Maelstrom #3 -Kauai, Hawaii

This photo is in the 2011 Nature's Best Photography Magazine as an honorable mention in the Windland Smith Rice Awards, Power in Nature category!


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I had this near-death experience on my last trip to Kauai! This lava-ledge is 20 feet above the sea, and I suppose the incoming wave is twice that height. This is not the Sprouting Horn near Poipu and it is not Queen's bath! It is called the Mokolea Lava Pools. See the Map below and to the right. It is east of the Kilauea Lighthouse. No HDR.


See the 1200 pixel version!


For a deceptively calmer view from this spot, see here:


Here is an even more dangerous shot!



Settings etc.:



Canon 5D

Canon 17-40L @ 27

0.6-second exposure @F14

LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.6

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

ISO 50

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop

Keen water shoes


People wanted to see the version I had previously uploaded, but with the big wave, so here it is!


To get this shot:


1. Get up 2 hours before sunrise.... on your vacation.

2. Put on your old shoes and shorts that are destined to become stained with red mud.

3. Drive to the trail head (Right turn before the Kilauea Lighthouse.)

4. Make sure there are decent clouds before committing to the hike down.

5. Get out your flashlight. I have a wind-up one so no worry about batteries.

6. Navigate the extremely slippery trail, in the dark, often on all-fours, for 1/2 mile

7. Ignore the strange noises in the dense steamy jungle... if you can.

8. Watch the surf for at least 20 minutes to determine a safe place to be.

9. Hand-hold the camera to get the settings right before heading into the water.

10. Set up the tripod and composition just before the next wave hits.

11. Make the exposure and run!

12. As you run, make sure to avoid spilling too much blood extracted by the sharp lava rock!


The map shows exactly where this is.


See my profile for a link to my website where I have limited edition prints and less expensive open edition prints.



  • Michelle N 3y

    Amazingly beautiful photo!
  • Marcel Tuit 3y

    Wow, this is really amazing. Wonderful composed image, with just stunning colors.
  • JordiVS 3y

  • Ivan 3y

    Wonderful shot. The hole in the middle makes it different. It was really nice to read the behind-the-scenes :) Many people don't realize the difficulty of getting this kind of shots.
  • Mike Lee 2y

    Thought you might like to know, someone just uploaded your image (this one) onto their flickr stream.

  • Philip Miller 2y

    finally located this on the most beautiful bay where the surfing is so fine. yes, indeed, this is an incredibly dangerous take. no one else should attempt this shot. admire Patrick's incredibly fine and brave work.
  • May 2y

    Amazing shot and worth the effort.
  • sasiren 2y

    I love it!
  • juan rostworowski 2y

    Amazing shot
  • bird shooter 2y

    Well what more can I say that everyone else has said... But wow!!! You are now my inspiration to do better photography
  • fanny pages 2y

  • Howard Brodsky 1y

    Your work is an example of what the best REALLY IS ….Congratulations.
    Would you honour us by posting it to Flicker's Chosen Few as your work represents magnificence. If you look at the level of art that resides in the FCF Gallery you know this masterpiece belongs there.
    ****** If you look directly beneath your picture it has been given an admin invite.

    Your incredible work represents the FINEST on Flickr. It is a statement of photographic excellence for it to reside in Flickr's Chosen Few.
    Congratulations! ~ HB
  • Kurt Zoglmann 11mo

    Quite amazing and treacherous landscape! I seen a blow hole on Maui when I visited this year, but nothing like that!
  • F a r o * 10mo

    You've got some inspiring photos. Really good work...

    F a r o *
  • hummingbird816 5mo

    I love kauai and I certainly know how dangerous getting this shot it!!! Amazing image and thankfully your ok! :)
  • Jeff zana 4mo

    Très jolie photo joli Flickr
  • Alejandro Zerené Homs 4mo

  • José Luis Cármenes 2mo

    Muy buena Patrick. Siempre me gusta volver a pasear por tu galería y disfrutar de tus fotos. Gracias por compartir.
    Saludos desde Madrid.

    Fotografiando una manga.
  • Eugene Lee 2mo

  • Ashraf Siddiqui 17d

5,156 faves
Taken on November 25, 2006
  • ƒ/14.0
  • 27.0 mm
  • 0.6
  • 50
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 3 albums
This photo is in 149 galleries

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