Electric

Electric

The Story Behind This Photograph:

Taken at Stirling Falls in Milford Sound, New Zealand on May 4th, 2018.

Stirling Falls in Milford Sound is surely one of the world’s most unique waterfalls. First of all, it’s tall, stretching nearly 500 feet in a pure, elegant drop from its precipice down to the rocks at its base where it crashes and splatters in cacophonous melody. If it ever looks small it’s only because it’s being dwarfed by the mile-high mountains surrounding it that erupt almost vertically out of the fjord. Secondly, the waterfalls leaps into space only to land directly on the ocean below it. There is no land to interrupt the descent; it’s a free-fall with a salt water landing. The height of the falls and the ocean landing contribute directly to the third unique thing about the waterfall: if the flow of water and the direction of wind is just right, a marvelous display of interference patterns appears at the base of the falls, radiating out from the crash zone like so many jagged rings of electricity. The electricity extends from the waterfall to you. Something about the sounds, the grandeur, the dancing mists, and the beauty of the location makes your hair stand on end, and causes energy to course through your body.

I’ve photographed Stirling Falls from a boat about half a dozen times now and while the experience is always incredible, this particular voyage was the first time I saw these radiating lines of force. As we rounded the cliff to reveal the falls I was dialing in my settings and snapping a few quick test shots to ensure my exposure was spot on. The boat spends 3-4 minutes at the falls, though in the moment it only feels like seconds. And so for me it’s an adrenaline-fueled race against time. My senses start to tingle and my fingers get itchy. On this trip I started off photographing some intimate scenes with my longer lens but as soon as I saw the patterns at the base of the falls I switched over to my wide angle and began snapping away. I had only enough time to create 20 frames over the course of 55 seconds before the boat started to rotate out of position and back away from the falls. But those 55 seconds were some of the most breathtaking and exciting of that particular trip to New Zealand, and they kept me grinning the rest of the day. Even as I write this I am reliving the excitement of the moment and feeling the joy and exuberance wash over me in little electric waves.

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Where Does the Time Go?

Where Does the Time Go?

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken at Four Mile Beach in Santa Cruz, California, on January 30, 2012.

When I took this photo back in 2012 and shared it on flickr, my original caption read: “it seems to me that the days are simply flying by lately. I wake up, then before I know it it’s time to go to bed again. What the heck, where does the time go?” And now, looking back over six years later the sentiment rings doubly true. Where indeed does the time go? I spent FOUR YEARS living in Santa Cruz exploring the coastline and taking photo after photo of crashing waves. Four years seems like a long time, and in truth those years entailed hundreds of nights spent at the ocean, but looking back I realize I’ve already been gone from Santa Cruz longer than I ever lived there.

And then I think about all the adventures I’ve had since then, all the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, and those moments too have just flown by. In the end you can only have one takeaway from a reflection like this: life is short and goes by too quickly. So take advantage of all the moments you can to spend time building beautiful memories in places that make you happy with people you care about.

See more beautiful California Coast photos here.

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Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand on May 5th, 2016

In 2016 a friend and I took an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound in New Zealand. That experience remains one of the highlights of my life. Honestly it’s just about impossible for me to do justice to the place, either through pictures or words. The magnitude and grandeur of the walls rising straight out of the water….The unearthly, mythical atmosphere that surrounds you….The innumerable waterfalls cascading down the beech-lined cliffs. It’s truly a magical place. To give you a sense of just how unusual and special Doubtful Sound is bear in mind that the water you see in this photo is the ocean itself (the ocean! Utterly dead and calm), and I shot this photo from the deck of a boat gracefully plying the Sound.

See more beautiful Fiordland photos here.

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Tanaga

Tanaga

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken from Gareloi Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, on July 28th, 2009

While working on a seabird recovery project in the Aleutian Islands I was fascinated by our local neighborhood. Foul weather occluded the nearby islands most days, but every now and again a break in the skies would allow the neighboring volcanoes to peek out of the clouds. Here is Tanaga, seen during just such a short break.

See more beautiful Alaska photos here.

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The Size of Ice

The Size of Ice

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Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken at the Aialik Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, on August 16th, 2009

A gull can be seen flying in front of the impossibly huge face of the Aialik Glacier in Alaska.

See more beautiful Alaska photos here.

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Sunrise Seaside Soup

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand, March 29th, 2015

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken at Moeraki, New Zealand, March 29th, 2015

This was taken on a fun little morning in Moeraki, New Zealand when I was splashing around in the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. The best light was happening inland so I got on the seaward side of this boulder to capture the show. Funny side note, did you know that in the Maori language Moeraki means “sourdough bread bowl”?

View more New Zealand photos.

Zen and the Art of Squishing Sandflies

Zen and the Art of Squishing Sandflies

Gillespies Beach, New Zealand, March 22nd, 2015

Behind the Scenes of this Photo


Taken in Gillespies Beach, New Zealand, March 22nd, 2015

I can find no peace as deep as that which comes from marveling at the beauty of our planet, feeling the last rays of the day on my face, breathing in the fresh salt air of the sea, and crushing hundreds of sandflies into a slimy pulp.

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Exfoliation

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Behind the scenes of this photo


Taken at Hole in the Wall Beach near Santa Cruz, California, on October 10th, 2010

Santa Cruz has one of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve ever seen, with dramatic seastacks, interesting geology, and easy access. This shot is from my favorite spot in the area, Hole in the Wall beach, which is chock full of rocky shelves and lovely features.

Ocean’s Breath

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Putai Blowhole, New Zealand

Taken at the Putai Blowhole, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, New Zealand on April 18th, 2012

I really like pancakes. I also really like rocks. So when I found out there’s a natural phenomenon on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island called The Pancake Rocks, I knew I was going to have to pay a visit. The pancake rocks are perched on a tiny coastal outcropping near the town of Punakaiki and do a lot to live up to their name. The rocks are made of a series of limestone “pancakes” that were originally laid down in a process called stylobedding, which is scientist speak for “we have no idea how this happened.” Over time the layers have been eroded away to form a rock garden of fantastically sculpted shapes. In some places the rocks have been eroded all the way down to sea level. So when the big swells at high tide come booming in, the water shoots out through the pancake rocks in a series of blowholes, the most spectacular of which is the Putai Blowhole. You have to be a bit careful while shooting the blowholes though, because as I learned, the wind and the fallout from these big blasts can fairly cover you and your gear with Ocean’s Breath.

Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz, 10-10-2012

Fall is finally bringing some interesting clouds back to the Santa Cruz coast and I am dusting off my seascape chops. On October 10th I went out to photograph Hole in the Wall Beach, in my opinion the most beautiful beach in the Santa Cruz area. The sunset was lovely: lots of color and texture. And I came away with four keepers from the night: two in color and two in black and white. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Cheers!

Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz, California

 

Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz, California

 

Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz, California

 

Hole in the Wall Beach, Santa Cruz, California