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Aloha and welcome to a little blog about photography, travel, recent readings, and of course, Kauai. I hope you enjoy the observations, perspectives and images. Thanks for visiting.

Aloha,

Lee

A Kind of Beautiful Suffering-- A Long Summer's Photo Trip

June 26, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Aloha. Well, my photo trip is getting close. I've already shipped my Toyota FJ Cruiser to Seattle and I fly to meet it Sunday night. I'll be away from Kauai until October 10th and the above map shows my (rough) itinerary. Backpacking trips in Garibaldi PP, Tombstone TP, Assiniboine PP, and Tetons NP await. As do brown bears in Katmai NP; the mountain in Denali NP; and loads of other sights and critters along the way. Planning a road trip is always the romantic part, but enduring one is a kind of beautiful suffering. Wish me luck as I set out on this adventure. Hopefully, I'll come back with some nice photos to share. 

Aloha, 

Lee

 

PS-- Summer Hours at the Hanapepe Gallery (July 1 ~ October 10th)

Monday-- 10:30 ~ 2:30

Tuesday-- CLOSED

Wednesday-- 10:30 ~ 2:30

Thursday-- CLOSED

Friday-- 2 ~ 8:30

Saturday-- CLOSED

Sunday-- CLOSED


Pele's Process

June 19, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Pele's ProcessPele's ProcessA 3:30 AM check-in and a 4 AM departure for the roughest and most memorable boat ride I have ever taken in my life. One hour and a half riding a mechanical bull of an aluminum catamaran to photograph Pele entering the ocean for the first time. I tried back in 2016, but the laze was too strong for my entire stay and no-one was allowed at the Kalepana viewing area. This time, she let me see her. And I am so thankful she did. Here she is making new land in what is Pele's Process.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Pele's Process, Big Island, Hawaii

I, like many of you, have been following closely the recent events on the Big Island. The Kilauea eruption into Leilani Estates in Puna and the subsequent ocean entries in and around Kapoho Bay show the power of Pele and impress upon us the fact that our Earth is a living planet. The devastation is incredibly sad, but at the same time Pele's alluring beauty is undeniable.

PelePeleReviewing photos from the three days of lava viewing was intense. Burned houses, scorched earth, and the mesmerizing power of Pele-- her color, her power, her alluring proximity and extraordinary presence was making me a bit mad. I told Naomi about this feeling and she said, "It's natural. It's Pele." She is fierce. Believe that.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Pele, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii

***

I have had the chance to visit Hawaii island three times since last April, and on those trips I saw the Big Island as I have seen it before, and in new ways hitherto unimaginable. In April, the lava lake at Halema'uma'u was "normal", glowing in the dark hours like I had seen it in 2016.

As Night Falls A Halo RisesAs Night Falls A Halo RisesPhotos like this one are no longer possible-- at least not for a while. There's no more lava lake at Halema'uma'u. There's no more lava up there. It's all under ground or shooting into the sky. Things change. Even the things that we think never do or never will. All things change.
Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
As Night Falls a Halo Rises, Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

***

Then in May, the crater began to stir as earthquakes shook Volcano village and the Puna district multiple times daily, until the lava lake sank into Kilauea's underground tubes and channels. Next, the fissures opened from underground and eruptions into Leilani Estates spewed lava high into the air; lava pools and rivers formed; evacuations, roadblocks and checkpoints dotted the map; the loss and grief; and Pele's process began anew, creating new land in a display of awesome power.

Fissure 8, Leilani EstatesFissure 8, Leilani EstatesPuna, Big Island, Hawaii Fissure 8, Leilani Estates, Big Island, Hawaii

Lava Fountain PoolsLava Fountain PoolsA Flyover above Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Lava Fountain Pools, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii

A flyover Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow

***

I photographed this event on two occasions-- late May and again in early June. In May, I went over for just a few days. In June, I went on a one way ticket and took all my camping gear and stayed a bit longer, determined to photograph this event from a safe distance and a respectful perspective.

Fissure 8 (Modern Art)Fissure 8 (Modern Art)Directly above Fissure 8 as it spews lava 200 feet into the air.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii

Fissure 8 (Modern Art), Puna, Big Island, Hawaii 

***

On June 4th I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and knew that on tomorrow's boat ride we would not be a able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves.

Where Lava Meets Sea with White SteamWhere Lava Meets Sea with White SteamJune 4, 2018 a half mile wide lava flow reaches Kapoho Bay and covers the reef in new volcanic black rock and white steam.
Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Where Lava Meets Sea with White Steam, Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A half-mile-wide lava flow reaches Kaphoho Bay and covers the reef and baths in new volcanic black rock and white steam.

***

At 4 am on June 5th I boarded a boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my fire one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kapoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too. 

