Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Pictures 1004 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

Oceanic whitetip sharks, Carcharhinus longimanus, are from one of the best encounters I've ever had in the past. On that day my partner and I encountered a pod of short-finned pilot whales, Globicephala macrorhynchus, five oceanic whitetip sharks, and then one humongous blue marlin, Makaira nigricans or Makaira mazara! Short stories are posted here respectively: Short-finned Pilot Whale Silhouettes of Kona Coast of Hawaii, Five Oceanic Whitetip Sharks of Kona Coast of Hawaii, and One Humongous Blue Marlin of Kona Coast of Hawaii.

Kiholo Bay and Maui shots are from this post: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I. The panorama shot was made of three pictures - stitched together in Photoshop Photo Merge. I wasn't happy with the result but the technique has such potential to make a seriously high quality landscape pictures which may exceed the quality of a medium format cameras.

New Pictures 1004 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Next I processed humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, surface actions, including fluking (fluke-up dive), head breaches, tail breaches (peduncle throw), etc. from a single good whale watching day.

Sad thing is that I would no longer be able to take crystal clear shots of those exciting whale surface actions. At least, not any time soon. The Kilauea volcano has been very active in recent years, and the heavy VOG (volcanic smog) has been roaming around leeward side of the island most of the time.

Vog is a type of air pollution, so the smog obscures everything including photographs. More importantly the polluted air causes major effect on human health. For example, unfortunately I had to become a casual inhaler user. Please read more on VOG and humpback whales in this post: Humpback Whales in VOG - Volcanic Smog.

Finally I added some gorgeously colored mahi mahi, Coryphaena hippurus, pictures including both bulls and cows (a bull is a male fish and has a square head and usually bigger and tougher). A few FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) and other fishing related pictures are included here, too, as Hawaii's mahi mahis are typically found at those offshore FADs.

I love mahi mahi in many ways. First of all, I love to fish them. They are one of the most acrobatic fish, so fishing on light tackle is very exciting. Second, I love to swim with them as they look great underwater. They change colors frequently. The sparkling neon blue to the glittering golden color are simply stunning to look at underwater as well as on the pictures. Third, I love to eat them. They are the one of the best fish to eat in the world. In my opinion, their market value is very under rated. For more details on mahi mahi actions, please read this post: Mahi Mahi Extravaganza! - Part I of The Epic Wildlife Encounters.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery Update

The humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, is one of the most exciting subjects that I love to take pictures of.  Humpbacks are huge, acrobatic and often friendly. Photographing them is very challenging, difficult and dangerous in many cases, but it is all worth my sweat & effort when I nail a good breaching shot or when they approach me and allow me to take a picture or two underwater. It is truly rewarding.

Visit Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery

Wildlife photography is about patience and concentration. My way of shooting humpback whales is very passive. I just wait all day for things to happen. It's all up to them.

Humpback Whale Pictures - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Sometimes they breach out of water 30 times in a row, and the other day they decide to sleep all day. They are usually very shy but occasionally there are those individuals which seek human encounters eagerly. Humpback whales are incredibly intelligent animals like us humans.

I've been taking pictures of them for over a decade now, and I gathered a handful of my best work here to celebrate this magnificent creature.

I will be frequently updating this humpback whale picture gallery in the future, so don't forget to come back to check it out. I would like you to enjoy the beauty of the animal, hoping that my pictures inspire you to help protecting this spectacular animal species on our planet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tragedy on Hawaii's Reef Fish
A Tribute to 551 Dead Yellow Tangs and 59 Reef Fishes

"Tropical Fish Dump Prompts Outrage - More than 600 fish found dumped at harbor"
This tragic story was on the cover of our local newspaper, "West Hawaii Today". A photo of hundreds of dead yellow tangs, Zebrasoma flavescens, and other reef fish like butterfly fishes was just too shocking to see, and too hard to comprehend why.

I don't think the commercial fish collecting is a sustainable business unless it is strictly regulated and actively monitored.

As you can see here, professional fish collectors can easily catch a lot of them, and can be careless and irresponsible about the environment. It is infuriating as well as very sad to see the thing like this actually happened here. No wonder most of pretty reef fish around Kona hate divers and quickly flee from them.

