nature

  • Hawaiian Turtle

    Hawaiian green sea turtle swims near the surface of the water.

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    Every time I go to photograph underwater I realize how difficult it is. Everything is moving constantly, the light is always changing and not as bright, and whatever you swim towards swims away. Not to mention how hard it is to see the camera screen because of the reflection of the sun creating a mirror over the screen. Most of the time I find myself aiming in the direction of what I want to photograph and most of the time I either miss or crop the object in half. Then there are the times I get lucky.

    I was swimming around looking for turtles, but couldn’t find one. Instead I though to capture some patterns and sun rays when this turtle swam under me as if to say hello. The spot I was wasn’t very deep. I could stand up and have my head out of the water, so it was that much more exciting to have that close of a visitor. I followed her around for a little bit and then as sudden as she arrived, she was gone.

    The photograph I came away with is one where she came up for air a was slowly beginning to dive back down to feed. I love how the shell is reflected in the underside of the waves as they pass by.

    © Christopher Johnson

    www.fromhereonin.com

    Purchase a print by visiting my RedBubble page.

     

  • Kamokuna Plume

    Photograph of smoke billowing into the sunsetting sky as the lava meets the ocean.

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    A couple of weeks after the collapse of the shelf the lava now flows directly into the ocean like a raging river. The smoke hid the view of the lava, but with the shifting winds we would get a glimpse every now and then. We weren’t able to get as close as before, but it was still a sight to see.

    © Christopher Johnson

    Purchase a print by visiting my RedBubble page

  • Kamokuna At Night

    Photographing the Kamokuna Lava Ocean Entry at Night

     

    On December 31st there was a drastic change to the shoreline at the Kamokuna ocean entry. The lower shelf that the lava once gradually flowed over before entering into the ocean as well as part of an old lookout point fell into the ocean. Somewhere around 17 acres of land suddenly disappeared. I had to go see it and so as a last minute plan we headed over. I couldn’t believe the amount of roadblocks we encountered on the way. Dead car battery, flat bike tires, missing headlamps, and an accident that closed the road for 30min. While sitting in traffic I turned to my wife and said. “I don’t think we’re gonna make it in time.” At that point we considered abandoning the mission, but to our surprise the road opened up and we were on our way. Lucky it did because I don’t know when we would be able to get back over there.

    The trail was light with people, so we were able to ride with ease without having to worry about everyone and made it with plenty of daylight to spare. When we came prior to the collapse, in August of 2016, the road went on further and we were able to get close to the lava. Close enough where we were able to see a lot of action with our naked eyes. Now the new lookout puts us several hundreds of yards away. The action is harder to see without binoculars or zoom lenses. With the amount of smoke billowing off of the entry even seeing the lava is difficult. A gust of wind would swoop in and push the smoke where we would get a glimpse of the large lava river draining into the ocean. It was impressive to see even with the great distance.

    My family walked around and explored all the viewing areas while I found a spot I liked and didn’t move from that spot the entire time we were there. With the small crowds of people I wanted to make sure that I had a front row spot where I didn’t need to worry about someone moving in front of me. Even still I had the occasional tourist think I was their husband and stand next to me while telling me about how they nearly fell down in the dark. I would slowly look up and watch them get flustered with embarrassment and walk away. Strangely enough it happened more than once.

    My lens of choice was the 300mm telephoto for the distance. It was windy, so I needed to weigh the tripod down with my bag and crank down all the setting nobs. I also used a cable release and waited for the wind to die down before taking the shots in order to reduce camera shake. Any slight movement while fully zoomed in will move the composition a couple feet.

    It was at night that the lava glowed and showed life with a lot of small explosions. I decided to capture the night sky with my wide angle before leaving. I took 8 to 10 – 30 second shots while my kids grew impatient. They were definitely ready to start the long bike ride back and get something to eat.

    As I stepped off my bike at the car I was relieved the bike ride was over. Any longer and the extra hard, value engineered, cheap ass seat would have to be surgically removed from me. It has been a couple weeks since then, but I swear I walk differently now. We had fun.

