Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Best of Maui

I really really need to spend time updating my blog..  Time to get on that..  in a bit!  I do have an update of another sort though.  Once upon a time I had a small web site that friends and family used over the years that listed my favourite Maui places to visit.  I've been asked a few times recently for info, and thought I'd post it here for others to see since I took down my old site.

Some of these place are brilliant for photography others not so much.  As per usual, time of day heavily affects the quality of the pictures you'll get (in my opinion), and the number of people you're bound to encounter.

So, here are my favs, in no particular order.

Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Town)

Maluaka Beach is just south of Wailea at the end of Makena Road, it can be easy to miss.  You can find the road to the parking lot on the right after the golf course.  So..  What do you suppose this beach might have?  Yup, you guessed it, Turtles!  If you head to the south part of the beach and swim out with the coral on your left side..  if you're lucky, you'll see one of these:

Black Rock, Kaanapali Beach

This beach is accessible by the Maui Sheraton.  Prior to sunset they do a hula dance at the lagoon bar and a bit of a show with a torch-bearer diving into the sea.  It wasn't the most impressive thing we've ever seen..  but why not.

Oneloa Beach (aka Big Beach)

This beach, as the name implies, is big, very big.  Locals also like to go there which means it can be crowded, very crowded.  It is a sight to behold though, it's worth checking it out.

Wailea Beach

Every sunset in front of the Grand Wailea resort you'll see photographers trying to setup to capture the perfect sunset with a row of palm trees in the foreground.  That is if you're lucky.  It's a very nice beach serving the fancy resorts nearby.  Parking can be at a premium with few available options if you aren't staying in resort row.  Get there early.  In general terms actually you want to get to most of the beaches early - less people.  Unless you're there to check out the bikinis.  ;)  Beware of parking at the mall I hear some people have received tickets..

Road to Hana

Ok, so I think many people are missing the whole point of what the road to Hana is all about.  It's not about a race to Hana and back, but rather taking your time to drive there and enjoy the countless secluded pools, beaches, incredible trees and parks.  If you race there you're really missing out.  Take your time, stop and more importantly relax!  Swim here:

Red Sand Beach

Hana, in East Maui hides this unique beach.  The beach is located in a volcanic cinder cone, and the sand really is red.  It's a little bit of a trek to get to, and I'd suggest not for people who aren't into a little bit of an adventure.  However I think it's worth it..  you'll get to swim in a (dormant) volcano!  Make sure you're wearing proper shoes or sandals.  

Take Uakea Rd beyond Hana Bay and keep going until you pass the tennis courts and a community centre and find a place there to park.  At the end of the road there is a field between the community centre and a hotel, walk down and pick up a trail.  The beach is a bit of a hike off to the left along the water.  Given the remote location, don't be to surprised if you see a few people that have misplaced their bathing suits.  Apparently it's a nice place for a skinny dip too.  Be careful of the water entering the cone from the Ocean opening, it strikes me it could be dangerous there - stay safe!

Venus Pools

I haven't managed to actually go here myself, but I want to check it out.  It's a fresh water pool right on the ocean, somewhere near mile marker 48 on the Hana Highway.  Apparently it's a bit of a hike.  If you go let me know what it's like?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

6th Annual Photography Masters Cup

I'm pleased to announce that today I was nominated in the 6th Annual Photography Masters Cup for my picture "Reflections" in the category of Nature.

The awards international Jury included captains of the industry from Phillips de Pury & Company in New York; Kunst Licht Gallery, Shanghai; XPO Gallery, Paris; Tasveer Galleries, India; BFN, Netherlands; to BBH in London.  It's an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 8,521 entries they received this year.

The Photography Masters Cup is the leading international award honoring excellence in color photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in color photography.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Shouldn't California be Sunny?

I spent last week in San Francisco this past week, I really enjoyed my time there, but the weather was "interesting".  Apparently the summer months are often the worst time to go due to the fog.  On the plus side I did manage to play around with my filters, and captured the below.  It's a bit of a different perspective on the Golden Gate Bridge I think.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

7th Annual Black and White Spider Awards

I'm pleased to announce that today I was nominated in the 7th Annual Black and White Spider for my picture "Plains" in the category of Nature.

The awards international Jury included captains of the industry from National Geographic, Fratelli Alinari, Heffel Fine Art to the Tate in London who honored Spider Fellows with 180 coveted title awards and 875 nominees in 14 categories.  I was lucky to be one of those nominees!

The black and white spider awards is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


While up in the Yukon, I found myself taking all sorts of random reflection pictures, some more abstract that others..  I pulled out a neutral density filter for this shot to slow down the ripples in the lake.

The lakes were just starting the freeze over for the winter, shady areas had ice forming already.  I didn't wear my water proof hiking boots and I had to hike through a swap to get the below shot.  Not a pleasant experience getting my feet wet when the water is hovering just above freezing.  I think it was worth the "soaker" though.

After reviewing my photographs, it's funny how on some occasions certain things really catch your eye. There I was in a place with mountains everywhere, and my lens was pointed down every time I came across a lake, or other body of water. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Aurora Borealis Experience

Last weekend I was in Whitehorse Yukon exploring a small portion of the territory with the hope of capturing an aurora borealis display.  Thankfully nature didn't disappoint, three of the four nights I was there I was fortunate enough to see the lights (the other night it snowed - northern clouds aren't as exciting as northern lights..).  I've also created a new Yukon Gallery I'll probably be adding a little more to it in the next couple days (and posting about some of the other pictures).

As for location I was part of a photo workshop put on by Langara, which meant it was a "tour" experience (albeit a customized one for photography).  For a first experience it was fantastic, I got to see a number of the major sites and the company had a nice setup for aurora viewing.  With that said however, if I was to go up again after this last visit, I'd probably venture out on my own (or customize things with the tour operator to incorporate different sites) to try to find locations where I could have some more interesting things in the foreground of my pictures.

Of course the down side of that means that to get the "perfect" picture, I may have to camp in the middle of nowhere in ten below for a few weeks just to see the lights and attempt my picture.  So while I think that might be a great experience, my photographer's assistant doesn't take very well to me freezing her, so I'm not too sure how that would work in practice..

Personally, given lots of time I'd check the weather, as well as the "Aurora Forecast" and only venture out after dark if I know it looks promising.  If it's snowing, I think I'll skip staying up until 2:00 AM that evening..  As I've already alluded, northern clouds aren't any more exciting than the ones in Vancouver.  This time of year because of the sun position Whitehorse if the land of the "golden hours" - there is fantastic light for photography in the morning, I'd wake up at sunrise a few times as well if given the chance to take in some of that gorgeous light.

The UAF Geophysical Institute has a great aurora forecast site, and even an iPhone/iPad App.  (I see tonight would be a great night to be there..)

For the technical aspects of aurora photography, I'd wander over to Photographer Patrick Endres' Blog, he's got all sorts of great tips and checklists.  (Quick seemingly random tip - Remove your UV Filters!)  For myself personally, I was trying to limit my exposures to 30 seconds or less (generally shooting at 800 ISO, and F2.8).  I'm not a huge fan of aurora and star trails, so I was trying to keep the exposures down so the stars looked like.. well.. stars.

Another lesson learned for me was to ensure I'm not over exposing.  I'd strongly suggest bracketing your exposures using different ISOs.  In my own experience, looking at my LCD I was completely happy with the exposures, but in reality everything was over exposed once I reviewed my shots on my computer.  Had I not done that, for night two (or if I didn't review my shots) I don't think I would have been happy with the results.

Whitehorse itself is an amazing little place, not withstanding all the beauty of the Yukon itself.  If you have an opportunity I'd strongly suggest you visit - I'd like to go back again, most likely for a long road trip.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Experimenting with Long Explosures

Over the last couple of weeks I've been experimenting with daylight long exposure photography, and thought I'd document my trials and tribulations to date and the "how too" that I've experienced.  By long exposure I mean multiple minute exposures during the day, of course that usually presents some challenges with exposure...

Here is the first picture I've taken that I'm happy with, I continue to stock other locations that I think might work out, but I'm waiting for the right weather...  So far just test pictures, nothing worth posting yet, but they'll come eventually if all goes well.  This is from my Alberta Plains gallery.


To start you're going to need some neutral density filters.  I'd suggest the screw on variety unless you want to punish yourself by manually holding something in front of your lens...  Not really my idea of fun, but it might be yours.  :)  You should consider buying filters at your largest filter size and then use step down rings for your other lenses.  That way your purchases will work across your lens lineup if you're lucky enough to have a number of lenses.

