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Kauai Maelstrom | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Kauai Maelstrom

Sunrise at a north-shore Kauai lava-ledge 20 feet above the sea! This is not the Sprouting Horn and it is not Queen's bath! See the Map, it is east of the Kilauea Lighthouse. No HDR!


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For an even more energetic view from this spot, check this out:


Canon 5D

Canon 17-40L @ 19

1/2-second exposure @F14

LEE soft ND grads 0.9 + 0.6 angled from 8am-2pm

Cokin z-pro filter holder

ISO 50

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop


If you wish to make the viewer feel like he or she is right next to the camera near the sea, capturing motion is very important. But that often means getting wet and incurring a certain amount of risk to both the camera equipment and the photographer. The water heading into the hole here is actually from a large wave which swept over the ledge and back down the hole. With each wave, the entire ledge shook as it might during an earthquake.


To get to this spot at sunrise, a slippery path had to be navigated in the dark. I studied this particularly dangerous place for about 15 minutes to determine how the water moved. It turned out that while the water coming out of the blowhole was spectacular, but the water motion going back into the hole was even more interesting. After finding a spot in the swirling water to brace the tripod, I was able to get several 'shoot and run' images.


A 1/2 second exposure was enough to show the motion and still show detail in the water. I set up the filters and the camera settings before heading into the water. There was no time to do that once the action was unfolding.


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Taken on November 25, 2006