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!

Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island
Going around the Big Island - Part VII

Continued from the post: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI.

We had no time checking out the Kulaniapia Falls yesterday as we had to leave for the Kalapana lava ocean entry. Today we had plenty of time to spend here with this pretty but impressive waterfalls. I wanted to swim into the waterfall basin like those guys in Lost, but unfortunately it started raining and also found out that the water was quite chilly, so I gave up on the idea. It may have been full of leeches, too, but I regretted later.


woman tourists visiting Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Model Released - MR#: 000102, 000103

The Kulaniapia Falls is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is not huge or famous like Akaka Falls or Hiilawe Falls of Waipio Valley, but this private waterfall still has impressive height and the amount of water. What makes this waterfall special is that it is surrounded by the very pretty tropical rainforest - palm trees, bamboos, and other exotic plants, that are pruned regularly and neatly by the owner of the place.


Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA


Kulaniapia Falls, tropical rainforest jungle, Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: Negative Ions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Going around the Big Island - Part VIII.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna
Going around the Big Island - Part VI

Continued from the post: Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island - Part V.

After the Pololu Valley Lookout, our plan was to go to Merriman's Waimea restaurant (our favorite!) for lunch, and then, Waipio Valley Lookout, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, etc, etc. We realized that we were running late, so we called the restaurant and found that their lunch time was over. Extremely disappointed but we were able to get some decent lunch at one of the locals' favorites, the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi. Yum!

After the long, beer-drinking lunch hour, we decided to skip the rest of the sightseeing spots and went straight to Hilo as we were afraid of missing the main event of the day - witnessing the creation of new land - the glowing lava ocean entry at Kalapana in Puna area. We drove through the Kohala Mountain Road - one of the prettiest road to drive, and arrived at the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls in Hilo, our special place to stay overnight.

As we knew we were running late, we quickly checked in, repacked our camera gears lightly and headed to Kalapana. We wanted to explore the Puna areas but it was already getting dark as the sun was about to set.

By the time we got to the Kalapana, the sun was already gone. I quickly set up my camera gears and shot a few pictures with daylight background. The enormous steam clouds, the sound of waves and explosion, and the glowing red light of the molten lava... surreal and awe-inspiring.


molten lava entering Pacific Ocean at Kalapana, creating hydromagnetic explosions and massive steam clouds, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: Kulaniapia Falls - A Hidden Treasure of the Island - Going around the Big Island - Part VII.

Pololu Valley Lookout
Going around the Big Island - Part V

Continued from the post: The Original King Kamehameha The Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV.

After we passed the Upolu point - the North Point of the Big Island, the dry, brown grass scenery of the leeward side changes to the beautiful greenery of wet, windward side of the island. We drove around the point and passed the sleepy little towns of Hawi, and then, passed the original King Kamehameha the Great statue in Kapaau. We were now completely surrounded by jungle - the tropical rainforest. This is one of the most pretty roads to drive through on the Big Island.

At the end of the winding road, we arrived at Pololu Valley Lookout, a scenic point that you shouldn't miss. Parking, growing trees and bushes made me work harder to photograph the scenery, but still the scenery was quite pretty to look at.


Pololu Beach, Pololu Valley, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

I've hiked down to the valley and the beach below sometime ago with heavy camera equipment, and shot many pictures of the wet land, but have never had an opportunity to process any of the pictures I took there to this date.

The valley, waterfalls, marsh land, woods, and rocky beaches, cliffs and bluffs... all looked beautiful and impressive as well as very wild and pristine. If anybody is interested in these shots of the valley, please let me know and I'll dig in my piles.

To be continued to: Glowing Lava - Ocean Entry at Kalapana of Puna - Going around the Big Island - Part VI.

