• Sand Harbor Ripples

    Photograph of water ripples distorting the large boulders underwater at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe.

  • Sand Harbor 2011

    Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe

  • Pine Trees

    Tall pine trees in front of Fallen Leaf Lake on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.

  • Two Fifteen

    I visited this location two days in a row when the sunset had some promise. The first day was disappointing when the sun popped under the clouds as a dull glowing ball surrounded by the colorless grey haze, blocking any chance of color and light. I was successful when I shot while the sun was high, but during the finale the absence of light pushed my shutter speed too slow. While I wan’t going to compromise any more on aperture and ISO I packed up. However, the next day I was graced with the appearance of the sun. Again I watched as the sun faded behind the low lying haze that trapped the sunlight from under lighting the belly of the clouds, but I was happy to witness some color on the horizon.
    My goal with this shot, against this sunset, was to capture the color and texture of the seaweed with a 1 second shutter. The surf was high and I didn’t want to risk a tight ground shot, so instead, I framed a glimpse of the foreground.
    © Christopher Johnson

  • On Location

    My wife had taken a picture of me while I photographed a large hole in the Keahole Point coastline. For over 3 years I have been visiting this, and many other, blow holes along the coastline, but I never really understood how big they actually were until now. Seeing an image of me standing on the edge with the water completely drained may have me second guess my approach the next time I re-visit any one of the six blow holes I frequent, but I hope not.

    The next image is the shot I took from this location. I think it’s cool to see these images together.


    © Christopher Johnson


  • Keauhou Sunset

    The landscape of Keauhou is like nothing I have ever seen before. It’s almost as if I am on another planet.

    I found a crack in a large rock formation where the ocean waves would surge in and out. I wanted to capture this small vantage point of the Hawaiian sunset as a sliver of light through the dramatic rocks of Keauhou. The most difficult part was exposure. Keeping the highlights and shadows balanced. I completely under exposed all shots, but with the amazing range of the Sony A7, I was able to retain the detail in the shadows while developing the RAW file.

  • Eucalyptus Forest

    Large Eucalyptus trees along the Hamakua coast on the Big Island.

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    I have been meaning to stop and take the time to venture into these trees for a very long time, but every time I drove by I was either in a hurry or the lighting wasn’t right. This time, however, was perfect. The sun was setting making the harsh highlights from the sun non-existent, but instead offered a soft even glow around each tree.

    Entering the forest was a challenge since the grassy trail was taller than me.  As I made my way through the grass and spider webs 🙁 …. and the deeper I went into the forest, the grass was a lot shorter and more manageable to photograph.  With the light quickly fleeting I was able to shoot a handful of images. Two of which are what I set out to capture.

    © Christopher Johnson

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  • Onomea Falls

    Photograph of the beautiful picturesque Onomea waterfall


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    A beautiful waterfall within the Tropical Botanical Garden walk north of Hilo on the Scenic road. I definitely recommend taking the time to visit this botanical garden. It’s breathtaking!

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Snow Storm

    Photograph of a winter forest in Lake Tahoe

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    During a recent trip to Lake Tahoe the weather was stormy for the first week. I have always wanted to shoot the snow falling in a forest, but for some reason I never did during the 6 years I practiced photography in Tahoe. I would always wait until the storm was over before I ventured out. Fresh fallen snow that has blanketed the trees and ground is amazing, but I wanted to capture the storm so I ventured out into the snowy forest.

    It’s not easy to wander the forest in the snow. There isn’t a ‘get there quickly’ while snow is around your waist and large snow drifts blast you in the face; chilling to the bone. I worked extremely hard to go 100 yards and I was cold, but I was in a magical place. The forest was quiet. In the distance I would see the trees vanish as snow swirled off the branches showing me the character of wind as it sweeps through the forest.  Snow continued to fall while covering me and my camera another inch.

    I shot several scenes, but it was at the end of my journey into the forest where I noticed a couple of tall dark trees behind a grouping of small baby trees on the far side of an open field. This composition, in a tight field of view, was the scene and feel I wanted to shoot which captures what this storm felt like. The gusts of wind that would completely cover the trees as it blew towards me. The snow flakes that speckled the atmosphere. The enchanted dark forest with new growth that is covered in a blanket of snow. This was where I decided to capture the moment.

    © Christopher Johnson

    Purchase a print by visiting my RedBubble page.

  • Shoot RAW

    Shoot Raw … a Rude Reminder


    Long breaks from shooting have proved to be bad for me. This is following my Failure To Focus post from last month. This next lesson came from an entire shoot that was mostly of un-useable images. Such a drag since the location I walked to was a couple miles along a treacherous terrain. Hopefully I won’t make the same mistake again.

    12 years ago I made the change from shooting all JPEG to shooting all RAW images. It didn’t really matter if the subject I was shooting needed to be RAW because it was going to be shot RAW anyway. Well now I have become so custom to developing RAW images that I forgot what the difference really was. Well I learned the difference today.

    My camera is getting old. The last photo shoot I had was underwater at Mahaiula beach. Unfortunately the housing leaked and when I removed the camera, although the camera worked fine, the settings began to change on their own. ISO, focus, white balance, and PASM; I just didn’t realize the RAW capture settings changed as well. I had thought something was different when I noticed the 1250 number on the screen, but it didn’t dawn on me what that number actually represented. The 1250 was the available images I could shoot on the memory card, where that number usually is around 200. Thinking it was the ISO I went to adjust the settings, but it was already at 100. It was at this moment I should have stopped to figure it out, but of course I didn’t and proceeded to shoot the new location.

    I left thinking I may have gotten some great shots… I was wrong. Once I saw the JPEG at the end of the files while loading them on my hard drive I was mortified. “Maybe they will be fine” I thought to myself. That was until I began to work on the images.

    The first thing I began to notice was the amount of artifacts in under exposed areas. Then the minor adjustments in the highlights and shadows really started to make the images look fake. Instead of having the ability to fine tune these areas, small adjustments would completely blow them out or flatten the image. Then there was a lot of blotchy areas where the pixels try to make up the detail in dark and highlighted areas. Followed by the objects in the distance at the far end of focus had a weird sharpening look to them. Almost like the objects were wrapped in plastic. These camera compressed images were total crap. All flexibility for development is gone. The only way this JPEG setting worked is if the image shot was technically perfect and in a tight focal range.

    The shot I posted needed very little development and for the most part worked. With a little bit of loss in the shadowy areas I am fairly happy with it, but as for the rest, it was a sad night.


  • Kohanaiki ‘S’ Curve

    I had a great time shooting at a new location with Mark Rogers for this sunset. This spot is so complex with so many compositional possibilities. I can’t wait to see what images Mark came up with.

    My first impression of this location is a view through the passage toward a large hole in the reef. I wanted to capture the colorful seaweed with the strings of water as it flows gently through them while the sun colors up the clouds above. I think that with this composition in the winter the sun may be in the opening above the ocean, so I look forward to that possibility.

    This photograph of the beautiful Hawaiian scenery can be purchased as a fine art print for home or office or licensed for usage.

    Please contact me for more information.

  • Ku’uali’i Sunset

    On the edge of the Ku’uali’i fishpond amongst the grass, I enjoyed the rare calm winds during this sunset.

  • Keahole Sunset

    A wide photograph to show the character of the Keahole shoreline.


    Being too busy to go out and shoot is no fun and that is where I have been for most of 2015. Today I was able to retreat to the beach and noticed the calm ocean. It was then I slated a time to shoot the sunset. When the ocean is calm and the tide is low, the seaweed is more prevalent and I knew exactly where to go. A spot I haven’t been to in a while just north of Kailua Kona where the shoreline has a unique character to what we think Hawaii should look like.

    This location, unlike the others, is more violent when the waves surge in and out of the large holes in the rocky shoreline. Extra caution is needed when setting up. I setup on a high rock that was away from sudden splashes and wave surges, although from the image it doesn’t seem like I was, but I was.
    The sunset seemed to come together at the right moment. I shot several frames, but this is the one that brought the entire scene together… Enjoy!

    © Christopher Johnson

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  • O’oma Sunset

    O’oma Sunset

    This puka on the O’oma coastline has been one of the most difficult locations to photograph for me. So at the end of a stormy day and with some great cloud formations, I was hoping to inspire some creativity to capture the unique qualities of this location.
    Please enjoy.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • In And Out

    Dark clouds began to build from the massive storm about to hit the Hawaiian Islands. On shore winds made this location extremely challenging to shoot. With each wave crash, sea spray would speckle the filter causing another cleaning. I wasn’t anticipating the wind otherwise I would have brought some sort of shield. Instead I used my shirt, slipping it over the camera while cleaning the filter carefully keeping still on the slippery rock face as giant waves raged toward me. Must have been a sight to watch… somewhat embarrassing.
    I shot several images of the wave action, but this one I feel captures the violence and movement of the ocean during the storm.

    © Christopher Johnson