Humans of all shapes and sizes flock to the beach on a hot summer’s day, saunter to the water’s edge and…jump the waves! The water feels so good. I think it’s fun to find animals doing the same things people like to do. So I had fun photographing this Snowy Egret in the air, jumping the waves.
This image also gives us a good look at the crashing surf, frozen in time, and the snowy egret’s wings outstretched. He/she is such a graceful bird!
In literature, water often sustains life. It feeds the thirsty. Thirsty humans, animals and plants. In rivers, it flows past us in a strong steady current, often signifying our journey through life. Other times, arriving in storms it taketh away. Floods overpower human settlements and people. It kills.
What does this ocean image say to you? Is it dangerous and menacing, or does it bring you peace?
The arid landscape that you often find in California is raised up in both beauty and comfort by the Pacific Coast. While you hike, it is hot and dry and sometimes dusty. But here in Point Lobos State Reserve, you feel the ocean breezes and your eyes feast upon the soothing sight of crashing waves. The coast line, pleasingly irregular, hides a new view behind every incline and bend in the path. Just keep walking.
Most of us consider it obvious that the sun sets every night. It comes with life on a rotating planet. But how many of us realize what an extraordinary gift it is to witness the sunset? On the west coast of Florida, the foreground is pretty special too.
While we tend to complain about rain often, rain isn’t all bad. Remind yourself that rain feeds and sustains all our plant life, and through the food chain, all of us. If you need a graphic reminder that rain is a gift, just gaze upon a rainbow. Water and light are both powerful life-giving forces of Nature. When they collaborate to form a rainbow, it’s magical and evanescent.
The waves crashing on the lava rocks in the foreground make a dramatic foreground. Maui is well worth a visit, any time of year. Be prepared for both showers and rainbows.
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You might think I’m referring to music from a ukulele, but I’m not. I want to tell you about what it’s like to fall asleep in Maui listening to the ocean waves crashing on the shore. It’s quite different from what you might be used to — if your experience is the “hush…hush” sound of waves running up on a sandy beach.
In Maui, my room was right on the shoreline, and waves were crashing a few meters from my bed. They made a booming, thunderous sound as the tide came in, as the waves crashed with force on lava rocks. Sometimes, I even wondered if that sound were thunder.
I was also fooled by the sound of the wind blowing the palm tree fronds. Frequently it sounded like raindrops hitting the roof, but it wasn’t rain. It was the dry fronds blowing into each other really hard.
Listening to these sounds, I realized what a gift it was to be far from the sounds of traffic, city sirens or even the television. It’s peaceful to hear the sounds of Nature, and think about the power of the wind and the waves — even the power of the rain, too.
Night photography that features the full moon is one of my favorite achievements. Add the lapping waves of the ocean and interesting landforms, and you can call that photo a personal favorite. All these elements came together for me at the end of a long day of photography on Maui.
That morning my alarm went off at 5 am, but we cancelled our 5:30 am departure for a sunrise shoot due to heavy rain all night continuing into the morning. Around 8 am, one of our workshop instructors knocked on my door. The other instructor had ventured out to scout road conditions and was stranded about an hour down the “Road to Hana” with a flat tire. Would I be willing to drive the route right away to pick him up? Of course!
Several hours later (around noon) with rain giving way to overcast sky, we hiked into a nearby state park, Wainapanapa, to do some photography. Later in the afternoon, we drove for an hour back the muddy, partially flooded, winding road to Hana — past the flat tire site — to the Haleakala State Park that features the “Seven Sacred Pools.” Then, we hiked a trail to a spectacular vantage point. Tired, yes. Sweaty, yes. Day is not over yet.
Just as the sun was setting, we arrived at our last location of the day: a little beach where you can see this volcanic mountain offshore “Alau Island” and enjoy some sun tinted clouds paint the sky before the scene disappeared into complete darkness. But this evening, there was something more. The full moon was rising opposite the sunset and near Alau island, while there was still some faint blue light in the sky.
I was ready with my equipment and techniques to capture a long exposure: my Really Right Stuff tripod and camera bracket on the Nikon D800 — necessary to make a long exposure. I knew I needed a long exposure in the very low light, and also that the long exposure would smooth the waves into a shimmering surface, accentuating the mood. I wanted the foreground to be dark, to show realistically the evening light. It was also important to me as a professional to hold back the bright light of the moon, to keep the highlights from blowing out. So, I hand held a graduated neutral density filter on the top edge of the frame.
I maintained the quality of the image by keeping the ISO at 100. I opened the lens up to f/ 2.8, and chose an exposure that allowed the foreground trees and rocks to go quite dark. With the help of the graduated filter, I held the dynamic range of the image well enough to capture this striking scene with one five-second exposure.
With this achievement, the week’s physical challenges all became worth it: the pre-dawn alarm clock, the heavy rain, the hot and humid hiking conditions, the muddy and sometimes precarious driving conditions. I was more than satisfied. I captured an image that exceeded my expectations.
In honor of the first day of summer — a season that seemed to begin at least a month ago — I went for a swim. Not in the ocean, just at our club’s swimming pool. The folks in Hawaii no doubt took a dip in the Pacific Ocean, like these body surfers I spotted on Kauai two years ago.
Check out my new website for more images from Kauai, where ordering prints is a snap. www.cathykellyphotography.com.