High in the sky we see the sunlight break the darkness, turning night into day, while fog lingers under the canopy of these trees, protecting the cool ground with a soft blanket of dampness and shadow.
A prominent international journalist was quoted today in the New York Times, saying, “When things go right, it’s boring.” In other words, he remarked to students, when things go wrong, that’s a news story. As a journalist, I completely agree.
As a photographer, the opposite is true. When things go right, the results can be absolutely magical. As many prominent photographers say, the first thing you need to do is “show up.” You never know what weather conditions or wildlife appearances will do to create each day’s photographic opportunities, but if you “show up” in the field often enough, you will be there when things go right, and the results are anything but boring.
Such was the case when I showed up before sunrise for a wildlife bird tour. In addition to many unexpected and unplanned bird sightings, the early morning cloudscape was magical.
Every sunrise is a blessing, but when you rise at 3 am and press onward to the rim of a high-altitude volcano, and you are not socked in by clouds, that’s a special blessing. Surely, we were grateful that the skies were clear on this chilly morning in Maui last month.
The sun peaked over the distant clouds and began to illuminate the desolate landscape in the crater. Capturing the moment with a small aperture (f/22) on a fine lens (Nikon 14-24), I was able to bring home an image of a sunstar.
Rainy and humid Maui cut us a break this morning. While two other photo shoots have been rained out yesterday and today, the location we woke up at 3 am for, worked out — mercifully.
You have to set the alarm for 3 to drive the windy roads from sea level up at Napili Shores to 10,023 feet above sea level to the summit of Maui’s volcano in time for sunrise. I was pretty surprised to see a nearly full parking lot and about 100 other people crazy enough to be doing the same thing! The park rangers were helping us park, as if we were crowding into a lot for major league baseball or football back at home. After parking, we hiked up a pretty steep trail to this location, breathing pretty hard in the thin air.
Here is one of my favorite images from today’s early photo shoot. I used by Nikon D800 camera mounted on a Really Right Stuff tripod with the wide angle 14-24 mm Nikon lens and a Singh Ray graduated neutral density filter. I shot at ISO 100 to give me maximum ability to make a large highly detailed print later if I wish.
Look how the curves in the composition take your eye into the crater and back up the ridge into the clouds to the sun. Haleakala means, “house of the sun.”