I have to admit to missing the ocean badly right now. The pandemic has interrupted a couple of trips to the coast but a stroll through my image library helped. I landed on some images from a morning two Aprils ago where I was on the narrow strip of land where the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds borders against a US Coast Guard Air Station.
The sun rose just after 6 am. I was on the shore by 5 and enjoyed watching twilight brighten the night sky. The hour seemed to glide quickly past – as is often the case when I’m out photographing landscapes. Not before I had managed a few different scenes of the blue hour on this interesting spot along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
When the sun was up, I did a little beach combing. Walking through the wash of the tide, I found a few interesting miniature scenes. This one was a favorite of mine.
When we were in Cabo San Lucas the first week of December, Bobbi and I both went out on whale watching trips. Whales found Bobbi less than a mile out of the Cabo San Lucas Marina while I had a longer travel along the Pacific coastline before sighting one active Humpback. We both had long encounters with these magnificent animals. Our children had enjoyed the dolphin swim the day before but were not excited about the whale watching. So one parent went out while the other patrolled the kids at the pool and beach.
While we went on separate excursions, we went with the same operator and were both similarly impressed. Whale Watch Cabo runs their tours on Panga boats, low to the water and great sight lines for everyone on board. Every tour they run is led by a marine biologist and a local captain. It was nice to hear more information about whales and other local ocean wildlife during the trip.
We enjoyed a close look of the Sea Lion colony and the groups of birds around Land’s End. Then headed out onto the open ocean up the coastline of western Baja. On my tour, we found an energetic whale and it was incredible to watch three separate breaches and numerous airborne tails. Bobbi and I both had great times and thank Janneke and Peter, the owners of Whale Watch Cabo, for making our trips very memorable.
Water sprays off a whale’s tail as it begins a dive in the Pacific Ocean west of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. This Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was very active with some great tail lifts and breaches before settling into a steady swim just under the surface which we used as our queue to part company. It is amazing just to see them and for it share some of its out of the water action was very fun to watch.
The colours came in nicely when the sun fell under the clouds before hiding behind the ocean horizon. The shoreline around La Jolla looked like someone had splashed paint across the wet rocks, swirling water as well as the dark clouds hanging above. This was a few minutes after the previous image I shared from the same sunset – interesting how the colours changed over that short period of time.
I woke to a grey morning on the Pacific earlier this week. As the sun rose, its light diffused across the dull silver clouds and carried on to the waves rolling in. In these images I stretched some of these waves out with longer exposures (1/30 to 1/2 seconds) and swung the camera around a bit just to play with the idea a bit more.
Amid the abstract work, a few seals skimmed by. One of these glided inside a wave as it rolled into shore – which was fantastic to watch. I hope to share images from those encounters as well as a few with Brown pelicans from the same morning soon.
We are on the coast of Southern California for a short vacation. Legoland is the destination today for the family and my building-obsessed son. Last night, I was out exploring the beach cities north of San Diego and we photographed the sunset on the coastline in La Jolla. The light was beautiful and the rocky coastline provided a wonderful landscape to work with. There are surfers, pelicans and seals all waiting to be photographed, I’m excited to find a few more opportunities.
When I was on a catamaran sailing along the Na Pali Coast we had a close encounter with a small pod of dolphins where they swam alongside for several minutes. I loved watching the deceptive power in their movements. The cat was under full sail and the dolphins seemed to expend little effort to speed past the bow and slip in and out of the waves.
On the return trip to the harbour, close to the first visit, a couple more dolphins (different I think as they seemed to be gray coloured versus the blue bodies of the first ones – although that could be a change in the light) came by and this time had a couple of humpback whales with them. The dolphins get very excited when the whales return for the winter and the two species are often found playing together and generally hanging out together until the whales head off around the globe again. The whales did not make any spectacular breaches but I felt no disappointment as just seeing them in their waters was magical.
(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)
Ke’e Beach is further up the coast on the north shore. The waves were big and came in haphazard sets with some breaks sending waves slamming into other ones. I did not expect to see anyone surfing there but on one of the days we spent on the beach, watching the coastline and keeping an eye out for seals, I saw one fellow sitting on a surfboard watching the waves. He watched for quite a while and then headed out, presumably having found the right spot and the right way to get out to it.
I kept an eye on his progress and when he started catching waves it was awesome. He knew what he was doing and it was great to watch him navigate through the chaos, pick a wave and then grab a good ride.