    © Christopher Johnson

     

    View more lava images – http://www.fromhereonin.com/volcanic-activity/

  • Halemaumau Crater

    Photo of the lava churning and spattering in the Halemaumau crater

     

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    Having heard the lava was very active due to a piece of the crater wall collapsing into the lava lake, I was extremely excited to visit the Jaggar museum that night. I headed out after work with my family and arrived at the Volcano hours later with the unfortunate drizzle of rain. I wasn’t expecting much, in fact I wasn’t expecting I was going to see anything due to heavy fog or rain clouds. On a previous trip I knew we were getting close because the sky had an amazing bright orange glow, however, this trip wasn’t as apparent. My hopes were fading.

    We arrived at the Jaggar museum lookout along with many others. Gathering up our gear took a while, but eventually we set out to the view point. With the glow of the lava and the orange night step lights leading our way to the lookout, we were all amazed at the amazing sight of the active lava lake. Never before have I been able to see the lava lake from the Jaggar museum. Usually just a glow of light as smoke billowed away. There were cracks of bright yellow and orange moving around. Forming new connections with other cracks while closing others. The most mystical sight was the sputtering lava against the crater wall.

    Photographing the lava was difficult. I needed a higher iso in order to stop the motion of the lava, but not too high as to pixelate the image beyond usability. In order to capture the lava up close I needed the full range of my telephoto lens at 300mm. This all doesn’t seem difficult, but adding wind and rain to the equation made this difficult. Any small movement of the lens would move the image drastically, which generated a blurry image. I had to wait for relief in the wind, but then the rain would speckle the lens. It was a little bit of a dance to get the shots.

    For the image above I shot two focal ranges. The trees were several feet in front of me, while the lava was hundreds of feet away. Maybe thousands. It took a lot of blending and luminosity masks in Photoshop to merge the images to one.

    Aloha!

    © Christopher Johnson

     

    Purchase this piece by visiting my RedBubble page.

  • Leading Lines

    Photograph of the tall bamboo forest on Maui

     

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    The stalks of tall bamboo lean up toward the beautiful canopy of the Bamboo forest on the island of Maui. A hike that I did on the previous visit to Maui and was determined to go back. The drive to Hana isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes an entire day to drive, even if you didn’t stop. This time we went the back way, the ‘Do Not Go This Way In A Rental Vehicle’ way, but it was fine. Way faster if you just go to the Haleakala National Park where the 7 Sacred Pools are. The only crazy part was towards the end when navigating around the steep cliffs on a single lane road. The guard rails had been rusted apart from the insane surf. I was just hoping no one was coming the other direction. I am pretty sure we would have just looked at each other until someone reluctantly decided to reverse to a nearest pull out. Luckily no one came.

    The hike was the same as I remembered. The only difference was that we couldn’t walk all the way to waterfall due to the heavy rains we had this Summer. I love the bamboo. There is nothing like it. The hike is fairly long and uneventful and you almost want to turn back, thinking it won’t change. Then you cross a bridge and enter into the first part of the forest and your breath is taken from you. All you want to do from that point is venture deeper into it and engross your entire self into the forest. When the wind blows there is a quiet and soothing knocking from the hollow stalks that almost stops you in your tracks. Although the wind isn’t what I wanted for photographing the bamboo because of movement, I thoroughly enjoyed and welcomed it.

    The remaining trip back to Lahaina was fun. We ended up going back on the ‘Road To Hana’, which took forever, but was beautiful. It was amazing to see the damage from the Hurricane Darby that I heard so much about on the news. Funny that months later I was having dinner with a mother and daughter that lived in Hana. The mother told me a story of how she came to a van full of tourists that nearly went over the cliff on one of the windy turns. The van had been pinned by a tree and was luckily not going anywhere. While waiting for the tow truck the mother asked the tourists if they wanted their pictures taken while in the van, which they excitedly said ‘yes’. After the picture they all left the van to discover how close they were to falling over the cliff. The funny thing was the tourist driving had a “I Survived The Road To Hana” shirt on.

    © Christopher Johnson

    Purchase a print by visiting my RedBubble page.

