I spent much of my visit to the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island photographing over-underwater split images. This is one of my favorites. I like the coral reef with the refracted light dancing across the sandy bottom below with the dramatic scenery and clouds above. There are even a few tropical fish visible in the original, though, I doubt any of my readers will be able to see them at this resolution. Creating an image like this required a lot of trial and error. Waves were constantly washing over the front of my dome, so I had to remove the water drops with a hand towel which I kept underneath a ballcap on my head. I’m glad that I had the whole beach to myself as I must have looked like a dork, but it got the job done. It was also really hot. Most of the Samoans stayed in the shade during the hottest part of the day, but I was out there swimming with my camera under the intense sun getting thoroughly sunburned. But it was fun. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens with a B+W +2 graduated neutral density filter inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech 8″ dome port. This image is a single-exposure which required a minimal amount of processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Since I returned home last week, I have not had a lot of time to edit my new images, but this one is definitely worth sharing. I photographed this dramatic sunset while visiting the US National Park of American Samoa on Ofu Island last month. It took a lot of effort to travel this out-of-the-way tropical destination, which was part of the charm, but also explains why it is the least visited of the US National Parks. I stayed at the Vaoto Lodge where Jim, Ben, & Marge were delightful hosts. Other than the 2 researchers who were doing coral studies, I had the entire stretch of beach in the Park all to myself. I photographed a number of brilliant sunrise and sunsets, but this was the most spectacular. As much as I travel, it is still special when the clouds light up with intense color like this. I composed this image by framing the dramatic peaks in the distance with this eroded limestone shelf with waves washing over it in the foreground. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII, Carl Zeiss 28mm f2 ZE lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming polarizer, and 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Yesterday was my last day in Hawaii. Overall, the trip was exciting and adventurous, yet the photo opportunities were limited. The volcanic haze (vog) foiled almost every sunset landscape image that I tried to shoot. I also went boating 4 days to try and shoot some underwater wildlife. Even though I encountered spinner dolphins, pilot whales, and oceanic white tip sharks, none of them came close enough to me in the water to capture a publishable image. I always say that you better enjoy the boat ride when you are looking for pelagic critters. The chances of finding them are few and far between, yet when you do, it is an incredible experience.
I lucked into this image yesterday morning while snorkeling near the Place of Refuge. My flight home was not until the afternoon, so I decided to go for one last swim. Almost immediately, I found some green sea turtles feeding underwater, but soon turned my attention to a large school of yellow tangs that were moving back and forth in the wave surge. I noticed how dramatic the waves appeared in the background of my useless fish photos, so I turned my attention to capturing the drama of the large waves breaking over the coral reef. After some trial and error, I got my timing down for when I should dive underneath the surface and how to angle my camera up to shoot as the waves boiled over the reef. Of course right after the waves hit me, I felt like I was on the inside of a washing machine! It was challenging, but I had a lot of fun shooting something different.