Yellow tangs are usually the first to leave cleaning turtle when divers approach, so the shot like this is becoming a historical event in these days. Due to the relentless yellow tang hunting, their DNA has already been altered to avoid humans at all cost. Pretty soon we'll only have gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, at turtle cleaning station because they are abundant and friendly because they have not been hunted by fish collectors due to their low market value.

endangered green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, being cleaned by yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, and endemic saddle wrasse, Thalassoma duperrey, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Our reef fishes are disappearing fast due to the persistent, thoughtless fish collecting. It's a fact that any diver or snorkeler can see and confirm. Have you notice how timid and shy our reef fishes are when you approach compared to else where? They are afraid of you. Have you notice how little reef fish we have around Kona when compared to officially protected areas such as the Kealakekua Bay or compared to reefs on other Islands like Maui or Oahu?

Even very fist time I dove around Kona more than a decade ago, I noticed the small amount of fish as well as their timidity and diffidence. "Why there is no fish in this pretty coral reef?" "Why fish is so afraid of me?" Those are the very first questions I asked my dive operator back then, and nothing has changed or even addressed until today.

endangered green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, being cleaned by yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, and gold-ring surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus strigosus, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

We have a thriving scuba diving industry, and Kona is usually ranked pretty high among the best dive destinations in the world. To me diving in Kona is overrated because of the poor fish count and their fleeing behavior.

It's a shame that the goverment and we cannot stop such devastating, anti-environmental business activity. I think it's time to ban the unsustainable fish collecting activity before our fish really extinct from this precious and unique Hawaiian coral reef.

Existence of a lot more colorful, friendly reef fish should promote healthy reefs and benefit everybody. Eventually the abundance of pretty reef fish will raise more big fish and drive more fishermen, divers and snorkelers to this island. I thought we learned the lessen from the past like whale watching makes more sense than whale hunting.

Why don't we develop and promote a new sustainable business to raise pretty aquarium fish like yellow tangs in a fish farm at NELHA (Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority? We can even replenish the reef after we raise enough for aquarists. That'll be a win-win situation. No brainer, don't you think?

Very sad day in Kona...

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Pictures 1001 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

New pictures are added to our online library. Very rare shots are those blue shark, Prionace glauca,  pictures. The blue shark is a rare species to see in Hawaii as it normally prefers much colder water. This 10 foot big female was the second one I've ever encountered in a decade of boating in Kona. As she had nothing to afraid, she left many scars on my underwater camera's dome lens :-(

It was a full grown female blue shark, completed with many bite marks from other sharks perhaps due to its violent mating rituals. A blue shark in crystal clear Hawaiian blue water! That's something different, isn't it? Besides, this particular shark was unbelievably beautiful. She had huge black eyes, pointy snout, streamlined slender body covered with blue and silver sparkles. It is very difficult to show those sparkling colors in a photo, but still the resulting pictures are of exceptional quality. Certainly different from those common blue shark pictures with green or dark blue water background shot in California or North Atlantic Ocean. Complete behind-the-scene story is posted here: Big Blue! - The Giant Blue Shark of Hawaii.

New Pictures 1001 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Next, this curious, young humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, found my boat floating and stayed under the boat for more than 10 minutes. I don't know how this happened but I thank Wyland for this.

Humpback whales are very intelligent and inquisitive. I also got some good head-lunging, breaching, fluke-up dive pictures from the same day! Lucky me! Please read this post for more info on that day: Inquisitive and Curious - Wyland's Humpback Whale.

Finally I was able to get some really good pantropical spotted dolphin, Stenella attenuata, pictures at sunset. As the sun was setting, dolphins jumped all over my boat under the luminous purplish light. It was a quite site to see. More on this story, look here: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play.

There is one good editorial ID shot comparing common two species of tuna in Hawaii: yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. You can learn the differences in this post: Shibi - Yellowfin Tuna or Bigeye Tuna?

Following the last submission, I processed a lot more landscape pictures of the Big Island scenery.  For the first time I visited the massive Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site which has been well kept and run by the National Park Service. More detailed info and story are found in this post: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Parrt II.

Next stop was the Big Island's norh point, Upolu Point. I photographed Upolu Point Wind Farm. The story is in this post: Upolu Point Find Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

The rest of the Big Island scenery is from Hilo side. I took a friend of ours to see a molten lava again at the Kalapana lava ocean entry (now it's gone!), stayed at a special place, Inn at Kulaniapia Falls to celebrate our 5th anniversary, and then the next morning we stopped by at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visiting a few main attractive spots in the park. Please see these respective posts for behind-the-scene stories: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI, Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII, Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Going around the Big Island Part VIII.

Lastly I shot some photos of ancient Hawaiian warrior weapons which were made of shark teeth, Hawaiian hard wood and lava rocks. The craftsmanship of those weapons are incredible, but can you imagine if you are struck by one of those? Ouch! More details are here: Ancient Hawaiian Warriors' Close Combat Weapons.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inquisitive Wyland's Humpback Whale

On Christmas Day Eve, I had an opportunity to take Wyland out for a whale watching trip at the end of the year. Wyland is perhaps the most successful marine life artist of our generation. His whaling wall paintings represent his dynamic art and are very impressive. We've been connected via the love of the ocean as well as the Ocean Artists Society (Wyland is one of the founder and I am a selected member). Anyway he seems to bring me a good luck everytime we go out together. Last time we found a huge floating net and caught four mahi mahi and bunch of rainbow runners. That doesn't happen often around here. Floating objects are scarce, and finding one is a very rare event.

The whale watching season for Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, was still early and activity level was fairly low on this day, although the ocean and the weather conditions were near perfect.

As we were drifting to observe some "lazy"whale activities in the distance hoping for a breach, we noticed enormous shades of black & white nearby surface of the water over gunwale. It was a humpback whale sitting right under our boat! The fish finder sonar displayed a huge red patch located at about 60 feet directly below the boat. Wow! How this happened? I don't know. Wyland's good karma? Maybe.

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The inquisitive whale stayed under there another 10 minutes or so checking out the bottom of my boat thoroughly. The whale seemed to be a young, small whale - somewhat skinny looking, but healthy and full of energy. She had a pair of extra long white pectoral fins to complement her slender blackish body. A beautiful whale. As she fulfilled her curiosity, she gracefully moved away and disappeared into the deep blue ocean.

After that, everything got quiet again, and stayed that way until we decided to leave for the day. As we moved toward the harbor, Wyland spotted a breaching whale in the distance. It was quite far from where we were but the whale kept breaching again and again, so we couldn't resist to go see it!

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, head-lunging breach, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Most of the time like this situation, the breaching session would be over by the time I arrive at the scene. However, this time, we somehow made it there in time before she quit breaching. Luckily we were able to witness and photograph a few spectacular head-lunging breach sequences.

It was almost late afternoon. The swell was increasingly getting big, and made it difficult to shoot the breaching whale. But, those huge swell made these breaching pictures more spectacular and dramatic because we were able to shoot up from the bottom of the big swell as the whale was breaching out from the top of the swell. The resulting breaching pictures were impressively dynamic, and looked like they were shot from the water level or even below the water level! Technically I WAS below the water level, though!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shibi - Yellowfin Tuna or Bigeye Tuna?

Can you tell the difference between a juvenile yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares, and a juvenile bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus?

I've been a fishing enthusiast but for a long time I've had trouble in identifying each of them properly when I took pictures of them. Hawaiian and Japanese fishermen call both juveniles as "shibi", and usually are careless about which. I've been the same way, too.

On the other day, I had an opportunity to compare the two species of similar size. I caught both species on the same day. By comparing them side by side, the difference was obvious.

juvenile yellowfin tunas are called, shibi in Hawaii and Japan, consisting of two differenct species of tunas - yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares (above), and bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus (bottom), note the differences that bigeye tuna has larger eyes, longer pectoral fins and more robust body, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

The most obvious difference was the pectoral fins. The bigeye tuna has a lot longer pec fin than the yellowfin, passing the dorsal and almost reaching the anal fin. Its body shape is naturally much more robust - looks a lot fatter than the yellowfin does. In addition, the eye of the bigeye tuna was apparently larger relative to the size of the body and head, which explains the origin of the common name of the species.

I always thought the bigeye tuna tastesd better because it looked fatter! Maybe that's not true after all. In any case, they are fabulously good eat. If you are catching one, make sure to take time and bleed them well. It'll make a huge difference at dinner table.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play
The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II

Continued from the post: Trophy Mahi Mahi - Dolphinfish Bull 37 LB 1 Hour Fight - The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II.

