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Lithified Cliffs, Kauai

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 20 February 2011 in Landscape & Rural.


Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 17-21, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (Workshop Sold Out)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (only 4 spots remaining)
Summer Big Sur - 3rd Annual Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands Photo Workshop - August 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Full Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - 3rd Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - October 9-13, 2011 (only 2 spots remaining).
3rd Annual Magic Light, Moonlight, and Pfeiffer Beach Arch Big Sur Winter Workshop - January 8-11, 2012 (space available)
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A quick peak at the calendar revealed that I am less than four months away from returning to tropical paradise for my July Kauai Workshop! I feel so privileged to be able to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world and work with other passionate photographers.

I first visited the Garden Isle in 1988 and immediately fell in love with the place. Though the island is small, it nonetheless holds a bevy of photographic treasures. Today's post was from a sunrise location near Poipu along the lithified cliffs. I had scouted the area prior to the workshop and decided to add it as a sunrise location due to the juxtaposition of the rugged cliffs and shoreline. I remember the group just sort of scattered on this morning but I did have three photographers stay with me and I encouraged them to look for a foreground (not easy to find on the barren rock).

This green pulpy plant is what the natives call Naupaka Kahakai (literally translated means Naupaka by the sea). Interestingly, a similar type of Naupaka grows in the mountains and is accompanied by this myth: It is said that two lovers, greatly devoted to each other, came to the attention of the Goddess Pele. Pele found the young man desirable and appeared before him as a beautiful stranger. But no matter what Pele did the lovers remained devoted to each other.

Angered, Pele chased the young man into the mountains, throwing molten lava at him. Pele's sisters witnessed this and to save the young man from a certain death they changed him into the mountain Naupaka. Pele immediately went after the young woman and chased her towards the sea - but again Pele's sisters stepped in and changed the young lover into beach Naupaka.

It is said that if the mountain Naupaka and beach Naupaka flowers are reunited, the two young lovers will be together again.

I am a big believer in keeping foregrounds simple and using elements natural to the landscape, so why not use Naupaka? Actually, the green tends to glow under soft light and in this image the lines led the eye upwards into the scene. The green complimented the turquoise and blue of the Pacific and juxtaposed nicely with the warmth of the sky.

I simply positioned my composition to allow the diagonal line of the cliff to lead the eye through the frame. After that, it was just wait for the sun to peak through the clouds, and at f/22, turn it into a nice sunstar. This image was captured with a 16-35mm Series II Canon lens and I was fairly pleased with the sharpness (which does fall off a tad around the edges). By placing the camera low to the ground, I was able to allow the Naupaka to fill the lower-left side of the frame. Wide angles are wonderful at allowing small items increased perspective at close distances. Focus was critical and I did bracket my focus points to ensure that the Naupaka was sharp. I used a Singh-Ray three-stop, hard edge GND to hold off the exposure of the sky.

If you would like to photograph Kauai this summer, I still have a few spots available. Just send me an email or sign-up via the link above. I'll guarantee you a week in paradise and you'll not want to leave!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/2 second F/22.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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