• I left a bit of dry sand here to show the texture.
  • I waited for that reflective moment just before the sand dried out. But the dry sand looked good too, I may upload one of those.
  • I waited for the sun to shine over here so as to avoid the dark silhouette effect.
  • A white towel had washed up here and when I looked at the viewfinder after my first shot, I noticed this white blob. So I ran down, got into the water and removed it!
  • Volcanic fog ('vog') makes the air thick and full of color at sunset!
  • These clouds were swirling around, creating lots of different patterns. So I got many variations of this over a 5-minute period.
  • This area is a desert with only a few days of measurable rain per year. However, it can rain hard during any month, so there are scrubby trees and bushes.
  • The waves were small, so I had to wait for anything with some form to come onshore.
  • Then, I went swimming here!
  • I excluded the sun until it went behind some clouds. It was too bright at this moment to properly expose the rest of the scene.
  • The red areas were intense to the naked eye, but they looked like overly-red blobs in the raw file until I adjusted the levels and reduced the reds. Then the detail returned!
  • sorry for the note..i just can't help it..it's a very cool colors grad - tropicaLiving - Jessy Eykendorp
  • awesome in large! - tropicaLiving - Jessy Eykendorp

Hapuna Light #1 - Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

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Hapuna Beach, on the dry side of the Big Island gets about 5 inches (12cm) of rain per year. However, the Kilauea volcano mixes smoke ('vog') into the clouds resulting in awesome sunsets like this! Single exposure, minimal processing, reds were desaturated to retain detail, no HDR.

Free wallpaper for over 100 of my images in 6 different screen sizes is now available!

See the 1200 pixel version!

Settings etc.:

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 17-40L @23
0.4-second exposure @F13
LEE soft ND grads (100x150mm - 4x6in) 0.9 + 0.9
Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring
No polarizer.
ISO 50
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop
Small Slik Sprint mini II tripod
Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip ball head

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The Story
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Hapuna beach is often rated as the #1 beach in the US, with perfect weather year-round, perfect sand and a water temperature of about 77 (25c) year round. Not too hot or too cold ever. It is a state park, so access is easy. It is also a great place to watch the sunset. Although rain clouds are blocked by the twin 14,000 ft (4300m) volcanos Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, clouds and volcanic fog ('vog') still wrap around them creating lots of thick atmosphere for dramatic sunsets.

About 15 minutes hour before this happened, I was on another beach when I realized that the sunset would look better on this beach based on the cloud patterns. So, I drove over here really quickly and ran across the beach to get to this spot. The was little drama after that however. It was a shooting gallery, as this overwhelming sunset developed and I got many versions of this, which I'll show later.

This version shows a little more sky than sand and sea, but I have other versions that show more sand. I'm not sure which look best so we will see later what you think.

ND grad filters were especially important and I had them angled about 45 degrees to darken the right side sky and even out the exposure. This could never be done in photoshop, and an HDR is a difficult thing to make natural-looking with so much red!

Check out this overview of Hapuna!

The map shows the exact location.

Other stuff

My pictures are featured on the front page of the newly redesigned
The state Gov. of California website
. Have a look! It is Flash with my pics cut into layers for a 3-d slideshow. If you are into building apps, the State has opened up lots of data to the public, so check it out!


Google Earth

Simply the best way to scout out locations that there is. You can see sun angles and pre-visualize light under lots of different conditions. Sometimes you can actually pre-compose your shots! This has saved me many thousands of vertical feet of climbing by avoiding spots with blocked views etc.

Satellite imagery (choose 'National' for a local US region or use your fave website)

Tide charting and preditions: (chose your area in US, other countries have similar websites)

Wave Heights (I choose 'North Pacific from Global')
Or Here:

Photos of every inch of the California coastline from a small plane. Excellent for close in detailed views.



.Mike Schmidt., and 1626 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. janruss 29 months ago | reply

    Your photo is invited to 14 Karat Gold !

  2. janruss 29 months ago | reply


    Your fantastic color picture is my winner!
    Please add this photo to Color Photo Award - PREMIER
    The road to BRONZE, SILVER or GOLD starts at PREMIER!
    Get your VOTE ON at CONTEST CENTRAL! Have you entered today's contests?
    Found in a search. ( ?² )

  3. Carly Riegger 27 months ago | reply

    Amazing!!!! :)

  4. shorrobi 27 months ago | reply

    It looks awesome!

  5. BlueisCoool 26 months ago | reply

    Very nice work - congrats on being explored !

  6. SueZinVT 26 months ago | reply

    So beautiful! Congrats on being featured in Explore!!

  7. Thomas is addicted to this [deleted] 25 months ago | reply


  8. Labud 25 months ago | reply

    Superb !!!

  9. Vemsteroo 23 months ago | reply

    The sky and the light are stunning!

  10. Francisco Aragão 21 months ago | reply

    wow, lovely sunset !

  11. Brian Patrick Photography 20 months ago | reply

    I'm sure you already know this... But BRILLIANT shot!
    Absolutely beautiful!
    I love the colors and tones.
    To put in in one word, "astonishing!"

  12. franzgalli 19 months ago | reply

    Wow. This is speechless.

  13. SylviaGreen 10 months ago | reply

    I absolutely love this photo.

  14. terranosiculo [deleted] 7 months ago | reply

    incredible photo! very very interesting! i love it!

  15. RobertCross1 (off and on) 5 months ago | reply

    You are my hero. That is all.

  16. RobCurtis 5 months ago | reply

    haha ^^ i agree. this photo is beyond epic. great capture

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