After all the excitement of catching the trophy mahi mahi, we cruised down to south in search of calmer water and tunas because the gusty north east Trade Wind messed up the northern fishing area where we were. We checked a few buoys cruising long distance but nothing much was happening. Soon we realized how late it was already, and decided to call for the day. We looked at our proud mahi mahi again and took more pictures with the sunset behind. "Damn! He was huge!"

My buddy and I were in a hurry trying to get home before the sun set, so that we could wash the boat under daylight!. A small dolphin suddenly showed up leaping toward the bright sun. And then, another one, and another... Pretty soon I was surrounded by hundreds of pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata.

pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, juveniles and baby, doing synchronized jumping out of boat wake at sunset, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

They seemed very excited about the arrival of my boat and welcomed us by bow-riding, wake-riding, and showing off their signature high leaps against golden sun. What a beautiful moment. I couldn't resist taking my camera out of the Pelican case and started shooting them as everything started to glow under purple-orange fluorescent light. Known as the sunset golden hour for photographers.

Shooting from a rocking boat at sunset wasn't easy, but luckily I was able to capture a moment when four young dolphins jumped out of the boat wake all at once. This dolphin shot would become one of my signature pictures of the dolphin for sure, and also was totally worth my effort of washing the boat in the dark ;-)

Trophy Mahi Mahi - Dolphinfish Bull 37 LB 1 Hour Fight
The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part I

I love fishing. Particularly when I hook something big on a light tackle outfit. For example, when I fish for mahi mahi or ono, small tunas, I usually use a light tackle instead of heavy marlin tackles because the same fish gives me far more excitement, otherwise, the game is over in a matter of seconds.

I heard a "rumor" that there were hundreds of sharks at OT buoy along with an endangered fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus. Hundreds of sharks??!! Fin whale in Hawaii??!! Never heard of such things around Kona, so my buddy & I decided to go out the day before the Thannksgiving to investigate if the story was true.

As usual, we were late getting out, and went straight out to the OT buoy about 15 miles offshore. My fish finder recorded many fish in deep, so I dropped some jigs but did not get anything. And then a shark showed up... and another one...then another one. We saw three sharks but disappeared quickly into deep. From the shape of them, they looked like silky sharks.

As we throw some baits to attract sharks or whatever, a big mahi showed up by my boat. "OK. That's more like it." I rigged some bait for mahi and put in in the water. Bang! Hanapa'a! Fish on! In a few seconds, the mahi was at the horizon leaping like maniac. "He's big!!!" We could tell that for sure from the distance. He looked that big.

A couple months ago we lost a 40lb (we think!) bull mahi just before gaffing by the gunwhale because we got greedy to hook more mahi at the same time and forgot that it was on 30lb line. So this time we were determined to get this fish in. No photography.

Suddenly the mahi at the horizon disappeared and my line slacked. Oh, no... wait a minuetes the fish is coming this way straight! I screemed, "Something's chasing it! A marlin!... no a shark!" A silky shark (perhaps) was chasing after the fish trying to bite its tail. What a speed! Both fish zip by my boat and went the opposite side in a matter of seconds! Wow.

I wound my reel to recover some line but the fish kept going. All I can do was hang on. With the help of Sue's boat maneuver, after about 1 hour of good fight, we finally got him on board.

It turned out to be the biggest mahi mahi I've ever caught. It weighed about 36 lb a humongous bull mahi mahi. Wow. I was exhausted. What a fight.

Mahi mahi for everybody and I will be getting him mounted for sure!

To be continued to: Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Sunset Play - The Day Before Thanksgiving - Part II.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sunset Spinning Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins

Hawaiian spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris longirostris, are regular residents of Kona, Big Island of Hawaii. They sleep during the day, and then, at around sunset, they wake up and go out for overnight hunting.

Interesting thing is that just before the sun set, they must do these spectacular rituals: "sunset spin-jumps" on their way to the offshore hunting ground. In Kona, most of the time, the sunset is gorgeous, so this everyday event of these resident spinner dolphins is pretty surreal and awesome to witness. Photographing them are totally another story, though. Well, it's very tough!