The Original King Kamehameha The Great Statue
Going around the Big Island - Part IV

Continued from the post: Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

The next town after the Upolu Point of Hawi is Kapaau. Kapaau is a very nice little town having some good ice cream, coffee shops and nice restaurants. But the most famous thing is the original cast of the King Kamehameha the Great statue. It looks very impressive if you actually see it at the site. I will come back here on King Kamehameha Day (June 11th) as the statue will be heavily decorated with flowers, etc. Never been to but seen the cool looking King statue on some local publications before, so probably worth the trip.


the original cast of the statue of King Kamehameha the Great, Kapaau, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii

To be continued to: Pololu Valley Lookout - Going around the Big Island - Part V.

Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy
Going around the Big Island - Part III

Continued from the post: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Part II.

After we left the impressive Temple of the Whale Hill, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, we drove farther north and stopped by at the Upolu Point Wind Farm which I've never visited to this day.

This is practically the north point - the northern tip of the Big Island and strongest wind constantly blows just like the more famous south point of the island. I wonder why there is an airport called, Upolu Airport, built here. Seriously strong, gusty wind blows here all the time. Does the wind help airplanes landing and taking off? Maybe, huh? Let me know if you are a pilot.


wind turbines, Upolu Airport Wind Farm, Uplolu Point, Hawi, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

I also wondered that there were plenty of wind here at the north point, but not many wind turbines were put up. Similarly, the wind farm at South Point also has marginal number of such wind turbines, and also they have been badly maintained for a long time (I haven't been there for a while, so don't actually know the current condition).

Electricity here is notoriously expensive despite we have many sustainable green energy resources like geothermal energy, exceptionally strong trade wind and scorching sun power as well as hydroelectric power- heavy rains, rivers and waterfalls on the other side of the island. How come we don't stop importing oils and use these renewable energies? We know we can do this. Hawaii has full of such resources and we have not been utilizing them at all... very frustrating.


Upolu Airport Road and wind turbines of Upolu Point Wind Farm, Hawi, North Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

To be continued to: The Original King Kamehameha the Great Statue - Going around the Big Island - Part IV.

Ancient Hawaiian Warriors' Close Combat Weapons

I had an opportunity to photograph some of the nicest display of the ancient Hawaiian warriors' close combat weapon replicas. These reconstructed weapons are very well crafted and thoughtfully designed. They can seriously damage a human being for sure. It's scary to think that if someone hit me with one of these things. Ouch!


long-handled volcanic stone club, ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA


tiger shark multi-tooth dagger, ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA


dagger with shark's tooth, an embedded tiger shark tooth will act like a burb giving , ancient Hawaiian close combat weapon - prior to the introduction of firearms to Hawaii, warriors engaged in hand-to-hand combat when fighting in battle, Hawaii, USA

Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill
Going around the Big Island - Part II

Continued from the post: Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui - Going around the Big Island - Part I.

We planned to go to the Pololu Valley lookout but we side-tracked to visit Puukohola Heiau which I've never visited before. Puukohola Heiau is historically very important. Constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, this "war" temple played a crucial role to end all the war and unite all Hawaii Islands to establish his island kingdom in 1810.


woman visitor looking at park sign at Puukohola Heiau - the temple on the whale hill, the largest and last heiau constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Kawaihae, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Model Released - MR#: 000103

Although Puukohola Heiau was the largest temple dedicated to Kamehameha I's war god, Ku, it literally means "the Temple on the Whale Hill", so it's related to the creature I love the most.  The site also features the submerged, underwater temple, called, Hale o Kapuni Heiau, dedicated to the shark gods. Whale Hill... Shark Gods... sound very interesting, don't they? I've been wanting to go there for a long time, but never had good weather when I drove by there.

Today the weather condition was pretty good - sunny and breezy. Although there are a bit of vog (volcanic gas) and clouds started creeping in, I knew the polarizing filter would elevate my photography to the commercial grade ;-)

The visitor center was well kept and had many interesting and informative displays. The Puukohola Heiau itself (ancient Hawaiian temple) was very impressive. Huge! Wonder how the hell the ancient Hawaiians moved this many big rocks up there. Many are not one-man rocks. Most are two-men, three-men and even four-men huge rocks. There also were humongous boulders, that definitely looked like requiring modern day heavy machinery to even move slightly. How did they do that? Just amazing.


massive stone structure of Puukohola Heiau - the temple on the whale hill, the largest and last heiau constructed in 1790-91 by Kamehameha I, Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Kawaihae, Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

According to the park literature, thousands of men camped out on the hills for nearly a year to work on the massive structure. Because the heiau had to be constructed of water-worn lava rocks, it is believed that rocks came from the seaside vally of Pololu. Workers formed a human chain at least 20 miles long and transported the rocks hand to hand to the top of Puukohola. Even Kamehameha himself labored with the others at times.

