Photography Workshop dedicated to using Neutral Denisty Filters

Yesterday I had the pleasure of coaching Carol and Sigal.  We began working in a stream using rocks as compositional elements and neutral density filters so we could manage the light coming in to the camera as to slow the shutter.  By doing this we could make at exposures at F-22 and 2-3 seconds.

Using motion in a composition

Using motion in a composition

As you can see the water is swirling and their is a milky appearance on the surface. This ads interest, emotion, and animation. The repetition of the rocks as well as their forms create  lines that draw the viewers eye through the scene.

Happy imaging everyone!


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Thinking of Fiji

Great diving, wonderful people, incredible food.

Great diving, wonderful people, incredible food.

Fiji is the place for great diving.  I recently had the pleasure of diving with RA Divers part of the Volivoli resort and had a great time. As I am packing for an upcoming trip to Tonga, I cant help but remember how wonderful the diving in Fiji is.  I came to the conclusion that I have to go back.  Not sure when, but am considering adding a week in Fiji to complement next years Tonga whale trip.  How awesome would that be a week of great diving, then 20 days of whale swimming.

In a way thinking about the next adventure is a way to enjoy it now.

Take care everyone!




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Maui Sunset on the South Shore

Using slow shutter speeds enables the power of the oceans motion to enhance composition and overall emotion. This was created with a Nikon D300 12-24  mm lens. ISO 200 F22 1/8 second.

This image is all about the place where water meets the shore, so I did not include a lot of sky. I used the rocks as foreground subject and love how the seaweed has a muted purple hue.   The slow shutter speed enabled the waves to smooth out and become a bit misty.

The great thing about photography is that it gives each person a chance to express what they see and feel. This creativity is unique to each individual.   I venture to say I could line up 30 photographers right next to me and each photograph made would be different.

Some would have used a fast shutter to catch the droplets of water created by the waves hitting the rocks.  Others would have gone with a wider angle and included more sky or used a tighter focal length focused on just one area of rocks.

Indeed – there is no right way. There is only you.   I love photography!



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Last minute cancelation on whale trip Sept 2-12th, 2014. Huge savings!

incredible encounter with baby Humpback Whale

incredible encounter with baby Humpback Whale

Aloha everyone!

One of my clients just let me know he has a really bad ear infection and most likely wont be able to go on the whale trip.  We are both bummed but realize it is what it is and taking a chance on ones health is not a good idea.   So, it looks like there is one space open.  With only a few weeks to go, the space is discounted. This is a great chance for someone that has wanted to go but cant afford the $6,995 price.  The adjusted price is $4,750 that’s a savings of $2,245.00

The accommodations are at the Sandy Beach Hotel in Ha’apai Tonga.  The boat is a 53 foot sailing cat. It includes 9 days on the water, and accommodations.   Breakfast and dinner are not included.  Lunch on the boat is.

If interested please contact me ASAP.  If your not interested but know someone who might be please share this post.


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Incoming Storm

Waves crashing along the shore

Waves crashing along the shore

Last week Maui, was threatened by two hurricanes.  As it turned out we had rain, wind, and turbulent seas but never experienced the full wrath of the storms.

The day we we were supposed to get hit by the first storm, I had a workshop with Simon Tucker.  We had hoped the sunrise along the eastern side of the island would have some color and lots of swirling clouds.  Well, we did not have that kind of sunrise but we did have a great time creating photographs of waves crashing along the rocky coast of Kaenea.

We did experience periods of rain but we used that time to drive to a variety of locations and were quite lucky to be able to spend some time creating images in Kaenea, the bamboo forest, a waterfall, tropical forest, and scenic beach.

Simon had passion, motiviation, and a desire to improve.  At each location I was able to watch him work, view his images, and help him tweak his exposures and compositions.  I suggested making some small changes in camera position in order to make more powerful compositions.  The look on his face in addition to his smile let me know that he forgive the phrase “saw the light”.

By the end of our 7 hour day together he had fun, learned a few things, and best of all had a lot of really nice images to go home with and make a picture book of his trip.

Providing some objective critique to Simons work enabled him to see things in a new way.   It’s workshops like this that make what I do so worthwhile.  It makes me think of the old saying you can give a man a fish, or teach him how to fish…….

