Light Source Photography by Lee Scott: Blog en-us (C) Light Source Photography by Lee Scott (Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) Wed, 27 Jun 2018 01:55:00 GMT Wed, 27 Jun 2018 01:55:00 GMT Light Source Photography by Lee Scott: Blog 80 120 A Kind of Beautiful Suffering-- A Long Summer's Photo Trip

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. 




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

(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) adventure explore grand tour lee scott light source hanapepe light source photography by lee scott nature outdoors photo trip roadtrip tour Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:12:10 GMT
Pele's Process 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 


(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) big island hawaii lava lee scott nature outdoors photography volcano Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:04:20 GMT
Teklanika Campground, Denali National Park, Alaska

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)




(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) denali np alaska camping camping alaska camping denali np denali denali national park photography by lee scott teklanika campground teklanika river Sat, 28 Apr 2018 00:54:54 GMT
A Perfect Day in Hanalei-- Silent Auction to Benefit Malama Kauai 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.



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!




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!

(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) hawaii kauai kauai flood 2018 kauai photography malama kauai nature north shore photography by lee scott silent auction to benefit malama kauai Thu, 19 Apr 2018 21:37:55 GMT
Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska 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:

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



(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) alaska campsite #14 wonder lake campground denali national park denali denali from wonder lake campground denali mountain from wonder lake campground denali national park landscape photography from denali national park mt. denali nature nature photography the mountain the wonder lake area of denali national park wildlife wonder lake campground wonder lake campground photography Fri, 09 Mar 2018 01:43:29 GMT
To the Weeping Wall-- Kauai's Blue Hole A Wild Land (Weeping Wall Magic), The Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

The hike to the Weeping Wall is hard. It just is. I think all discussions should begin with this understanding. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, it is an amazing adventure full of Weeping Wall magic, but it's a difficult hike through a wild land. You have to suffer for the magic. The "trail" is through thick jungle. It leads one over, around, and under trees and mud and quagmire. You also stroll through bamboo grove and walk alongside an idyllic stream. Until you boulder hop across its rushing waters and wade into it, navigating your way to the next section of boulders or slippery footpath. 

The Blue Hole, KauaiThe Way to the Weeping Wall Leads through Here (Inquire Within)Guardian Falls, Kauai

The Way to the Blue Hole Leads Through Here (Inquire Within), Waikokos Valley, Kauai

I think the above picture gives a good indication of what the hike is like-- stream, waterfalls, boulders and jungle, with Mt. Waialeale in the distance. You are going there-- towards the box canyon of Waikokos Valley where the walls of Waialeale form the Blue Hole of sky and mountain. That's what the Blue Hole is-- the sky as you look up from the base of what was once the wettest place on earth. Now, Waialeale is the 8th wettest place on the planet so the streams that you encounter on the hike can flash flood at any time. This is another reason why I say the Weeping Wall hike is so difficult.  The logistics and planning necessary make it all rather involved. You must have 4WD to access the trailhead, which is at the weir at the end of loop road. If you don't have 4WD you could possibly make it to the Jurassic Gate and then walk 2 miles to the trailhead. But it's such a long hike (duration) that you would be pushing it to get out in daylight. And this is one hike that I would not want to do with headlamp. But of course, take one with you. Just in case. 

Guardian Falls, KauaiGuardian Falls and RainbowGuardian Falls is about halfway to the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale. It is an extremely difficult hike through dense jungle, bamboo and over and through the streams that become the Wailua River. When I walked up and approached the waterfall, I was stoked to see blue skies above Waialeale and the little rainbow at the bottom of the falls.

Guardian Falls and Rainbow, along the hike to the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

I made it to Guardian Falls about 4 years ago, but that time I was too tired to worried about the rain to continue on. On that occasion I broke a carbon fiber hiking stick when I slipped and fell in the jungle mud. And when I arrived at Guardian Falls grey clouds covered the mountain. I wrote about that excursion in an earlier blog entry. I think I called that one "A Slogfest to Guardian Falls."

One of my goals for the year was to safely hike to the Weeping Wall and back. I tried to go on a couple of different occasions late last year, but got rained out. And in early February we tried again, but a Flash Flood Watch stopped us again. For this hike (and probably all hikes, really) it is best to err on the side of caution. If you are above Guardian Falls when the waters rise, you ain't getting back until the waters subside. There is no place to pitch a tent. And really, very few areas of accessible higher elevation. You could easily find yourself in trouble. I have friends who had to lock arms and form a human chain to cross the rapidly rising stream-- and that was in the easier first section. We brought along a rope just in case we needed it, but luckily we had blue skies in the valley and benign clouds at the Wall. 

Kauai WaterfallA Long LineAs we approached the Weeping Wall the vegetation began to change. Ferns popped up out of nowhere and the trees lost their thickness and stature. Waterfalls lined the mountain walls, scarring the green cliffs a dull grey-brown. We even saw a natural pool that appeared abandoned as water no longer fell into it, a sign that this place is no longer the wettest on earth.
Waialeale, Kauai

A Long Line, nearing the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

Once above Guardian Falls the stream becomes the trail for much of the way until you climb out onto a muddy bank. Then you are back in the jungle until you climb even further still via pre established ropes. This is where I totally lost all semblance of form and just kinda "managed my way" up and down the muddy cliff walls. The ropes made it easy, but my bag and tripod made the going rough. I never complain about the gear-- especially while I am out there-- because you can only take the pictures that your gear will allow. On this trip, I took 2 cameras and 2 lenses-- Canon 5DSR with 21mm Zeiss and a Canon 1DX II with a Canon 24-70. I also had my normal supply of Lee Filters, lens cleaner, extra batteries and Really Right Stuff Tripod. Now, if I were to do it again I would only take one camera, one lens, a much smaller tripod and a much smaller bag. Live and learn. But I can be stubborn. Oh, I almost forgot. I started the day in hiking boots, but changed into felt soled neoprene booties called tabis after about 20 minutes of hiking. The tabis provide excellent traction on the slipper rocks and are a MUST for this hike. I even tried to change out of them after descending from the Weeping Wall, but slipped in the first 10 feet and slipped and fell within the first 100 feet. While tabis provide little to no support, they do provide excellent traction. Next time, I won't even take the boots. I'll take an extra pair of tabis instead. They are that good. You can buy them at Wal Mart in Lihue or any of the fishing shops on island. Your feet will suffer (and back, too) but at least they'll give you the grip you need. (A side note-- try to scrape the mud off the felt soled bottoms each time you enter the stream in order to wash away the mud. This will help provide better traction as you boulder hop and dance your way to the next bank or exit).

Ohia Lehua Flower and Waialeale Wall, approaching the Weeping Wall of Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

The closer you get to the Weeping Wall the more the vegetation changes and the temperature drops. You begin to see Ohia trees, Lehua flowers, ferns and rarer plants endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. This is sacred land and should be respected. Hawaiian myth says that the highest Hawaiian god, Kane, was born on top of Waialeale. Kane is the creator and I felt a pulse or life source when I placed my hand on the wall of Waialeale. How much truth is contained in a myth? All? None? Likely, somewhere in-between.

First View of the Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

The above photo shows the fist glimpse of the Weeping Wall. It was taken from a highpoint on the hike, and from here it's about 45 minutes till the end. I find the landscape of the hike interesting in that the destination remains hidden until near the very end. What you think you are walking towards shifts and hides from view until you have exerted enough effort to see. I think Joseph Campbell wrote something about this in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Those epic journeys really do make us feel like heroes. 

The Weeping WallLife SourceThis is the Weeping Wall— the base of Mt. Waialeale— the piko or navel of Kauai. When I touched the wall I felt vibrations. The mana was flowing from the mountain as a pulse of life. It was as if the mountain had become the heart of Kauai and not only its center. It was a wonderful experience.
Waialeale, Kauai

Life Source, the Weeping Wall, Mt. Waialeale, Kauai

I placed my hands on the Weeping Wall and felt vibrations. Of course the water was flowing off the mountain, but the mana or power of the place was literally tangible. I could feel it. Waialeale is said to be the piko or navel of Kauai, but for me the mountain became the heart, pulsing with life force.

Wall of Tears, KauaiThe Lightness of BeingThis is the Weeping Wall— the base of Mt. Waialeale— the piko or navel of Kauai. When I touched the wall I felt vibrations. The mana was flowing from the mountain as a pulse of life. It was as if the mountain had become the heart of Kauai and not only its center. I like how the water curves and fans through the air— the lightness of being.
Waialeale, Kauai

The Lightness of Being, the Weeping Wall, Waialeale, Kauai

I left the house at 6:30 AM. Arrived at the Arboretum at 7 and the trailhead at 8. We got back to the FJ at 5:30. And while it was a hard hike, it was an awesome experience. If you would like to do this hike I recommend you go with a guide. The trail is unmaintained, prone to flash flood and difficult to navigate. A guide will also be able to share the cultural significance of the place with you as you enter into the Blue Hole.

