Mornings on West Maui

I used to think that having taken a photo or two from a particular area that I was very likely done with that place (photographically speaking). I have since learned that most places that are worth photographing once are almost certainly worth photographing again. Things may change due to weather, time, or other external factors. But even if things don’t appear to have changed, really looking at a place again will allow one to see aspects that were previously unseen. Certainly that has proved true for a place we love to revisit on the island of Maui.

To be more precise than this blog post’s title, these images are all captured at Napili Bay and were taken early in the morning (between 5:27 AM and 6:21 AM) but not all on the same day. This bay is not very large (maybe 300-400 yards across) but includes some resorts, motels, and a couple of restaurants. Local zoning requires all buildings to be no taller than palm tree height which helps it retain that wonderful tropical feeling. It is located on the part of the island known as West Maui and is pretty much on the northwest tip of the island. The bay is often calm with little or very mild surf and the snorkeling and/or paddle-boarding can be very good, even for beginners.

For this post I’ve arranged the photos in time-of-day sequence (regardless of the day the image was taken). And the first one, captured at 5:27 AM, during the time photographers call the blue hour, is at the top of this post. It is a long exposure (13 seconds, because the light is still pretty dim at that early hour). The longer exposure, along with the smaller aperture setting of f/16 has also helped to create little rays coming off the lights (see my blog post, Shooting the Moon, for more about that phenomenon). Long exposures also tend to smooth out the water. The image is of the south end of the bay; the land in the background is the island of Lanai.

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1/15 second @ f/11

This next image taken just 20 minutes later, and from a slightly different position on the beach shows how quickly the blue hour can disappear. It shows a bit more of the bay (the camera position is very close to the northern end of the beach). Although the sun is not officially “up” yet, its light coming from the east is starting to create a little layer of pink in the southern and western sky.

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1/4 second @ f/11

In keeping with the excellent photographic advice, “…keep looking around” in case your focus on one aspect of the scene you are shooting causes you to miss other opportunities, here’s a moment when I looked down and was struck by the way the light surf was swirling around the very permanent-looking rocks and sand. By using a slow-ish (not long) exposure I was able to capture the movement of the water.

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1/60 second @ f/11

And having started to look around, I turned even more and discovered that the sun, while still not directly visible, was having a profound affect on the clouds (behind me) to the east hovering over Maui.

At three minutes before 6:00 AM, I turned my attention back to the sky and sea, this time focusing more on the northwest and the island of Molokai.

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1/40 second @ f/11

In this image you can see several layers of clouds over the island; just past the northern point of Napili Bay you can see a rain squall that is over the channel between Maui and Molokai and very likely over parts of Molokai, as well.

Just two minutes after I captured that image, I turned toward the south in time to see that the sun was directly starting to light up the island of Lanai. Also, a single paddle boarder was taking off from the other end of our bay. Needless to say, I refocused and captured it.

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1/80 second @ f/11

I was also keeping an eye on Molokai and a few minutes later took a photo that showed a bit more of the northern point of our bay as well as the rain that was continuing to soak the southern end of that island.

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1/15 second @ f/11

For a total change of pace, I’ve also included these photos of just a few of the flowers that are maintained around our resort (took these images on the way back to our room to get some breakfast).

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Croten Goldfinger
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Bougainvillea
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