Picture of the Day: Maelstrom at Kauai, Hawaii
MAELSTROM AT KAUAI, HAWAII
A maelstrom is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water. A free vortex, it has considerable downdraft. The power of tidal whirlpools tends to be exaggerated by laymen. There are virtually no stories of large ships ever being sucked into a maelstrom, although smaller craft are in danger and tsunami generated maelstroms may even threaten larger crafts. Tales like those by Paul the Deacon, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe are entirely fictional.
One of the earliest uses of the Scandinavian word was by Edgar Allan Poe in his story “A Descent into the Maelstrom” (1841). In turn, the Nordic word is derived from the Dutch maelstrom, modern spelling maalstroom, from malen (to grind) and stroom (stream), to form the meaning grinding current or literally “mill-stream”, in the sense of milling (grinding) grain. [Source]
Photographer’s Description [Patrick Smith]: I had this near-death experience on my last trip to Kauai! This lava-ledge is 20 feet above the sea, and I suppose the incoming wave is twice that height. This is not the Sprouting Horn near Poipu and it is not Queen’s bath! It is called the Mokolea Lava Pools. See the Map below and to the right. It is east of the Kilauea Lighthouse. No HDR. [Source]
Canon 17-40L @ 27
0.6-second exposure @F14
LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm) 0.9 + 0.6
Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring
RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One
TIFF file processed with Photoshop
Keen water shoes
To get this shot:
1. Get up 2 hours before sunrise…. on your vacation.
2. Put on your old shoes and shorts that are destined to become stained with red mud.
3. Drive to the trail head (Right turn before the Kilauea Lighthouse.)
4. Make sure there are decent clouds before committing to the hike down.
5. Get out your flashlight. I have a wind-up one so no worry about batteries.
6. Navigate the extremely slippery trail, in the dark, often on all-fours, for 1/2 mile
7. Ignore the strange noises in the dense steamy jungle… if you can.
8. Watch the surf for at least 20 minutes to determine a safe place to be.
9. Hand-hold the camera to get the settings right before heading into the water.
10. Set up the tripod and composition just before the next wave hits.
11. Make the exposure and run!
12. As you run, make sure to avoid spilling too much blood extracted by the sharp lava rock!
Patrick Smith is an amazing photographer. You can find him online on various networks: