Big Island

  • Pololu Valley Stones

    Slow shutter of water flowing around the embedded colorful stones on the black sand beach of Pololu Valley.

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    Beautiful stones line the black sand beach of Pololu Valley giving the ocean waves something to play with as it rushes on and off the sand. 

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Crossing The Old

    Aerial view of the upper Mamalahoa Hwy crossing over old lava tubes.

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    For years I have been driving this HWY without knowing what it might look like from the air. I only noticed the one lava tube just off of the road, but had no idea that it extended up and down the mountain.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Pine Trees Morning Surf

    Aerial photograph of a popular surf spot during sunrise in Kailua Kona.

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    My daughter wanted to meet some friend to surf dawn patrol at Pine Trees beach. Usually this means I have to sluggishly get out of bed, drive her down half asleep, and hurry home to drink more coffee, but not this time. For my birthday I got a DJI Spark drone and look for any opportunity to fly it. This was my opportunity to get out at sunrise and practice getting beach pictures while my daughter happily surfed with friends. Best of both worlds.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Hualalai Sunset

    Hualalai mountain shrouded by sunset lit clouds from the Kailua Kona shoreline

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    Standing on the coastline waiting for the sun to get into position to photograph the rocky shoreline  swallowing the waves during sunset, I looked behind me at the mountain.  This was too good to pass up and immediately shifted focus from the ocean to the land. My single wide lens couldn’t capture the entire scene that I was witnessing, so I needed to shoot a panorama.

    This image is a combination of 9 images. I first panned the landscape and then the sky to create the largest single image I have ever worked on. 20 hours of warping, masking, blending, and enhancing as well as another 3 to polish the shot to how I saw this amazing sunset.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Clouds Mimic the Earth

    A beautiful sunset from the OTEC coastline on the Big Island of Hawaii

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    This sunset was one for the books. I had a suspicion that the sunset might be good, but as the light began to fizzle I became skeptical. Just as the sun moved under the distant clouds it began to highlight the underside of the lower clouds to gift me a beautiful shot. I was completely blown away that the shape of the clouds mimicked the shape of the landscape I was shooting, which gave me some interest in the sky.

    See this location from the air. A photo and video of this amazing location. “Keahole Coastline Aerial

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Kapoho Island

    Photograph of the island that formed off of Kapoho from the Puna lava flow of 2018

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    During one week in July of 2018 an island formed off of Kapoho from the Puna lava flow. Shortly after this photograph the island attached to the land from the continuous lava. An example for how quickly this lava flow is changing.

    We were excited to go back up into the helicopter to see what has changed from the previous flight a month ago. That morning I learned of an island that had formed just off of the coast. Reports of violent explosions in the water eventually led to the presence of land erupting from the ocean. These eruptions caused havoc to a water tour boat a few days later when an unexpected explosion sent molten rock hurtling toward the boat and injured many passengers. I could only imagine how scary and helpless that would be. There is no telling what could happen next with this volcano.

    A very exciting time on the Big Island.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Kapoho Ocean Entry By Helicopter

    An aerial view of the lava entering the ocean and creating small explosions along the coastline of Kapoho Hawaii.

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    From the doors off helicopter of the Paradise Helicopter Tour I was able to shoot this unobstructed view of the lava as it enters the ocean along Kapoho. You can’t see it in this web version of the shot, but in the large printed file there is an explosion in the upper part of the image where the ocean collided with the hot lava that sent lava rock and particles flying rapidly in the air. I love this image because of the design quality of it like the diagonal line of the coastline parted by the smoke and ocean waves. There are hidden surprises throughout the shot like the explosion, and the red hot lava, as well as the ripples in the water. It’s just a raw look and feel of the energy that exists when these two natural forces meet.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Onomea Waterfall

    The beautiful cascading Onomea waterfall in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

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    Two years ago I visited this waterfall and failed to focus properly on all parts of the scene and regretted not spending the time to make sure I had the shot before I left. The unfortunate thing is I though I had the shot when I left only to find slightly out of focus images when I went to process them. If the out of focus elements were in the background I may have dismissed the error, but they were foreground elements. It’s one thing on macro or artsy style images to have blurred parts, as long as it’s not the main focus of the image, but this wasn’t the case. Needless to say it bothered me for a while and when my daughter wanted to return last weekend I didn’t hesitate to go.