Be safe.





Here's a few more...

You can imagine on a day with heavy rains this football-field-long rocky slope would become a torrent of rushing water.

The various curves and undulations of the Weeping Wall and final approach.

The amphitheater of the Weeping Wall. Incidentally the Blue Hole is actually the sky as you look up and out of this natural amphitheater. When I arrived here the sky was overcast so it was more like a Gray Hole than a blue one. 

Weeping WallWeeping WallWaterfalls rush down Mt. Waialeale at the Weeping Wall, Kauai.

One last look before I put the camera away and begin the hike back.


(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) adventure blue hole great kauai hikes hawaii hiking hiking kauai kauai kauai photography kauai waterfalls kauai's weeping wall landscape mt. waialeale must do hikes nature outdoors photography by lee scott the weeping wall waialeale waterfall waterfalls waterfalls of kauai waves weeping wall Wed, 28 Feb 2018 00:06:57 GMT
Vignette of a Dream-- Lumahai Beach, Kauai Below are a series of beach scenes all photographed Wednesday morning at Lumahai Beach. I wanted to convey a certain feeling in these images, and I think of them as vignettes of a dream— little fragments of experiences lived in sleep, and only vaguely remembered upon awaking. 

Upon awaking we look to sleep to continue the play. And rather than rubbing our eyes and sitting up straight we lie and long for the scenes interrupted and the memories we have forgotten. 

We seek to return to sleep if only to reenter the "me" of the dream. To talk to her one more time. To be with him one more moment. To find an answer to all the questions why.

It is difficult to return to the dream. It's like the alarm has caused a shift in time in the dream world of our mind. If we are able to reenter the dream it is often at a moment lost to where we were when we woke up. It's like our dream world went ahead of us. It seems to continue without us. Further reminding us that we are not the only actors in this subconscious play.

Lumahai Beach is just north of Hanalei Bay. There are actually two Lumahai Beaches-- one we call Tourists and the other we call Locals. Lumahai Tourists is the first one that you will come to as you approach from Hanalei. There is pullout parking at the bend as you crest the first hill after Hanalei Bay and the surf spot called Waikokos. To get to the beach you will walk down a path in the woods just to the right of the very limited roadside parking. The path is often muddy and can be quite slippery. 

Lumahai Locals is a little further down and it's the one that I prefer. To get to locals keep heading north and descend the hill. On the left you'll see a beautiful pasture and the mountains as a backdrop. On the right is the parking area for Lumahai Locals. If you go over the one proper bridge on the north shore, than you've gone too far. Locals is right at the river mouth.

Lumahai Locals, looking northwest towards the river mouth.

Lumahai Locals doesn't have the rocks or lava shelf that Tourists has, but for me that's ok because I love the long sweep of beach and the feeling of openness that Locals provide. In the summer you can see the sunrise from either, but only Tourists will give you a chance of watching the sunset. Winter brings big waves to both beaches and because of the rocks, lava shelf and enclosed space of Tourists it is the more dangerous of the two (in my opinion). Of course care and precaution should be taken when photographing either location. When the surf is not too large or when the tides are low it is possible to walk the entire stretch of beach and photograph both locations without getting back into the car. You will often see beach joggers and dog walkers (especially in the mornings) running and walking all the way from Locals to Tourists. 

Fully awake now, we go about the mentally processing these vignettes of a dream.



(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) beach hawaii kauai kauai photography lumahai lumahai beach lumahai locals nature north shore outdoors photography by lee scott seascape sky waves Sun, 07 Jan 2018 23:16:48 GMT
My Favorite 17 from Adventures 2017 (part 2)  

Aloha and welcome back.

Before we continue with the list of images I want to share with you the best locations I encountered during this year's adventures:

  • Best View-- Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California 
  • Best Pizza-- Escalante Outfitters, Escalante, Utah
  • Best Coffee-- Deep Creek Coffee, Springdale just outside Zion National Park, Utah
  • Best Shower-- Zion Pnderosa Campground, East Zion, Utah
  • Best Campground-- BLM sites off of Hole in the Rock Road, Escalante, Utah
  • Best Hike-- Nevada Falls on the John Muir Trail, Yosemite NP, California
  • Best Backpacking Hike-- Coyote Gulch, Utah
  • Best Place to Look for Desert Big Horn Sheep-- Checkerboard Mesa Area of Zion NP, Utah 
  • Best Waterfall-- Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite NP, California
  • Best Water Source-- Canyon Wall just around the corner of Jacob Hamblin's Arch, Coyote Gulch, Utah
  • Best National Monument That is Shrinking Because of the Current Administration-- Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah
  • Best Place to Use a 4WD-- Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (White Pocket), Arizona
  • Best Place to Take an Early Morning Walk-- Sequoia National Park
  • Best Place to Get Information-- Escalante BLM Office, Escalante, Utah
  • Best Place to Feel Happy and Free and in Love with the Earth and All of Her Gifts-- Yosemite NP, California 



