• This ledge is 20 feet above the ocean.
  • 40 feet of doom heading my way!
  • There is a rock just below here that I used to brace the tripod and me, so I would not get sucked into the hole.
  • The portal to the netherworld of eternal doom!
  • I used a 0.6-second exposure to show some water movement, as though I was at a river.
  • Yes, this 40ft. wave was this dark!
  • Fortunately, there were some nice clouds drifting by. A flat blue sky would take away a bit of the drama.
  • There is a really nice beach here.
  • and i like how the lighting makes this look in the 1200px version - chandler emory
  • This is my most favorite part of this amazing scene... wow! let me say again how much I appreciate all your little notes, I learn so much from them - pongky ©
  • Continue on to the left and you get a nice view of the lighthouse. Be careful of more life-ending surf though.
  • The path back is this way.
  • Oh s&*t, someone divided by zero. - John Lemieux
  • LOL John, yes, the world is ending!
  • I have always wondered where that was! - MrBall
  • The world is just awesome!!! :D

    Perfect!!! :D - Krisdlp
  • Amazing!:D - AlohiMauie
  • troppo bella... - Misael Lacasta
  • Fantástico - Jabi Artaraz
  • Beautiful picture! - IPOXstudios

Maelstrom #3 -Kauai, Hawaii

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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.

View 20 more comments

  1. Ivan . 24 months ago | reply

    Beautiful work.. Great example to follow.

  2. Justabird2 24 months ago | reply

    Oh my! What a story!! I must say this is the most amazing image I have seen on Flickr!! Who sees this???? A hole in the water? This is so amazing!! I am glad it has been recognized!! I absolutely am enthralled by what you went through to get it. I just kayak through alligators??? That's nothing compared to YOU! This is too good for words. The flow of ENERGY is crazy!! Your perception, exposure and composition couldn't be better. All under pressure!! Just amazing! I am so impressed!! angie from "flat" Florida!!

    "Hi, my name is Angie aka Justabird2, and I am an Administrator for Howard's Gallery. Only exemplary work on a Platinum Level is invited. Once posted in the pool it will have it's last viewing by the Senior Art Director. If approved your image will take a permanent seat of honor amongst the finest of Flickr images. That is what makes this Group different and unique to Flickr. I believe, in my opinion, this wonderful image of yours belongs with this high quality Gallery! Please, take a look at Howard's Gallery and if it is to your liking I would be honored for you to post your marvelous work. Your hard work and effort is appreciated and I look forward to seeing more of your talent. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and consideration. Angie"

  3. STEHOUWER AND RECIO 24 months ago | reply

    Absolutely superb, what a great image!
    Seen in Ben's gallerie of favs.

  4. Tracy Williams83 23 months ago | reply

    This is amazing!

  5. JMC03 22 months ago | reply

    superb work

  6. PHOTOROTA 20 months ago | reply

    Great capture.

  7. Michelle in NY 19 months ago | reply

    Amazingly beautiful photo!

  8. Marcel Tuit (travel mode) 18 months ago | reply

    Wow, this is really amazing. Wonderful composed image, with just stunning colors.

  9. JordiVS 18 months ago | reply


  10. malomen 18 months ago | reply

    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.

  11. Riven Imagery 15 months ago | reply

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


  12. philipleemiller 15 months ago | reply

    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.

  13. xiaomeisun (☺) 12 months ago | reply

    Amazing shot and worth the effort.

  14. sasiren 9 months ago | reply

    I love it!

  15. bird shooter 5 months ago | reply

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

  16. Howard Brodsky 4 months ago | reply

    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

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