Kauai is one of the most consistently beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The entire island is teeming with waterfalls and lush vegetation, and rainbows are a daily (sometimes hourly) event. I’m sure that Oahu has its share of natural beauty as well (I hear the North Shore is quite lovely), but after spending several days in the high-rise tourist mini-metropolis that is Waikiki, stepping off the plane in Lihue is like going back in time two hundred years. The waterfall you see here is Wailua Falls, which is one of the most famous natural landmarks on the island and looks as amazing from ground level as it does from above.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time at this incredible place over the past 14 years, but I’ve only seen a sunset like this happen two or three times. You’ll be gazing out at the sun going over the horizon, and then you turn around and suddenly realize the last light of the day is illuminating massive clouds right over the roof of the house. It’s rare, but this time I was ready for it.
All of life is ephemeral, but by photographing these moments we capture them and make them ours. I may never see this scene again, but I’ve made a photo of it, and now it can be preserved and shared with the rest of the world. Scott Bourne at Photofocus recently wrote a great post on the subject, and it’s definitely worth a read.
If Starbucks is already hawking their gingerbread and eggnog lattes and CVS is sporting candy cane decorations behind their checkout counter, it’s certainly not too early to post a Christmas photo, right? The truth is, I’ve come around to the viewpoint that we should start celebrating Christmas (or whatever holiday near the winter solstice is relevant to those of your religious persuasion) as early as possible. I think people like to rush into the holiday spirit because it insulates them from the grim onset of winter. That and it sells more lattes. In any case, we should enjoy it, because after the holiday charm expires on New Year’s Day, we’ve still got a few more cold, dark months before we see trees this green again.
The Pacific can get extremely rough along the Na Pali coast on the north side of Kauai, but the coastline is stunningly beautiful and there’s no way to get there except by sea. Hence, groups of kayakers will work their way across the uninhabited shore over the course of a few days. I think it would be an absolutely amazing trip and I was constantly on watch for kayakers while we flew overhead in the helicopter. The symmetry of this scene really caught my eye, with the implicit safety of the shade on one side and the pounding surf on the other, and the beached kayaks scattered in between.
In 1960, a boat carrying 7 year old Roger Woodward and two other people capsized above Niagara Falls. His young sister was pulled to shore before she reached the edge. The adult who had been piloting the boat went over the falls and was killed. Roger plummeted over the side before he could be reached, but miraculously survived. I have no idea how this is possible, but it happened again in 2003 when a man threw himself into the river and emerged on the other side with only minor injuries. The 600,000 gallons of water that tumble over the edge every second has proved sufficient to pulverize the solid rock at the bottom; you’d think it would make short work of flesh and bone. The sheer relentless power of the falls is incredible to behold, and watching it is both mesmerizing and terrifying.