black sand

  • 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

  • Single Stone on a Black Sand Beach

    Photograph of a stone nestled in the black sand beach of Pololu Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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    After the waves wash over the stones along the black sand they recess into the sand and leave a beautiful golden silky trail that contrasts with the black sand. I don’t know what the golden sand is or where it comes from, but it seems to only occur when a wave violently crashes across the stones and recedes back with the same ferocity. However, the golden color doesn’t develop immediately. The sand needs to dry a little for the golden color to present itself. With this said, I had to wait for quite a while before I was able to capture an image that would accent this occurrence. Needless to say this is one of the reasons I love photography.

    If I were to hike into Pololu Valley without a camera I wouldn’t catch the subtleties of the valley. I am not knocking anyone that just wants to enjoy the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands without a camera because I would be fascinated with the enormous cliffs, the amazing trees, the beautiful reflection on the river, and the enjoyment of the awesome hike. Photography makes me concentrate on the subtleties in order to capture a piece of art that I would be proud to hang on my wall.

    With that said… I took a photograph a while ago in Pololu Valley of the same nature; stones with the golden sand streaking off them, but the only thing was most of the image was out of focus. When I took the photo I didn’t bring a tripod and was just taking snap shots. Mainly because I was learning the new Sony camera I had just purchased. It wasn’t from that moment, but a year later when I was reviewing images taken from then, that I wanted to return to capture this image properly. This time I had my tripod and a few extra lenses to choose from to get the image. It was then that I realized how difficult it was to capture the golden streaking sand which made me slow down to realized when it occurs. Without my camera I would never even care to know about it.

    Then we come to processing the image.

    Originally I overlooked this image because there wasn’t much going on with it. A single stone with a washed out golden streak… great… I had more interesting images that I shot that day. So I thought. I started to process images with multiple stones that had a lot going on. They looked nice, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I few days later I selected this image to work on and was immediately satisfied. This is the shot I came back for. It took a while to process. I darkened the edges to give more focus to the stone and trail and to create a lot more drama while maintaining the stones character. After I completed the image it seemed almost celestial with the small highlighted specks in the dark shining through while the stone felt like a meteorite flying through space.  It took a while, but I finally have the image I set out for.

    © Christopher Johnson

    If you would like to buy a print I have this available on my FineArtAmerica page.

  • Pololu Black Sand Beach Rocks

    Dramatic photograph of a cluster of stones found along the black sand beach of Pololu Valley.

    I needed to drop off some metal prints at the Ackerman Galleries in Hawi and decided to make a day out of the long drive. Hiking into Pololu Valley is one of my favorite things to do on the island… not to mention I needed the exercise. Without the push to get out of the house I may have just stayed home all day to later form into a slug.

    During the past several weeks I have been reviewing a lot of older images that I wanted to re-work with new techniques I have learned over the last few years. One of the images I stumbled upon was a composition of 2 stones on the black sand beach of Pololu with the green sand trail left behind it from the surf. The only issue was the upper portion of the image was out of focus. At that moment I wanted to get back down to the valley to study the stones and sand as it mingled with the surf in-order to correct the oversight in the older image.

    Down in the valley the stones were dispersed across the beach in hundreds of different patterns and I was studying them for the perfect composition. It took me a while before I settled on this cluster of stones, but then I suddenly realized that they dramatically shift after every wave that passes by when one stones I was looking at suddenly dissapeared. I placed my tripod over the stones and aimed the camera nearly straight down and exposed for a few seconds at 22 aperture. Then a wave came in and my tripod sunk into the sand, stones moved around, and the sand texture shifted making me reset focus and composition. It was a quick complicated dance I learned after a few steps that lasted nearly an hour.

    The trip was relaxing, fun, and memorable.

    © Christopher Johnson