Looking at those big rocks... still it's very hard to believe they built it like that.

To be continued to: Upolu Point Wind Farm - Sustainable Green Energy - Going around the Big Island - Part III.

Kiholo Bay and Haleakala of Maui
Going around the Big Island - Part I

I was asked to shoot Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament this year but at the last moment, the deal went off for various uncontrollable reasons. Well... that was disappointing as I was looking forward to it to see and photograph some exciting fishing actions.

Regardless, my schedule was packed tightly throughout this week. A good friend of ours was visiting from Japan. Also we were looking forward to our up-coming 5th anniversary. So, we wanted to do something special, and decided to go around the island for sightseeing.

First, we stopped at a scenic spot off the highway where the island of Maui can be seen best. The Maui used to be seen easily from anywhere in the upper west side of Big Island, but nowadays it's becoming a rare event to see the Haleakala of Maui due to the heavy vog (volcanic gas - very halmful, too!).


Haleakala volcanic mountain on Maui and KiholoBay, Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

Today was one of those lucky few days to see it relatively clearly. Kiholo Bay is one of the prettiest shallow bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is made of white sandy bottom with patchy coral reefs, that create the beautiful contract between deep blue ocean and the lighter turquoise, greenish-blue shallow bay.

Black lava field, dry brown grasses, and the palm tree groves around the rich people's ocean front houses add more interests to this special landscape pictures. Without a doubt, it's one of my favorite scenery on the island, and is perfect for a house/office decor use.

To be continued to: Puukohola Heiau - Temple of the Whale Hill - Going around the Big Island - Part II.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kona's Independence Day Fireworks - Fourth of July

My wife and I went to town to watch fireworks display in Kona for the first time.

Before even got dark, we drove around the town and scouted many locations for good angles to take pictures. After all we decided to get a location closest to the launching pad which was set up on a barge in the middle of Kailua Bay.

Good crowds were out there and everybody was having good time. Island-style live music like reggae & slack-key guitar music, ocean breeze, beer & cocktails... the town was filled with full of excitement and anticipation of a good fireworks show. We felt the buzzing energy that reminded us a bit of city lives we both grew up in.

The fireworks started on time at 8:30 pm. Kona's fireworks weren't as spectacular as those in big cities or those in Japan, but the reflections on the water and the close distance made them certainly more dramatic and memorable. It's fun to watch them always.


fireworks, Fourth of July - Independence Day, Kailua Bay, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Pictures 0907 Stock Photo Gallery - Be the First to Publish!

Orca, orca, orca! I saw and photographed killer whales, Orcinus orca, in Hawaii!!! Wow, that's unbelievably rare. I don't know who else has even a decent picture of Hawaii's orca. Behind-the-scene story is posted here: Killer Whales in Hawaii? - Transient Orcas of Hawaii - Part IV of the Epic Wildlife Encounters.


Processed some pantropical spotted dolphins, Stenella attenuata, and feeding sea birds pictures from the same "epic" excursion of June 9th, 2009. Will continue to work to finish the day. An exciting blue marlin stories are posted here along with those pictures: Blue Marlin Attack! - Part II of the Epic Wildlife Encounters.


New Pictures 0907 - Stock Photo Gallery - Images by Masa Ushioda

On Independence Day, I went to see fireworks in town for the first time. Kona's fireworks are not anything like those in New York or Tokyo but still it was quite nice to see them up close at the water edge. A short story is here: Kona's Independence Day Fireworks - Fourth of July.