    We arrived around noon which isn’t ideal for photographing waterfalls or complex landscapes because the light from the sun spots the scene with unpleasant highlights. I was hoping for a cloud to hide the sun momentarily, but after waiting 20 minutes there was no relief from the sun.  I gave up to walk the gardens and to hopefully have better luck later, which when I returned my wish was granted.

    After a cautious and abundant photoshoot I knew I had the shots I needed to create the image I had been wanting for 2 years. I focus blended the foreground tree with the waterfall and distant trees in Photoshop to create a fully sharp image as well as adjusting the exposure with luminosity masks to create depth and interest.

    Hope you enjoy this image and the lesson for me was to take my time and make sure I have all elements of the scene captured before leaving. Returning may not be an option.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Kiholo Bay at Night

    Kiave tree in a moonlit night along the Kiholo Bay coastline

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    We were camping next to this awesome Kiave Tree on the beach of Kiholo Bay. During the day there wasn’t a lot to photograph because the clear skies didn’t give much interest to the sky and the bold shadows weren’t very attractive. At night the skies were full of stars and the full moon and camp fire provided a lot of interest. It took a while to come up with a composition that I liked. Since the viewfinder was dark, I had to take an exposure and wait for it to load before I could review it, then adjust to what worked. It ended up being a fun creative exercise.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Land Arch

    Photograph of an arch along a very old lava flow.

    Strangely enough I have been passing by this arch for close to 12 years and for some reason I never noticed it up until just recently. Just at the lookout on the Mamalahoa Hwy, north of Kona, this arch can be seen right off of the road looking up toward Hualali mountain. This makes it that much crazier that I had never seen it. I can only figure that every time I passed by or stopped… I was looking towards Maui and the old lava flow formations that traveled down the hillside. Now I find myself always looking at and studying this arch whenever I pass by.

    Unfortunately the background of this arch isn’t usually very attractive because of the steep dark mountain side and formless clouds that build to create a stark white sky. I was pleasantly surprised that on my way home from visiting family we were passing by this area through some heavy fog. Without hesitation I pulled off and stood at the entry of this arch to shoot a few images. I was trying to focus on the eerie foggy atmosphere surrounding this interesting structure especially the spot of white fog under the arch which is usually dark from the rock behind. The fog provided a lot more depth and color to this otherwise difficult to photograph location.

    This island has so many cool and unique landscape qualities that I look forward to finding other spots. The key is to keep my eyes open to finding them.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Pink Sky

    Photograph of a beautiful reflected sunset along the coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii

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    This was a surprising sunset. The colors came out of nowhere.

    I was standing in a different location when the sunset just seemed to fizzle in muted dull colors like I had seen so many other times before. A lot of times there is a VOG layer or clouds just off of the horizon that block the sun from hitting the underside of the clouds when it sets. So when the sun set and there wasn’t any sign of life I began to pack up. It was just then the pink under lit clouds began to glow. Filling everything with an amazing warm glow. The only thing I could think to do was setup my camera and jump into this reflecting pool to capture a full frame of color and landscape.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Golden Hour

    Photograph of an amazingly clear golden sunset from the Keahole Point coastline on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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    I stood precariously close to the edge of this Big Island blow hole in order to capture the details of water flowing through the seaweed and into the large hole. Luckily the tide and swells were low so that I could do this without too much worry or trouble. Like always there is the rogue wave that helps me to not get too comfortable and to always be prepared. I was pleasantly surprised there was a golden sunset to accent the golden foreground of the seaweed.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Golden September Sunset

    Photograph of a Golden Sunset along the coastline of the Big Island of Hawaii

     

    © Christopher Johnson

     

  • Mauna Kea Milky Way Silhouette

    Photograph from Mauna Kea with the silhouette of an old tree in front of a bright milky way.

     

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Split View

    Photograph of an underwater-land split view from the shoreline of Hawaii’s Mahaiula beach.

    © Christopher Johnson