  • Night Sky

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    I revisited the spot of the previous post “Night Lights” to further explore the night stars and milky way as a backdrop of the beautiful under-lit palm tree. This time I shot with a wider lens in order to capture more of the night sky.

    © Christopher Johnson

    Purchase a print by visiting my RedBubble page.

  • Kilauea From Above

    Celebrating our 16th anniversary, my wife and I went on an amazing helicopter tour around the Big Island with Blue Hawaiian. We began towards the volcano, then made our way north along the Hamakua coastline to the amazing valleys north of Waipio. This is one of the coolest, most breathtaking Hawaiian adventures I have ever taken. I strongly recommend going.

    This post is mainly to show images of the smoke that is coming out of the volcano. I will be showing the valleys in a later post.

    Enjoy!

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Stormy Kona

    A panoramic view of dark stormy clouds under-lit by a Hawaiian sunset off the shoreline of Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

     

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Life

    A hike over the old lava flow… and soon to be new lava flow, but don’t tell the fern. A brilliant reminder that life will always find a way.

     

    This image was taken near the new lava flow at Kamokuna in the Volcano National Park… fairly close to the lava flow. I deviated from the gravel road a bit to find this fern growing through the crack in the lava. The vibrant green leaves contrasting against the deep tones of the lava is a great contrast to life growing out of a harsh environment. I was captivated by the way the lava crumbled under my feet and sounded like glass breaking as I ventured to this spot. The wind was blowing and waving the small leaves of the fern making it difficult to shoot. My patience was definitely tested as I waited to the breeze to die down long enough to still the shot. Much more that I wasn’t even to my final destination.  Watching this new life was a bit calming as I began to realize how crazy it is that this fern is growing nearly five miles away from any other plant. I thought to myself how strange and foreign this environment is that is being created by the Hawaiian volcano.

     

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Mauna Kea

    Venturing up Mauna Kea with the family to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We stayed up at the visitors center where we were told the meteors would be visible around 1 am and really visible just after the moon went down, sometime after 2 am. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the moon set. The fog came rolling in and out through out the night, but came in to stay around 1 am. Instead I drove home as the family slept.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • 61G Ocean Entry

    Using a 300mm lens I was able to zoom into the lava as it meets the ocean from the cliff above.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Lyman Sunset

    Sunset at a popular surf spot along Ali’i drive in Kailua Kona. This is my second visit to shooting this landscape and I was happy to have a gorgeous cloudy sunset to work with.

     

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Akaka Falls

    Akaka Falls framed with the ferns in the foreground.

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    This magnificent waterfall has been photographed a million times and mostly the same way. I wanted to photograph it with a different approach. Framing the waterfall with all of its surroundings in order to accent the subtleties of the area was my goal. The ferns in the foreground, small waterfalls along the left side of the falls, the moss along the walls, and the way the water catches smooth rocks along the cliff walls as it falls were all the details I set out to capture that are normally lost in a wide angle view.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Tomorrow

    The last minute retreat to the ocean to watch the earth roll away from the sun. I was looking for a composition when I found inspiration from my daughter. Setting up for the classic seascape shot, I looked back to witness my daughter tucked behind the tree branches taking pictures with my phone. Afterwards I retreated back to where she was sitting, bored with my compositions, to suddenly understand the amazing scenery she was seeing all along.

    The wind was blowing steady and I wanted the branches to be sharp with the water and clouds blurry from their movement. Moments like these call for multiple shots for future use. I shot a high shutter, large aperture shot of the branches to keep them sharp as well as a slow shutter, small aperture for the water and clouds for movement. Back at the dark room, which is in my very bright computer… I blended them together to create the best of the sunset to which I credit my daughter Makayla.

     

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Noio Point Arch

    Photograph of a sea arch along the western Hawaii coastline during sunset

    Sunlight streams through the large opening of a sea arch off of Noio Point along the Kailua Kona coastline.

    See the aerial version I shot with a DJI Spark drone, ‘Sea Arch Aerial‘.

    © Christopher Johnson

    Available backlit from Big Naked Wall. Check out the website and see the cool things they are doing for artwork with their interchangeable prints on backlit frames.