Monday, April 25, 2011

On my way to the Smithsonian

         As many of you know I participate in the Windland Smith Rice  awards Photographic competition every year. One of the worlds most prestigious photographic art competitions. In fact so highly competitive that out of tens of thousands of entries world wide they choose only one hundred and fifty for the publication and only 19 category winners out of that. The 19 category winners and a few of the highly honored winners will be on display from April through September in the Smithsonian museum of natural history. They are holding a Awards ceremony for the category winners on May 3rd so I am on my way to Washington DC to attend. I plan on photographing the east coast while I am there. It will be a challenge because I am still on crutches after my last accident while photographing. I don't plan on traveling that far and not coming back with a few more award winning images. 

       Above is the image that I won with and the category (Power of Nature). This is my river to the sea image. It has always been one of my favorites and now it will get to be seen and enjoyed by millions in the Smithsonian, not just at my humble Kona gallery. It is every fine art photographers dream to be included in this exhibit and though I have been in the exhibit before as a highly honored photographer this is my first time being exhibited as a category winner. Truly a dream come true to recognized for my hard work, determination and artistic eye.

Nick Selway's Kauai trip

          Well if you can't tell from this amazing photo of Wailua falls, Nick just got back from Kauai. He had a few days over there with some friends. While playing tourist he got some amazing shots. The one of Wailua falls is one of the best I've ever seen from this waterfall and I am totally jealous. I wish I wasn't laid up for this trip, as I missed many great shots. Luckily it doesn't matter with us who gets the shot our gallery always benefits from any new images either Nick or I get. Besides the shot above he took to the air on a doors off ride and got the shots below.

The two images above are the beautiful Napali Coast of Kauai and the images below are some of the many towering waterfalls of Kauai. You might recognize one of the falls as the water fall from the movie Jurassic park.

        Nick also took a quick stop in Hanalei bay and got this great long exposure under the Hanalei pier.

        And of course no trip is complete without getting some new wave photos at a new beach for either of us. He had some great conditions and got some amazing wave photos on a beach out by Barking Sands. Here are just a few.

       Well Nick had a great trip and got some great images next time I hope to join him and be posting a few of my own images from Kauai but for now we'll all just have to enjoy his from this trip.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Photos After My Accident

         Well the doctor finally gave me the go ahead to start putting weight on my broken ankle.  So being that my doctors office is in Hilo and in anticipation of this good news I brought camera gear of course. About ten minutes after being told I could put a little weight on it, I was over the rails at Rainbow Falls. I am still on crutches for about four more weeks but I am little more mobile. As you can see from the photo above the water was at it's peak. In fact it was the most water I've seen coming over the falls in years. So it was totally worth climbing over the rails and standing on the edge of the cliff on crutches to get these shots.

        While getting the shot above a tour group pulled up. Because I was beyond the rails I was in everyones shot so I politely crutched out of their way. Some of the people in the group asked me why I was on crouches. So I told them about how I dropped into a lava tube and all that had gone on. Later their tour guide asked "So whats the moral of the story?". I looked straight at the group and while on the other side of the rail on crutches, I replied " never go past the rails".  I had fun, got a few laughs and got some great photos. 

       On the way back from Hilo we stopped along the road to take these photos of the rainforest in full bloom. It's only a few weeks out of the year that it blooms like this and all the rain had the streams at max flow. So the timing of my doctors appointment couldn't be better.

       We later arrived back in Kona at A Bay just in time to watch the sky light up and get one last photo for the day.

      The next day in Kona Nick and I closed up the gallery early and headed to the beach to get a sunset shot. I felt as if Mother Nature herself was glad to have me back as we were blessed with this amazing sunset. I also learned that crutch pads and lava rock don't mix. 

With sunsets as beautiful as this I fear that I will be spending a lot of money on replacement crutch pads over the next four weeks until I can get off these things. But all and all it feels great to be a little more mobile and I am loving it.

No longer invincible

       First off I just want to say thanks to my good friends Don Hurzeler and Nick Selway who helped me more then you can imagine on this night and the days to follow. As you can see in this photo I am having a bad night. Nick is helping me lash my foot to my leg with a tripod leg, camera strap, and my belt. Don is getting the images that I can't take at the moment. Why is all this happening? Well one bad step out of the millions I have taken in my life. On a hike out to photograph I stepped to the edge of a crack that we needed to cross and a rock on the edge gave way. A moment later I was 20 foot below ground in a 3 foot wide crevasse. The crack is much deeper then what can be shown in the image. I was in the depths beyond the rubble pile.

