The Wave, Ke’e Beach – Kauai

Kee Beach, Kauai

This is one of my most favorite shot from our last trip to Kauai. It took two sunset evenings for me to pull off this shot.

The first evening, I wasted much time on the Kalalau Trail. By the time I returned and took the short trail along the west side of Ke’e beach, the clouds were turning pink. After some boulder-hopping, I rushed to get my camera on my tripods. The sunset was quite nice, but I just couldn’t find a good frame. I decided to stop shooting and looked away from the sun. It didn’t take long to see spectacular waves forming and breaking on a rock formation just before the rock wall. With the Na Pali as the backdrop, I knew that this was my opportunity to shoot something I don’t shoot on a regular basis. By then, the light started fading. I gathered my gears and left – we had an 8:30pm dinner reservation.

The next evening, I headed back to Ke’e beach alone. “You are not going to hike the Kalalau Trai, are you?“, wife asked. “Nah, why don’t you make dinner reservation at the Hanalei Cafe for 9pm? I promise to be back before then.”

Out on the rocks, I paired my 70-200mm with a 1.4x extender. I spent the next few hours experimenting with the exposure settings to get the shot I was after. I put the lens IS mode on panning, loosened up the tripod’s ball head and panned along as the swell traversed inland. As the swell got closer to shore, I panned ahead, locked up the ball head and fired a few shots. After countless tries, and just before the soft light disappeared, I got lucky and snapped this shot just in time.

Without the RSS ball head, I think it would be much harder for me to get this shot. That ball head is well worth its weight. In the end, it took two sunsets and countless frames to get this shot. It’s still a lucky shot, but luck comes with a little patience and practice :)

PS: I got back with plenty of time to spare for dinner. The Hanalei Cafe has spectacular view, but we didn’t see much at night.