Ocean Front Fire at Kapoho BayOcean Front Fire at Kapoho BayOn June 5th I took my second boat ride to photograph the active lava ocean entry. The day before I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and new that we would not be able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves. So I boarded the boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my first one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kaphoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feeling I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Ocean Front Fire at Kaphoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House)Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House)On June 5th I took my second boat ride to photograph the active lava ocean entry. The day before I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and new that we would not be able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves. So I boarded the boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my first one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kaphoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feeling I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House), Big Island, Hawaii

***

The power of Pele and her incredible beauty have never been more visible. I hope these images give you a sense of this energy and the wonder of our ever changing planet. Respect to Pele and hope and courage to all of those affected.

Fountain and FlowFountain and FlowFissure 8 fountains into a pool of lava. The uppermost portion cools quickly and forms a crust, which insulates the lava below, keeping it molten as it flows.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Fountain and Flow, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii 

Pele's DesignPele's DesignThis photograph and Fissure 8 (Modern Art) are my favorite photos from second flyover (Fissure 8, Leilani Estates is my favorite from my first).
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Pele's Design, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii 


Aloha, 
Lee


Teklanika Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska

April 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The Northern Lights Dance above Teklanika Campground, Denali NP, Alaska

Good News! I was selected for a Professional Photographer's Road Permit in Denali NP so this summer I'll be spending a week at my second most favorite Denali campground-- Teklanika. 29 miles along the Park Road, Teklanika is the last campground you can drive to. But in most cases you will need a Tek Pass or a Camper bus ticket to go further into the park on one of the park buses. There's a bus stop just outside the campground and while conveniently located it was a bit busy each morning as many Tek campers were looking for the few available seats on the first buses each morning. I rode the bus from Tek to Igloo mountain and to Wonderlake. It was convenient and easy, and I felt much more a part of the Denali landscape than when I camped at Riley Creek. 

Light Falling, Teklanika RiverLight Falling, Teklanika RiverTeklanika River, Teklanika River Campground, Denali NP, Alaska

The hillsides behind Teklanika River light up with the morning light.

The Teklanika river is right behind the Teklanika campground. The braided river bed is a great place to explore and look for wildlife and photo ops.

Sunset, Teklanika RiverSunset, Teklanika RiverDenali National Park, Alaska

Sunset and the Braids of the Tekalanika River, Denali NP, Alaska

Teklanika RiverTeklanika RiverDenali National Park, Alaska

River Bar, Teklanika River, Denali NP, Alaska

The River bar is a great place to walk and explore. I saw a Caribou on the other side of the bank and a few other footprints of various other critters.

First Time For EverythingFirst Time For EverythingDenali National Park, Alaska

First Time for Everything, Teklanika River, Denali NP, Alaska

On my last night in the park I got lucky and saw the Northern Lights. I planned to wake up at 12:30 am but was too cold to fall asleep so I got out of the tent around 10pm and that's when the light show started. It was incredible! Absolutely one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I hurriedly grabbed my gear and gloves and headed to the river bed, hoping to photograph the lights and their reflections in the Tekalanika River. After about 30 minutes of photographing in the river bed-- all alone-- I became fearful that a bear might come up and eat me. So I packed up my things and returned to the campground where I set up with a few other photographers and photographed the dance from the comfort of numbers. 

A Look into the HeavensA Look into the HeavensDenali National Park, Alaska

A Look Into the Heavens, Teklanika Campground, Denali NP, Alaska

Lastly, the Teklanika Campground has the normal campground amenities-- toilets, water spigot (froze each night and morning of my stay), concrete food pantry and gas/cooking pantry, picnic tables at each site and if I remember correctly, all of the sites were flat, gravelly and there were a good number of trees around, too. All in all a good place to camp if you have a car and want to be further inside the park than Riley or Savage. I can't wait to go back this year. 49/50 forever! (49-- Alaska/50-- Hawaii)

Aloha,

Lee

 


A Perfect Day in Hanalei-- Silent Auction to Benefit Malama Kauai

April 19, 2018  •  4 Comments

Hanalei BayA Perfect Day in HanaleiHanalei Bay, Kauai A Perfect Day in Hanalei, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  

20"x50" Open Edition Metal Print, wire hanger, crate, and complimentary shipping.

Silent Auction bidding opens now at $500. Bidding closes at 11:59 pm Sunday Night (4.22.18). Winning bid will be donated to Malama Kauai and will directly benefit North Shore relief efforts following the Kauai Flood of 2018.

 

Aloha.

As many of you know, during the 24 hour period from Saturday April 14th through Sunday April 15th Kauai was hit by a deluge of rainfall. Reports of 27 inches of rain in 24 hours began to filter through social media. Officially, 28 inches of rain was recorded in Hanalei. But the gauge broke-- four hours before the storm did. And rain kept on falling.

