Jaws – Huge waves from Maui

There is nothing like looking down the barrel of a 60 foot wave at Jaws.   I was in a boat and I can only imagine how the surfers felt as they were towed into the monster waves.

The size of the surfer gives a good sense of scope as to the size of the wave.

as does the helicopter.

If you like huge waves and are in Maui, please drop by Kohola Gallery at 3636 Lower Honoapiilani rd.   Pass Kaanapali and turn left at sign saying Honokowai, and the gallery is 3/4 mile on right next to Bad ass Coffee and Farmers Market. or call 808 870 3686 to appointment  to view a selection of image from JAWS.

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Fathers Day Family Portraits Limited time offer

Celebrate the Fathers in your life with quality family portraits on Canvas.  This is the gift dad’s would never buy for themselves but is the gift they would cherish forever. Nothing is better than Family!  Book a session before Fathers day 2017, and save $75 on the session fee. Send an email inquiry to dhimages@maui.net and provide your phone number and a good time to call.

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Sperm Whale Photography Expedition December 1-12th, 2018

created under Gov’t Permit

 

December 1-12th, 2018 is the next Sperm Whale trip in Dominica.   Ten days of whale swimming and 11 nights of accommodation.  Cost is $8,995

Douglas sharing a moment with a Sperm Whale. Under Govt. Permit.

December is great month to swim with Sperm Whales.  Who wants to go?

created under Govt. Permit.

 

Extend your stay if you like to scuba dive or hike on this magical and beautiful island.

 

Arrive in Dominica on Dec 1st.  The fun begins the 2nd with a permit called for 10 days of whale watching and whale swimming.  Guests depart on the 12th, unless the decide to explore the island.

The trip includes permit fees, boat cost, fisheries department required guide, accommodation, & continental breakfast at hotel. Roundtrip transport to and from hotel and airport. Lunch and Dinner not included. Flights, layover costs, trip insurance, tips to crew are not included.

Contact me with any questions or to book space at douglas@koholagallery.com

The diver seems so small or is it the whales are so big

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Remembering my first Tonga Trip

Aloha,

I still remember my first trip to Tonga in 2006.  I chartered a 60 foot sail boat with a whale swim permit and spent 2 weeks sailing through the island group.  We spent 6 days in the Vavau’ island group then sailed south to the Ha’apai group for 6 days.   I was very fortunate on that trip to create this images as it later received world wide recognition.

Gold Medal Winner
Our World Underwater

That year I learned a lot. First and foremost whales are not dive sites.   There is no such thing as a 9AM whale followed by a 2 PM whale.   The whales are wild and on their own schedule, so to do it right requires  9-10 days on the water.

                 Graceful

The next lesson I learned is that the type and condition of boat chartered  makes a huge difference.  For example getting in an out of the water quietly is very important in terms of not upsetting whales. Some boats have very high gunnels and no swim doors so it is harder to get in and out of the water.   All boats have engines and each kind gives off a different sound.  Whales like low signature sounds that are smooth rather than rough and do no like loud, rough or diesel engines.

this is the boat I will use in 2017.    

For the day boats in the 30 foot size, I prefer a ribbed zodiac or a catamaran design speedboat like this. These are prefect boats for whale swimming. When it comes to liveaboards,  I prefer a  small group of 4 or 5 people.  Getting in and out of the water on the back of the boats is very easy.

53 foot sailing boat called Wildlife

Since 2006, the industry has grown a lot and now in Vavau’, many would say there are too many licensed boats.   The infrastructure dealing with accommodations, restaurants, and domestic flights is at capacity and feeling stress.  As a result people have to book 1-2 years in advance to get the best boats and accommodations.

I am already booking clients for 2018, and 2019 so if your interested in whale swimming and whale photography please send em a message and lets tart talking……

 

 

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Summer is almost here and soon the island will be full of visitors

Summer is a busy time in Maui, with families from around the word coming for a week or two to enjoy paradise.   That is good for the economy, as it means the roads and stores will be crowded.  For that matter, so will the tourist boats taking people to Molokini  to snorkel and dive.

The sun here in Maui, can be brutal so by all means people should take action to protect themselves and loved ones from skin cancer.  I spend a lot of time in the sun teaching landscape photography, creating family portraits on the beach, and playing with my kids and dogs, so I have some suggestions.

Besides the obvious of covering up as much as possible or wearing reach guards with SPF protection, there are sunscreens that are good for you and good for the ocean.   Sadly most sunscreen products contain harmful chemicals that actually kill coral reefs and marine life like our endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.

I like a product made by Stream2Sea, but there are other sunscreens being introduced that are also good.  The main thing is to take a moment and educate yourself and read the label.  http://www.stream2sea.com

I am hoping that individuals and resorts stop using sunscreen that has chemicals that are harmful to the environment, ocean, coral reefs, and marine life like turtles.

be pono and have a great summer.

