Aloha and welcome to hikari, a blog about photography, travel, recent readings, Kauai and other things that have been on my mind. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoy the observations, perspectives and images.



Good News from the Garden Island

September 13, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


I hope you are all safe. Naomi and I are thinking of you all-- especially those of you affected by the wildfires in the western US and those in the paths of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Here on Kauai the days are getting a little shorter and the waves are beginning to show up again on the north shore. Fall is slowly approaching and for several days these past several weeks I have been photographing pueo or hawaiian short eared owls in Waimea Canyon. You can see these results and other new photographs in the Recent Work Gallery.

I'd also like to share with you some good news everyone's favorite local newspaper-- The Garden Island. The article below was published August 20th and features my photograph Pop the Top, which won the Audubon Community Nature Center Photo Contest in Jamestown, NY. The article also talks about how I got started with photography and the support that I have received from others along the way-- especially Naomi. 

Once again, I hope you are all safe and well and I thank you for your continued support. Have a great fall and know that all skies clear. 

Mahalo nui loa!

Aloha, Lee

Kauai Morning, Kauai Evening

December 05, 2016  •  1 Comment

Aloha. Here are a few photographs from yesterday, December 4, 2016. I started the day with an early morning drive to Poipu where I walked a mile or so along the Heritage Trail for sunrise. 

Cloudy skies welcomed the day and added a bit of mystery to my favorite south shore scene.

I love finding ways to make waterfalls out of ocean water. Here the surf is returning to sea and cascades over a v shaped gap in the lava shelf.

Last Hawaiian WarriorLast Hawaiian WarriorHeritage Trail, Poipu, Kauai The Last Hawaiian Warrior looks out to sea and sky.

For evening I went to the North Shore where again cloudy skies held sway. However, this time they held the promise of sunset colors. 

You know me, I can't resist slowing the shutter and letting the water spin and dance.

And a little longer for a little more flow as the "Pool of Death" drains out.

North Shore Magic (Wallah!)North Shore Magic (Wallah!)Princeville, Kauai The clouds lived up to their potential and blessed the North Shore with a sky of beautiful pinks and blues. 

A splash for the road home. 



A Few More First Shots with the Zeiss 15mm Milvus

December 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Galaxies on the ShoreA wave washes onto the Dark Brown shore at Driftwood Beach, Waimea, Kauai. Driftwood Beach, Waimea, Kauai

Here are a few more photos taken with the new Zeiss 15 mm Milvus. I think these show nicely the wide angle of view that this lens offers. All of these photos were taken on Kauai's west side one day last week. 

Tree and Evening LightA massive tree reaches for the evening light at Waimea Plantation Cottages, Waimea, Kauai. Waimea Plantation Cottages, Waimea, Kauai

The Waimea Plantation Cottages just past Waimea Town is one of my favorite places on island. The grounds are incredibly lush and beautiful. If you like trees and the feeling of "Old Time Hawaii", then this is definitely your kind of place. Highly recommended. 

Salt Ponds and Coconut TreesCoconut Palm trees sway in the morning breeze at Salt Ponds Beach Park, Hanapepe, Kauai.

Salt Ponds Beach Park, Hanapepe, Kauai

Salt Ponds Beach ParkCoconut Palm trees sway in the morning breeze at Salt Ponds Beach Park, Hanapepe, Kauai. Salt Ponds Beach Park, Hanapepe, Kauai

Salt Ponds Beach Park is just a few minutes away from my Hanapepe Gallery. Stop by and see both on your next trip to Kauai. Mahalo!



Getting the Feel For It-- Zeiss Milvus 15mm

November 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


Low Tide at Tunnels

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

I've been photographing with a new lens these past couple of days-- a Zeiss Milvus 15 mm. It is a wide angle, manual focus, prime lens (a prime lens has a fixed focal length, i.e.-- no zoom capabilities). 

I like it.

I've thought about purchasing a Zeiss Classic 15mm for several years, but the lack of weather protection and permanent lens hood made me hesitant. So when I heard that the 15 would become updated for the Milvus Line-- complete with weather sealing and removable lens hood I was stoked. I was so committed that I paid for the lens "Pre-order" so that it would ship as soon as it came to market. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive in time for my late October trip to Glacier National Park, Montana, but that's probably for the best. This lens is wider than anything I have every used before and it has taken me a while to get used to it's ultra wide view. 