Hawaiian spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris, jumping at sunset, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Shooting sunset spinners is perhaps one of the most difficult photo-shoots that I do in regular basis. The shooting is not life-threatening like shark or whale shootings, but their jumps are lightening-quick, and the locations and timings of their jumps are very much unpredictable.

Also my eyes are often blinded by the glorious golden sunlight coming through my viewfinder when I shoot against the sun. In such situations, I can only rely on my reflex, concentration and on my camera's performance. It is very difficult to even get a shot in focus! Well... that's ok. If it's easy, I would be out of business, right?

Despite such extreme difficulties, I've got some lucky shots of the sunset spinner dolphins this time! You can check out more sunset spinner shots by entering both keywords in search box: spinner sunset.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Big Blue! - The Giant Blue Shark of Hawaii

For the first time in Hawaii, I've got a good opportunity to work with a blue shark, Prionace glauca, underwater for a long period of time. "Blue shark, in Hawaii?" Yes, it is very rare to see a blue shark around Hawaiian waters as the shark normally prefers a lot colder water like California Coast. This was the second time for me to even see one in over a decade of boating in Hawaii. Last time I saw, it didn't stick around and I had no chance of interacting with it.

El Nino might have been something to do with the water temperature in Hawaii this year, but it was actually quite high that day, or I should say it was unusually warm for Hawaii. So, encountering a blue shark was least expected. It was a huge surprise, but of course in a good way.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

It was a large female blue shark. At least, she was 10 foot long. I quickly rigged my camera and slipped into the water with caution. I knew that a shark of this size usually do not afraid of anything. As anticipated, she swam straight at me and bumped into my dome port. Not just once. Twice or three times in a row. She was aggressive. Persistently she tried to bite my metal housing and Yamaha outboard engines as those metal parts fooled her sensors (photo tip: you should have a shiny metal housing to attract sharks! Acrylic housings won't do!).

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Haven't seen many aggressive sharks as much as this one since I dove with a 14 foot tiger shark in Bahamas, so I've got a little scared about the situation I was in. She was overly pushy and hostile. I really felt a danger of getting bitten. I was ducking, swaying, jumping underwater as she tried to check me out from various directions. I had to fend off her using my underwater camera several times. However, the adrenaline was pumping into my body & brain, at the same time, I was exhilarated. Shark shooting is fun! It can be extremely dangerous, but brings me such excitement and thrills that cannot be replaced by anything else. It's an extreme sport.

She was one of a kind. Pointy noese, long slender but streamlined body with huge black eyes. The color of the blue was very difficult to see from the pictures, but the color had absolutely gorgeous... hues of blue with silver sparkles over it... or I should say the color was like "metallic blue" hues from light to dark on the top surface of the body. Along with that vivid blue, brilliant golden color ran both side of the body. The belly side was almost pure white that competed the perfect countershading pattern. The various toned colors of blue, gold, silver and white were glittering as Hawaii's bright sunlight hit her body. Very shiny. Breathtakingly beautiful.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Definitely she was the largest blue shark I've ever encountered to this day. Sadly in California, nowadays it's rare to see a big one like this due to the notorious, relentless Mexican shark fishery that has been killing blue and mako sharks of all sizes by thousands each year.

While I was having great times of my life with this perfect shark, my buddy was screaming at me from the boat as she could see me struggling with the large shark, "Masa, get out of the water! You'd better think about your newborn son & wife!" Yeah, I guess she was right.

But since it was such a rare opportunity, I invited her to join me in the water with the shark, besides, I needed a human body as a model to show the size of the shark comparatively in my pictures. Well, she sincerely declined my invitation. While having a conversation with her, the shark seemed to get the idea that she won't be getting anything from me, and slowly swam away into the deep blue Pacific Ocean.

blue shark, Prionace glauca, large female, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Although the shark left a heck of a lot of scratches and teeth marks on my precious dome port, I was able to grab some decent shots. As you can see, they look different from those typical pictures taken in California. First of all the color of the water makes a huge difference. In California, it's usually green or greenish blue. Sometimes it gets really blue but most likely very heavy and dark, not like clear Hawaiian blue - bright and pleasant.

