Kauai’s Kalalau Trail

Lush vegetation along the Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii USA (© Russ Bishop/www.russbishop.com)
Lush vegetation along the Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

The Kalalau Trail along Kauai’s verdant north shore is arguably one of the finest hikes in the world. Originally built in the late 1800’s to link early Hawaiian settlements along the rugged coastline, it is still the only land access to this remote part of the Island.

The trail, which starts at the end of the road at Ke’e Beach, hugs the sheer cliffs and traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where the pali (Hawaiian for cliffs) create a natural terminus.

Along this mystical journey you pass verdant spires, wander through lush valleys, and are left with the feeling that you’ve truly entered the Lost World (not surprising since both King Kong and Jurassic Park were filmed here).

Whether you cover the entire 11 mile distance and camp at Kalalau Beach or take an afternoon hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach, this is the quintessential Na Pali Coast experience.

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

Soft Water

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Shooting water in all its endless variety is one of the creative pleasures of nature photography. From drops of dew reflecting a crisp autumn morning to the power of cascading falls frozen in time, the camera allows many unique perspectives of our most abundant resource that are seldom seen in a passing glance.

A polarizing filter is a favorite tool for photographing water as it slows exposure and increases contrast, both of which serve to enhance the emotional response to a scene. While some may say this is altering reality, it’s good to remember that art is more about personal expression than documentation.

“Most creative photographs are departures from reality and it seems to take a higher order of craft to make this departure than to simulate reality.” ~Ansel Adams

This image of Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was made on an overcast day with a long exposure of 20 seconds. The cloudy sky diffused the harsh mid-day light and saturated the colors of the moss covered rock, while the slow shutter speed gave the falls a silky look.

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

What You See Is What You Get

Sunset over the Channel Islands and Ventura Pier from San Buenaventura State Beach, Ventura, California
Sunset over the Channel Islands and Ventura Pier, Ventura State Beach, California

WYSIWYG (or “what you see is what you get”) is computer lingo for software that optimizes the screen display for a particular type of output. Back when word processing and desktop publishing software first hit the scene this was nothing short of a miracle. The software emulated the resolution of the printer in order to get as close as possible to WYSIWYG, but the main attraction was the ability to previsualize what you were producing prior to printing.

We now live in a far more advanced digital world of 4K monitors, massive image files, and the processors and video cards to handle them, but without color consistency across devices we might as well be living in the dark ages.

Monitor calibration has a reputation as being one of the great mysteries of digital imaging, but it really doesn’t have to be. Printing images that accurately represent what you see on-screen is a reasonable expectation that shouldn’t break the bank on wasted ink and paper. But unlike the out-of-box WYSIWYG experience you get when printing documents, your monitor requires a little assistance when it comes to images.

What you need is a spyder, and I’m not referring to those furry creatures lurking in your garage. Several companies sell highly accurate and reasonably priced kits like the Datacolor Spyder5Pro that include everything you need to guarantee that your output is consistent from screen to print. The spyder is actually a color sensor (called a colorimeter) that plugs into a standard USB port and works in tandem with software to read your monitor’s output. The process is known as calibration and it creates a custom profile that tunes your display to an industry reference standard, which is then used by image editing programs like Photoshop and Lightroom to provide consistent reliable color.

You trust your eyes and photo equipment when it comes to accurately representing your vision in the field, but it’s all for naught if your monitor doesn’t faithfully reproduce those tones and colors. Much like driving in the dark with your headlights off, editing images without a calibrated monitor is a guessing game. So before you buy another lens or camera body, don’t overlook one of the most important investments you can make as a digital photographer. A quality monitor and calibration kit may not be the most exciting gear you’ll buy, but they do guarantee that what you see is what you get.

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

World Oceans Day

Sunset over the Na Pali Coast from Ke'e Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Sunset over the Na Pali Coast from Ke’e Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

June 8th is World Oceans Day – a chance to celebrate the bodies of water that make up 70% of our planet and provide food, recreation and place to rejuvenate the spirit. As home to an estimated 230,000 marine species, our oceans are a vast wilderness with ecosystems critically linked with our own. Unfortunately many of the earth’s inhabitants never see or experience our oceans, yet our impact through pollution and over-fishing has taken its toll.

Organizations such as the The Ocean Project provide a great opportunity to get directly involved in protecting the future of our oceans through personal and community involvement. Working with zoos, aquariums, and conservation groups, they sponsor beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other activities that help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the oceans and what we can do to keep them healthy long into the future.

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved