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Yosemite Falls, Mule Deer

The Story Behind: Sunrise, Maka Alae Point

The Hana Coast along the northeast edge of Maui is a photographer’s dream— 52 miles of winding road along black sand beaches and plunging waterfalls with the vast Pacific Ocean as a shimmering blue backdrop on one side and the jungle, thick with bamboo and fruit, on the other.


I drove one way to the village of Hana, stopping seemingly every 2 minutes for pictures, and eventually settled in for the night in a small hostel with the hope of getting up very early in the morning to capture the sunrise out by the ocean. I woke up well before dawn, gathered up my daypack and tripod and set out walking towards the coastline. I was completely unfamiliar with the area and, of course, with Hana being a very small village, there was virtually no artificial light to help me find my way. My eyes adjusted and I walked in the general direction of the closest shoreline, probably a half mile distant. I crossed the two-lane highway and made my way through a pasture, disturbing a cowpie or two along the way. As I approached a bluff facing east, I was a little disappointed— heavy, thick clouds were obscuring most the sky right down to the horizon.


I set down my pack and mounted my camera, preparing to shoot but unsure of what the subject matter would be. It wouldn’t do any good to formulate a Plan B because if there was no direct light, there wasn’t much to shoot. So, I sat and breathed in the amazing ocean air and listened to the birds and the sound of the waves crashing on a black sand beach below. As the sky started to lighten— indicating that the sun was rising— I framed a shot just in case something happened. I could now see that the clouds were moving laterally and it was possible that it could open up. And then, it did. The sun peaked out from above and behind the cloud banks, casting it’s amazing rays of golden light in a fan of color. Although it did not light up the coastline until about 30 minutes later, it’s brief revelation in the distance was enough to capture the sense and feel of a morning on the Hana Coast. And that’s all I could ever ask.

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