Happy imaging everyone!

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Make you own path

Follow your dream

Follow your dream


While we all share the human experience, each of us follows our own path.  Listen to your inner voice and march to your own beat.   Have faith in yourself and don’t give credence to what others do or say.  If you believe in yourself you can achieve your goals.

When your in sync with yourself, goals, desires and dreams the actions you take and decisions you make will serve you well.

This image was created in the tropical forests of Maui, during a recent photography workshop

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Dream adventure to swim with whales just got better. One space is available.

I am happy to announce a change in upcoming adventure Sept 12-23, 2014 dedicated to photographing Southern Hemiphere Humpback Whales in Tonga.  The adventure has gone from land based to Liveaboard.

It’s kind of funny because in 2012, my friend and well known marine photographer Mark Strickland and I started planning a special adventure to swim with Southern Hemisphere whales in Tonga.   Mark had been on 3 or 4 of my previous whale trips and we decided to do a trip together. We wanted to take a small group on an adventure dedicated to photographing these gentle giants.  We tried to charter a new 53 foot sailing catamaran called Wildlife but it was booked so we selected Topic Bird, a ribbed inflatable.  Well, the plan has changed.

As a result of the cyclone damage back in January of this year, some accommodations and restaurants have to be rebuilt.  At first the operators had hoped they could do it in time for the 2014 season which starts in July.  It has just become clear that this wont happen due to logistics and infrastructure.  As a result, rooms I had reserved were given away to another group.  So I reached out to Dave Sheen who owns both Topic Bird and Wildlife and asked if he had any ideas. Happily Dave had the answer.  Wildlife was available.  The group that had reserved her canceled. So I happily said ok.

This 11 day adventure is very special as Wildlife is just two years old and quite comfortable. At this time one there is one space open.  That said if a couple wanted to join we could make that happen. We will take a maximum of 4-5 guests. Meals are provided. Alcohol is not. Photography advice from with Master Photographer Douglas j Hoffman and Mark Strickland is included. This will be Douglas’10th season coming to Tonga to photograph and swim with Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whales. This special trip will be dedicated to observing, photographing and especially swimming with the large population of Humpback Whales that visit these islands every year to mate and give birth. Douglas and Mark will share insights gained from years of experience, with the goal of helping every guest enjoy this trip to the fullest. There will also be ample opportunities for them to review your work, and critique your images.

From the moment we leave the dock we will be in Whale Country. The boat will pick everyone up in Ha’apai.  This is  not the main island in Tonga, so guests will need to take a 20 minute domestic flight.

The plan is to sail among the myriad of islands looking for cooperative whales to swim with. Each night we will anchor off an picturesque island. This is the ultimate eco adventure! Each day we will check out the channels between the islands as well as shallow bays looking for different whale behavior. Once cooperative whales are spotted we will rotate two groups of 2-4 in the water. Over the years we have learned that passive behavior on our part leads to trust and acceptance by the whales. When this happens, the whales become comfortable with our presence and often hang out for extended periods of time. The feeling you have while swimming in the presence of whales is indescribable. There will also be great photo and video opportunities both in and out of the water.

While these expeditions are perfect for photographers, non-photographers are also welcome… it is, after all, the experience of being among these incredible animals that is our foremost objective. And more than anything, it is the quality of that experience that distinguishes our trip the many others you’ll see advertised. It’s true that you can have good opportunities to see humpbacks underwater on a standard trip, but there’s a big difference between going out on a public boat and a private charter. Standard trips typically take 8-12 people, with the goal of everyone getting at least a quick look at a whale underwater. While this is often accomplished, the mindset is typically geared towards getting everyone in the path of passing animals, which usually results in a very brief, “flyby” encounter. True, most people do get to see whales underwater, but such fleeting glimpses seldom result in quality photo ops or prolonged interactions. With our approach, however, we’ll have fewer people in the water, which in itself is less intimidating to the whales. We will also be more selective about which whales to swim with, by looking for specific behaviors that might turn into extended encounters. By concentrating on whales that are behaving in a relaxed manner, we’ll have fewer “flybys” and more opportunities for the prolonged, quality encounters that we’re after. Private trips are a bit more expensive but worth it because you get a much better experience, with far better chances of those special moments and photo ops that we came for. Less people means more fun.

