Hawaii

  • Coastline Reflections

    Coastline reflections of a beautiful Hawaiian sunset by Christopher Johnson.

     

    A different perspective of the same coastline. With the high surf pounding the Kailua Kona coastline the water found its way to the grassy patch well behind the surf. Instead of positioning myself of the edge of a blowhole I chose to work with this grassy reflective scene. This was my second attempt when I wasn’t thrilled with my first composition from the previous day. Lucky for me the sunset and water waited for me to return.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • 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

  • 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

  • Surfer Girl Sunset

    Silhouette of surfer girls walking toward a Hawaiian sunset.

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    I wanted to get a little creative with this image. I had the panned sunset image that I wanted to add more interest to after getting inspiration from other artists on FineArtAmerica. I combined a silhouette of surfer girls walking in a sunset from an image I took in 2012 and a more recent image of birds in front of the sunset. Without much editing I had the scene I envisioned.

    © 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

  • Yellow Hibiscus

    A beautiful yellow Hibiscus flower found on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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    Picked from one of the Hibiscus bushes we have out in our front yard. I selected this flower because of how the style curved right at the end so that I could photograph the profile of the flower and have all of the 5 stigma balls visual instead of overlapping each other.

    I don’t have much of a studio, so I have to improvise. I was able to float the flower away from its background by pinning it to the bottom of my kitchen cabinets with a safety pin. With natural light I needed a longer than desired shutter speed, so I had to close all windows and stop the fans to keep the flower from wavering. Then with a timer set to 2 seconds on the camera I quickly and carefully pressed the shutter and gently fluttered a white towel in the background to blur any shadow or detail that might be picked up by the camera. The depth of field wasn’t enough to pick up all the details of the flower, so I focus stacked 2 images for the final piece.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Lava River Texture

    Aerial photograph of the lava river in Pahoa Hawaii.

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    A section of the lava river from a Paradise Helicopter tour over the fissure 8 eruption of 2018 in Pahoa. I wanted to focus on the patterns the lava was making as it flowed to Kapoho, so I used a 70-300 telephoto lens to tightly frame in the lava with the dark surrounding areas. What I wasn’t expecting was how amazing the patterns are within the lava itself.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • South Swell

    A beautiful sunset from along the Kona coastline during a large swell.

    I went to this familiar location to shoot from the same spot I usually do, right at the mouth of the hole in the reef. This usually puts me right in line looking at the sun setting with a dramatic foreground of the water draining back to sea. Fortunately there was a large south swell that had forced me to find a new perspective because standing where I usually do would be dangerous as the water will pull my photography gear or me into the hole that is 10 to 15 feet deep if not careful. Some of these waves will catch me off guard and it is not easy to escape and in the past I have had to thrust my camera way up in the air by grabbing the tripod legs so a wave didn’t kill it, but would leave me drenched. You might wonder why I say fortunately instead of unfortunately. Why would it be fortunate to be forced into something I wasn’t planning on. Well, I say fortunately because I love it when I am forced to try something new. When there is a spectacular sunset I always go to my comfort zone with a perspective and composition I have photographed before so I don’t screw it up. Where I usually come home with some great shots, I am still longing for a new perspective. I don’t want to have a portfolio of the same shots when there are so many great views along this coastline. At least this time I was forced.
    This is not the most amazing photograph, but it was very complicated both with composition and technicality. I really had to work for this shot. The foreground rocks aren’t very large, so in order to trick the eye I had to crouch down into the small crevice and straddle the river of rushing water about 2 feet off the ground. In that position it is really hard to setup and look through the view finder… especially when you are as out of shape and stiff like I am.   🙁   I had to fold myself while moving around so my shadow wasn’t visible on the left rock face. It’s hard to explain how weird I felt, but I’m sure I looked like a crazy person on the coastline waiting until the right moment, which never ever comes immediately. I have to begin cramping up before I can begin to shoot and create.
    After all that I waited on developing these images until 3 months later because of the volcano eruption that stole my attention. It wasn’t until I was tired of not seeing a sunset because of all the VOG that I went back through my images to find this awesome day.
    This image is a mesh of 2 images at different focal points. One for the foreground rocks and the other for the rest of the scene. The final image was edited several times over, over a couple days to get the look I was going for.
    © Christopher Johnson
  • Clouds

    Rain clouds over the Pacific ocean between Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.

