September 2014 - Bens Viewfinder

September 30th, 2014 - Hanalei Bay At Night

Today is a big day for me, as my wife and I finally move into our permanent house on the island and officially become Hawaii land owners. I figure we can celebrate with a beautiful shot of Hanalei Bay. I took this shot the night I did the star trails photo and a Milky Way shot here. This bay is so amazingly calm that all the boats from surrounding areas come out and spend their nights parked in the bay. Now if you look closely you might think that some of the boats are out of focus, actually this is due to me doing a 15 second exposure and the boats slightly rocking back and forth while the shutter was open. The fact that they are this well in focus while parked on the ocean near the coast was amazing to me. This bay is one of the biggest tourist spots on the island and for good reason. The north shore has some of the most amazing beaches and are so close to the big mountains that it makes for a surreal scene everywhere you look. I honestly look at photos like these and it blows my mind this is home now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


September 29th, 2014 - Artsy Waterholes Canyon

Sometimes when I am out photographing something, especially the same area for a while like I was the day I went and shot Waterholes Canyon in Arizona, I occasionally want to do something different. I usually squeeze one or two more artsy style shots out of a location. I just really enjoyed how this rock formation created this extremely sharp edge that you see on the right hand side of the image. Then it just swoops back and away with all these little dips, creating these interesting little shadows. I also of course love the texture of corse rock to smooth surface. You will have to let me know if you dig this. It has been sitting in my backlog folder for a while and for some reason today just seemed like a nice change of pace to try it out. I look forward to your feedback and hope everyones weeks get off to a good start!


September 28th, 2014 - Welcome to Queens Bath

After a long fun weekend some folks like a nice bath. Well how about one fit for a Queen? This north shore popular spot is pretty awesome. It is a natural and very large tide pool formed by waves crashing up and over the rocks and down into this bit here in the middle. If you haven't guessed it is referred to as Queens Bath. It is just shocking how it works to get to this amazing wonder. You literally drive through to the back of a sub division in suburbia on the north shore to a very small parking spot and hope one is available or you do like we did and wait for someone to leave. Then you climb down a small hill next to a waterfall and pop out on a rock shore and about 5 minutes later you are there. Not a strenuous hike but definitely a little danger involved. You get treated to a nice sunset and you get to see some beautiful ocean. If you look closely on the far right you can see a sailboat just as it set out for the sunset. The beauty in this place is endless. Enjoy, share and comment. Thanks!


September 27th, 2014 - Ribbit Ribbit

Say hello to this cool frog I saw during my hike at Sleeping Giant last week. I took this shortly after we started our hike. There was this muddy part of the trail we walked through and there were tons of these guys hopping around. Getting one to hold still long enough to get a good shot was tough though, looked kind of ridiculous chasing around these frogs with my big ole macro lens. Also I didn't bring any flashes or anything and it was incredible dark in the thick forest so this is actually lit using a cell phone flash light. You gotta use what you got right? I loved the details in his eye and the pose he is kind of in. The little leaf being slightly highlighted in the bottom left kind of added a nice finishing touch for me. I hope you enjoy and hope your weekends are going well!


September 26th, 2014 - Crazy Trees Yo!

So as mentioned with the daily photo the other day, my wife and I hiked to the top of a mountain here called Sleeping Giant recently. We of course took the very long route to get up there, not on purpose. Along this route was very thick and interesting forest, the likes of which I have never really experienced before. Among the many strange things you will find in the forests here are these trees. I do not know what they are called and if you do please let me know, but I do know that they have some of the craziest root or base systems I have seen in a tree. It almost makes me think that the trees have natural forts built into them! They are nice tall trees with very little on the way to the top, almost like a palm tree, but the leaves are very different. I walked around this area for a bit trying to find the best angle I thought would showcase these beautiful things, you'll have to let me know if I did ok. Happy Friday everyone, I hope your weekends are fun and safe.


September 25th, 2014 - Minimalist Sunset

Today we head back to the south shore for what I would describe as a minimalist sunset photograph. If you are not familiar with minimalism it is usually when you photograph something in a very plain or simplistic fashion. Instead of exposing this scene properly and getting the details in the trees and beach or trying to capture more of the waves I drew my shutter out just long enough to expose the sky and smoothen the water, while still dark enough to silhouette the trees and beach on the right. With the sky being mostly clear this creates a pretty simple play of water versus land versus sky. It seems like a very serene scene to me and I kind of like the feeling the photo creates. Also the little bit of land you see out to the left is that island Niihau that I showed you in a the photograph of the sunset over Waimea I posted a couple weeks back. I am interested to see if you guys dig this shot, sometimes more artistic shots are hit and miss. Cheers!


