• 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

Newer Older

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!

Visit me on Google Plus!

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

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.

Leo Druker, Through Bri`s Lens, and 5304 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 20 more comments

  1. sasiren 57 months ago | reply

    I love it!

  2. bird shooter 53 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

  3. Howard Brodsky. OFF [deleted] 52 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

  4. zoglmannk 46 months ago | reply

    Quite amazing and treacherous landscape! I seen a blow hole on Maui when I visited this year, but nothing like that!

  5. Faro* [deleted] 44 months ago | reply

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


  6. hummingbird816 [deleted] 39 months ago | reply

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

  7. jeff45520 38 months ago | reply

    Très jolie photo joli Flickr

  8. JLCármenes 37 months ago | reply

    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.

  9. etylee 37 months ago | reply


  10. Teiemo.Espeerotetee 31 months ago | reply

    wow sehr beeindruckend

  11. kauaioceanfront 25 months ago | reply

    Gorgeous photos of Kauai!

  12. Doreen Bequary 23 months ago | reply

    This is such a cool picture. I was excited because I will be going to Kaui this year and then I read what you had to do to get the picture... wow is all I can say. It is such a great capture.

  13. Marie.L.Manzor 21 months ago | reply

    Seen in 4.000+ Faves.

  14. jjohnsonphotography1 21 months ago | reply

    love this place. ...is it better to shoot at low tide here for sunrise or what?

  15. Klaus Mokosch 18 months ago | reply

    BRILLIANT CAPTURE! ***** TOP +++++ *****

    Please come and join us in our group and post your awesome capture in !*** BEST OF THE BEST ***!*** only high class ***

keyboard shortcuts: previous photo next photo L view in light box F favorite < scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right ? show all shortcuts