Looking up all I saw was the flashlights of my friends desperately trying to get to me. Looking down I saw my foot at a 90 degree angle to my leg in a direction that it dose not normally move. I knew this was bad. Nick climbed down a bit and relayed my camera bag and tripod up to Don. There was no way they could lift my 190lb body out of there without ropes. I knew I would have to climb out on my own. I also knew that the adrenaline from the fall was going to wear off soon and pain would set in fast. Using my arms and one good leg I moved over to a giant bolder that had wedged itself in the crack you can see it in the photo above. After climbing up on top of it Nick and Don were able to help me out. Unfortunately the only way out was on the wrong side of the crack so this added one more obstacle to our trip out.  Nick helped me immobilize the foot and Don hiked the gear back to the car. After Don got back Nick and I had already crossed the crack so I put an arm around Don and one around Nick and we began the mile hike back. The longest mile of my life over uneven terrain with a shattered ankle. After getting back to the car we realized our first aid kit of one bandaid and two ibuprofen just wasn't going to cut it. So we GPSed the hospital and were on our way. It was over an hours drive to the hospital, witch was made longer by the GPS taking us out into the boonies to where the old Hilo hospital was back in 1950.  

Finally a hospital! The nurse actually asked me if it would be ok to cut my jeans off from around the ankle. To me a funny question as the jeans were already shredded from the fall and climbing up razor sharp lava rock to get out.

Who said drugs are Bad? At this moment drugs were very good. Thank God for morphine. I was a happy man despite my unwarranted fear of needles. The shattered ankle no problem. The IV needle I could have almost passed out. But afterwards I was feeling no pain and I was a happy man.

The first X-ray after they tried to set it with man power. The first doctors attempt was a no go. So in came an orthopedic surgeon and I was given a choice, leave it like this or surgery. So off I went to get put under and in turn loose about 3 hours of time after counting backwards from 10. This was my first time every being put under. Weird feeling when you wake up as though just a few seconds had gone by. I guess my doctor went to ACE the helpful hardware place, because this is my X-ray after surgery.

Seven screws on one side with a plate, two long screws on the other side and tape on the outside of the incisions. Get er done!! At the time I didn't know if I went to a doctor or a redneck mechanic.
      After coming out I had to keep asking Don if we were still on for dinner that we had planned that night. This was my gauge to see how bad it was. If we were going to dinner it meant I would be out of the hospital and going home. If not then I knew that it was sever. This was my first broken bone and I did not know what to expect. I geuss in my effort to succeed in all I do I couldn't just break it clean, I had to shatter it and do it right. Go hard or go home!! Needless to say we didn't make dinner that night. And my poor wife, up to this point all she knew was I got hurt and was on my way to the hospital. I had called her when we got to the car at 7am but she had no update after that call, as I didn't get out of the recovery room until about 12pm.  At least I got to have a romantic dinner of hospital food with my wife, as she came to spend the night in the hospital with me.

         I named this blog no longer invincible because up until this point in my life I have never sustained any serious injury. Given my lifestyle, it has been an amazing run. As I say most people learn their not invincible in their 20's I'm in my mid 30's, so a good run indeed. It's Steve Irwin syndrome. How Steve Irwin spent his life tackling crocodiles, sharks and handling venomous snakes. Any of these could have killed him in at ant moment. Then he gets killed by a petting zoo pet that they let 5 year olds play with. Here I spend my life on the edge of an active volcano, hanging off cliffs and swimming a mer 20 feet from where the lava meets the sea. When do I get hurt? On the hike out!! The safest part of my journey. What I did learn is that while I am not invincible with a good doctor they can rebuild me as seen in the photo above. Thanks again to all my friends and fans for helping me through this. And thanks to Don Hurzeler for taking the time to record the ordeal on film as I'm sure these were not the type of photos he thought he would be taking on this morning.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Winter Waves

        This has been one heck of a winter surf season. Both Nick Selway and I got some amazing days in the water. We photographed many surf-breaks throughout the state. I just wanted to share some of our favorite shots from our many days in the water. First the shot above was taken on my last day in the water this year at Sandies beach on Oahu at sunrise. These next few were taken on various days at Hapuna beach park.






        The next few images are all taken at Kua Bay. Where Nick was on his A game this year he smoked me every time out at this spot this year. I guess he is at one with this break. 




        I got quite a few days in the water at Magic Sands beach and a few good images to show for my time. 