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

Another issue that took some time getting used to relates to the wide view and that is the vignetting caused by the Zeiss circular polarizer that I purchased with the lens. The polarizing elements of the filter were great, but the corner vignetting was terrible when used with my full frame Canon 5DSR. I actually had to crop the above photo to remove the unsightly corners. The vignetting that I experienced was a combination of dark corners and white/bluish corners. It was awful. Oh, and one more issue-- the 95mm filter ring adapter that I purchased with the lens so I could use my LEE ND filters-- causes even worse vignetting. Completely unusable. I reckon you loose about 1/8 of the image trying to trim around the black in all four corners. This was very disappointing. So much so that I contemplated returning the lens. And by contemplate, I mean like a full day of strife and Hamlet-like angst about what I should do. You see, I really like how the Zeiss 15mm Milvus renders the scene, especially oceans and moving water. Like the waves in this pic.

Polihale Beach, Polihale State Park, Kauai 

or this one

Polihale Beach, Polihale State Park, Kauai 

Pretty cool, right. So I've decided to keep the lens and return the Zeiss Filter and exchange it for a Heliopan Polarizer that (hopefully) will not cause vignetting. (The two photographs from Polihale Beach were taken last night with no filter, straight glass). As for the LEE adapter, I don't know what I am going to do about that.... Any ideas out there? Kinda an expensive lens to not be able to use ND filters and what not. Even makes the removable lens hood unimportant. 

Anyway, likes and dislikes of the Zeiss 15mm Milvus lens are:

  • "Painterly" rendition of the scene. I love how the water looks as if it were created with a brush.
  • Fantastic rendition of color, beautiful saturation
  • Extremely wide view
  • Outstanding build quality with weather sealing/dust protection (very important for what I mostly photograph-- Kauai seascapes).
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Can accept filters
  • I find the focus to be much more accurate than the similarly manual focus only Zeiss 21mm Milvus that I once owned
  • Sharp

And for the dislikes:

  • Finding the appropriate filter has been problematic and is not yet fully resolved
  • Price

More pics from this awesome lens will be popping up in the online gallery and hopefully in the Hanapepe gallery real soon. 

Have a fantastic day. 




A Sense of Place

July 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

"A place is a piece of the whole environment that has been claimed by the feelings." 

          ~ Alan Gussow


I came across the above quote while reading The Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. Heinrich uses this idea of place to identify home, a location that he describes as both physically and psychologically comfortable and familiar. And while I agree that a home is indeed a place that is familiar, I think, too, that this idea of place can also apply to the unfamiliar-- to the places where we travel, to the places we explore and to the places of art and photography.

Monolith, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA


I often say that the strongest images come when a relationship has been developed with the scene. Perhaps it is nothing more than a relationship of comfort, like Mr. Gussow suggests. Or maybe the scene creates a sense of awe, or some kind of inspiration. Or perhaps the scene stirs the opposite, resulting in discomfort or anxiety.

I readily admit that sometimes this relationship can be akin to love at first sight, and everything just clicks, making the creative process easy and the truths found readily discernable. But most often this relationship between the photographer and the land develops over time, walks, hikes, and multiple drives. Time spent alone. Time spent with oneself. Time spent feeling the local. It is a relationship deeper than passive evocation. It is a relationship that takes work and action because it is ultimately a relationship based on an understanding of the self gained through time with the land.


Finding Zen in ZionFinding Zen in ZionI found a beautiful zen garden. It's called Zion National Park, Utah, USA

 Finding Zen in Zion, Zion National Park, Utah, USA


Lost in a MazeLost in a MazeMountain Sheep Canyon, Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA

Maze, Mountain Sheep Canyon, Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA


I get the words, and then I get to thinkin'

I don't wanna think, I wanna feel

And how do I feel?

       ~ Pearl Jam


When I am in nature I feel her presence. I feel the mountain. I feel the surf, the wave, the energy, the light. The act of taking the photograph helps me come to terms with these feelings and emotions, and in this sense the creative experience becomes the ultimate experience. We can never photograph the entire scene-- no matter how wide our lens or deep the zoom. So what is it that choose to put in the frame. And why? Where is the sense of place, the feeling in the scene? And is it translated into the frame? These are just some of the ideas that I try to conceptualize in my photography. Hopefully I am successful, and the viewer and I are both able to connect deeper with one another and to the land that holds us.  


The Morning RoadThe Morning RoadOn the road just outside of Monument Valley, the sun rises at our backs as the day lies before us with all the possibility of health, adventure and promise.
Monument Valley, Navajo Nation, Utah, USA

The Morning Road, Monument Valley, Navajo Nation, Arizona


Thanks for reading.