(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)
Nukoli’i Beach seems to be an unpredictable surfing location in the winter. The waves moving west were great the first few days on this eastern beach that we were in Kaua’i at the beginning of December. However after one huge storm that raged across the island, they remained choppy and were not frequented by any surfers or bodyboarders for the rest of our stay. Those first few days I did get out twice to photograph some of the bodyboarders. The waves were breaking pretty far out but a long lens helped to make a few images.
This trip to Hawai’i I spent my time in the ocean photographing underwater and that squeezed out any time that I might have gone bodyboarding or surfing. I’ll make up for that on the next visit. It was really fun to watch these guys ripping along the waves. I can’t wait to join in!
There is a nice spot to snorkel just off of Ke’e Beach on Kaua’i’s north shore. The fish school in decent numbers and there is often a chance of seeing sea turtles. Before returning to Canada we went up to Ke’e for one last afternoon on the beach and an evening photographing the sunset down the Na Pali.
The water was choppy from high surf coming over the reef which usually breaks down the waves. This made swimming with the kids a more involved process than normal and shortened any snorkelling. I still went out and photographed along the calm side of the coral reef for sometime close to an hour.
The fish were more scarce on the day, maybe due to the turbulence, but it was still pretty busy down below. I had fun photographing individual fish within their environment.
From down below, even looking up was beautiful.
I love the ocean, I suppose many people do. I grew up on Kootenay Lake in southeastern British Columbia and there could be rough water but nothing like on the ocean. Whenever I am on a coast, I enjoy watching the waves. In December, the waves off of Ke’e Beach at the northern edge of Kaua’i’s Na Pali coast are tall and heavy. They can be spectacular to watch.
The last day that we went to Ke’e, the waves were not disappointing.
With the sun falling low, a few waves even tried to take a bite. It was a good day.
Being new to underwater photography there is a steep learning curve to realizing the images that I have in my mind. Along that journey, there has been some frustration but so many new things to enjoy. Probably the most fun I have had is exploring light underwater. Particularly the way it refracts and distorts at the surface and then strikes subjects below. When this Hawaiian Chub (Kyphosus hawaiiensis) swam through lines of distorted sunlight near the surface, these wonderful patterns rippled across its silvery body. It makes me think we should move ocean side somewhere in the world sooner than later…
I love the way light diffracts, focuses and reflects under water. During my swims with an underwater camera I had a lot of fun playing near the shore. This beach near Kapa’a is called Baby Beach as it has a nice reef that breaks the waves creating a safe place for kids to swim. These silvery fish are curious and they did a nice job filling in the middle of this photograph.
I went on a sailing trip up the Na Pali coast yesterday. The morning was clear and we had a great trip with visits from a couple of separate pods of dolphins and a few humpback whales. After turning around at the Kalalau Valley, the captain found us a calm cove and we had an hour to snorkel. Halfway through the swim, I found a Green sea turtle fishing down in the coral.
I was about 30′ above it and just floated along watching it swim and explore. After a few minutes, it surfaced and when it turned to me, I had a second to photograph it swimming. Soon after with lungs full of fresh air, it descended again and soon disappeared into the blue.
One of my favourite places on Earth is Ke’e Beach at the end of the road on Kaua’i’s north shore. The road ends at the beach and from there the Na Pali coast begins. The beach has been a great location for swims with my kids, snorkelling with my parents, a visit with a beautiful monk seal while the wild coastline has always provided a spectacular background to it all as well as wonderful times spent hiking and sailing with my wife.
(please click on the image to open a page with a higher resolution version)
Last year, I photographed the coastline in the late evening with the waves crashing onto the first cliff face. One of the images from that time on the rocks was one of my favourite landscapes in 2011 and was well-regarded in a National Geographic photo contest. Whenever I’m at Ke’e, I keep an eye towards the sets of cliffs that stretch westward. There is usually something good happening visually – and sometimes it is magnificent.
A couple of days ago, I was knee-deep in the water on the east side of the beach having a great time photographing two very different subjects. One was a large seal that lounged through the day and as the afternoon waned, there was a half hour where it bounded through the shallow water, playfully rolling, swimming and slowly making its way across the submerged rocks out to the reef and the open water. The second was the Na Pali cliffs which were thrown into progressively darker silhouettes down the coastline with the sea spray hanging like textured mist in the air from the endless pounding of the waves into the rocks. The greens and blues in the water reminded me of gemstones while the muted greens hazed by the mist seemed to suggest the breathing of the rain forest. Really great individual details to pull together.
The sunset came and went without much excitement as a low cloud bank out at sea swallowed up the sun before any color came into the sky. I was not disappointed though as the afternoon performance was pretty incredible. Coupled with the seal made for another memorable visit to Ke’e.
The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Ahead of the sun coming over the horizon, I got out into the water and used the silhouetted rocks to anchor the foreground. In this photograph, I made these rocks the main subject as I waited for the sun.
(please click on any picture to open a higher resolution version)
Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua – that’s what the Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) is called in the Hawaiian language. Literally, it means dog that runs in rough water. We were watching a sea turtle that had pulled up on a beach in Po’ipu when a friendly fellow who was chatting with Bobbi, told her about a Monk seal he had just seen on a nearby, although fairly remote, beach a little while earlier. So, we packed up, drove down an old dirt road, hiked over forested sand dune and about half an hour later, we were watching a seal that had hauled itself well up onto the beach.
The kids had fallen asleep between beaches, so Bobbi and I alternated a couple of visits to the seal. The ropes had been set up so passersby did not stray (or walk intently) too close to these critically endangered animals. Most people respected the boundaries. When the seal slid out of the area that had been cordoned off to provide some space, it rubbed up against one of the poles which was curious – maybe just an opportunity for a scratch or it was checking out the scent left behind by the person who placed it.
A few minutes afterwards, the seal had settled a couple of yards above the water line. It remained there for almost an hour. People continued to stay back even without an updated perimeter with only two exceptions – nothing that seemed to impact the seal but a local fellow nearby set the clueless observers straight. The image below was not one of the too close encounters.
I had the benefit of my long lenses and was able to keep well away from the seal and its path back to the ocean. It dozed for most of the time we were there and not much interrupted its rest. When it was back down at the surf, even waves that reached up and covered its face, most only a little, rarely even opened an eye.
Kian and Kezia woke up after an hour and made the trek down to the beach with us. It was great to watch the seal together and they were really interested in this beautiful animal, how big it was (7′ long I would guess) and why it was sleeping so much!
Nearing sunset and following one good wave in the face, the eyes opened and the seal made short work of the rest of the beach between it and the open water. It undulated forward, sliding across the sand and slipped into the water.
There it was transformed from the ungainly land mammal to a graceful sea creature. It was great to watch it swim for the first hundred yards or so before it went underwater.
This was the last glimpse I had as it headed out to sea. We lingered for another hour as there was some family sand castle building required. One of the best days we’ve had in Hawai’i.
Ahead of a stormy sunrise, people were moving along the beach, talking with others and taking photographs. I used a 20 second exposure (with f/16 at ISO 200) with the intent to blur the water and the clouds. When I saw how the people took on an ethereal quality in varying amounts, dependent on how long they stayed in place during the exposure, I played with that idea for a while.
(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)
The first sunrise of this visit to Kaua’i was spectacular. I watched the clouds retreat towards the horizon under the moonlight before dawn and when the day started to come, they were a heavy veil stretching up from the ocean. A few minutes after sunrise, the sun shone red through a thin spot in the clouds. For the next twenty minutes the sun broke free here and there while the waves kept crashing in and the sky steadily brightened. Nukoli’i Beach is a long stretch of sand along Kaua’i’s eastern shore. At this time of the year, the sun rises directly off the beach. When the clouds cooperate, the mornings can be exceedingly beautiful. This morning was exactly that.
This time of year the northern coast of Kaua’i receives the heavy swells that hit the shoreline unchecked from the open water of the Pacific. I was waiting for the sun to rise and the low light of dawn allowed me to use a shutter speed of four seconds. This long exposure blurred the rows of spiky waves softening them into a supporting role, allowing this dramatic chunk of rock standing apart from the shore to be the dominant subject in the image.
We’re on the cusp of 2012 here in Alberta. The family is streaming in and all of the snacks and beverages are ready for the party. I hope you are having (or already had) a great time bringing in the new year. For many, my family included, I’m sure next year will be even more hectic. I will take this moment to hope for you that you are able to enjoy more than a few moments of calm and silence throughout the year, amid the craziness. All the best to you and yours – Happy New Year!
These images are from Ke’e Beach on the north coast of Kauai in Hawaii. The ocean was unleashing heavy waves on the coast as the high tide was on its march. With the sun just set and daylight leaving the scene quickly, I was able to use a long exposure. This allowed the crashing waves to be softened into a haze and created a peaceful, calm scene. A nice contrast to the usual excitement that accompanies the evening of December 31st. The image above is facing towards the sun the afterglow coloring the scene. The image below is facing west where the sunlight was still hitting the clouds with pink light as it pushed through the atmosphere.