 

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Whale Swim adventures in 2018

Aloha Whale People,

I live in Maui, the whale capital of the Pacific.  The Northern Pacific Humpbacks come each year to breed and give birth. It would be all to easy to lead groups here to observe and document whale behavior but it is against the law I don’t.  Instead I organize expeditions around the world to where this activity is permitted. Thats why I have traveled to Tonga each year since 2005. This is an area where the whales are present and the government issues a limited number of permits to observe  and swim with whales.

Over the years I have had some incredible experiences and learned a lot about the whale behavior, the whale swim industry.   That is why  I am so excited to share some details regarding the 2018 Tonga Whale Swim Season.

Sanctuary.1 copy

Safe place for Mother whale to tend to her calf.

In 2018, I will offer three adventures in the remote Ha’apai island group of Tonga. The idea is to cruise  among the channels and shallow bays,  that lie amongst a myriad of tropical islands looking for the playground.   This is an area that we know from previous years that the whales like to frequent.  In this area we will find whales that are open to having a mutual interaction with humans.  This means the whales that want to be with us as much as we want to be with them.

wildlife

53 foot sailing boat called Wildlife

The first adventure is a 8 day cruise Sept 12-20th on the 53 foot sailing catamaran Wildlife, owned  by  Tristin and Dave Sheen. These people are the real deal with years of experience and share a genuine love of whales.  There are two cabins for guests on the boat making it perfect for 4 people.  The cabins can be divided for singles or as a comfortable queen for couples.   Guests will get on and off the boat in Tongatapu which is about a 40 minute drive from the Nuku’alofa international airport.

Once on the boat guests will have a safety briefing, enjoy some food, unpack, and put their snorkel gear together as we sail off towards the islands of choice about 60 nm away.

Each day the program will be to wake up have coffee and get the boat underway after breakfast. We will evaluate the days conditions and set our course to wherever the visibility and whale activity will likely be best.

Once whales exhibiting behavior experience has shown might lead to a mutual encounter the captain will say get ready.  At that point people put on their wetsuit, grab their fins and GoPro and make their way to back of boat for entry.  The captain will say standby until he is sure of the behavior and once the boat is positioned in the opportune spot, he will say enter the water.

Syncronized swimming ©DJH DJH_3272

Mother and calf swimming in the same position

At this point the group slowly swims with the guide towards the whales, keeping fins beneath the surface to minimize sound and wake.  Once the guide sees a mother with calf,  everyone stops and simply floats as a group.   This helps the mother determine that we are not a threat.  Once comfortable with our presence good things tend to happen.

I am referring to the mother wanting to rest and beginning breathing cycles.  This means she goes to 25 feet and levels off then sleeps for 20 minutes.  During this time the baby needs to go up and down 4 or 5 times to breath.   Each time the baby comes to surface  it might get more curious and little by little come closer and closer.  It may take one or two of the breathing cycles of the mother for this to happen but when the calf is confident and playful it is game on. Sometimes babies go under you and blow bubbles or do a dance, while some just hang in front of you and flip over and swim around upside down. A few really curious calves have touched people.  Something about making human contact they can’t resist.   I do not condone touching the whales, but when a baby whale wants to touch you, there is not much you can do.   The thing is most whales seem to  know exactly where they end and we begin.

Mother, calve, and new boyfriend

I look really small next to these whales

Each day we will sail among the islands looking for signs of whale activity.  In the late afternoon the Captain will select an island to anchor near for the night.  Once the boat is secure guests can use dingy to collect shells, walk on beach, take pictures of sunsets, or possibly enjoy a bond fire.

Cost for 8 day adventure is $6,390 per person.  Trip insurance is mandatory. Does not include flights, layover costs, gratuities, alcohol, ground transportation, trip insurance. Non refundable deposit of 50% at time of reservation, and 50 % balance is due May 1st, 2018.

 

 

The second adventure is Sept 20-29th,  2018  and is a land based GLAMPING adventure based on Namuku island in  remote area of the Ha’apai group.  This means really nice tents with real beds on the edge of the jungle, adjacent to a pristine beach.   A few steps away there is a main house for meals and socializing. There are horses to ride, hammocks to flop in, great snorkeling, and an organic garden.  The bathroom is compost style and rainwater is used for bathing. The adventure includes transfer to and from the island on Wildlife,  7 days private charter on Tropic Bird, and 9 nights accommodation and all meals. There will a minimum of four and maximum of six participants.

Everyday but Sunday we will go out in Tropic Bird after breakfast and spend the day observing and swimming with whales.  In the late afternoon we will head back to the barn and enjoy a fantastic sunset and dinner.   The views are fantastic and at least once during the adventure will be a bonfire on the beach.

The cost is $4,890 per person. Trip insurance is mandatory. Does not include flights, layover costs, gratuities, alcohol, ground transportation, trip insurance.  Non refundable deposit of 50% at time of reservation, and 50 % balance is due June 1st, 2018.

DSC_1365_bw_cropped.1

incredible encounter with baby Humpback Whale

The third adventure is a 10 day liveaboard cruise Sept 29- Oct 9th on Wildlife, the 53 foot sailing catamaran. There are two cabins for guests on the boat making it perfect for 4 people. We can accommodate five upon request.   Cabin beds can be divided for singles or configured as a comfortable queen for couples.   Guests get on and off the boat in Tongatapu which is about a 40 minute drive from the Nuku’alofa international airport.

Once on the boat guests will have a safety briefing, enjoy some some food, and have time to unpack, and put their snorkel gear together as we sail off towards the islands of choice about 60 nm away.

Each day the program will be to wake up have coffee and get the boat underway after breakfast. We will evaluate the days conditions and set our course to wherever the visibility and whale activity will be best.

Once whales exhibiting behavior experience has shown might lead to a mutual encounter the captain will say get ready.  At that point people put on their wetsuit, grab their fins and GoPro and make their way to back of boat for entry.  The captain will say standby until he is sure of the behavior and once the boat is positioned in the opportune spot, he will say enter the water.

The group swims with the guide towards the whales, keeping fins beneath the surface to minimize sound and wake.  Once the guide sees a mother with calf,  everyone stops and stays in a group.   This helps the mother determine that we are not a threat.  Once she is comfortable with our presence good things tend to happen.

The ultimate encounter begins with  mom starting a breathing cycle.  This means she goes to 25 feet and levels off then sleeps for 20 minutes.  During this time the baby might go up and down 4 or 5 times.   Each time the baby comes to surface to breath it might get more curious and little by little come closer and closer to us humans. When the calf is confident and playful, it is game on.  Sometimes the new born whales blow bubbles, do a dance, flip over, and swim upside down.

Each encounter has its own rhythm and as long as our presence does not interfere or change the whales behavior we will hang around.  At such point it becomes obvious the baby needs to feed or that the whales need to be alone we will fall off and get on the boat.

Each day we will sail among the islands looking for signs of whale activity.  In the late afternoon the Captain will select an island to anchor for the night.  Once the boat is secure guests can use dingy to collect shells, walk on beach, take pictures of sunsets, and possibly enjoy a bond fire.

Cost for 10 day adventure is $7,990 per person.  Trip insurance is mandatory and not included. Nor does this adventure include flights, layover costs, gratuities, alcohol, ground transportation, trip insurance. Non refundable deposit of 50% at time of reservation, and 50 % balance is due May 1st, 2018.

 

 

 

 

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Jaws

Every week people come into the gallery and ask me if I was scared when photographing Lemon and Bull Sharks.  The truth is I was really excited not scared.

 

What does scare me is going out of the harbor in the dark, knowing I am going to place where the surf is 60 foot plus.    In fact it is really frightening.   But, then the sun comes up and you can see and you realize that while the surf is huge, being on a boat with a captain that understands whats going on the feeling you have is priceless.

 

We saw people surf these waves and I was and still am amazed the risks people will take to have fun. Of course,  I dive with sharks and swim with whales, and many think I am crazy.  But am I….   There is a certain freedom in doing what your passionate about.

 

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The sunflower field on Maui is new and people are taking notice

If on Maui and you see this sunflower field be PONO and don’t block traffic.  This is private property and the owner has not gated it but will likely have to unless the public respects the flowers and the land.

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Photography as decor

North shore sunrise

                                                       North shore sunrise

 

One of the questions I get asked a lot, is what kind of photography do I have on the walls in my house.  North Shore sunrise is next to my bed.   It is the first thing I see in the morning and always brings a smile to my face.

Fierce Competitor

                                                         Fierce Competitor

This Bull Shark portrait is in the front entry way.

Living Art_copyright

This colorful reef portrait is next to my desk.

Gold Medal Winner  Our World Underwater

                            Gold Medal Winner   Our World Underwater

Hope is the name of the whale portrait and it lives above my dresser in my room.

I will rotate a few pieces soon, as I want to enjoy a portrait created at Jaws Surf Break last month of a 50 foot wave, and a Sperm Whale portrait created last December in Dominica.   I think I need a bigger house!

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Early morning light on Maui’s North Shore

_4093.web

I watched the waves come in for a while and really enjoyed the waterfalls over the exposed coral. The lines of the reef and incoming wave helped me see the image I wanted to create,  but the incoming waves limited where we could put my tripod.    Getting wet and sandy is often part of happens while creating landscape or in this case seascape images.  So, here is a tip.  If creating seascape images, leave your cell phone, wallet, and keys in the camera bag, and have a towel and extra pair of shorts in the van.

I a nikon D810 and 14-24 mm lens, 3 stop ND Hitech filter, Gitzo tripod.

 

 

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