The decisive moment, it comes faster than you think. It is that split second when all the photographic elements come together. It is your sense of creativity and a flow of energy for recognizing the creation that presented itself to your lens.
When you are in a helicopter, flying at a little over one hundred miles per hour, moments in time whiz by. You have to think ahead of where you are and what you may respond to as the shadows and light patterns are on display.
While on assignment, above Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, I had the opportunity to photograph the Napali coast and Waialeale the wettest spot on earth.
What do you prepare for when the unknown is coming? Film, batteries, lenses, all those things are easy to anticipate. You can view other images that you have researched but there is no guarantee that the light and weather will cooperate. It is kind of a take it as it comes situation.
Taking off from Lihue’s airport we flew north over cane fields and along the coastline. Once the Pali’s came into view we darted in and out of the high sea cliffs and valleys oozing with bright green vegetation and sharp jagged peaks.
At first I wanted to just respond with my motor drive and simply burn off as much film as possible thinking something good will surely come of it. But I couldn’t. I concentrated on form and let the light trigger the shutter for me. I slowed down my vision even though my heart raced with the shutter and thump of the helicopter’s engine.
The images came as quickly as the speed of the aircraft. One pristine valley after another, Hanakapi’ ai, Hanakoa, Kalalau all in verdant green and parting clouds that opened always at the right moment. We turned up country, “makua”, toward the mountains soaring up one of the most enchanting settings on the coast, Honopu, the Valley of the Lost Tribe.
Knife-like edges of eroded lava carved the valley walls. Shadows raced faster than we could fly. I couldn’t even hear my camera speak as the drama lured me in.
A brief minute later we were headed toward Waialeale enveloped in the grey of rain clouds. Our approach was low. I thought for a time we were too low but my pilot pulled up and we just skimmed the edge of the crater. We shook hard as the turbulence grabbed at the helicopter jolting us from side to side. Rain pelted the windscreen.
Once in the hollow of the crater the rain stopped but dozens of waterfalls plummeted hundreds of feet bouncing off cliffs in narrow ribbons. We approached the headwall coming within just a hundred feet or so when we stopped in mid air, hovering we turned a 360 degree circle in slow motion. I was in the wettest spot on earth, another first for this photographer.
With more than 450 inches of moisture per year nature’s greenery blanketed everything, even the steepest parts of the crater wall were covered in plant life. It was awesome to witness and humbling to photograph.
The camera freezes moments in time but it is up to you to choose those moments and trip the shutter. Are we willing to wait for the right fraction of a second?
A series of Giclee prints were produced that became my visual diary of a brief 90 minutes flying time over millions of years of geologic history and indescribable beauty found only in Hawaii.
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Images used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2009, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org