My parents were visiting from Nashville, staying in Princeville and I was with them Saturday night and Sunday. I can honestly say that I have never experienced rainfall as intense for such an extended period of time. The lightning and thunder hit and rang constantly, and sounded as if it was ripping the sky and earth right behind you. Sheets of rain fell and fell and fell. When we went to Foodland Sunday morning the Makai Course was flooding onto Ka Haku Road. And this was on a downward slope in upper Princeville! It was unlike anything I have ever seen before. And then, pictures of the flooding in Hanalei; the landslides in Wainiha; the destruction of Black Pot Beach as the Hanalei River decided to shift course a hundred yards to the left, taking a home, a couple of trucks, and a few buffalos with it as it entered the ocean. 

Homes and property from Anahola to Kilauea; Hanalei to Wainiha; Haena to Ke'e; and Lawai to Koloa experienced flash floods and devastating losses. Many of our most favorite parks and public areas are closed or inaccessible due to either flooding or landslides or both. It is all so incredibly sad and it has taken me a while to process it all, but the aloha spirit of Kauai has moved thousands to volunteer in rescue and relief efforts. Our Kauai watermen on jet skies and boats hit the shores of the affected areas before the rains even stopped. Local stores and restaurants have become donation centers and pick up spots as locals volunteer their time, money and vehicles to drive supplies to staging areas at Anini Beach, Kilauea Neighborhood Center and shelters throughout the island. Hundreds have been evacuated from Wainiha via helicopter and boat this week, while others have remained at Camp Naue and are supporting one another in the spirit of Kokua and Aloha.

We are grateful to the government agencies and staff, Hawaii Red Cross, Malama Kauai, and the countless volunteers who are helping the Kauai community in a countless number of ways. And we can help, too.

Light Source will have a silent auction of the 20"x50" metal print A Perfect Day in Hanalei to benefit Malama Kauai's relief Efforts on the North Shore of Kauai. This metal print retails in my Hanapepe Gallery for $2,000. Bidding will start at $500, and bidding will close at 11:59 pm Sunday Night (Kauai time). The amount of the winning bid will be donated in it's entirety to Malama Kauai's North Shore relief efforts. I will supply the print, crate and shipping. You supply the winning bid. Deal? Deal!

If you would like to make a bid please do so in the comments section of this blog or on my Facebook page.

Mahalo nui loa!

Aloha, 

Lee

 

Congratulations to R&JP whose $1,500 bid won this beautiful metal print of A Perfect Day in Hanalei. Mahalo nui loa!

 

Mahalo to Lava Lava Beach Club, Kauai Shores Hotel, Bayada Home Health, SimplicityHR by ALTRES and the Hanalei Rotary Club for matching donations to Malama Kauai. Thank you for making this donation even bigger! Aloha!


Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska

March 08, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Campsite #14 (Wonder Lake Campground)Campsite #14 (Wonder Lake Campground)This long exposure image shows the view right outside my tent at Wonder Lake campground at mile 85 of the 92 mile long Denali Park Road. The Mountain is just 26 miles away! This photo was taken literally right at my campsite. I think I set up the tripod about 3 feet from the picnic table, upon which I rested my camera bag and hot green tea. In this photograph I wanted to show the interplay between The Mountain and evening sky. It seems that much of my time in and around the Wonder Lake area was spent looking up at the sky, towards the High One and wondering if the clouds would clear and if Denali would become visible.
I used a 6 stop grad nd filter in combination with a 10 stop nd filter and polarizer when taking this photograph.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Campsite #14, Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska

I will be traveling to Alaska again this July and to help prepare for the trip I have been going through photographs from my August 2016 visit to Denali. Part nostalgia and part study, going though old photographs help me determine where I want to focus my time and what animals I want to read up on. This year, I'll definitely go to Katmai NP for a week (July 17 ~ 24), but other than that, my schedule is pretty open. I may go to Denali again (if I get the photographer's permit-- definitely!), or perhaps I may go down south to Kenai Fjords NP. Or up north to Wrangell St. Elias NP, the largest national park in the US. While the itinerary is still undecided, the planning is well underway. And a large part of the planning involves Google searches on locations, parks, maps, campgrounds and images of all of the above. Since I rely heavily on these searches and the blogs of other photographers and travelers, I thought I'd put something together about two of my favorite Denali NP campgrounds: Wonder Lake and Teklanika. This post will present photographs from my 8 days camping at Wonder Lake.

