Kona Hawaii City of Refuge

Sunset over Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park (City of Refuge), Kona Coast, Hawaii
Sunset over Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park, Kona Coast, Hawaii

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park (known as the The City of Refuge) is one of my favorite destinations on the Big Island of Hawaii. This tranquil park is tucked away on the Kona coast not far from Kealakekua Bay – the spot where Captain James Cook first visited the Islands in 1778 and soon after met his fate.

In ancient Hawaii this sacred location was both a favorite residence of the high chiefs, and a safe haven for defeated warriors and those who had broken the kapu (ancient laws). Several thatched buildings including a heiau (or temple) and interpretive displays provide a glimpse of what life was like here centuries ago.

Today this quiet palm lined beach and lagoon are perfect for snorkeling or photography, and contemplating the rich island history this park preserves. It is also a sanctuary for the endangered green sea turtles that feed in the shallow cove and frequent the sandy beach to lay their eggs and rest.

Whether you come for the view or to experience a bit of natural history and island culture, this magical spot is well worth a side trip when exploring the Big Island of Hawaii.


©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

Visual Opportunity Is Closer Than You Think

The Milky Way and Perseid meteors over Rose Valley, Los Padres National Forest, California USA
The Milky Way and Perseid meteors, Los Padres National Forest, California

It’s been said that you don’t need to circle the globe to find wonderful subjects to photograph.  And while shooting close to home may not sound as exciting as travelling to far off exotic destinations, quite often those grand landscapes and intimate details can be found right in your own backyard.

I’m fortunate to live in Southern California where icons like Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks are within a day’s drive, yet I’ve discovered many less frequented local spots that can be just as rewarding for photography.  Los Padres National Forest is one such place that includes a large portion of California’s coastal mountains from Ojai to Monterey.  Nearly half of the forest is designated wilderness that ranges from semi-desert in the interior areas to redwood forests on the coast, providing a wealth of photographic potential.

So the next time you’re scouting photo locations or just searching for a quiet place to call your own don’t forget the state parks, national forests, and other public lands nearby. You won’t experience the crowds or expense that come with the bigger parks and international travel, and you might just be surprised by the quality images and visual opportunities that can be found close to home.


©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

The World of Light & Shadow

Mountain Dogwood above the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California
Mountain Dogwood above the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

In the continuing search to develop our photographic vision it’s often said that trying a new or different approach yields the best results. While we employ many tried and true techniques in our craft that help to define our style, it’s the ongoing challenge to see the world anew that offers the greatest rewards in helping us grow creatively.

If you typically use wide-angle lenses switch to a telephoto and isolate elements from the bigger picture. When shooting  under sunny skies is the norm try the soft diffused light of an overcast day to eliminate shadows and create rich, saturated colors. As I’ve mentioned before, filters can also be an indispensable tool in shaping and controlling light in the field, and are almost always preferable to post processing. One exception is the conversion to monochrome.

With today’s powerful controls in Lightroom and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro, it’s now possible to make gorgeous black and white conversions from our color files that express all the subtleties and tonal range once only achievable with film and a darkroom. The challenge here is to seek out images that work well in monochrome. Typically high contrast scenes with defined edges and shadow detail are strong contenders, but there are no hard fast rules and experimentation is the key.

Although I don’t always shoot with black and white in mind, I’ve discovered many images in my files that express my emotional response to the scene much clearer than the color version. Most current digital cameras do have a black and white shooting mode, but it’s always preferable to shoot in RAW and then convert using the full tonal adjustments available in the programs I’ve mentioned. The added benefit is that you always have your original when color is the best option.

So spend some time reviewing your images with a new perspective in mind. You might just find some real gems that were waiting to be discovered in the world of light and shadow.


©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved