Yes, they dumped rain on me!) The lava rock makes a nice V-formation, satisfying my search for a dynamic composition. Settings: ISO 100, 32mm. f22, 1/20 second. Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head, circular polarizer, processed in Lightroom.

 

Exploding wave at Secret Beach, Kauai 6/25/2014
Exploding wave at Secret Beach, Kauai 6/25/2014

 

Some of you have asked me about using a polarizer in landscape photography. I use a Nikon Circular Polarizer in all my landscape work. With it you can dial reflections in or out, and you can darken a bright sky – but only if your line of sight is close to 90 from the sun. The polarizer can really enhance an image, but it also gives you creative choices. Here is one image (taken in the same location as above) where my creative choice was to keep the shiny reflections on the lava rocks, because the shine enhances the texture and shows the rocks are wet.  ISO 100, 52mm, f22, 1/15 second.

 

Crashing wave and shiny lava rocks, Secret Beach, Kauai
Crashing wave and shiny lava rocks, Secret Beach, Kauai

 

It’s fun to share the backstory of a shoot as well, and this shoot had one. Climbing down the steep and muddy trail to Secret Beach, there is a hand painted sign, no doubt posted by an adjacent homeowner. “Stay off the rocks, or you’re next,” is followed by hash marks showing the number of people drowned or nearly drowned in 2013 and 2014. Clearly, these four young men have ignored the danger sign as they body surfed very close to the lava rocks. As for me, I stayed on the sand and just got my sneakers wet. ISO 100, 70mm, f22, 1/25 second.

 

Bodysurfers near lava on Secret Beach, Kauai
Bodysurfers near lava on Secret Beach, Kauai

 

I’ll close today with one last irresistible image of a crashing wave. I like the color contrast of the splash, the lava and the ocean color as well as the star formation formed by the splash. (ISO 100, 70mm, f22, 1/10 second) This might be a good image to revisit this winter when the palette outside my window in Pennsylvania will be less colorful.

Vivid ocean with exploding wave on Secret Beach, Kauai
Vivid ocean with exploding wave on Secret Beach, Kauai

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.