September 24th, 2014 - Waimea Canyon Pano

We venture back over to the west side of the island today with this super panoramic of Waimea Canyon. This beast 94 megapixel panoramic is 6 photographs wide brought together to give you an insanely detailed single image. Now this is a case where I love the photograph and didn't love the lighting. Waimea Canyon is one of the rainiest places on the planet and it is very hard to get a nice clear day to photograph there. I do however enjoy the nice big waterfall the rain was making on the lefthand side of the photo. If you have a computer where you can zoom in check out the full resolution version on the website and really get in there and see the details, it is kind of fun! I don't shoot a ton of panoramic shots but I really love the idea of stretching your cameras limits to bring someone a scene more real to how it was. I hope you guys dig the shot. Remember to share, comment and like away. Your support keeps this engine running!


September 23rd, 2014 - It's All in The Details

Today is both a cool and tricky photograph we have. It is a shot of a spider and web obviously, an orb weaver of some sort I think we found out. He is just a little guy maybe about the size of a cherry tomato. It had these crazy little spikes on its back, makes him look like he could be a mean little dude. In reality he seemed quite content and happy just building his web and ignoring us. The issue photographing this was that he was building this web about two feet over my head and directly above a wet rocky creek crossing, which makes for some seriously tough macro set up. I didn't have any lights with me so I had to set up for natural light and try and hold my big heavy D3x with a huge 180mm Sigma macro lens on it still while holding it above my head. Plus I had to come up with a way to focus and compose at the same time. I did a little spraying and praying as they like to say and  I had to do a little post edit composition with cropping but in the end I think it came out pretty cool. The depth of field on the spider and web are really nice and the play of light reflecting off of the web made for a nice drastic black and white. What do you guys think?


September 21st, 2014 - The Top of Sleeping Giant

Welcome my friends to the top of Sleeping Giant. A few days ago Sara and I had  both the pleasure and the pain of hiking up this beast. It was about 7 miles round trip and roughly 1,300 feet up to get there. Keep in mind it is always muddy here due to the amount of rain we receive and tack on the fact that I am carrying all my photography equipment and you get a hike that was way tougher than I was expecting. We later found out that there was a steep but much shorter and easier trail we could have taken, live and learn I suppose. When you do get to the top though you are gifted with some gorgeous views of the island and thankfully some picnic tables so Sara and I could rest and recover a bit before trekking back down. This bench, however, is a place for reflection and to take in the beauty that the land has given us. Inscribed on the bench in large letters is the word "RESPECT", and that is exactly what the people of Kauai ask of those who both live and visit here. This was a big feat for us to have done this hike and I hope you like the results. Please keep sharing my work and giving me feedback, we are having a much much slower month. Help me get my work out there folks! Thank you so much for your support.


September 20th, 2014 - Star Trails Over Hanalei Bay

Earlier this week I shared a photo of the Milky Way over Hanalei Bay on the north shore. Today you get to see what I did right after I took that photo. I recomposed a little and shot some long exposures for star trails. This is my first full blown attempt at doing star trails, my last couple times the weather didn't quite cooperate. I had a little bit of light pollution on this because the moon came out and was pretty bright, but over all I think it came out really nice. This is actually 8 different shots, of the exact same scene. All roughly 7 minute exposures. I overlaid them on top of each other to create this final photo. It is a tricky balance of choosing how to set up and shoot these due to light levels, scene exposure lengths, and noise issues. Luckily my first test shot was pretty close and I was able to start going without too much searching. I hope you enjoy the shot and that your weekend is ending well!


September 19th, 2014 - The Shops at Rialto

It has been quite a while since we have escaped to Italy for a day. I thought it might make for a nice change of pace. This shot you are seing is of the little shopping walk you go by to get up to one of Venice's most popular attractions, the Rialto bridge. The most popular things I saw at these little shops were masks, knock off hand bags and these little sewing machines that I am not quite sure what their purpose is. To my left is this little square that has this amazing old building in it with this clock that you see on the left. You very much get the feeling of being in a very old city when you walk around. One of the coolest experiences I have had. Enjoy and have a great weekend everyone!


September 19th, 2014 - Sunrise Over Kapaa

It is very rare you I get to shoot sunrises. Mostly because I can't get my butt out of bed that early. Usually my only chance to get them is by staying up all night. This actually was taken yesterday morning. I woke up early because my wife and I were going on a day hike. Just north of the town I live in called Kapaa there is a beautiful rocky beach stretch along the easy shore. I saw this little rock shelf winding out like this to the distance and just thought it would make a great foreground. I was lucky to get a nice beautiful sunrise, in my past attempts not he island I usually have too many clouds for me to see very well. I also dig the big piece of drift wood, reminds me of kind of a natural bench you could sit on and enjoy the ocean. Overall I love how this shot came out. Maybe it will be book worthy next year? If you haven't yet make sure to check out my first book Bens Viewfinder: Year One on Amazon. It's only $9.99! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NLA51E6


September 18th, 2014 - A Gorgeous Flower

I am posting today's daily photo literally from the top of a mountain. Sara and I hiked to the top of Sleeping Giant, which for two out of shape people like us, is a heck of a feat! I give you a simple but I think beautiful macro shot of a flower I took while on a different hike in Waimea Canyon a couple weeks ago. I hope you guys enjoy it, I am gonna try and climb back down this thing without getting covered in mud!


September 17th, 2014 - Happy Anniversary!

Today my friends, celebrates one year that Bens Viewfinder has been live! A near 365 photos(isn) ago we were just starting out on this journey. I am so very happy and proud today to say that it has been a great first year. This would not happen without the support and sharing of people like you. I hope over the past year you have seen at least a few photographs that you truly enjoyed and I look forward to producing many years worth of work to come.


With all that said I bring you a photograph from Hanalei Bay I took a few nights ago to celebrate the occasion. I honestly think this is an amazing shot. If you notice from the shots I shared over the last couple weeks involving the Milky Way, this one is backwards. That is due to this being the other viewable end of the Milky Way on the northern horizon. Between the beautiful stars, the nice pier and water, along with the boats strewn about and the mountain range with the thicker clouds set it over top and you have one of the most complete images you could ask for. So my request to you for our little birthday here is that you share an image of mine, doesn't have to be this one if you don't want. Just any image you like in my library on your timeline and ask your friends who would be interested to come follow along with us. Thank you again to everyone for your support. I will also be posting shortly the link to the new book which is officially live! More details in the next post.


September 16th, 2014 - Going Up?

I thought we would maybe escape Hawaii today and venture back mainland to Arizona. I haven't shared a shot from the Antelope Canyon series in a while. While this one doesn't have the "WOW" value of the light shafts I really enjoy the sense of depth to this one and the perspective of looking upwards. I also really love the patterns in the rock on the right hand side, almost looks like they were painted. Most of my shots taken in the canyon were shot on a tripod but almost all of my shots looking upward were done hand held quickly while being rushed through the tour. Sara and I were just looking at photographs from this region yesterday and talking about how much we want to go back. I am so glad I got to photograph here, I hope you enjoy it like I do. Big things are happening tomorrow folks so tune in!


September 15th, 2014 - The Rocky South Shore

We travel back to the south shore today and a shot from my first full day living on the island. Sara and I had gone for a nice long hike along the coast line and there was beautiful rocky shores with nice large surf crashing in. What was amazing to me was how we would look off shore into some of these extremely rocky bays and see sea turtles swimming around in them getting smashed by waves and they didn't seem the least bit concerned. It was a gorgeous hike that I remember being very warm due to a lack of breeze, which is unusual along the coast. I really didn't feel like color expressed the scene very well so I went for a darker contrasty black and white. I love the wave crashing into the rocky pillars in the background and the textures of the rocks in the foreground. I used a slightly different black and white processing method with this so I would love some feedback, I hope everyone has a great week!


September 14th, 2014 - Reflective Flowers

So during my recent hike at Wai Koa we came across a little pond near a farm on the back half of the hike so I wandered down with the intention of hoping to find a bug or something to macro. Turned out there were these gorgeous water Lily's (I think) and I just loved the mixture of the vibrant color versus the calm water and the lily pads strewn about. I really like how this shot came out. Finding super still water is not something I have encountered much on island yet so it was fun. I also saw some pretty spectacular dragon flies while I was down there. I am having an absolute blast exploring the little bits and pieces that make up Kauai. I know it'll take a lot of years of exploring to uncover all the good stuff. But it is a challenge I am ready to undertake. Hope your weekends went well and you enjoy the shot, glad everyone enjoyed yesterdays so much. Please keep sharing and commenting on the work, it means a lot to me.


September 13th, 2014 - Super Cheese Photo!

So the wife and I drive up to a place called Hanalei Bay up on the north shore last night to do some night photography at the pier. While I am doing multiple long exposures for an upcoming star trails photo you will see, she came up with the idea for this photo. Completely her idea I just helped execute it. I actually light painted the letters too. I got the camera all set up and we used the bulb exposure function to do this. This is one exposure, not a bunch of photoshopped together shots of different letters. The shot is about 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the first minute of which was nothing but wide open shutter to allow for the scene to expose, some so it wasn't just a dark night beach. Then I walked in after the first minute and used a flash light to write each letter, shutting off the flash light between each one. This can be tricky considering you want to try and make all the letters line up so you have to make them relatively the same height. You also have to remember to write them backwards because of the direction I am standing. Figuring this was I think our third attempt and this was the result, I think it came out pretty awesome! Not exactly a fine art piece for you guys to hang on your walls but a pretty cool photo to enjoy I think. Yes we are this corny.


Septemer 12th, 2014 - Say Hello to Niihau

Today we look down on the south western coast line of Kauai overlooking the small town of Waimea. This was after we had gone up to hike in the canyon earlier that day and on the way back down you take a long and winding road down to this town. Shortly before you get to the town though there is a pull off overlook and you can get a beautiful view of the landscape. What was really cool to me is that you can see the smaller islands off the coast really well this night. Niihau the big island you see on the horizon and then Lehua is the little blob of rock to the right of it.  These are protected islands privately owned and you can't travel to them easily from what I hear. Maybe someday I'll find a way over and get some shots of those islands and a few shots looking back at Kauai. Until then enjoy this and happy Friday everyone!


September 11th, 2014 - The Bamboo Forest

Today we learn that you don't always get what you want when you are photographing something. Not to say I don't like this photo I very much do, it was kind of a happy accident it worked out this way. After hiking a few miles into this area I saw this beautiful little bamboo forest and shortly after I got there the sun was peaking through the clouds and giving this gorgeous highlight to all the bamboo and it looked awesome. So I climbed up to a spot and started setting up a shot. Of course the sky clouded over but I was patient and just waited for probably fifteen minutes at which point it started raining very hard, I snapped off the composition anyways and then I decided to try it out in black and white. This is the result. I think it came out pretty cool. Lots of good levels of light and shadows. Hope you guys enjoy it and your weeks are going well. Cheers!


September 10th, 2014 - Some Super Macro

Today we showcase something simple but beautiful to me. I took this while hiking last week out to a lookout for the Na Pali Coast in Waimea Canyon. We were just walking along the path and there was this tree branch I think it is pine sprawling across the path. It had been raining and misting all day so it had these beautiful rain droplets forming at the bottom of the quills. This is a shot that is more difficult to take then you would think. Like all macro getting close and managing focus and light can get tough. Especially in a dim lit forest canopy and when there is a breeze blowing the branch around. I just think in a small way it showcases the beauty that is nature.


September 9th, 2014 - Kilauea Lighthouse Star Tails

So after that night of taking great Milky Way shots I was on a star adrenaline rush and was really hoping to do some great star trail photos. This photo was shot the same night as the sunset picture taken here at the lighthouse. The moon was still bright enough to offer me some great reflective lighting for the ground and the lighthouse which was awesome. The problem I ran into was clouds. I sat out there for hours hoping for a break in the clouds. The issue is that on Kauai it is almost always raining somewhere on the island and you can almost surely expect that any clear sky can cloud over at any minute. I was shooting five minute exposures but I honestly couldn't string together more than two exposures without a massive cloud strolling through and messing the shot up. I got this which I wasn't even sure I was going to publish at first but after staring at it for a week and some convincing from my wife I decided it had grown on me. So you get to be the judges, if photos really don't perform well I pull them from my main galleries after a period of time. What do you guys think is this one worth keeping?


September 8th, 2014 - A Curious Gecko

So you saw a couple weeks ago the cool gecko we had hanging around our house, well I managed to get one in the wild and I thought it looked pretty cool! We were hiking and I saw him kind of peaking out at me down about knee height. I loved how there was a shadow being cast over the back half of his body. He is also much different looking then the one I photographed the last week. I love the little spine thing he has going on and how slender he is. He looks very curious if I do say so myself. Sorry for the late daily photo today, we had our stuff being delivered from the mainland so it has been kind of hectic. Hope you enjoy.


September 7th, 2014 - Wai Koa Trail

Welcome to the beautiful but man made falls at the Wai Koa trail. The whole trail actually is a pretty well manicured and thought out trail. It is about a 5 mile loops so it isn't small by any means. It is a little opposite of a lot of the trails on the island as they invite you to come hike it for free as it spans through farms and private properties. A lot of places on the island are not as inviting because private land owners don't want their slice of paradise trampled by tourists. It is a good thing the people here are so protective over the land, I also appreciate places like Wai Koa that want to showcase the beauty of the island. These falls are at the furthest point in on the trail, a little garden of Eden in a way. As you can see at the top of the falls there, you can walk up a small trail to my right and people go up top and swim in the still waters above the falls. They have a huge rope swing and everything. A nice way to enjoy your hard work after hiking the few miles to get here. Just another day in paradise my friends. I love it!


September 6th, 2014 - Palm Tree Milky Way

So I promised you when I posted the photo of the pier that I had another shot from that night. Well today you get to see it. I took this shot not far away from the pier. I actually thought this up while on the pier taking the other shot. The trees just seemed to create this perfect kind of frame to showcase the Milky Way in. A nice sense of being in paradise on a gorgeous clear evening. I love how these shots came out and I love that they were a spur of the moment thing to go take them. Hopefully you guys dig it too and will give me some feedback along with sharing it with a few people. You can also hang this or anything else you want on your wall, just head over to my site and have a browse. I want to see my work hanging in your guys' houses. Every customer who has ordered a print so far has been super satisfied, I look forward to you being one too! Thanks for your continued support!


September 5th, 2014 - The S Curve Canyon

Happy Friday followers! I thought we would adventure back into canyon lands today and see a shot from Waterholes Canyon in Arizona. If you haven't noticed by now I really enjoyed all these canyons. Waterholes was nice because it had a much different feel to it than Antelope did. As you can see it is lit very differently and it is a much larger canyon overall. We were able to walk through Antelope in about 90 minutes. It took us over 6 hours to hike about half of this canyon. What I absolutely loved about this photo is the "S" curve in the rocks on the left hand side. The natural shapes and patterns made by the water and wind here is just so awesome. I hope you guys dig the shot and I hope your weekends get off to a great start. I have a nice stock pile of work already from Kauai since I have been here and you'll be seeing it a lot this upcoming week.


September 4th, 2014 - Flower on Fire

Today we take a look at a gorgeous flower that grows atop the mountains in Waimea Canyon. As I mentioned the other day since it was really rainy and cloudy out I tried to do some macro work while we went around to make it a more successful day for shooting. The nice part about the weather being bad is that it leaves everything covered in gorgeous rain droplets. This flower was pointed out to me by my wife, unfortunately my color blindness made it so I looked right past it and most likely would not have noticed it if she hadn't pointed it out. I love the amount of patience it takes to get really good macro, it makes you fight for the shot. I got one other really cool flower while I was up there I will share with you guys next week. Hope everyone is having a great week so far. Cheers.


September 3rd, 2014 - Kilauea Lighthouse Sunset

Spent a lot of time at this lighthouse yesterday taking a few sunset shots and really trying to do some start trail shots as well. Had lots of clouds to contend with but I think this shot of the sunset came out pretty well. This is called the Kilauea Lighthouse and it is on the north shore of the island. This is also a huge bird sanctuary one of which is called a Newell's Shearwater which actually sounds like a baby crying when it calls out. It is really strange sounding. I wasn't sure about this shot at first but it has grown on me. Kind of reminds me of a postcard. What do you guys think?


September 2nd, 2014 - A Rainy Day in Paradise

Yes you are getting two macro shots in a row but I think they are a bit different so it's ok. This is actually one of my favorite black and white photos I have processed in a while. This is just simply a palm leaf that we saw while up in Waimea Canyon the other day and it was rainy all day. Made for some nice water droplet shots. This was a little tougher than usual though because I really wanted to get this all in focus. So this is actually six photographs stacked and layered on top of each other all at different focal lengths to give me one complete photograph in focus. This is called focus stacking. When shooting at such extreme macro lengths even with a huge depth of field I can only get about the first inch and a half in focus. In the end I think this turned out to be a pretty sweet and simplistic abstract photo. Let me know if you enjoy it.


September 1st, 2014 - The Mushroom Kingdom

So I got to photograph something new yesterday! My wife and I had ventured out to Waimea Canyon here on the island, which if you don't know is a massive Grand Canyon like umm well canyon. Turned out to be extremely overcast and rainy there all day but at the end of the day we had hiked down to this overlook down near the Napali coast and on the trail there were these awesome little mushrooms. I had never gotten to photograph a mushroom before so I was kind of excited. I liked that from this angle you could see the mushrooms in the background enough to make them out but the focus stayed on the one up front. These are just little guys maybe an inch and a half tall, had to get my camera extremely low to the ground to get the shot. Always fun when it is really muddy out. The nice part about macro is that on a sort of bust day when you go to photograph landscapes and it doesn't work out, you can revert to some macro and get some keepers for the day.


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