As a kid my favorite place on earth was that strip of adventure where the sand meets the sea. I could sit for hours just mesmerized by the waves lapping at the shore. The beauty of the ocean fills me with delight, and such visions transport me to an awareness of something more than what just my eyes can behold. They expand my senses beyond common things. I am grateful for eyes that see and a heart that hungers for the constant feast nature displays. I’ll never tire of the scenery here in my paradise of surf, sky and soaring Ko’olau mountain ranges.
The tallest tree in this photo is a Norfolk Pine my mom and I brought home from a hike in Nu’uanu (on the other side of that tall mountain) when I was about 15 years old.
We happened upon a grove of these trees where the forest floor beneath them was carpeted with tiny four inch shoots. We carefully rooted up a dozen of them which I planted in 5 gal paint pots and eventually sold for 5 bucks each to my dad’s friends. One tree we kept and planted in our front yard, which can be seen in this photograph of where I grew up (above and a bit right of the paddler).
a love for photography
Chichen Itza, Mexico - 1982
My first camera dangled from the strap around my neck whenever I was on some adventure. It came with a fancy auto exposure mode, but when my Junior High school began offering photography classes I learned enough to know I wanted more control than what auto pilot could give me. I set it on manual, and much later I discovered that it’s advanced auto exposure technology was ruined from a leaky battery that never got used! I wasn’t concerned. I was engrossed for hours in the lab after school processing film in canisters and rocking fixer trays under safelights fascinated by the reaction that changed invisible silver halide crystals into magical images. This discovery stirred my love of visual imagery, and launched my quest for an education and career where I could pursue this growing passion.
surf, sea, and scuba
Parallel to my love of this visual art ran a love of the ocean. I religiously watched the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau on television, attended summer oceanography classes at the Waikiki aquarium, and got certified in SCUBA diving at the local YWCA in 8th grade. So during my senior year while researching what colleges to attend, I found the perfect match in a school of photographic arts and sciences that offered a minor degree in underwater photography. I was leaving my island home with visions of a career as photographer for Jacques Cousteau! Well, the dreams of my naive youth differed from the unfolding reality of getting a start in life, then marriage and fatherhood, and even though the technical knowledge I gained opened doors for me in the photographic industry, I found my desires for artistic expression taking me away from photography for gainful employment after about 15 years to pursue the art for my own pleasure. I occasionally shot weddings and enjoyed more casual family portraiture for people I knew, however I was happiest out in the wilds where I could witness God’s glorious creation, capture the experience, and bring my catch home to share.
“TO PHOTOGRAPH TRUTHFULLY AND EFFECTIVELY IS TO SEE BENEATH THE SURFACES”
I have long known the struggle of translating the beauty that I behold abounding in nature onto the surface of a two dimensional photograph. Ansel Adams, whose work had an early influence on me said, “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.” I’m coming to realize that all the elements that move me in the moment are not easily conveyed onto an image without a vision that carries through to the viewer. And as I grasp this more clearly I’m finding the photograph is no longer my end purpose, but a companion to the ideas I wish to convey. The visuals which delight me are becoming subservient to the ideas which inspire me. The source of that inspiration reveals to me that all things upon the face of this earth are but a witness of that source (see blogpost, “Is There Anybody Out There.”) They are designed to bless us, for it pleases Him, our Creator and Father in Heaven. I hope to further that revelation in you.
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