Hi everyone and welcome to today’s post. The images today are of my friend Kala, an Hawaiian street artist who weaves coconut palm fronds into intricate baskets, hats, flowers, and whimsical animals. Born on the big Island of Hawaii, Kala has led an interesting life full of ups and downs. Not unlike most of I suppose but he has been to some depths many of us have not experienced. Today he lives a calm life, almost zen like, where he really has no worries. He is a very intelligent man and I enjoyed talking with him about everything from Hawaiian culture to football. As he talks his hands work the palm fronds, in and out, over and under, until another work of art is finished. He was taught by a master weaver and exhibits the skill and dexterity of many years of practice. You can find Kala most evenings sitting on the wall, near the Marriott in downtown Waikiki. On most nights, Von is there as well and the two carry on a lively banter. It has a calming affect. Time just seems to slow down and it invites you to do the same. To spend time with them watching the sun set over the ocean is special and every night I found myself ritually joining them on the wall. It was not long before I realized that I was not alone in this ritual. Across the street, locals and visitors alike walked out on the beach to experience the end of the day. Like clock work we all just stopped what we were doing and collectively experienced the sunset. The sound of the ocean, the cooling breeze, and the setting sun works a mysterious magic on the soul. All thoughts just seem to melt away if only for a brief moment. But the restorative benefits are exponential. As the light fades life begins again. As the street lights come on the sounds of the street resonate with activity. Night begins and we are all pulled into its reality.
Each of the images explores a different way of seeing. They were all shot with a Sony α900 with a Lensbaby Composer and the f4.0 insert. I have spoken before about the use of the Lensbaby and its ability to provide selective focusing. It is a lens that can blur out background noise. The effect is pronounced and varied. In two the shots the background is reduced to a kind of random bokeh pattern. In the vignette the background is simply softened. It is a lens that takes a little practice but one which can pay off with beautiful images. The f4.0 insert is my usual choice as it gives me the right amount of subject sharpness and fade. When I shot these I was looking for a different angle, another way of seeing Kala, and perhaps find a way to incorporate his work into the image. A small bucket with his woven flowers provided a starting point and I worked the subject from a low angle. I was lying on the ground and shifted in and out looking for a pleasing composition. I moved the flash around and fired a few test shots to see if it was going to work. In the first shot Kala just leaned over towards the bucket and I caught something in his face that was both serene and intense. The flash was set low and off to my left. The Lensbaby’s focus was dialed in just beyond the bucket of flowers. In the second image I readjusted the Lensbaby’s focus to the flowers which put Kala out of focus. Two images captured with the same lens providing different points of focus and interpretation. The third image shown below is a vignette. A simple isolation of a craftsman’s hands cradling his art.
The primary processing work was done in Adobe Lightroom 3.2. For most of my work Lightroom is a first step in optimizing the RAW files with final finishing in Photoshop. For these images I did all the primary work in Lightroom using a processing preset. Lightrooms presets provide many options for creatively developing your files. After some experimentation I settled on a preset called “Color Creative-Aged Photo”. I really like the split-tone effect of the final images. The images also received some small curve adjustments and sharpening. They were exported to Photoshop where I did a little dodging and burning and added my typical white border.