Finding My Way on the Hop Valley TrailFinding My Way on the Hop Valley TrailZion National Park, Utah Finding My Way on the Hop Valley Trail, Zion NP, Utah

After hiking Observation Point in the morning I went to the much less visited Kolob Canyon area of Zion NP in the afternoon, looking for quiet, solitude and sunset. I had to wait out a storm, but eventually I found all three along the Hop Valley Trail.



Stone OutlineStone OutlineDevil's Garden, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Escalante, Utah Stone Lines (Broken Pieces are Part of the Whole), Devil's Garden, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

I spent a couple of mornings and evenings in Devil's Garden, wandering through the hoodoos in this very pleasant park like section of the vast (but shrinking!) Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Just outside of the charming town of Escalante, about 20 miles off Hole in the Rock Road lies Devil's Garden. Light was good at sunrise and exceptional just before sunset. I imagine night sky and star photos would be excellent here as well. I visited during the full moon and only tried a few star pics from my campsite, which surprisingly enough turned out well. So yeah, definitely hit this place on a new moon and be prepared to be Wowed! For sure.



Mesquite Sand DunesMesquite Sand DunesMesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park Lines (Mesquite Sand Dunes), Death Valley National Park, California

Raw. Intense. Windy. Hot. Dry. Harsh. Beautiful. Huge. Death Valley NP is an unforgiving landscape. Immense in scale and challenge. We visited mid May and knew that we were on the cusp of enjoyment and suffering and fell on the latter. We arrived in a desert wind storm and somehow managed to set up campsite in a stinging wind. Then the heat and overall dryness set in on our adventure to the Race Track-- that playa in the middle of nowhere where the rocks move--  and absolutely zapped us of our strength. Out of season, Death Valley is no joke. Highlights to be seen again one winter are: Zabriske Point, Badwater Basin, and the Mesquite Sand Dunes. 



Fly!Fly!Sharp Shinned Hawk, Zion NP, Utah Fly (Merlin or Cooper's Hawk), Zion NP, Utah

I found this little raptor while looking for desert big horn sheep in the eastern section of Zion NP. Moral of the story-- you never know what you will find so be ready and open to all things.



To Challenge Your World ViewTo Challenge Your World ViewWhite Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona A Landscape to Challenge Your World View, White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

White Pocket is a world class photo destination. You could spend hour upon hour wandering through this surreal landscape of boiling rock and color. I say boiling rock because it appears as if the stone and rock surface of the landscape is liquid or molten, moving through the desert in lines and streams of color. This is a crazy beautiful place. High clearance 4WD is a must as it is a 2 hour drive over thick sand and desert dirt roads to White Pocket.



SublimeSublimeGiant Sequoia tree in Round Meadow on the Big Trees Trail in Giant Sequoia National Park, California

Sublime, Sequoia National Park, California

Have I told you before? I love these trees! 300 feet high. 26 feet in diameter. So perfect in their proportions they look absolutely normal. Completely in harmony with their surroundings. I. Love. These. Trees. They are simply sublime.



The Moon and the BoxThe Moon and the BoxBox Wilderness, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Escalante, Utah The Moon and the Box, Box Wilderness, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

My trip to Utah coincided with the full moon and the moon became my travel companion. I came to know it high in the sky  at night, lighting the interior of my tent and casting a bluish hue over the night landscape. In the mornings, I would follow her low on the horizon, trying to bring her into the camera's view. Nature is a gentle Muse.



BrainwavesBrainwavesWhite Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona Brainwaves, White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

More wildness from White Pocket. I was entranced by these sections of "Brain Rock." Rolling stone hills that, yes, resemble brains lying to fry in the desert heat. You've seen the commercial-- This is your brain on drugs-- well, this is your brain on White Pocket. 



