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Hapuna Light #1 - Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Hawaii | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Hapuna Light #1 - Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

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



The Story



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.




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Taken on July 31, 2010