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    On a Mokulele flight from Hawaii to Maui, the view of the stormy clouds were amazing. A lightning storm was moving across the islands creating some amazing cloud formations. I sat on the rear bench seat of the small airplane and photographed these clouds through the rear window. This image is 3 stitched images to create the panorama.

    © 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

  • Nanawale Bay Coastline

    An aerial photograph of Nanawale Bay coastline from a Paradise Helicopter tour.

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    Photographed just east of the Kapoho lava flow ocean entry as we were flying away from the devastation. This was a small look into the recent past of what the coastline along the Kapoho coastline looked like before the lava destroyed it a month ago.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Colors Of Lava

    Colors of the lava flowing in the volcanic river to Kapoho from fissure 8 in Pahoa.

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    Insane to witness the amazing colors of lava from the sky. This massive lava flow is slowly making its way to Pahoa. Beautiful and destructive. I love the oranges, reds, purples, and blues seen in this image.

    © 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

  • Lava Flow Pattern

    Tight cropping of the amazing detail and pattern of the lava river flowing out of Fissure 8 in Pahoa.

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    It was an amazing experience to see the lava spewing and flowing out of fissure 8 that erupted out of the middle of Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii. It was somewhat surreal. My mind didn’t comprehend what I was looking at at first because I felt like I was watching a movie. In Kona I am just far enough away to not realize what really is happening on the other side of the island even though we have the extreme VOG and earthquakes. It just never really sunk in until I went to see the event in person.

    After the initial shock and excitement of the fissure I began photographing the detail and patterns of the lava flow from above. This shot was taken at full zoom, 300mm, to enhance the colors and beautiful qualities of the lava as it cracked and hardened. When viewed at 100% there are endless designs and details in the lava that are just amazing that I didn’t realize were there until I developed these shots. The helicopter trip goes so fast and my mind was racing to take it all in mentally and with my camera. So much that I didn’t have my setting right in the camera while I was taking these pictures.

    When I was preparing to go on the helicopter I had a system to set the camera on shutter priority fast enough to handle the 300mm lens as well and the movement of the helicopter. Then to quickly review the shots to make sure everything was crisp before continuing. I even had a gentleman ask me about shutter speed before getting on the helicopter as a subtle reminder to adjust my settings. Unfortunately I didn’t heed my own preparation and advice. The excitement got to me. Before I knew it I was rapidly taking pictures of everything I saw. The helicopter pilot was twisting and tilting in all directions so everyone had their time to experience the disaster which added to my excitement.

    It wasn’t until we were leaving the flow that I began to review my images and noticed a lot of the had significant motion blur. My heart sank. I totally screwed up. “It’s Ok. It was the experience that was amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.” I told myself in order to cheer myself up. I mostly believed it, but as with all artists all we want to do is create. The life experiences are amazing, but we want to bring home some amazing art to relive it and share the experience. Sharing blurry shots of the lava isn’t going to excite anyone.

    I spent the rest of the day with a small lump in the back of my throat. I wanted to go up to the desk at Paradise Helicopters and tell them I wanted a do-over because I didn’t get the shots. They would obviously let me go again because that would be their biggest concern. It was weird where my mind went. I wasn’t depressed or anything and it would have been fine if all my images were trash because in actuality it was the experience that mattered. My wife and I had a blast and got to spent the rest of the day exploring new areas of the island. It was just disappointing that I thought I didn’t have any usable images.

    When I finally sat down and loaded all my shots into Bridge I was elated to see 2/3 of all the shots were just fine and my worries were for nothing. It’s so weird how a small thing can effect you in such a large way and how all preparation can be lost in excitement. I just need to learn to slow down and be methodical during these moments. In all actuality I had a lot of time to photograph the lava. It only seemed like I didn’t at the time.

    © Christopher Johnson