I'm very happy with the pictures I've got from this super exciting, extreme encounter. I was also happy with the fact that I survived to see my family again. It's rewarding to see the result of my effort!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Pictures 0910 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

I processed some old files from Tampa spearfishing trip as per client's request. I never knew the hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, could get that big, and such a great eating! I was seasick most of the trip but was able to have good time with buddies of mine in Florida. More details are posted here: Spearfishing in Pristine Coral Reef of Gulf of Mexico.

* Please note that all recognizable people in this batch are model released. A copy of release is available upon request. Please also note that all spearfishing pictures are not available for any uses that promote anti-spearfishing campaign. They are buddies of mine who enjoy the activity very much. Thanks for understanding ;-)

New Pictures 0910 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

Added a few more pictures of that beautiful pregnant spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari. See this post for more info: Spotted Eagle Ray - The Most Beautiful Thing I've Ever Seen!

Then, from Hawaii, I processed some scenic pictures for editorial market - Kealakekua Bay, the original King Kamehameha the Great statue, Pololu Valley lookout, and Kiholo Bay with Haleakala of Maui. For behind-the-scene stories for those Hawaii's scenic pictures, please look these posts respectively: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I, The Original King Kmehameha the Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV, Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island Part V.

Some clients are even surprised to see those landscape pictures from me, and the fact that I actually care to shoot such subjects ;-) I like to shoot landscapes and other subjects as I travel in order to illustrate the trips. Although it's not as exciting and challenging as shooting big whales and sharks, it is rewarding to nail a stunning landscape shot when all the correct settings... light, air, clouds, sun, wind, equipment... are dialed in precisely as I wish.

I've been working on these Big Island scenery pictures as per client's request. So, more landscape pictures are on their way out in the near future. They are freshly shot, never-been-published, brand new pictures, showing the current state of the locations or objects. I hope you can find some pictures useful for your upcoming Hawaii book projects or magazine features.

Please contact me for any specific Hawaii subjects or locations. I may have some shots in my pile of pictures, or I'll go shoot them for you.

Finally I've got some Hawaiian spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris longirostris, sunset shots. The shoot was very hard, but I've got some lucky ones! Please see this post for more info: Sunset Spinning Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Going around the Big Island - Part VIII

Continued from the post: Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII.

We knew nothing much was going on at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at moment since the series of explosions at Halemaumau Crater in March of 2008, but decided to stop by for our friend who has never visited the park. Those explosions in 2008 shot up tons of rocks and debris all over the part of the Crater Rim Drive and destroyed the man-made, Halemaumau Overlook inside Kilauea Caldera.

rainbow over actively erupting Halemaumau Crater, releasing vog - volcanic gas, Kilauea Caldera, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

On this particular day, the vog (volcanic gas) wasn't impressively coming out from the live vent of the Halemaumau Crater, but luckily a thin layer of rain clouds created a complete rainbow over the Kilauea Caldera, making the somewhat boring landscape more interesting and pretty to photograph. The rainbow didn't stay long, and so didn't we.

Next we drove to one of my favorite sites in the park, Thurston Lava Tube. No matter how many times I visit there, I get impressed by Hawaii's own pristine, native rainforest - Hawaiian fern tree and Ohia Lehuna tree jungle. The rainforest is incredibly beautiful.

Hawaiian tree fern or hapuu, Cibotium glaucum, and Ohia Lehuna tree, Metrosideros polymorpha, tropical rainforest, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

The healthy ever-green plants create the oxygen rich air that is mixed with rain mists and drops, releasing tons of negative ions in the atmosphere. Just approaching to the site starts to make me feel good by taking more oxygen into my brain.

Negaitve ions are like natural drugs that make you feel better. Negative ions have been a big topic in Japan for decades, but not so much here in the United States. According to WebMD, the negative ions "are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy." I totally agree.

Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Don't you feel better when you go outside in your backyard when rains? I do. So visiting the Thurston Lava Tube is like going through a sort of powerful rejuvenation process that activates my brain and boost my energy tremendously. Even the lava tube itself is filled with the negative ions and oxygen rich air, so by reaching the end of the tunnel, I become naturally super HIGH.

I'm definitely a negative ion junkie. Totally addicted.

On this day there were misty rains that filled the woods. The atmosphere was incredible. I was exhilarated just being there among trees. What an awesome experience it was. I couldn't get enough of this wonderful natural therapy as I've been living in a dry land of Kona!