Hawaii

I grew up in the middle of the ocean surrounded by the sea. I was in the water at an early age in Hawaii and learned to love the waves and fear them. As a teenager, I surfed the big waves and remember the exhilaration of sliding down a wave front, foam boiling behind me, the taste of salt in my mouth. Always keep an eye out for what comes out of the sea. You don’t want to be trapped inside by a big wave.

Years later, I found a particular stretch of coast not far from my parental home where lava cliffs drop into the ocean deep and fishermen come out at night. Who goes to the edge of the ocean in the middle of the night? I had to find out, and I found sitting on a rocky ledge before dawn listening to the waves and watching the stars pull back as the sun approaches the horizon to be peaceful. How far and from where had these waves traveled? I imagined waves from Japan, waves from Tahiti, all distant places with vast stretches of ocean between. And the constant sound of waves, day or night, always changing.

I noticed the same fishermen coming to favorite spots and began to make friendships that have endured over the years. One fishing spot, Bamboo Ridge, is famous in the islands and there is much competition for space. Over the years, people hauled concrete and wood down the lava cliffs and built a platform and structure for protection from the elements. It has been destroyed by wind and waves and rebuilt in different configurations. The old timers tell stories of when there were more and bigger fish. The newer fisherfolk compete for what is left. But no one really minds, because it is about carrying on the skills learned from parents and enjoying the hunt. “Maybe this time I will catch the big one.”

I am fascinated by the contrast between the ever-moving sea and the immobile land and have used different approaches to capture the shifting mood of dawn and dusk at the sea’s edge. One approach has been to build montages from the same vantage point to show fixed rocks and the changing sea with overlapping images captured at varying shutter speeds. At other times, I capture a seascape through a long exposure in dim light that begins to look more like mountains in the mist.