Light Source Photography by Lee Scott: Blog en-us (C) Light Source Photography by Lee Scott (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:17:00 GMT Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:17:00 GMT Light Source Photography by Lee Scott: Blog 80 120 Good News from the Garden Island Aloha,

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

]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) hawaii kauai kauai photography north shore photo contest photography by lee scott pop the top press wave Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:16:58 GMT
Kauai Morning, Kauai Evening 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. 



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai beach hawaii hiking kauai kauai photography landscape nature nature photography north shore outdoors photography by lee scott poipu seascape sky sunset waves Tue, 06 Dec 2016 00:28:43 GMT
A Few More First Shots with the Zeiss 15mm Milvus 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!



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Driftwood Beach, Waimea Kauai Kauai West Side Salt Ponds Beach Park hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape nature photography by lee scott seascape Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:03:57 GMT
Getting the Feel For It-- Zeiss Milvus 15mm  

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. 




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai Zeiss 21mm Milvus Zeiss 21mm Milvus for Canon Zeiss Milvus 21mm lens beach hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape nature north shore ocean photography by lee scott seascape sky sunset water waves Wed, 30 Nov 2016 22:32:20 GMT
A Sense of Place "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.









]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Arizona Capitol Reef National Park Cathedral Valley Monument Valley Navajo Park Temple of the Moon Temple of the Sun Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon, Capitol Reef National Park Utah Zion National Park on the road photography by lee scott road trip travel photography wanderlust Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:16:36 GMT
Mahalo Kapa'a. Aloha Hanapepe! Aloha. Three years ago I opened my first photo gallery in Kapa'a. When I started the business I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But I showed up, continued to take pictures and things worked out well. But I was always looking for a new space to open a new gallery. So eight months ago when I opened my second gallery on Kauai's west side, in the eccentric art town of Hanapepe, I felt that I might have found a new home for Light Source. And last month I got the chance to make that feeling a reality. I completely renovated and expanded the Hanapepe location and am stoked to showcase my photography exclusively from this west side gallery. 

The timing is right, too. Since my lease in Kapa'a is up at the end of the month I know it's the right time to let that gallery go. So from May 9th, 2016 the Kapa'a location is officially closed. And I feel awesome about the decision. It was a great start, and I am incredibly thankful for the patrons who visited me there. But it is time to move on to bigger and better spaces. So the next time you are on Kauai come see me in Hanapepe town. I'll have more black and white images; more travel pics; and more nature photography from the magnificent US National Parks, beginning with a few of the parks in southern Utah. I leave tomorrow night for three weeks shooting in Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, Capitol Reef NP and a few places in between. I am really looking forward to the trip and am excited about showing you some of the results upon my return. In the meantime, let's celebrate. Let's celebrate three years in Kapa'a and welcome many, many more in Hanapepe. Let's have a SALE! All digitally signed prints are 30% OFF from now until JUNE 1st. Use the coupon code HANAPEPE30 at checkout.*

Here's a quick look at the new space in Hanapepe

Have an awesome day.




*All orders will be processed and shipped after I return from Utah June 1st. Thank you for your understanding.



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hanapepe Hanapepe, Kauai Light Source Photography by Lee Scott hawaii kauai nature nature photography photography by lee scott Mon, 09 May 2016 23:41:48 GMT
Planning a Shot

In this post I'll try to explain one of the approaches I often take when planning a shot. 

I'll think about a location, time of day/night, and what it is that I wish to express or communicate. What is it about the location that I find cool or interesting. What is it that I am trying to get people to relate to? 

In truth, these questions don't often come in one shoot. And they are even less likely to be answered on a single visit to a given location. I believe the strongest images come when a relationship with a place has been developed. Of course, sometimes it's love at first sight, and you get the shot then and there. But on (most?) other occasions, I find that a quality image comes with time spent together-- listening, observing, seeing. Creating. That's why I'll often just sit and watch before even taking the camera out of the bag. And that's why I go through the days shoot, looking critically at the work I did. There's no perfect picture, but there are certainly ideas and feelings that can be imperfectly conveyed through mistakes in composition, lighting, technique and settings. It's like sometimes, we (me and nature) were both there, but I misunderstood the conversation. Or perhaps, I just wasn't listening as well as I should have been. These are the times when I go back home and make notes like the one above. Put it in my pocket and hike out there again on another day.


You can see this series of hiking, shooting, reviewing, repeating, refining in the following pics.

Location: Heritage Trail (just beyond the stables and before Mahaulepu beach)

Time of Day: Sunrise

heritage trail 3.15, 16mm, f/7.1 @ 45sec. (ND filter)

I took this pic in March 2015. Ideas that I had after viewing it:


  1. the colors! the blues and the reds and how they work together in the scene!

Don't Likes

  1. water is a bit too calm-- i would like to see more movement and perhaps POWER in the scene. 
  2. sky-- too dull. to many clouds. too dark
  3. rock is too dark. needs light on it to brighten up the scene and really show the beauty of the golden red hues in the rock
  4. too soft around the edges

Next time try

  1. "Better" light
  2. Convey movement of the ocean
  3. tighter lens 
  4. ND OK


heritage trail 4.5.16, 24mm, f/6.3 @ 4 sec (ND filter)


  1. the colors of ocean
  2. colors of the rock
  3. combination of colors
  4. movement of the ocean seen in the lines under the rock

Don't Likes

  1. lens choice-- too tight. can't ease into the scene.
  2. no "drama" or eye candy in sky-- would be better to have more sky and perhaps clouds in the sky. everyone loves a few clouds!
  3. ocean too calm. Although the ND filter smooths the ocean would be better if there was a south swell (south shore!) or wind swell in the water (southeast location)

Next Time Try

  1. Go when there is ocean activity-- either a south swell or windy conditions that create wind swell so waves or ocean crashes against the cliff-- show how the cliff is remade and reshaped. forces of nature, elements of nature.
  2. Just after sunrise is best?
  3. No ND filter-- just a polarizer


So after two visits over a year apart I developed a strategy and a plan to shoot this rock that I sometimes call Westeros (in homage to Game of Thrones) and at other times Snaggle Tooth. Here is the basic plan that I thought out:

Location: Heritage Trail (beyond the stables, but before Mahaulepu Beach)

Time of Day: Sunrise-- soft, warm light to accentuate the color of rocks and lighten the color of the ocean

Weather: Clear or partly cloudy with Swell in the ocean

Wish to Communicate:

  1. Movement and patterns in the ocean (in keeping with my style) 
  2. force/power of the ocean to hint at it's role in shaping the coastline
  3. ocean color and depth
  4. colors of the Heritage Trail along Kauai's south shore
  5. pleasing sky (weather and proportion of sky within the composition)

Logistics for the shoot: 

  1. Wake up at 4am 
  2. Leave house by 4.45am
  3. Drive to Shipwrecks, park at public parking
  4. Begin hike around 5.30 am (no later than 5:45)
  5. be at location and set up by sunrise @ 6.20 am
  6. lens-- zeiss 21mm milvus (manual focus prime)

heritage trail 4.8.16, 21mm, f/16 @ 1/5 sec, circular polarizer

Fortunately I didn't have to wait too long for the conditions that I was looking for. The trade winds kicked up and brought 28-30 mph gusts along the northeast, east and south eastern shores. With winds like that, I knew I would have the chance to photograph a lively ocean. And I did. It's just that my favorite shots from the day have a little spray on the filter and the images are not as clear as I would like them to be. And secondly, there's one little shadow that I don't like. You can see it in the lower right corner in the picture below...

heritage trail 4.8.16, 21mm, f/16 @ 1/5 sec, circular polarizer

Hike, shoot, review, refine, repeat. 

Enjoy the work.

Keep at it.

Grind away.

After this shoot I felt like I was getting closer to what I wanted, but still not there. So the likes, don't likes and things to try again...


  1. Ocean color and movement (like a painting)
  2. Color of cliff
  3. Sky
  4. Lens choice

Don't Likes

  1. Spray on lens
  2. Not enough rock/cliff in foreground
  3. Shadow in right corner

Next Time Try

  1. Lens cap on until perfect light for shot. Stay disciplined
  2. more rock in foreground
  3. Keep aperture range and shutter speed range around f/13~ f/16 and 1/5 to .5 seconds
  4. Draw compositional ideas and take with (see sketch at beginning of post)


So after these shoots and sketches I went out again a couple of days later and this is what I saw:

heritage trail 4.11.16, 21mm, f/13 @ .5 sec, circular polarizer

Pretty good, but perhaps a little more light on the cliffs would be nice, too. What do you think?
Snaggle ToothSnaggle ToothThe Heritage Trail is full of sights like this one-- swirling blue waters and jagged, snuggle tooth cliffs.
Poipu, Kauai

Snaggle Tooth, 4.11.16, 21mm, f/13 @ 1/3 sec, circular polarizer

Likes-- everything :-)







]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Heritage Trail Kauai Kauai photographer Kauai photography Light Source Hanapepe Light Source Photography by Lee Scott Nature Photography Photo tips Poipu Pro Photo tips hiking Kauai nature ocean outdoors water Fri, 15 Apr 2016 02:10:31 GMT
Just a Few Splashes Not much for you today. Just a few splashes and views from Queen's Bath...

I call this entire area Queen's Bath, but Queen's Bath proper is just on the other side of the rock wall on the left. Obviously on a day like this one, with very high surf, you can't safely play in the tidal pools and baths that this area is famous for. 



One Morning At Queen'sOne Morning At Queen'sPrinceville, Kauai

I prefer to photograph this area in the evening, but went out in the morning for a change. Sometimes you gotta switch it up a bit to stay inspired. You know what I mean? A real challenge for me living and shooting on Kauai is seeing the same sights with new eyes. Shooting the same locations with a new perspective. Keep it fresh, yo. Mos def...

One great thing about shooting this location in the morning is it's easy to find a parking spot. During the middle of the day or at sunset, parking is a major issue (like many of Kauai's better known and quite fun locations).

One bad thing about shooting this location in the morning: much of the area will remain in shade until 10 am or so (during the winter months). I thought about using a grad nd filter, but ultimately chose against it because i didn't want the top of the splash to appear darker. But after looking at the pics, I think I might try it one day. A soft grad may not be that noticeable...

Random note-- I've taken my 24mm tilt shift down here on a day that was similar to this one, only more spray and salt flying around through the air. I got some pretty cool shots, playing around with the depth of field, but I don't think the spray and saltwater air was good for the finer movements of the tilt shift lens. These shots were all taken with a 24-70. Pretty useful on a trip to Kauai, I reckon.


Have a great day and happy shooting. If you go to Queen's Bath, please please check the surf report and use extreme caution. Be safe and have fun!



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai Queen's Bath hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape nature north shore photography by lee scott waves Fri, 22 Jan 2016 02:02:26 GMT
Wild Horses Run-- Waves and Imaginings Wild Horses RunWild Horses RunPrinceville, Kauai

Wild Horses Run, Princeville, Kauai

Little FujiLittle FujiA wave rises like a little mountain. Hokusai had it right.
Princeville, Kauai

Little Fuji, Princeville, Kauai

El Nino has brought us waves. Warning level swell and wave after wave have been rolling in to the North Shore almost from the beginning of January to the present. Today, too, brings new Warning Level surf and forecasts show yet another Warning Level North West Swell arriving Sunday. I love photographing waves, but sometimes when it gets to Warning Level size (20+ foot faces) choosing where to shoot (safely) becomes a real challenge. 

Usually with these really big swells the waves break far off shore, in the deeper waters, making it difficult to photograph from the beach. Another consideration with the big swells is coastal flooding, storm surge, and a basic "washing machine" effect that turns some of my favorite beaches into a chaotic frothy mess of rushing white water and foam. Not good for camera gear or wallets and cell phones that are tucked away in back pockets! 

Bluffs and coastal overlooks offer good vantage points of the large surf, but lava shelves are even better. Only thing is, these shelves are much lower and therefore much more dangerous than the higher positions. I guess it just comes down to risk versus reward and to your own personal comfort level. Me, I like the lava shelves, but I'll only go to a few of them and only the highest ones during Warning Level Swell. These photos were all taken at eastern side of the Queen's Bath area lava shelf, well to the right of the waterfalls. I didn't even venture to the western side as it was just too dangerous. Again, risk versus reward.


Down the LineDown the Line

Down the Line, Princeville, Kauai


I often wonder how many different colors of blue is the ocean? And how many different colors is the ocean? It trips me out when people come into the gallery and look at an image of the ocean and ask, "Did you add color to that?" or "Is that the real color?" I try to just say something like, "Thanks for asking. I'm glad you like it. Yes, all of the colors are authentic to the experience. It all depends on the light. And of course, when dealing with water, the volume, depth, movement and what's underneath." But what I really want to say is, Have you ever been to the ocean??? Just go and look at it. Spend time near her. Sit with her in all weather and seasons and light and then come back to me. The photographer is not really concerned with what you have seen or experienced. In many ways, their responsibility is to show you what is possible. So the seascape photographer should show you all the different colors of the ocean. And try to communicate the wonderful experience of discovery.


White Water and LightWhite Water and Light White Water and Light, Princeville, Kauai

Looking back at all of these pictures I am reminded of the best movie I saw in 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road. The rolling waves spread throughout the ocean are like Furiosa and the pole boys journey through the Namib and Australian deserts. The spray and rip curl are like the dust behind the totally gonzo machines of that epic ride. I was totally unprepared for the colors, movement and sounds of Fury Road. Sitting in the theater was like paddling out into a huge swell that simply takes your breath away. I've recently rematched the movie a couple of times on HBO and love it still. The cinematography and direction are outstanding. The themes of gender equality and ecological genocide are important for our times. And the flame throwing guitar playing hood ornament and taiko drums are fucking awesome.




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) BW photography Hawaii Kauai Mad Max: Fury Road Mad Max: Fury Road review black and white photography hawaii kauai kauai photography metaphors nature north shore ocean photography outdoors photography by lee scott seascape seascapes waves Thu, 21 Jan 2016 01:32:04 GMT
A Few Black and White Photos from Time Recently Spent in the Canyon and Koke'e Over the past couple of weeks I've spent quite a bit of time hiking in Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Parks. My time in Waimea Canyon has been spent mostly on the Canyon Trail, and of course, Waimea Canyon Drive-- that beautiful winding road that leads up the parks and cools you off with each gently sloping switchback. 

Passing Showers along Waimea Canyon Drive (bw)Passing Showers along Waimea Canyon Drive (bw)Winter showers sweep over the ocean towards Niihau as the sun sets lower. Soon both Niihau and the sun will be blocked by the quickly moving clouds.
Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai

Passing Showers along Waimea Canyon Drive (bw), Waimea, Kauai

I took the above photo just before sunset on Tuesday December 22. My wife and I drove up to the canyon for some fresh air and on the way down, stopped to watch the clouds play with sun. The island in the distance is Niihau or the "Forbidden Island." It's privately owned by the Robinson Family, and I've heard that you must have an invitation to visit. Other than that, I don't know much about it. As far as picture taking goes, I think it is best to shoot Niihau from various turnouts along Waimea Canyon Dive, and I find winter light best because the sun sets just off Niihau's western edge (left of frame).

One of my favorite trees on island-- this Australian Paperbark Tree-- is literally right behind where I stood for the Niihau shot above. Turn around, cross the road, and there she is. This is the same tree in one of my top selling photos-- Koke'e Night Sky. It's interesting to see how much it has grown in the last year or so. That's one reason why photography is so amazing-- everything changes. Nature is always moving. Our feelings are always changing. And so too our perspective-- if we have an open mind. Openness and the belief that we know nothing. And an understanding that our personal experience-- no matter how varied-- is always limited.

  Waimea Canyon DriveWaimea Canyon DriveWaimea, Kauai

Road Trip (Waimea Canyon Drive), Waimea, Kauai

One of the things I miss about the mainland is the great american road trip. There are some days I'd just love to hop in the truck and drive to a completely new place with completely new (and fresh!) scenery. Especially now as I am researching for a photo trip to southern Utah. Oh the distances to be covered! Is it any wonder that one of my all-time favorite books is On the Road by Jack Kerouac? 


A couple of Ohia Trees. The first one is around the Alakai Swamp trailhead. And the second is along the Canyon Trail. I find such grace and dignity in these wiry trees. They grow in somewhat harsh environments and have such beautiful red flowers, full of such energy and defiance(?). It's almost as if they shake their spindly petals at the wind and say, you won't deter me! I will grow! I will grind! I will be! :-) (Perhaps a little too much personal personification, there....).


If you've ever pulled off to the side of the road to look at a two-tiered waterfall flowing into the northwest corner of Waimea Canyon, then you've seen Waipo'o Falls. And if you've ever hiked the Canyon Trail, then you've probably stood right here, smiling with the sound of Waipo'o Falls rushing by (in winter) or maybe you've even hopped onto the rocks in the middle of the falls to get a killer view of the canyon (in summer). Either way, the Canyon Trail is a fun hike any time of the year. Just be prepared for slick, muddy conditions in winter, and drier conditions in summer. 


Over the years I've probably taken hundreds of pictures of the boardwalks lying along the Alakai Swamp Trail. It's one of my most favorite hikes on the island. Through jungle and forest and eventually swamp, it leads you through a surreal landscape that ends with this view:


Aloha and Melekalikimaka!



All photos in this blog entry were taken in the last two weeks (December 12-24, 2015) except the first Ohia Tree which was taken in the middle of November 2015. 

]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Alakai Swamp Trail Hawaii Kauai Kilohana Lookout Waimea Canyon Waimea Canyon Drive Waimea Canyon State Park Waipoo Falls black and white photography hawaii hiking hiking Kauai kauai kauai photography landscape landscape photography nature nature photography photography by lee scott trails waterfalls Thu, 24 Dec 2015 22:00:11 GMT
7 Kauai Hikes Not Named The Kalalau Trail (part 3) Aloha and welcome back to 7 Kauai Hikes Not Named the Kalalau Trail. Today's entry is part 3 in the series and covers one hike that I relish and one hike that I don't. First, the relish--

​The Alakai Swamp Trail-- 8 miles, moderately difficult (beginning from the Alakai Swamp Trail Head, but difficult from the Pihea Trail Head)

crossroads (on the path)Crossroads (On the Path)this photo shows the intersection of the pihea trail and alakai swamp trail in koke'e state park.
koke'e state park, kauai

OK. Here's the deal. This is one of my all time favorite hikes. You can begin it at the Pihea Trailhead at end of Waimea Canyon Drive or if you have 4WD you can start from the Alakai Swamp Trailhead near Sugi Grove Campground. If you start from the Pihea Trail expect a muddy and slippery first mile and a half. But you will have awesome views into the Kalalau Valley during that first difficult mile. As amazing as those views are, I prefer beginning from the Alakai Swamp Trailhead for a couple of reasons. One, I like wheeling. Two, it's easier. Three, it's faster, which is often important if you are trying to get shots at either end of golden hour.

The Alakai Swamp Trail may be the greenest trail on Kauai. It is filled with vegetation and plant life. The smells are amazing on this hike. The air is so fresh. The ground so rich. The varieties leaves and shades of green that you will see is just spectacular. It's like walking into a different landscape and every time I go up there I am amazed that I am on the same island that I woke up on. It is just so different from anything else on Kauai. It is often cloudy and wet on the hike, but this seems to add a hint of mystery to the adventure. About half of the trail is covered in boardwalk which makes it easier on my knees than some of Kauai's other trails. But at 8 miles with some elevation change and one stream to cross, it can be a long and difficult hike. But so much fun!


which do you like? the straight and narrow?


or the twisty turny?

On clear days you may possibly see Hanalei and the Wainiha Valley at the Kilohana Lookout, the trail's end. I hiked The Alakai Swamp Trail 6 times before I finally saw Hanalei and it's a trip. I was like, "That's Hanalei!" That's the north shore! But I'm all the way up here in Koke'e! It's so strange to think that you've driven 2 and half hours, hiked 4 miles just to see one of the places on the island that you know so well. But not from this perspective. Not from this vantage point. And not from this altitude. I remember looking down onto Hanalei and thinking, "What a perfect shape. The place is magic.

Hanalei Bay under the clouds, a little circle filled in in blue and surrounded in green.




The Wainiha Valley seen from the Kilohana Lookout at the end of The Alakai Swamp Trail.


A rare day on the Alakai Swamp Trail when there wasn't a cloud in the sky. 


Now for the hike that-- I gotta be honest-- I don't like that much. It's a good hike and all and it has great views, but it hurts my knees. It's just too much straight downhill on very loose or potentially loose red, Waimea Canyon dirt. I had a shredded meniscus removed from my right knee about 3 years ago long descending hikes are tough on me. It seems that I can take elevation drops and gains better when they are disturbed throughout the hike, rather than all at once downhill. And when you add in the many bugs and insects in the jungle-forrest at the bottom of the canyon this trail just doesn't do it for me. It is

The Kukui Trail-- 5 miles, difficult, Waimea Canyon

The Kukui Trail doesn't really have a parking area, but there is a little stretch of road between mile marker 8 and 9 on Waimea Canyon Drive where hikers park their cars. It's easy to miss and so is the Kukui Trail sign so be on the lookout. The trail begins at a short nature loop, which also offers nice views into Waimea Canyon. Once on the trail you begin descending almost immediately as you wind your way through Koa and Lehua Trees. Once out of the forest the views open up and the soil gets drier and more brittle. Watch your footing! On this trail, trekking poles are especially useful!

The inside walls of Waimea Canyon shine brightly in the light of the new sun. Check out Waipo'o Falls in the distance, too.


​The Kukui Trail descends from the rim of Waimea Canyon to the Waimea River 2 and one half miles below.


The trail leads you off the red dirt and into the green forest below where tons of mosquitos play. There are some cool side trails down by the river and they are definitely worth exploring, but I really have spent too much time adventuring down there. Maybe one day we explore it together. 

For photography I find the light in Waimea Canyon to be the most difficult of anywhere on island. Perhaps I am being a tad persnickety, but be forewarned-- patience and effort are a virtue. (Side tangent-- anytime someone says to me Right Place. Right Time. I respond back-- Right Preparation. Right Effort. Right Patience make it look like Right Place. Right Time. :-) ).

  Next time we'll continue on our hiking tour with the final two trails of 7 Kauai Hikes Not Named the Kalalau Trail. Stay tuned and happy trails!



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai hawaii hiking kauai kauai photography landscape landscape photography nature nature photography outdoors photography by lee scott Thu, 16 Jul 2015 23:33:41 GMT
7 Kauai Hikes Not Named The Kalalau Trail (part 2) Alright, to review-- 7 Kauai Hikes Not Named the Kalalau Trail is all about getting to know a few of the other and also outstanding hikes on Kauai. Everyone knows the Kalalalu Trail and while it is indeed an awesome hike I'd like to introduce a couple of other hikes to hopefully ease our collective footprint on Ke'e, Haena and the far north shore. I think, too, that adventuring out to some of the other trails on the island will further develop our relationship and love for Kauai. Part 1 introduced two easy hikes-- the Okolehao Trail and Sleeping Giant. This edition will introduce an easy south shore hike-- The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail in Poipu.

The Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail-- Poipu, about 4 miles roundtrip (???), easy

graced by timegraced by timepinnacles

This is my favorite place on the south shore and I really like this hike. It's by far the easiest hike of the 7 and the easiest to get to-- just drive to Shipwrecks (Keoneloa Bay) and park in the small public lot right next to the Hyatt. The trail begins at Shipwrecks beach. Climb up on the bluff and walk south towards Maha'ulepu beach. The entire hike is coastal, leisurely and quite easy. The footing is a little unstable in some areas, but the real dangers are the heat (especially in midday) and falling off the many seaside bluffs that are actually lithified sand dunes. So be careful! (That's what Naomi always says to me before I go out there :-) ). The photo above is from an area about 20 minutes into the trail called The Pinnacles. The photo below was taken on top of Makahuena (the bluff at the south end of Shipwrecks). It is the southernmost tip of Kauai and cool place to watch the ocean and sky with a cup of coffee. 



Great views and the trail is just beginning! This trail is also a popular running circuit so if you are a runner or just enjoy a quick jog in nature definitely lace 'em up and have a go. The first 1/2 mile or so is a little sandy and there are many offshoots zigzagging through the dunes, but remember all roads lead to Rome or in this case Maha'ulepu. 

The summer brings big waves to the south shore and this hike is a great place to watch the ocean churn and bang against the coastline. On a sunny day the waters are a beautiful turquoise blue. This stretch of the southern rocky coast has perhaps the most beautiful ocean water on Kauai. My only complaint about the trail is that it borders the Poipu Bay Golf Course, and their is one section of about 200 yards where you have to walk along the edge of the artificial and intrusive (in my mind) course. You'll also pass the stables where paniolos can go horseback riding and experience the south shore like a real cowboy.

Looking towards Maha'ulepu beach on a cloudy morning at sunrise. This spot is just past the stables.

deep blue south shore waters and a carved coastline under a sky of clouds. They say that Poipu is the sunny south shore, but when I go I always seem to get my share of clouds! Maybe I bring them with me from the north shore!!!

A red sky at dawn welcomes Naomi and I as we wait for the sun to rise. Pretty much any southeast facing point along the trail is a good place to catch sunrise, but  not sunset as the trail takes you further away from the west. 


The beach at Maha'ulepu near the end of the trail is one of the most secluded beaches on the island. Get there early and you will likely have the place all to yourself. On windy days Maha'ulepu is a popular place for kite surfing. There is no lifeguard so be careful, know your limits, and understand that the currents out here are predictably heavy and strong. 

There is so much that I could say about this hike. I definitely think it is one of the best on the island. Easily accessible, not difficult, amazing colors along the trail, rich in culture and history. It's just a fantastic walk. And if you would like more information on the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail please, visit this incredibly informative link at There you'll find much more info on the flora, fauna and archeology of the area.




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Mahaulepu Mahaulepu Heritage Trail Poipu beach hawaii hiking kauai kauai photography nature photography by lee scott south shore Sat, 11 Jul 2015 21:53:17 GMT
7 Kauai Hikes Not Named The Kalalau Trail (part 1) The Kalalau Trail is the most famous hike on Kauai and in the summertime the trail-- and especially the parking lots and road from Haena to Ke'e-- gets incredibly busy. I would even suggest that from 10am to around 4pm parking is a disaster out there. And the trail, too, may be suffering from overuse. One of the great things about Kauai is the sense of seclusion that the island gives. Her nature is so vast and so varied that you can often find yourself alone in her nurturing beauty. But with the summertime crowds and the growing popularity of the Kalalalu Trail (especially to Hanakapi'ai beach), you may want to try other hikes around the island in order to commune peacefully with Mama Kauai. Visiting other trails will help to more evenly distribute our adventure footprint as well as enhance our perspective and understanding of this amazing island as we begin to see her from different views. By exploring her other paths our relationship with the island deepens. 

The 7 Hikes that I will introduce below are of varying levels of difficulty, but it must be said most are in the moderate to difficult range. The reason being, I just don't know that many easy hikes on Kauai. The heat, elevation gain/loss, and length make most hikes on the island moderately difficult. However, all of the  hikes listed below are fun(!) and there are a few moderately easy ones, too. So without further adieux

7 Kauai Hikes Not Named the Kalalau Trail

  1. The Okolehau Trail-- North Shore
  2. Sleeping Giant (Nounou)-- East Side
  3. The Heritage Trail-- South Shore
  4. The Alakai Swamp Trail-- Koke'e State Park
  5. The Kukui Trail-- Waimea Canyon State Park
  6. Honopu Ridge Trail-- Koke'e State Park (not maintained)
  7. Kohua Trail-- Waimea Canyon State Park (requires 4 Wheel Drive Vehicle to access trailhead)


The Okolehao Trail-- Hanalei, moderately easy (to the small hill where the aloha bench used to be, much more difficult once you get to the ropes), 3.5miles roundtrip (to the small hill where the aloha bench used to be (you'll know it when you get there))

The Okolehao Trail is a north shore hike that begins in the Hanalei River Valley. Awesome views of Hanalei Bay are the reward for a mile and half uphill jaunt. Although the trail continues up the ridge-- well past the small hill where the "aloha bench" used to sit-- I always turn around after taking in the vista in the photo above. To go further requires climbing some ropes. Go for it if that's your thing. If you do, then the hike jumps into the difficult category. I've listed this hike as moderately easy, but it is a long uphill climb that can be hard on the knees. Especially the descent. And when it it wet, the first mile and the last mile can be very slippery. For photo ops, you can get sunset pics-- looking towards Hanalei Bay-- and sunrise pics looking east (see photos below).



There are all kinds of different plants along the trail, and my favorite section is this area where the trail is lined by cook pine trees.  For me this section is the highlight of the trail. So fresh! :-)



Other things to look for on the Okolehao Trail are the soft fluffy grasses, dragon fiies, wild orchids, and frogs! 

To get to the trail head go north to Hanalei and turn left immediately after crossing the one lane bridge over the Hanalei River. Continue straight on the one lane country road for about a mile until you see a small parking lot on the left. Park there and the trail begins across the road on the right. You'll see a sign that reads OKOLEHAO. Afterwards, head into Hanalei town for some refreshments or better yet take a dip at Hanalei Bay. The cool pacific waters will help heal the legs after all of the climbing you just did!


Sleeping Giant (Nounou)-- Wailua, 4-5 miles roundtrip, moderately easy


Pretty much guaranteed views of sunrise over Wailua and Kapa'a await you along the Sleeping Giant Trail. You can begin the trail from three different locations, but I always start from the trailhead off of Haleilio Rd. This is another easy hike, probably easier than the Okolehao Trail. And like the Okolehao Trail you can continue your adventure if you are willing to climb a little into (potentially) harm's way. There is an official "end of trail" sign but you can easily hike beyond that and climb up onto the Sleeping Giant's face, head and nose. I like to hike this trail in the morning before Kapa'a and Wailua wake up. This trail is so close to the city that you will hear the traffic below you during the day, but it's still pretty cool to be up on a mountain that you see all the time as you drive through the east side of the island. Once on top you can look into the interior and see Kawaikini and Waiale'ale to the west; Kalalea and Kapa'a to the north; Wailua to the east; and Lihue to the south. A good first day hike for anyone staying on the east side because it lets you stretch your legs and gives you a good idea of the lay of the land.





The official trail ends at a picnic area on top. The trail is straightforward from top to bottom and there is only one area that is tricky. You'll notice it in the first 15 minutes of the hike (coming from the Haleilio Rd parking area). Along the way you'll find a bench where you may rest and gaze up to where you are heading. 


Part two will pick up with another easy hike, The Heritage Trail to Mahaulepu.

Till then, happy hiking. And if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section. Mahalo!

Aloha and respect,



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai hawaii hiking kauai kauai photography landscape nature north shore photography by lee scott Fri, 10 Jul 2015 01:09:19 GMT
Sunset Hike along the Nualolo Trail to the Napali Coast the nualolo, f/6.3, 1/60sec, iso 100, 24mm ts-e, 5d3

I have thought about hiking The Nualolo Trail at sunset for a while now and finally decided to do it. I've written about The Nualolo Trail before so I won't go into a lot of detail about the hike itself here, but rather about the the experience of hiking in for sunset and then hiking out in the dark. And like always I'll also include a few pics. :-)

I'd been researching on TPE for a couple of months, trying to find a time when the sun may shine into the Nualolo Valley. I felt that anytime around the summer solstice to July 10th or so would give a good opportunity, but I really couldn't tell for sure. I looked at maps and satellite images on TPE and tried to decipher if the sun would make through the pali, but I just wasn't sure. To be totally honest I kinda doubted that the sun would ever set far enough north to shine into the various valleys of the Napali Coast from the angle of the Lolo Vista. But hey, we are photographers and explorers. Adventures. Kings and Queens of "You never know" what you'll see. You never know what you will feel. Some would say, "That's why you take the camera." I say, "That's why you go (you always take the camera!)."

don't look down, f/7.1, 1/40sec, iso 100, 24mm ts-e, 5d3

So with mind made up I met up with a  friend and decided to give it a go. We planned our hike with the full moon. That way we would have a little light in the sky to help us find our back if either one of our headlamps failed. I also thought I may take a picture of the full moon on the way back, which proved to be a silly idea (I was way too tired to take any pics on the back!). We did see a small moonbow on the hike back, but we just took it in with our eyes and let it please the soul. Just experience it. Sometimes theres on need to keep it.

slippery slope to blue, f/9, 1/40sec, iso 100, 24mm ts-e, 5d3

We arrived at Koke'e state park around 2.30 pm and started on the hike about 15 to 3. I don't know how we did it, but we flew down the trail and arrived at the  Lolo Vista at around 4.30-- three hours before sunset. We planned to just chill in the shade of a tree, but once there we immediately began scouting and composing. We actually ended up going well beyond the "End of Trail" marker at the Lolo Vista as we thought it would give a better perspective, showing the length of coastline and, later, more direct low light of the Napali Coast (and perhaps even the cathedrals of Kalalau). 


no need to race, f/14, 1/15sec, iso 100, 24mm ts-e, 5d3

Initially, the cloud cover over the mountainous coastline was quite heavy. But as the evening progressed the clouds diminished and began to match the near cloudless horizon over our shoulders. Our hopes of golden light being reflected off strawberry blonde clouds slowly began to vanish above while shadows began creeping into the valleys below. Pretty much as I expected, the sunlight wasn't going to make into the Nualolo, but what about the other valleys further down the Napali Coast? We would just have to wait and see.


how close is too close?

The shadows were really beginning to creep into the canyon and valleys by this point in the evening, so I decided to switch lenses and scope down the Napali Coast as the sun began to lower and the air began to cool. I brought two lenses on the hike-- a 24mm TSE prime. It is a manual focus only lens and has tilt/shift capabilities. The other lens that I carried with me proved to be the most useful-- a 70-200mm zoom.  Any zoom is a heavy lens on any hike, but I definitely think it is worth the extra effort. It's got an extremely convenient range, image stabilization and actually when connected to a camera fits snugly and carries quite nicely in my pack. If you are on a long hike or an especially demanding one, I would recommend pairing with camera for the hike. I definitely find it easier to carry this way. Of course, I also carried a tripod, as well as a remote shutter release (which I used) and nd filters (which I did not). Extra shirt, towel, toilet paper, extra batteries (for camera and headlamp), extra memory cards, first aid kit, rain jacket, camera strap, head lamp and hiking poles. You may notice, missing from this list is WATER! Can you believe it!? I forgot my water. I left it in the cooler in my friend's truck. Luckily my friend-- he of the "Let's set up the tripod on a 2,000 foot crumbly dirt ledge!"-- had three liters of water with him so my life was saved! :-) Thank you Ken!

shadows fill in as the green coast extends, f/7.1, 1/50sec, iso 100, 70-200mm@85mm, 5d3

The Napali Coast at Sunset Seen from the NualoloThe Na Pali Coast at Sunset Seen from the NualoloA four mile long sunset hike along the Nualolo Trail led me to this magnificent view of Kauai's famed Napali Coast. I hiked back in the light of the full moon and headlamp with my mind and body full of nature's mana.
The Lolo Vista, Nualolo Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai
the napali coast at sunset, f/16, .5sec, iso 100, 70-200@140mm, 5d3

Pretty much after I took the shot above, the entire coastline turned to shade. We figure that the angle of the extremely low sun just didn't allow it to penetrate through or around the pails of the Nualolo, Awaawapuhi, Honopu, Kalalau, et al. It was really surprising, but as adventures of the unknown you never know until you do. 

lehua and niihau from the lolo vista, f/6.3, 1/30sec, iso 100, 70-200mm@200mm, 5d3

Before walking out onto the Lolo vista we agreed that we would not wait on the ledge beyond golden hour. No matter how much we wanted to to shoot blue hour on the coast, we both felt that we needed to get off the "dangerous" portion of trail before complete darkness fell. There was one tricky section that we both felt more comfortable navigating with a little ambient light so with a final click we turned to go. The way out took a little longer than the way in. Our headlamps worked brilliantly and we got back to the truck, tired and thirsty (oops!) just before 10pm. It was a good hike. Seven Hours and seven minutes from start to finish. It was a good experience, and I'm glad I did it. Mahalo mama Kauai!

sunset from the nualolo, f/16, 1/15sec, iso 100, 70-200@200mm, 5d3




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai Nualo Trail Nualolo Canyon Nualolo Valley The Nualolo Trail hawaii hiking kalalau kalalau trail kauai kauai photography landscape nature photography by lee scott seascape sunset the Napali Coast Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:37:43 GMT
Four Minute Sunset Four Minute Sunset, Tunnels, Kauai, Hawaii. 16mm. f16, 240 seconds, iso 100. LEE Big Stopper ND Filter, Lee Polarizer Filter.  


I've been thinking a lot about composition recently. I was out shooting a couple of weeks ago and the light and subject were good, but as I  reviewed the shots, I kept thinking that I should have done better. You ever have that feeling? Like everything was good, except you? I felt like going back to the scene and saying to the ocean, mountains, sky and sun, "It's not you. It's me. Really. You're perfect. I just need a little time." So what to do? Gotta up my game, I guess. So here I am, thinking about composition.

As you may know, I'm a self taught photographer. I've never taken a class on photography. I've never attended a photography workshop. The only art class that i  have ever taken was a Modern Art class sophomore year at Ole Miss. Colors, spacial patterns and relationships have just been kinda intuitive for me. And I always feel that any "photography rule" can be broken at any time. But still sometimes when I review a session I feel that, for whatever reason, I missed it. Compositionally, I just wasn't able to communicate the experience in a pleasing manner. So here I am thinking about composition.

These thoughts led me to the ever dangerous and sometimes helpful internet. I pulled up Outdoor Photographer and found a landscape photographer by the name of Ian Plant who has written a well received book on composition called Visual Flow

Well there you go, I thought. Time to get busy and do a little study. So I downloaded the creative bundle and soon began reading a really good ebook on compositional techniques and explanation. 

I finished the book a few days ago and recommend it to anyone interested in concepts and principals of composition. What I appreciated most was the inspiration and teachings that Mr. Plant drew from various works of Art-- Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Hokusai, Turner, etc... I also enjoyed seeing the many different places where he and co-creater Geroge Stocking have photographed. Yes, it's a good book. Helpful, too, I think.

So with my head full of concepts and terminology to support what I have always left to intuition I went out to Tunnels, looking for a few things:

One, I wanted to photograph sunset.

Two, I wanted to include the curve of Makana Ridge

Three, I wanted to somehow relate the uniqueness of my visit (that particular moment) to the photograph.

Four, I wanted to find something in the foreground to mirror the shape or abstractly refer to the contours of makana ridge.

Five, I wanted to apply "atmospheric perspective" (i read it in the book!)-- basically I wanted to come away with at least one photograph where I placed the focus on the nearer object and let the sun or makana mountain appear "less distinct." (I often place focus on distant objects as I wish to lead the viewer to that point of the scene. So I was gonna try some new things!).

As I was walking the beach thinking of these things I kinda felt like Bob Dylan. You know Maggies Farm? "I got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane."



Vortex, Tunnels, Kauai, Hawaii. 16mm, f/11, 30 seconds, iso 100, LEE Big Stop Filter, LEE Polarizer Filter.


I scouted out the location like I always do, this time I was specifically looking for contours, leading lines and or triangles (triangles!? you may ask. read the book!). Low tide was to pretty much coincide with sunset so I knew that I would be able to use some portion of the exposed reef in the composition. That's what  I initially planned and I thought I had all the elements here (in the photo above)-- diagonal lines for energy, repetition of triangular shapes for stability and perhaps a nice "counterpoint" to makana in the triangular shaped reef/rock in the foreground. So after this shot I was just going to wait for the sun to lower and the light to turn golden. 

I was feeling pretty good about myself. Yes, sir, I studied a book, applied the principles and got a good picture. Well done, Lee. But then, as I was waiting, I began to look around. Oh, the world is a big place indeed. I always tell people that a photograph doesn't just sit around and wait, they observe. They put their time waiting to good use. And what i discovered was a second portion of reef that was before mostly submerged was beginning to show dry. 


Beginning to Show Dry, Tunnels, Kauai, Hawaii. 16mm, f/6.3, 1/125 second, iso 100, LEE Polarizer Filter.


At this point I decided to leave the tripod where it stood and took the camera off for a little hand held exploring. And I just fell in love with this portion of reef. I photographed it from all kinds of different angles with makana in the background and came up the shot that opened this blog-- Four Minute Sunset. Here it is again,



The compositional elements that I was looking for are all there-- foreground interest, counterpoint, and directional cue are all in the seaweed covered reef; makana's angularity and pleasant curves are well represented; and a sense of the unique moment are revealed in the exposed reef (an occurrence that only happens during extreme low tides). I chose a long exposure shot with an ND filter to smooth out the ocean, pull light lines out and to add a little depth and energy to a somewhat empty sky. Also, I just like long exposures. :-)

Once the sun set below the thick line of clouds I changed lenses and abandoned atmospheric perspective and focused directly on the sun as it balanced itself on the blue horizon (image below).



Setting Spring Sun, Tunnels, Kauai, Hawaii, 24mm, f/13, 1/25 second, iso 100, B+W Circular Polarizer Filter.


Even though this shot is a lot tighter and the exposure time is much shorter, compositionally it is very similar to Four Minute Sunset. I kept the foreground element and counterpoint to Makana (green reef); the bumps along the green reef mirror the bumps and points of Makana, adding (I think) symmetry to the scene. Overall this one is nice, but I am most proud of the first one.

I think the curves of Makana and the glassy ocean from the long exposure soften the scene and symbolize Kauai's nurturing energy and mellow vibes. At least for me. 

I'll try to write more about compositions as my study continues. 

I hope you enjoyed the blog and the pics. 



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai Visual Flow Visual Flow by Ian Plant beach composition compositional techniques in photography hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape long exposure nature nature photography north shore photography by lee scott seascape sky sunset zen Mon, 06 Apr 2015 00:14:57 GMT
The Kohua Ridge Trail and Cloud Atlas  

Cloud Atlas, Kohua Ridge Trail, Waimea Canyon, Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii


I hiked the Kohua Ridge Trail (Tuesday) and finished reading Cloud Atlas (Monday) so this blog will be a mixture of the two. Probably not any near as eloquent as David Mitchell, but bear with me. 

The above photo, which I took from the end of the Kohua Trail, will serve as a visual guide to the most beautiful ideas that I found in Mitchell's masterpiece on time and transmigration.

Cloud Atlas may be the most inventive book I have ever read. True, it is not an easy read, but it is enjoyable and incredibly rewarding. I want to quote from the section set on the Big Island many years in the future, which in Cloud Atlas terminology, is many winters "after the fall." Zachary, a helper in the book, lies exhausted in the bottom of a canoe looking up at the Hawaiian sky

​I watched clouds wobbly from the floor o' that kayak. Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an' tho' a cloud's shape nor hue nor size don't stay the same, it's still a cloud an' so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud's blowed from or who the soul'll be 'morrow? 

Once I saw the clouds at the end of the trail, I knew I wanted to show them, crossing the skies; changing shapes; and generally being blown about like souls in lives. 

Cloud Atlas is a beautiful book and highly recommended.



seen on a morning drive, waimea, kauai, hawaii


The Kohua Trail begins about two miles into the Na Pali-Kona Forrest Reserve off the 4x4 only Mohihi Camp Road (about 7 miles from the tarmac and Koke'e Lodge). The trail is relatively short-- 5 miles roundtrip-- but extremely varied. You'll walk through rich Koa and Lehua forests, smaller sections of Cedar and the occasional African Tulip. 


lehua trees along mohihi camp road about halfway to the kohua ridge trailhead, koke'e state park, kauai, hawai


The trail crosses a stream early on, and then climbs and descends through softly padded sections of earth covered with Koa leaves, wild flowers and a variety of moss. 


A typical Kohua Ridge trail scene, Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii



Koa tree leaves flank the trail, and in some places are so heavy that you must push them back with both arms as you progress along the seldom hiked trail, Kohua Ridge Trail, Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii


After about two miles or so, the trail begins to open up and you realize that you are walking on a ridge that is right in the middle of the majestic, red and green Grand Canyon of the Pacific.


Clouds and Canyon-- the view from the Kohua Trail Vista (don't know if you can see him or not, but the tiny black speck on the lower left is a wild goat that was just rambling along the lower (dangerous) ridge), Kauai, Hawaii 


We hung out here for nearly and hour, just watching the clouds cross the sky like souls traveling through time. All total we were out on the trail for 5 hours and didn't meet another hiker the entire time. During the way back, Naomi told me a story about one of her friend's boys who said to nature once, "Thanks for having us." Indeed, thanks for having us. 


Lines on Bark, Kohua Trail, Kauai, Hawaii



Fingers Crossed, "Angel" moss on lehua tree along the Kohua Trail, Kauai, Hawaii 




Usually when we hike in Koke'e we plan on camping for the night. Recently we've been pitching our tent and stringing our hammock at the Kawaikoi Stream campsite. This site, and the nearby Sugi Grove campsite, both require a vehicle with four wheel drive (and preferably a little lift, too). But the campsite near the Koke'e Lodge has many tent only sites that offer privacy, tables, and water. We've spent many a pleasant night there, as well. Either way, if you do decide to camp, please purchase your permit through the Hawaii State Camping Reservation System at It's fast, easy and the nominal permit fee helps to maintain the upkeep of our state parks. Mahalo for your kokua!




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Kohua Ridge Trail Kohua Trail Vista Koke'e State Park Waimea Canyon Waimea Canyon hikes hawaii hiking hiking Hawaii hiking Kauai hiking in Koke'e State Park kauai kauai photography nature outdoors photography by lee scott sky trekking Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:21:17 GMT
jungle hike to hanakapi'ai falls FecundFecundHanakapi'ai Falls, Hanakapi'ai Valley, Kauai

hanakapi'ai falls, kauai, hawaii


A couple of weeks ago Naomi and I hiked to hanakapi'ai falls. The trail is probably the most hiked trail on kauai and all of the guide books talk about it so I want do too much here other than post a few pics of what we saw during our 8 mile jungle excursion.


Zen StonesZen Stonesa stack of stones, known as a cairn, at hanakapi'ai beach mark two miles on the kalalau trail.
Hanakapi'ai Beach, Kauai

zen stones, hanakapi'ai beach, kauai, hawaii


Two miles in and you are at hanakapi'ai beach. The name is a little misleading because in the winter time it ain't much of a beach. More like a stone patch in front of swirling ocean.



leaning towers of the napali coast, hanakapi'ai beach, kauai, hawaii


Needless to say, in the winter time you should not swim here. And if you ask me, summer time, too. Be careful crossing the stream, too. The water was a little high the day of our hike and it took us a while to find the best place to cross. But safely across, we stopped at the stone patch took some pics; ate some nuts; and enjoyed the quiet morning, knowing that within a few hours the place would be full of people. If you want a quiet hike, you gotta start early.



jungle trail to hanakapi'ai falls, kauai, hawaii 


The trail is always muddy in winter. Just expect it. Near daily winter rains in the valley don't give the trail much time to dry out. So unless you hike in the summer (and even then areas of mud are likely) just know that you will get muddy. Nothing you can do about it. Just watch your footing as much as you can. Naomi and I like hiking sticks or trekking poles. They really help out, especially coming down slick rocks with muddy shoes. 



the womb, hanakapi'ai falls, kauai, hawaii


This is the end of the trail-- hanakapi'ai falls. Total feminine energy back here. It's like walking into Mother Earth or Mama Kauai. Fecund nature. The spirit of birth and renewal. Fresh and cool. It's a total trip to experience. I recommend it. From here your turn back and hike 4 miles to ke'e.



one more look, hanakapi'ai falls, kauai, hawaii 



jungle light, jungle stream, hanakapi'ai valley, kauai, hawaii



favorite view, kalalau trail, kauai, hawaii





​All photos in this blog are available to purchase at light source photo gallery in kapa'a or online. Email lee at for sizes and further information. Mahalo.


]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai beach hanakapi'ai falls hanakapi'ai valley hanakapiai falls hanakapiai falls trail hanakapiai valley hawaii hiking hiking kauai hiking to hanakapi'ai falls kalalau trail kauai kauai photography nature north shore photography by lee scott Wed, 21 Jan 2015 03:21:44 GMT
choose love  



a little wild and uncontrolled (fantasy), kauai, hawaii


I am reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan now and am moved by it's story of love, war, horror, endurance and humanity.  The juxtaposition of the narratives of a group of Australian POWs forced by the Japanese to build a ludicrous railroad line through the deep jungles of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) and a love story compel the reader to see the utter stupidity and barbaric nature of war. While reading about the atrocities and horrific conditions of the POWs I am begging to be brought back to love. I am literally longing to turn the page on the wartime narrative to be embraced by the excitement and joy of being with one who loves. 



mimicry, kauai, hawaii 


I'm almost done with the book and recommend it to anyone interested in history, the War of the Pacific (the Pacific theater of WWII), Japanese history,  Australian history, and just great literature. The novel won the Man Booker Prize for 2014 and appeared on numerous 2014 best of year end lists. 



driftwood under moving sky, kauai, hawaii


All of the photos in this blog come from two days at an east side beach. The opening pic, a little wild and uncontrolled,is my favorite of the group. I let the exposure run a bit, and while it is actually overexposed, i like how it adds a sense of fantasy to the scene. 


This next shot below was taken on day two. I wanted to go back and revisit the half buried driftwood and see how "proper" exposure would affect the mood. Of course, each day is different and day two brought a near cloudless and radiant sky. 


radiant sky, kauai, hawaii



following the line, kauai, hawaii



changing light, changing life, kauai, hawaii 



the surreal is the real, kauai, hawaii



choose love, kauai, hawaii




]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan beach east side Kauai hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape light source photography by lee scott literature long exposure nature photography by lee scott seascape sky zen Thu, 15 Jan 2015 04:58:12 GMT
repetition, appreciation, and learning to listen  

old time kauai, tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii


Last week i spent three consecutive mornings at tunnels shooting long exposures with a 10 stop neutral density filter. Sometimes i find that repetition helps me better appreciate the changing light and the variable nature of a scene. Weather fronts and tides, wind and clouds will all play with the mood and conditions. It's all a reminder that I am only there to record and to communicate the energy and life force rather than force my energy, envy and desire onto mother nature. 


old time kauai (3:1 ratio), tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii


I am currently reading God Is Red by Vine Deloria. In this classic text on Native American spirituality Deloria presents Native American religions as a spirituality grounded in space (place) rather than time (history). It is an interesting and well supported view, and one that i find compelling. As a landscape photographer, i am constantly seeking the spiritual and transcendent in a moment that begins in a place (space).

I also found, hidden in one of the chapters of the book, a great quote by the French existentialist writer Albert Camus. In The Rebel, an essay by Camus on the individual and society, he writes "When nature ceases to be an object of contemplation and admiration, it can be nothing more than material for an action that aims at transforming it."


the little rainbow that could, tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii


This I believe is a key lesson. Because when we stop trying to transform our surroundings we can begin to transform ourselves. So let us contemplate nature. Let us admire her. Let us go deep within her and learn from her teachings. Repeatedly.


the dawn of movement, tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii 


the dawn of movement (1:1 ratio), tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii


I also found the following quote in Deloria's delightful book. This one is by Walking Buffalo, a Stoney Indian from Canada who provides insight on our unwillingness to listen:

"Did you know that trees talk? Well they do. They talk to each other, and they'll talk to you if you listen. Trouble is, white people don't listen. They never learned to listen to the Indians, so I don't suppose they'll listen to other voices in nature. But I have learned a lot from trees; sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit."

Let us listen to the trees. Let us learn about the Great Spirit. Let us be taught.


migration, tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii


Each day is different. Each day is new. Each tree will talk to us if only we would listen. 

Listen to the waves. Listen to the wind.

Going into nature helps us listen. Nature will tell us of the Great Spirit, and in learning about the Spirit we will learn peace.



doves of peace, tunnels beach, kauai, hawaii 


all photos in this blog are available to purchase at light source photo gallery in kapa'a, kauai or by email at








]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) God is Red God is Red by Vine Deloria Haena Beach Park Hawaii Kauai Native American Spirituality Tunnels Tunnels Beach beach books hawaii kauai kauai photography landscape nature north shore photography by lee scott seascape sky Sun, 04 Jan 2015 02:38:33 GMT

morning routine, pinnacles, poipu, kauai, hawaii


"And we talking about practice." ~ Allen Iverson

I really enjoy sports and my favorites are college football (Ole Miss) and NBA basketball (Lakers). So anytime I think about practice, or  just the word practice I gotta give props to AI because his practice rant is so classic.  In the sports world practice is the thing you do when you aren't playing the game. Even though you are playing and running your body through game simulations and strategies, practice is the time when the results, technically, don't matter. That's reserved for the game when wins and losses are recorded and referenced. But the reality is the results of practice actually influence the game in terms of how well you are prepared to play. In this context AI's infamous practice rant-- while certainly entertaining-- represents a true misunderstanding. Shunryu Suzuki, author of my favorite book-- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind-- would even encourage you to believe that it's all practice and that there is no game. I imagine he would say something like the game is little mind playing tricks.


overflow, pinnacles, poipu, kauai, hawaii

I've been thinking about practice recently because I am slowly getting back into my practice-- yoga and meditation. After opening my gallery my mat time dropped significantly. Or as one of my yoga friends likes to say, "I fell of the mat". But I'm slowly getting back on, re-establishing my practice and intentions. And my photography is benefitting. Of course it should. The practice brings peace and clarity and helps me see, which in turn helps me to communicate more precisely and thematically more consistently. 


blending in, poipu, kauai, hawaii


winter solstice rolls in, poipu, kauai, hawaii 


a splash at sunrise, along the heritage trail, poipu, kauai, hawaii


floating rainbows and bokeh, ironwoods pine, poipu, kauai, hawaii



thoughts, ironwoods pine, poipu, kauai, hawaii 


Oh, and yoga has definitely helped me on the hikes and squats and stretches to get that unique shot and perspective. Now, I just gotta keep the practice going. 



]]> (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Hawaii Kauai Kauai photography Light Source Poipu bokeh buddhism photography by Lee Scott sunrise the Heritage Trail zen zen photography Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:37:19 GMT