gurgle gurgle splash splash (pre nuke meltdown)

gurgle gurgle splash splash (pre nuke meltdown)

About a week has past since I started this initial post about our tsunami in Hawaii.  The earthquake and tsunami in Japan has now been surpassed by a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plant.  We luckily have gotten a ticket for my father in law to get out of dodge this weekend.  Whether he will escape is a matter of the airlines, the governments, and Godzilla.

Below is my first take on our HNL tsunami:

North East Japan is destroyed.  Video and still coverage of the earthquake and tsunami damage is astounding.  Rather its unbelievable.  When we first saw the initial reports on NHK, we couldn’t believe it.  It seemed as if Godzilla was just down the road smashing all in his wake.  Some images even reminded me of Doolittle’s bombing raid on the once wood and papered Tokyo.  It was, as I said, unbelievable.

Its hard to imagine this natural disaster destroying so much so quickly, yet, Banda Aceh was devastated within 20 minutes of their major earthquake.

Really…its unbelievable.

I’m tempted to get to Japan to take part in covering this disaster but I’ve got nothing to offer.  I’m not a rescue worker.  I could be.  But I’m not.  I can’t do it.  I couldn’t do it in Indonesia and I know I can’t do it now.

The Japanese tsunami hit Hawaii with a wallop.  A small one in scale, but a wallop.  Houses on the Big Island were wiped out, the Four Seasons and the King Kam Hotel, along with many shops and the likes, were hit very hard  Loads of property damage.  Several boat harbors on Oahu were severely damaged and there was damage as well on Maui.  Things turned out well but not that well.  Yet…it wasn’t really a big deal…not like the destruction in Japan.

The waves were scheduled to hit around 3am and Hawaii anxiously awaited their arrival.  3am passes and no major waves.  I (again) stationed myself at the Illikai Hotel and watch the harbor to see if anything takes place.  About 3:30 I run down to the harbor and see loads of boats sitting in the sand.  Water drained out of the harbor and many of the boats were sitting dry out of the water.  That spooked me a bit but I ventured out to the beach catching loads of people sitting around, drinking beer, and getting out into the beach where the water had run out.

I shot these fools and wondered how foolish I am for being with them.  “Who’s more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?  At one point, the water has drained way off the shore, exposing reef, rocks, and whatnot and it quickly floods back in splashing up against a seawall where the guys above were standing.
Once that took place, I knew it was time to boogie outta there.  So after a few more hours of darkness, the sunrise made us aware of the damage that took place in Hawaii.  But its nothing like the devastation of Japan:  thousands of people were killed, entire villages and towns destroyed, and the Japan economic muscle comes to a halt.  What happened in Hawaii pales to the destruction in Japan.

To write any more about Hawaii is really saying too much. We had a few docks destroyed and there was millions of dollars of damage.  Homes were washed out but no lives were lost.   We survived again.

pdf of Star Bulletin

Just a quick post to show the actual page that ran on Sunday along with the original file I sent to AP. Nice use of space and text with the image. The page designers used the empty space well and anchored the rest of the paper on the bottom in the sand.

Did I preconceive this shot before hand thinking of a layout or page use? Not really but I did have an idea of what I wanted to illustrate. As I said in my last post, I wanted to convey the idea of Hawaii getting back to normal after the tsunami warning was rescinded. The use of the empty space, the whitewash pointing at the surfer, the board shape, the shape of the surfer, the color of the sand…it all works. I would have never guessed this image worked the way it did however; harking back on that subconsciousness of photography, it worked well.

A man, his dolls, and a straw on Waikiki Beach

Last week as I walked the beach in Waikiki I encountered a strange yet compelling subject(s)…  I went for a stroll down Waikiki Beach, camera in hand, and I came across a small floatie anchored in a tide pool roughly in front of the Hyatt.

The raft, which I thought belonged to a child, held several dolls and small toys.  I thought “how cute..a young girl brought her toys out to the beach.” But strangely enough, I see a older Asian male walking towards the raft. He wore a life preserver, a red swim cap with the chin strap pulled tightly under his pudgy neck, a rash guard, and tight swim trunks.

He was sitting with a normal looking older Asian lady wearing a bathing suit and had a cheap green inflatable inner tube around her waist. I overheard her referring to him as Otosan, or father in Japanese.  They sat on towels, had an ice box, and were enjoying the sunny day.  I kept looking for the kids who’s raft I found but I saw no one around.