The 53 foot sailing catamaran called Wild life

Wildlife, the 53 foot sailing catamaran in Ha’apai Tonga

If interested in joining this adventure send me an email, or call 808 870 3686.

This charter is going to be awesome.  If you have ever wanted to swim with whales, this is the right boat, with the right crew, and like minded guests.   This time of the season the calves are a bit more independent and the mothers are happy to have a break for a quick nap. Early in the season the moms are a bit more nervous and hesitate to have long encounters with humans.  The winds are also a bit less time of year.  Less wind makes it easier to see whales exhaling on the surface.

We will witness a variety of behaviors including breaching, head lunges, spy hopping, peck slapping, teen age whales playing and practicing mating behaviors they will use in a few years time, heat runs, nursing, resting, tracking, and much more.

In addition to Humpback Whales we might encounter False Killer Whales, Mellon Headed Whales, Pilot Whales, Bait balls, Manta Rays, and several species of dolphins. In the 2011 season we had one encounter with Pilot Whales, Dolphins, and Humpback Whales at the same time.   It was incredible.

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Packing for international travel

Typical amount of camera gear for a dive trip

Typical amount of camera gear for a dive trip

Next month, I am going to Fiji,  to teach a underwater photography composition workshop on the Siren liveaboard, and enjoy 5 days of diving with RA Divers at the Volovoli Beach resort in Rakiraki.  Fiji Airways used to have a divers program where the traveler paid $100 and was able to take an extra bag up to 50 pounds. This was good for round trip travel making it somewhat cost effective.  The program is over now and the airlines want $120 each way.   This added cost is not cost effective, but what can a diver do.

I have decided to bring only one camera system and to rent dive gear in Fiji.  Its a bit disconcerting to leave one camera housing behind and to use rental gear, but it is what it is.  I will take three lenses, four strobes, and a nexus housing.

What I cant get in the travel case, I will wear on my body.  I have a camera vest that will hold all of my strobe and camera batteries, spare camera body, and a few lenses.  It will be a bit of a pain, but the cash I save can be used toward a crew tip, which I feel is a much better way to use my money.   Thankfully it is only a 6 hour flight from Hawaii.

In August I will go to Tonga, and again bring only one camera system.   This is a trip dedicated to whale photography and I will not need strobes.   That saves an incredible amount of weight.

By the way there is a space open on both the Fiji trip in May, and the Tonga trip in September. IF interested send me an email.

Happy imaging everyone!

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Maui’s southern coastline

Ocean Swirl

Ocean Swirl

Each week I drive around the island teaching people how to create photographs that exude an emotional response from the viewer. Most of the time I use a fish eye lens, or a 12-24 Nikon Dx lens.   Seldom if ever do I use portrait lens.  Well a few days ago I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and use a 85 mm lens.   This is one of my favorites for portraiture and I thought I might be able to create some exciting images from a different perspective.   The camera body I used was a Nikon D300 with a 1.5 crop factor.  So the 85 mm really was about 120 mm.

In addition I selected the Hi-tech neutral density 3 stop filter so I could slow the water down using a long shutter speed.   Its great when my mind can see an image, and then I am actually able to create it.   I had hoped the incoming wave would work through the rocks in a s- curve shape as the lines help the viewers eye flow through the image.  As it turned out everything worked just like I had envisioned. This image is proof that it is possible to create portraits rather than take pictures.

Happy imaging everyone!

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Maui Photo Tour visits Hui Aloha Church in Kaupo

015_Hui Aloha Church_a

This church is an iconic landmark in Maui.  Located in Kaupo, this church is seldom visited nevertheless is rich in history.  I used a fish eye lens to get the widest view possible and to give the image a bit of character.  Besides the color, its the diagonal line of the stone fence that appeals to me.  It draws my eye into the scene to the tree and then to the church.   The palm trees on the right are where my eye goes to leave the image.

Diagonal lines are are effective in guiding the viewers eye through an image. During our workshops this is one of the techniques we practice.


Happy imaging everyone!


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