Wild Horses Run-- Waves and Imaginings

January 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

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.





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