        We had a few days on the north shore of Oahu this year. One day we photographed Rock-piles  and then made our way to Keiki Beach for some slamming shore break.




The next trip over to Oahu I was in some of the biggest surf that I have ever photographed. In fact the day I went out was so big they were going to hold the Eddie Aikau surf competition which is only held when it is 25 ft Hawaiian style so 50ft faces at Waimea bay. The wind conditions were unfavorable so they didn't hold the competition. A little further down the road and latter when the winds had dyed down the conditions were epic and huge. I was the only one out in this massive surf as the sunset but it was well worth it. 




        It has been a great surf season and our time in the water has been rewarded by many great new wave images. The few that I have shown here are just a small taste of what we got this year. If you want to see more check out our wave galleries on our website. : Lava Light Galleries
                                                Aloha and thanks for reading CJ Kale

Whirlwind Fall Trip

         New images come to Lava Light Galleries. Images in colors not seen in Hawaii. Living in the tropical islands of Hawaii has many advantages and many great photo opportunities. Of course it dose come with a few disadvantages one being no seasons. If we want fall, winter or spring shots we have to get on a plane and choose our destination and time wisely. Fall colors happen in a very short window for each region, change their peak time wildly, and we have to book our trips in advance. When planning any trip we have to take into account past, present and future weather conditions. Then we make the best educated guess as to when and where to go. Sometimes we have to adapt and change plans on the fly to make sure that our limited time on the mainland dose not go to waist. On this trip we started in Oregon for 3 days. The first photo of our fall trip was the one above. The rest from Oregon are below.

Multnomah Falls

Silver Falls State Park

Columbia River Gorge

       From Oregon we flew to Las Vegas and drove to Zion National park to hike the narrows. Nick and I have been to Zion many times but neither of us had been there at a time that we could hike the narrows. The peak of fall colors was not happening yet so we skipped everything else in the park and just went right up the narrows for a day.

       After our long wet hike we made our way to Arches national park to meet up with Tom Till one of the top photographic artist of the south west. We hadn't seen him from the last time he came to meet with us here in Hawaii. We came very close to running out of gas on a very long stretch of highway that had no services. Ironically after about 40 miles on empty but luckily down hill we arrived at a gas station covered in our friends photos. After a little rest at a friends house in Moab and a visit to Tom's Gallery we photographed for about a hour then met up with Tom for Dinner.

          After dinner with Tom It was a mad dash to the Maroon Bells in Colorado for some late night star trail photos reflecting in Maroon Lake. We stayed by the waters edge freezing in sleeping bags doing long 2 hour + exposures. In the morning we were greeted by an amazing sunrise and the realization that we were a little late for peak fall but a lot more yellow aspens remained then we expected and the mountains already had a light dusting of snow. We couldn't have asked for better conditions no wind, snow, a little yellow left on the hillside and an amazing sunrise.

      After just a few hours lakeside at the Maroon Bells we headed for the Grand Teton mountain range. To our surprise as it was supposed to be a week earlier, we hit peak colors in the Grand Tetons. We spent a few days photographing sunset and sunrise then spending days looking for moose to no avail.

      We then headed up to Yellowstone national park in search of a few animal photos as fall colors were done at the higher elevations of Yellowstone.

       As we left Yellowstone through Grand Teton national park we got lucky with a clear wind free night and we were able to photograph star trails reflecting by the Teton mountain range.

      On the way back down to Zion from Grand Teton we made a short stop in the Wasach Mountains witch were ablaze in color. We even got to Bridal Veil falls just in time for sunset and to witness moonrise above the falls shortly after.

       We arrived in Zion around 3am and waited for the park office to open so we could be first in line to get a back country pass to hike the Subway as the weather forecast was for massive rain and thunderstorms for the next few days. If we couldn't get a walk up pass for this day our plans to hike the subway would be out due to flash floods. We got lucky and got one of the last passes. Prior to our long hike up the river bed to the subway we stopped by the bridge to capture sunrise with the fall colors that were now happening after our 8 days of travel elsewhere. 

       After our long hike in and out it was dark and the rain had started. We made the drive back down to Las Vegas. It was now time to rest and relax in the pool and hot tub at Nick's  dads amazing home on the golf course in Vegas. Back to comfortable beds and sleep. All in all I would have to say it was a great trip as we accomplished most all of our goals and even had a few bonus shots along the way. Well thanks for taking the time to read and I will be sure to keep everyone posted on upcoming trips, events and awards.