But a few minutes later, Otosan waded into the water, went for a brief swim then walked over to the raft.  He delicately took each doll out, cupped water into his hands and gently washed the dolls off speaking to each one as he did.  He took great care placing each doll back back and arranged them in a particular seating order.  He then waded back towards the beach speaking to other beach goers as he went.

He sat back in the sand next to the woman, took several large gulps from a large Arizona tea can and then poured tea into a mug with a straw.  I quickly waded back into the water as I what was coming.  He then waded back into the water and made himself towards the raft.

He took each individual doll and gave them all a sip from his straw. He lovingly took each figurine and gave them each a moment to drink from his mug so they might also enjoy themselves on the beach. Otosan was treating each figure as if they were real. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing as I took picture after picture but I couldn’t turn away.

So after rattling off a few frame, Otosan, who never noticed me, wandered back to his spot, grabbed a tackle box and rod and went fishing off the rocks.  I wasn’t sure what to think of what I shot as it was one of the more weird things I’ve ever encountered.  I guess you could assume anything but this was just a bizarre moment caught on film.

Oddly enough, my wife pointed out the pregnant bather wandering in the background.  I was a bit upset with her in the frame as she threw off my composure but the psychology of her in the back made the image more powerful.

I got bored waiting for him to return from his fishing spot so I wandered  but eventually returned to Otosan’s spot I saw him wading back from the rocks and over to the lady he was with and it appeared she told him to change out of his beach clothes and sent him to the bathroom. Sadly my parking meter was almost up and it was taking him forever to return so I had to leave the site leaving the mystery of the dolls to the wind.

I really have nothing more to say about Otosan and this image. I might re-write some of this at some point but I’ll leave it at that.

A note about the film…Kodak’s Ektar 100 held up nicely though I wasn’t very happy how the reds were over saturated in the scan from my Nikon 8000 but I couldn’t seem to control that either in the scanning software or Photoshop. I tried to pull down the saturation in both but all it would do would muddy up the color. I might get a drum scan of this image at some point.  I was shooting with a Leica M6 and a 50mm Leitz F1.4 lens.  The lens coating probably accounted for the over saturation.

2009, a wrap up…

I survived! We survived. We did it and we did it with a mortgage.

I made as a photographer during the 2009 recession!

Things were tough mentally as a bit of income slipped away as certain clients stopped calling and the publishing industry had to readjust its self.

There were some tough moments…waking up in the morning to an empty email inbox and not hearing the phone ring for weeks at a time. But photographer Alex Brandon laid some of the best wisdom I will hear for a long time coming…

“Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.”

Thank you Alex…life can’t be said any better.

Alas, our community lost some staff jobs and some good people this year and even last.

Goodbye Burly and Joaquin. Goodbye Ronen and aloha Lucy. Yet, we had to say hello Tanner several others looking to make a mark in the small money photo world of Hawaii. But we actually are doing much better than much of the photo market around the country. The Washington Times canned their entire photo staff and many staff members. The Advertiser and Star Bulletin had a round of lay offs. Everyone is feeling the pinch. Feels like photo is not the business to be in these days…but people keep snapping away making life much more interesting.

Irregardless…lets take a quick look back at 2009 from my eyes….

(funny, the years slip by but to go back and look at what I shot, its tough…just way too many images! I’ll give it a shot!)

This year I had a pretty tough moment as my father had a heart attack which forced him to go under the knife for a quad bypass. Inside I felt he wasn’t going to kick the bucket but it was tough to think it might be time to say goodbye.

I went down to Texas for a vacation to visit Mom and Dad and spent some time getting to know them, myself, and us a little better. Its best not to forget that time does slip by and its tough to get back to San Antonio being Hawaii is so far away.


In San Antonio for that vacation, I had time to go through the old pictures and got to know a bit more about my history and family. Got to see family new and old and was taken back by a photo of my Mom’s Dad…as it was taken at a bar. Go figure I’d pick up that trait…


I got a non related nephew this year from Diane and Doug. Aloha Danny!

Got to shoot a very cute girl in her bikini…

Got to hang out with Gloria…

Busted my eye…

Got to see and old friend…

Got to see one sweat…

Saw a few things on the beach…

Another girl in a bikini…

Conjunto and my peoples…

and finally, Terminal 2 Narita…

There is so much to mention but there is not enough time. Its party time…New Years is around the corner for Hawaii that is…and its time to welcome something new.