Hamoa Beach Shorebreak 1

Hamoa Beach Shorebreak 1, Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Like most photographers, I like to challenge myself to create new images outside of my comfort zone. One of my favorite new shooting styles is photographing breaking shore waves. This style has been made popular in the last few years by Clark Little. I harbor no illusions that I am going to become as well known or specialized as Clark is at photographing waves, but I had a lot of fun trying during my recent visit to Hawaii.

I am fairly competent with an underwater camera housing, and I have done some boogie boarding during my lifetime, but it took a lot of dedication to fling myself into a breaking wave with my large housing in hand. I got thrown through the air and pummeled by waves more than you can imagine. My camera housing turned into a dangerous weapon during the out-of-control punishment inflicted by the larger and more photogenic waves. During one of my more memorable moments, I received a big gash to my right shoulder when my housing hit the bottom while I was cartwheeling through the water. I'm lucky that it did not hit my face. I shot several thousand terrible wave images that were almost immediately deleted. However, this fantastic wave breaking at Hamoa Beach near Hana is the most impressive from all my effort. I really like how I not only captured the breaking tube, but the wave momentarily looks like some type of prehistoric monster. I also like how I framed the entire composition in my normally recognizable wide-angle style. There is no doubt that I if I want to improve that I will need a camera that is capable of 10-12fps, rather than my 5DmkII's inadequate 4fps. I also stressed myself out so much doing this, that I suffered 2 back-to-back migraine headaches. In spite of all the challenges, photographing waves is very addictive and I can not wait to do it again. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech LP-VWZ  flat port. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3, but I had to clone out a few water spots that were on my flat port using Photoshop CS5.

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    Jon, this is really cool. I also like the clarity of the colors – it is so crisp.

    Too bad about the migraines. I suffered for years and know they can be totally debilitating. All my best to you.

    seabluelee-I don’t think that this break was too dangerous at the time. There were a bunch of local kids that were boogie boarding near me. I think that they were mad at me for occupying the optimum spot where the tube was forming. However, I did get picked up & dumped one time where I hit the bottom face first and I thought that my legs were going to wrap all the way over my head. That hurt, so I got out and took a break to ponder my existence.

    Margaret-I’ve got a few pictures that aren’t usable, but were interesting because as the wave reared up it was so translucent that it looked like an aquarium window looking through to the sandy beach bottom. My mom has had migraines her entire life, so that is where I get it from. They started in jr high, but I get them very rarely. I have not had any in a few years, but being stressed out and staring into the sun while in the water was what brought 2 in a row on. They are no fun, so here’s to neither of us getting a migraine any time soon!

    Your endless dedication to your profession shows in your work. Take care though, I’ve got a feeling your body’s going to pay for it as you get older! Unfortunately none of us are as invincible as we’d like to be.

    Jon, I really enjoy this website and your images. Here I am looking around on the intranets, thinking “what new aspects can I add to increase my range?” when I stumble across this site and I see some great inspiration. I plan to broaden my Island Photographer handle to include more than wedding and portrait images, I want some great nature images as well. Great work and thanks!

    You should check out the work of Quincy Dein. http://www.quincydein.com/ He is a Maui photographer and has some awesome wave images. I visited Maui in May and spent some time at Hamoa. All the Hana side beaches are equisite at sunrise but Koki beach was my favorite. I have no underwater housing, but wanted one very badly by the time I left Maui. I can see where it would be addicting. Hopefully I will be able to afford one, and to attend one of your workshops when I get out of school.

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