The elevator shaft is the embodiment of the harmony that can often be found between beauty and danger. Not only is it the site of spectacular sunsets, but it is also my favorite free diving spot.
I’m gonna start by saying that I am not a particularly skilled free diver. I cannot hold my breath all that long and I cannot go very deep. However, I have become addicted to the feeling a swimming through underwater caves. On Oahu’s North Shore, there is a marine protected area called Shark’s Cove where fishing has been banned. The abundance of fish and other sea creatures there make it a popular snorkeling site for tourists. A buddy of mine introduced me to a few of the caves found there, and I became hooked. I no longer go there to see the fish (although they are beautiful), but rather just to discover and swim through underwater caverns.
This benign looking pool is actually a cavern which connects to the open ocean. The summer months, when the swells are flat, are the best to view it. Any other time of the year and it becomes a swirling vortex of death.
I had seen those iconic photos of Thor’s well, in Oregon, and had been wanting to try something similar. In order to really capture the water’s motion and turn it into a silky blur, you need to use a long exposure. Doing long exposures while incorporating the sunset proved particularly tricky, as the bright sun only needs a very short exposure time. I busted out my variable neutral density filter and cranked it down by about 6 stops (it could go down to 8 stops, but not without leaving some weird “X” shaped shadow on the image due to the two polarized lenses in the filter). Yet, even with the 6 stop ND filter the sun was still way too bright for a long exposure. So I waited for it to set… Although not much water was moving, the swells were consistent and quick (3.5 to 5 sec. between sets). My shutter speed needed to be slow enough to blur the water, but fast enough to capture the water’s unidirectional movement before the next swell flushed up and turned everything misty white. In the end my settings were 18mm, ISO 100, f/22, 3 second exposure time. I was stoked at the result.
Shark’s cove can also provide some amazing night diving opportunities.
As we were leaving North Shore, I noticed another cool subject of the side wall of Surf’n Sea. A tribute to Bob Marley. This photo was captured at 11mm, ISO 100, f/22, 25 second exposure. I used the small aperture setting to get the starburst of light. I used the long exposure with the hopes that a few cars with pretty lights would pass by. Hope you enjoyed. Aloha and One Love!