Life on the Big Island of Hawaii
Waimanu is a monk seal who spends most of her time around the Big Island, one of the few to do so. She has given birth three times here, and recently gave birth to her fouth pup. She won’t leave her pup to feed until it’s ready to fend for itself, usually around six weeks. Because of this, she feeds up, ahead of giving birth, and attains enormous size.
The top photo shows the contrast between the huge mother seal and her small pup. Over the next six weeks, if all goes well, she’ll steadily lose weight while the pup will grow quite quickly. Eventually, the pup will lose it’s black coloration and look similar to its mother, the transformation complete.
This Phalaenopsis Minho Princess orchid was one of many varieties of orchid that can be found at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden north of Hilo on the east side of the Big Island. For more information about Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, go to htbg.com.
’Aimakapa Fishpond, in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, is a good place to see the endemic Hawaiian stilt. Mostly they’re seen wading in the shallows, probing the mud with their long beaks. On this day, however, they took to the air.
I enjoy taking photos of birds in flight, but it’s a challenge. Challenge number one is getting them in the frame. Then there’s the small matter of tracking them and getting settings right. I’m constantly experimenting with the best way to get the picture. Usually I find that by the time I’m organized they disappear behind some trees or settle down again on the flats.
This time the birds were unusually cooperative. They headed out over the water, circled back and returned from whence they came. And they did this more than once so I was able to get a bit of practice in.
I do like seeing birds shot, photographically speaking, against a clear blue sky, particularly the stilts with those long, pink legs. But I also like the context of the water and greenery surrounding the fishpond. I don’t know what the white birds are as this fleeting pass was as good a look as I got. They might be some kind of gull, though gulls aren’t especially common in Hawaii.
For more information about Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, go to nps.gov/kaho/index.htm.
My underwater photography setup is not a spiffy camera and a bank of lights, but a point-and-shoot Canon S 90 in a waterproof housing. It doesn’t have tremendous zoom capabilities so I’m constantly experimenting with ways to approach fish so I can get a decent close photo.
Taking photos in areas where fishing, spearfishing, and fish collection are banned makes things easier. Fish in those areas seem to know they have less to worry about, at least from humans, so they’re less inclined to dart off. Elsewhere it’s a different story. Often I can get reasonably close, but when I raise my camera toward them they tend to zip away, possibly thinking it’s a new type of spear gun.
The best approach I’ve found is to be as quiet as possible in the water and just drift toward something I want to photograph. In this instance, I was puttering around when I saw this giant porcupinefish headed my way. I like these fish with their big eyes and a body tapering from the huge head back toward the delicate tailfin.
This fish spotted me and dipped down behind a large lump of rock and coral. I waited, but it didn’t reappear. I eased forward, keeping the rock between me and the fish. Still no sign of my quarry, so I slid to one side and saw the tailfin fluttering. Ah ha! With my camera ready and a gentle flip of my flippers I moved to the other side where I found the fish peeking out and giving me this look. I snapped a photo and an instant later the porcupinefish pivoted and headed the other way at speed.
Despite their ungainly appearance, giant porcupinefish are good swimmers and it was soon a good distance away, but when I got home I was happy to find that I’d got this shot. I also like how the goldring surgeonfish in the photo looks suitably startled by the whole encounter.
Many times when I travel on Old Saddle Road, there comes a point where I’m exiting the clouds or disappearing into them. I like to take photos in this zone, experimenting as the level of the clouds comes and goes.
The top photo has that transition from clouds to clarity, but I also like the ethereal quality of the lower photo as patches of sun illuminate the pastures below.
A green turtle takes on a different appearance as it swims through the waters of Kiholo Bay. The original photo (above) already has an impressionistic look, but I experimented with a few effects and quite like the subtle difference of the posterized version below.