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Hamoa Beach Sunrise 1

Hamoa Beach Sunrise 1, Hana Coast, Maui, Hawaii

During my recent trip to Hana, I spent several sunrises photographing Hamoa Beach. Before heading out each morning, I looked out from our rental house toward the lightening eastern horizon and anticipated the sunrise by scrutinizing the dark sky for photogenic clouds. The only sounds were the proverbial early-birds chirping and the ocean breeze rustling the coconut palms. I could not be bothered to wear sandals for the short drive, especially since I would soon feel coarse grains of golden sand between my toes while shooting barefoot in the surf. This magical setting is undoubtedly one of the most South Pacific-like beaches in all of Hawaii. It is backed by a lava hill and ringed by tropical plants and coconut palms. Of course, I had the beach all to myself which allowed me to fully digest its ambience. I know that I can be terribly greedy having my photography locations to myself, but I need that peaceful beauty in order to effectively convey my experiences through my photography. We have enough distractions in our lives, so why should we have to share our adventures with crowds of people?

I initially played it safe by setting my camera up high on the beach to photograph the outgoing waves. This was not the most artistic composition, so I soon found myself compelled into the furious shorebreak with my camera in pursuit of a more dramatic imagery. I placed my tripod in water that was normally only knee deep. This was a safe position most of the time, but occasionally wave sets would almost completely wash over me and my equipment. Keeping my lens and filters dry was a constant struggle. I waited for waves to break before beginning my exposures. I experimented with hundreds of images in order to photograph one where the wave completed the composition I had envisioned. I created this photo with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 35mm f2 ZE lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer and 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filters. This image is a single exposure which required minimal processing in Aperture 3.

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