Hawaii

  • Hibiscus Schizopetalus on Black

    A beautiful red Hibiscus Schizopetalus against a black background.

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    These Hibiscus Schizopetalus, also know as the Coral Hibiscus, and the Japanese Lantern, are my favorite of the Hibiscus family. They have so much character with their long thin stamen dangling far away from their crazy flaring and chaotic petals.

    On a long walk I found a bush of these flowers and picked one to photograph when I returned home. Carefully I carried this flower for a good hour before setting up with a strobe and photographing several different poses of it. I thought for sure it would be wilted when I finally got home, but I was pleasantly surprised it maintained its shape and form.

    Aside from this image against a black background I shot the opposing image with a white background and still can’t decide which I like better.

    © Christopher Johnson

     

  • Fiery Sunset

    Beautiful bright and colorful sunset from the edge of a blow hole along the Kona coastline.

    The sunset last night was amazing!
    I set out when I saw low lying clouds underneath the upper clouds along with a clear horizon. Usually the sun will begin to illuminate the lower clouds with color and slowly hit the upper clouds to create an amazing glow of color, but when I got to the coastline I had second thoughts. The sky was gray and dismal. It didn’t change much as the sunset came near so I thought the hazy on the horizon would stop the color and fizzle into nothing.
    I setup to capture a totally different scene and was facing south when the explosion of color began. As fast as I could along the treacherous jagged and slippery rocks I moved to this location, looking through the large holes in the reef, to compose for the colors in the sky. I threw caution to the wind as I precariously setup on some small boulders and watched the large waves flood in toward me. I was rusty because I hadn’t been out in a while, but I’m happy that I walked away with some usable images to work with.
    Enjoy!
    © Christopher Johnson
  • Boulder Creek Falls

    Boulder Creek falls along the Alakahi stream that winds its way through the lush tropical landscape of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo.

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    Way in the back up stream is the waterfall that the Botanical Garden named as Boulder Creek Falls. In order to get to it I would have to make my way through the dense tropical forest which would most likely be frowned upon by the garden staff. With the amount of people around I decided not to attempt it. Instead I setup on a small bridge that crosses the stream and waited for the right moment.

    Like the Onomea Falls image that I posted earlier, I had to wait a while for the sunlight to be hidden behind some clouds in order to have a nice evenly lit scene. However, the sunlight wasn’t my only obstacle. The small bridge that I set my tripod on was not sturdy. Any amount of movement would create a huge vibration, which doesn’t go very well when taking slow shutter exposures. The large crowds of people that found their way to the falls had the same idea to stop and take pictures before winding their way up to the end of the path. Funny thing is that the end of the path is about 50 yards away up to the left which is somewhat in the shot. I really had short windows where I could photograph the scene once the sun was blocked. The best part was that I setup really low to the ground in a crouched position, but because the bridge was not wide enough to allow me to be behind the camera and have people walk behind me that I had to crouch off to the side and crane my head around to see through the view finder. Super awkward position, but very enjoyable to be sitting in front of this beautiful scene.

    © 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

  • Ka’anapali Sunset

    A beautiful sunset from the Ka’anapali beach on the island of Maui

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    The winter months in Hawaii are the busiest as people that live in cold climates seek an escape to warm beautiful tropical weather. With the increase in people finding wide open unobstructed landscape photo opportunities decrease.

    I went out to photograph this sunset off of the sandy beach of Ka’anapali. Instead of getting a wide angle shot close to the water I decided on capturing a fresh perspective. I have always loved the look of the trees that lined the beach along with the broad leaved vines that grow along the ground, so this time I setup back away from the ocean. After composing and setting up for the shot I started to realize the traffic of all the people coming out to enjoy the sunset. Some people stopped to take a quick picture while others rested on the trees within my field of view. The last interruption came as a family posed to take a family photo on the tree with the sunset to their backs. Luckily I had a few open opportunities to get the shots I needed to work with. The rest of the time was spent enjoying the sunset and the way people reacted once they saw me crouched on the ground taking their photo.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Restricted

    Black and White photograph of a leaning tree in Waimea, Hawaii

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    During a rainy day in Waimea, I decided to drive around some side roads in search of some interesting compositions that were enhanced by the mood of the weather. While driving the paved portion of Mana Road I was excited by this tree hanging over a barbed wire fence with a faded line of trees in the distant background. There were a lot of amazing elements to play with. I went with a low camera angle in order to place the distant trees under the canopy of the foreground tree. This also allowed for an exaggerated fence line to fill up the entire right side of the frame for some added interest. The image just wasn’t complete once I had completed the color edit. Although I still like it I decided to work the image as a black and white which I feel enhances the overall feel I was going for when I first was attracted to this location.

    I titled this piece Restricted because of the contrasting sides of the fence. One side is overgrown and rugged while the other is tended to and open while outlined by a sharp barbed wire fence. The tree feels like it is trying to reach over to the other side, but is rooted on the wrong side. Restricted from crossing over.

    © 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

  • 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.

  • Palm Frond

    The pattern of an ever-changing palm frond as it blows in the wind.

    I have become fascinated by palm fronds after watching and observing them for a few years from my lanai. The sunlight transforms the leaves on the frond through out the day while accenting differed characteristics of the tropical tree. With this image the light was low and the front leaves were shadowing the back leaves which created a zebra like pattern against the bright sky. As a black and white image the pattern was accented.

    Buy a print on my FineArtAmerica store. There are different sizes and styles to choose from to fit your needs.

    © Christopher Johnson

     

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  • 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

  • Hibiscus Schizopetalus

    Photograph of a red Hibiscus Schizopetalus against a white background.

    I have always found these Hibiscus flowers fascinating and have been wanting to photograph one for a long time. The way they hang off of a branch with their long stamen delicately hanging and swaying in the wind in contrast to the thrown back, crazy petals makes these Hibiscus super unique.

    While on a walk, about a mile away from home, I picked this flowers off of a bush to photograph. The only thing was the day was hot and I worried that it would wilt before I got home, but it held up. Maybe it was my wife’s care that it survived. If it were in my large hands it would surely not have made it.

    With a magnetic bag clip magnetized to the inner screw of an upper cabinet door I clipped the flower and propped a white pillow behind for a backdrop. I used an off camera strobe to capture the flower still as it waved around with each small movement of air. Minor adjustments in Photoshop.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Foggy Day

    Photograph of trees in a grassy field slowly disappearing into the foggy day

     

    On my diverted way to work I found myself navigating the roads in a cloud. Fighting my need to get to work on time I pulled off the road to photograph these beautiful trees slowly disappearing into the fog. I wanted to spend a couple hours wandering through the forrest to fully enjoy this moment. I don’t witness foggy days like this very often, so when I do I get very excited.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Angry Eyes

    Macro photograph of a small hermit crab giving its angry eyes

    This image is a more comical view of a hermit crab propped up on the end of its shell. When it emerged its eyes were together as if it was angry at what it saw… me. Or perhaps its reflection in the massive filter which it though was another hermit crab. Shortly after it realized the beauty it was looking at and began to relax. I on the other hand photographed the initial response.

     

    © 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