Days Spent at the Reflection Pond, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska

Wonder Lake Campground is at mile 85 of the Denali Park Road. Accessible by Camper Bus or a very long bike ride on the one road in the park. It's the closest campground to Denali, which is 26 miles away. The first couple of days that I was there the mountain was completely covered in clouds and I didn't know exactly where it was. I mean I knew it was in "that general direction over there", but I couldn't quite place it, which after seeing it feels really stupid. I tell people now that seeing The Mountain is like seeing God (whatever our personal concept of God is). How could you not know The Mountain was there? 

The Mountain, from the Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska

The Wonder Lake campground has 28 sites spread out along a gentle hillside. I imagine each site has stellar Denali views and my site (#14) looked right at the mountain. There is a covered, food storage area with common picnic tables and store rooms for food and gas/stoves. This was really nice as it offered shelter during rainy days and also served as a place to meet and chat with other campers. Wonder Lake itself is about 500 yards behind the campsite. A gravel road leads to the lake, but no path or trail leads around it. To get the iconic scene of Denali reflected in Wonder Lake you have to go back to the road and walk about 5 or 7 miles towards Kantishna. I think there's actually a hill called Ansel Adams Hill where you can see the mountain in the lake. For my reflection images I chose a couple of ponds that were 2.5 miles from the campsite. I walked to these spots every morning and evening for sunrise and sunset. Mornings until late August see the sun rise earlier than the bus pickup at Wonder Lake so if you want first light on the mountain, walking or cycling is the only way. I've heard that September's daybreak affords a more leisurely start and the bus could be an option. For sunset you could take the bus and ask to be dropped off, but you would have a long wait for last light. Also, your dinner would perhaps be earlier or later than you might like. 

Denali BlueDenali BlueA Japanese photographers who has been photographing the wildlife in Denali National Park since 2000 told me about a reflection pond that he liked to visit from time to time. His reason for liking the spot-- it was quiet. Well I like quiet too, so I decided to give it this spot a try. And I loved it. I think I went back every morning and every evening for five straight days. It is such a special place of high beauty and exquisite silence. In all five days, I never met anyone else. One morning, however, I did see a cow moose easing through the grasses on the pond's edge. And one night after photographing sunset I saw 4 moose, 3 porcupine, countless snow hare and a few stars on the two and one half mile walk back to my campsite.
On the morning that Denali Blue was taken, I thought for sure I would finally see The Mountain. But just as the clouds above were lifting definitively, a curtain of fog came up from below. It was like a magnificent trick played on my expectations. A lesson learned: have no expectations. Just hold joy in the heart and be glad that there are still such beautiful places and such quiet places left on our Earth.
Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali Blue, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska

Wildlife viewing at Wonder Lake was pretty spectacular. Every day I saw a moose. Some days a beautiful cow moose and other days one or two massive Bull Moose. One night walking back from the reflection pond I saw four different moose and ran from this one:

Big Ole Moose (Denali Days)Big Ole Moose (Denali Days)Denali National Park, Alaska

Big Ole Moose (Denali Days), Wonder Lake area of Denali NP

He liked to munch on the vegetation in the campground and if you waited long enough it's likely that you would see him walking between the tents, towards the lake or the through the vast fields of blueberries and tundra.

 

The moose rut was approaching and later in August the cows and the bulls begin to share the same spaces as they look for a suitable mate. One area of the park-- well away from Wonder Lake-- was closed to foot traffic as the bulls in that area were becoming aggressive.

Critters big and small in the Wonder Lake area of Denali NP. I also saw porcupines and a wolf! 

Denali WolfCall of the Wild (The Wolf in You)Denali National Park, Alaska
Call of the Wild was published to National Geographic's Daily Dozen on April 27, 2017. See more at the link below:
http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/daily-dozen/2017-04-27/

The abundant colors is what surprised me most about Denali. I guess I thought it would be just an expanse of snow, but it wasn't. Instead rich greens, reds and yellows met the eye pretty much everywhere you looked. I especially liked the grasses that grew around Wonder Lake.

A Gentle Wind Blows through the Late Alaskan SummerA Gentle Wind Blows through the Late Alaskan SummerDenali National Park, Alaska

Most of my time, however, was spent walking to the reflection ponds, waiting for the clouds to clear and walking back to my campsite. Here are a few more of these early mornings and late evenings:

Mt. Brooks, Wonder Lake area of Denali NP, Alaska

The Light Changes but the Clouds Don't Completely Clear

Alpen Glow on the Top of Denali, from the reflection pond near Wonder Lake, Denali NP, Alaska

Night Fall, Denali NP, Alaska

Of the three campsites where I pitched my tent in Denali NP Wonder Lake was my favorite. Teklanika Campground was my second favorite and Riley Creek Campground was a necessary stopping point at the beginning and middle, but nothing more than that. In the next post I'll share some photos from Teklanika.

Till then

Aloha,

Lee