As for the number of stops that you need, in my own experience, you probably want filters that are able to "soak up" between 13-16 stops.  On bright days 16 stops seems to be a good fit, on low light days you might be able to get away with 13.  Since the more pieces of glass, the worse the image quality, you want to do this in as few filters as possible.  So, in a perfect world you'll probably want a 10 stop, and 3 or (and?) 6 stop filters so you'll be able to stack two together.  I don't think at this stage anyone appears to be selling single filters over 10 stops.

A world of caution - I've seen people use the "cheap" variable ND filters and they've given them very poor results.  (I don't believe the very expensive filter from a certain manufacturer has this problem.)  There were odd light leakage problems, and some of the images almost appeared to have zebra stripes - I'm staying away from the "cheapies".


You need a sturdy tripod.  It's my own personal belief that it's worth while to invest in a tripod (and ball head) while it may not be as exciting as a new camera or lens, buying something for a few hundred dollars should last you for years - you'll be able to rely on it when you need it.  Years ago I bought my first inexpensive tripod off of E-Bay, and I initially thought it was a great deal - every time I used it however a new part broke/fell off of it.  Getting it to stay in one spot (like a tripod should) also proved to be too difficult for it.  Don't make the same mistake I did..

Other Incidentals

You'll also need a timer/cable release so you'll be able to put your camera in bulb mode too take the long exposures.  If you're taking pictures in direct sunlight, it's also a good idea to put on something to block the light from entering the viewfinder, otherwise light may leak into your images.  (It's possible for this to happen from other seams in your camera or even lenses as well, but hopefully that won't happen to you.)  Some straps have the little plastic piece to do this, or you can improvise with something else (clothes, filter holder, etc).

The Pictures
  1. Find perfect day, perfect composition, and of course perfect light.  (Or wing it - we all have to start somewhere!)  Compose your future image, with no filters.  Put your lens on manual focus, and take a test shot, and ensure you're happy with what you just took.  (In focus, correct exposure, and so on.)
  2. Determine how many stops of light you'd like to put on (more on this later) your lens, and assemble your filters.  Plug in your timer/cable release to your camera.
  3. Once your happy, without changing anything else screw your filters onto your lens, ensuring not to touch your focus, or focal length.  Once the filters are on you aren't going to be able to see anything through your viewfinder.
  4. Now set your camera in bulb mode, and adjust your exposure (based upon your test picture) the required amount of stops that you just put on your lens.  You can make yourself a cheat sheet, or there are also a whole host of "exposure calculator" apps for the various smart phones out there. (I haven't been able to find one for Android that goes above 10 stops, if someone knows of one that does please let me know!)  After practice, you might be able to do the calculation in your head.  Worst case you can also count the stop changes as you change your exposure.
  5. Cover your camera's viewfinder if it's in the sun, and take your picture with your cable release/timer ensuring you expose your image the correct amount of time.
  6. Show the world your fantastic new images (of course), sell them, Profit?  Credit me?
Other Tips

I'm of course no expert at this, if you google for "long exposure photographers" you'll find a ton, there is also a large community of people who are clearly experts at this type of art on Google+.  That said, these are a couple more things I've learnt thus far:
  • Generally speaking, clouds and water tends to be blurred out after a minute or so. 
  • For clouds, the direction of the wind clearly impacts the types of "streaks" that appear in the clouds.  Longer exposures of clouds tend to loose impact a bit the longer you go.  Experiment with this yourself - I still am.
  • You want your camera on the lowest (native) ISO your camera supports.  (E.g. Canon - ISO 100, Nikon - ISO 200).  This also helps reduce your shutter speed.
  • Of course people walking in and out of your image will become "ghosts" the longer the exposure is.  If they stand in front of you wearing a florescent jacket, you'll probably see them however..
  • You'll probably find there is often a strange color cast on the images as a result of using the filters.  It happens, but of course many folks are also converting the images to black and white anyway.
  • Turn off IS (Canon) or VR (Nikon) on your lenses if you have it.  Some lenses actually say not to tripod mount them with it on, but even if you do it will probably cause problems with long exposure shots anyway.
Have fun! I'll post more pictures using this technique in the future as well.