nature

  • 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

  • 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

  • Floating Sand

    Image of sand floating underwater after a passing wave.

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    Messing around in the waves of Kua Bay while trying to capture the backside of a wave, I wasn’t having much luck. The water was flat and there were tons of people around. Every once in a while a large set would come in and energize everyone in the water as they all setup to body surf the wave. With all the commotion a lot of sand kicked up and then as the wave passed more sand would kick up, but I tried to photograph the wave anyway. What I found was a lot of out of focus images. I left the beach thinking it was a loss, however, it is always nice to get in the water.

    When I loaded the images into Photoshop Bridge I found a lot of beautiful images of sand with amazing streaks of sunlight beaming through the water. I edited this image with an abstract/design quality in mind and accented the colors and light values. In the end I think this would be a very cool accent image on a wall blown up really big.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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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