StrutStrutDesert Big Horn Sheep, Zion NP, Utah Strut, Zion Np, Utah

I originally planned to travel to Yellowstone and the Tetons this fall, but changed my trip to southern Utah due to the extensive wild fires and smoke that Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon were experiencing all summer and well into the fall. The whole point of the trip was to photograph wildlife so I was pretty bummed about the change, but cheered up when I found out that there were quite a few desert big horn sheep in Zion NP. In Zion, I spent three days looking for these majestic animals and had a few sightings, but really got lucky on the evening of the third day. I ran into two herds around Checkerboard Mesa in east Zion. This is my favorite photo from the encounter and my favorite from my 2017 southwest adventures.



Starry Night and Yosemite FlowStarry Night and Yosemite FlowYosemite was quite busy when we went in early May 2017. Not too bad, but still there were plenty of folks around. Tripods were set up everywhere-- especially at the famous viewpoints-- and the parking lots were often full. But with that being said, we didn't have any problems finding a space (of course we arrived well before sunrise and sunset); and we had reservations in the campsites so we always had a place to pitch tent. But it was still a little busy for our tastes. That's why I really enjoyed photographing the park at night. It was like we had the whole place to ourselves (except for the nights we went chasing moonbows. More on that to come...). Yes, the grey and white granite walls and silky white waterfalls and flow were a night time delight.
Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

Starry Night and Yosemite Flow won nomination in the 12th annual Black and White Spider Awards (Professional Nature Category).

Starry Night and Yosemite Flow, Yosemite NP, California

To be honest I could have put 5 "favorites" from Yosemite onto this list, but rather than do that I chose one to represent the beauty that I found in this incredible national park. We photographed a lot at night and felt that we had the park to ourselves. There were no crowds. No cars. No busses buzzing around. But the park was still so amazingly photogenic. I photographed moonbows in Yosemite Falls; the flashing lights from climbers' head lamps as they moved up the face of the incomparable El Capitan; and one night I photographed the graceful flow of Yosemite Falls under a starry night in the most beautiful place I have ever seen. 




(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) nature outdoors photography by lee scott public lands us national parks Mon, 01 Jan 2018 04:23:23 GMT
My Favorite 17 from Adventures 2017


After photographing sunset at Pakalas beach the other night, I listened to Freakanomics Radio on NPR. If you are not familiar with the program Freakanomics is a radio show about behavioral economics-- economics, sociology and psychology. This particular night's discussion centered on a behavioral theory called "Tail Winds/Head Winds Asymmetry". This theory basically says that humans tend to focus on the obstacles (head winds) in their lives rather than the blessings in their lives (tail winds). Psychologists Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai further explained that this tendency of ours to focus attention on obstacles negatively influences our psyche-- and our decision making-- thereby preventing us from being happy. Tail winds on the other hand bring us into a positive state of contentment (albeit brief) like when we are riding a bike with the wind at our backs just pushing us along with blissful rapidity. However, due to the process of adaptation inducing boredom, this state of happiness can be short lived and we soon forget or ignore the blessings of the tail winds and return our focus and negativity to the real (and presumed) obstacles.

So what can we do to ride with the tail winds longer and enjoy the happiness that they bring? The psychologists answer we can do this with gratitude. Gilovich believes that we should expressing gratitude for the tail winds and blessings in our lives so that we can reside in the happiness that they bring. 

So that's what I'll do in this post-- I'll like express my gratitude for the Tail Winds by choosing my favorite 17 images from the off island adventures I had in 2017. I am grateful for the health and the desire to spend time with nature. I am grateful for the planet and the beauty that I find in her. And I am grateful for the safe and exciting adventures that I had while exploring all that the Earth shared with me in 2017.

Let the countdown (and tail winds) begin.

A Good Place To RestA Good Place To RestCoyote Gulch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

A Good Place to Rest, Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

A good place to camp and explore, too! I hiked into the Coyote Gulch from Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and entered into the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area where this photograph was taken. This arch was about 4 miles from my campsite and near to the confluence of the Escalante River and the Coyote Gulch. Over the three days I camped two night; hiked about 22 miles; and explored some incredible scenery in some of our most dramatic and beautiful public lands. Highlights were the majesty of the high canyon walls; the soul stirring echo of raven's wings through the canyon amphitheaters; and the surprises around each successive canyon bend. 


Fire ScarFire ScarGiant Sequoias need fire to propagate their seeds and to clear the forest floor from other trees competing for the same sun rays. Extremely fire resistant, Giant Sequoia bark is layered and has pockets of air inside. The trunks are-- surprisingly-- extremely soft. While fires scar the tees, the strongest are still able to live long lives, hundreds and even thousands of years in some instances. These trees are so amazing. Fires burn. Scars heal. And life goes on. I love these trees!
Big Trees Trail, Sequoia National Park, California

Fire Scar, Sequoia National Park, California

I was so impressed with the Giant Sequoias. I love these trees! They are just massive! So tall! So thick! So strong! But oh, so soft. I couldn't believe how soft the bark of these giants were. That's because they have air pockets inside that help them resist fire burn. You see they have to have the heat of the forest fire flames in order to drop seeds and grow. You look around the Giant Sequoia forest and see all of these old trees with fire scars that's because they've survived the fires and grown stronger and older from the heat and trial. When I look at these beautiful trees I see so many lessons for us. Nature is truly the greatest teacher. 


#15 Mobius Arch and MoonMobius Arch and MoonIconic Mobius Arch and Moon with high Sierra Peak in the distance.

Mobius Arch and Moon, Alabama Hills Recreation Area, Lone Pine, California

I spent a lot of time working on Mobius Arch. I think I went for sunrise and sunset on two consecutive days and then sunrise on a third day. I feel like this is a place that I need to explore more. And when I do, I'd like to hike up Mt. Whitney as well. You know, since I'll be in the neighborhood. ;-)


#14 ShelterShelterNaomi finds shelter inside a fallen Giant Sequoia Tree on the Big Trees Trail around Round Meadow in Giant Sequoia National Park, California. Shelter, Sequoia National Park, California

Naomi finds shelter inside a fallen Giant Sequoia tree on the Big Trees Trail around Round Meadow. She just walked right in. 


#13 South Fork Kings RiverSouth Fork Kings RiverA young Giant Sequoia Tree stands at the edge of the South Fork Kings River in the Sequoia National Forest, California. South Fork Kings River, Sequoia National Forest, California

The drive through the Sequoia National Forest from Sequoia National Park to Kings Canyon National Park is one of the great drives on the North American Continent. Compared to others it is short and sweet, but the views of mountain and canyon, river and sequoia are just awesome. On our drive we stopped numerous times to photograph the sites and this photograph is from one of those road side pullouts. The Kings River is flows fast and full with the spring snow melt. I was careful not to get too close to the swollen river and I chose a long exposure to help communicate the flow. The prominent tree on the opposite side of the bank is a young Giant Sequoia. Every time I view this photograph I takes back to that memorable drive. The excitement of adventure and the allure of the road. 


#12 Watchtower, ManzanarWatchtower, ManzanarWhen the internees asked, Why are there armed guards? They were told, They are here for your protection. When they asked, Why are the facing us? They were given no answer.
Manzanar National Historic Site, Manzanar, California
Watchtower, Manzanar Manzanar National Historic Site, Manzanar, California

Manzanar is a heavy place. A beautiful place. But a heavy one. In front of you the eastern Sierra Nevada rise into the clouds and the White Mountains do the same at your back. While the history of the place gets blown around by the wind. "There was always the wind," said one of the Japanese-American internees about the place. Stifling heat in the summer. Bitter cold in the winter. And always the wind. Another quote that stays with me from the history was a Japanese-American internee asking why the rifles of the soldiers were pointing inward if they were for the internees "protection." 11,070 Japanese Americans were processed through Manzanar during the second World War. About two-thirds were born American citizens. So the government of the time locked up it's own people. Forced them from their homes. Destroyed their businesses and farm, careers and educations and drove them to one of 10 internment camps in the plains, deserts, swamps and mountains of California, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah where they were forced to live from 1942 to 1945. Oh, and after they were allowed to leave in 1945 they were not allowed to return to their homes nor even home state. Yeah, Manzanar is heavy place. A beautiful place. A place that all Americans should visit.



Lower Calf Creek FallsLower Calf Creek FallsGrand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Escalante, Utah

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Lower Calf Creek Falls State Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

Wanna go on an easy hike through a wide desert canyon that ends in a waterfall so enchanting it might just be a portal to another space and time? If so, then Lower Calf Creek Falls is the hike for you.


#10 ~ #1 coming soon.




(Light Source Photography by Lee Scott) adventures alabama hills coyote gulch escalante grand staircase escalante national monument kings canyon kings canyon national park kings river light source hanapepe lone pine lower calf creek falls manzanar manzanar national historic sight nature outdoors photography by lee scott sequoia national forest sequoia national park travel photography travels utah Wed, 27 Dec 2017 07:04:25 GMT
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.

PoipuLast 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 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--

‚ÄčThe 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.


‚ÄčThe 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