austinlawler
austinlawler

Floating away



This was taken in Honolulu during the Lantern Festival on Memorial Day. Every year people from all over write messages to loved ones on lanterns. After the cere...
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This was taken in Honolulu during the Lantern Festival on Memorial Day. Every year people from all over write messages to loved ones on lanterns. After the ceremony everyone lights the candle and sends their lantern off to sea.
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5 Comments | Report
Bjlangfeld
 
Bjlangfeld July 17, 2014
Never get tired of seeing this one Austin.
austinlawler
austinlawler July 28, 2014
Thanks Barb!
HappyTree Platinum
 
HappyTree July 28, 2014
Well composed..
austinlawler
austinlawler July 28, 2014
Thank you very much!
lynnkirchhoff
 
lynnkirchhoff November 24, 2014
Good luck, Austin. It's a GREAT photo!
ovosphotography
 
ovosphotography June 13, 2015
like it!
naumanziabutt
 
naumanziabutt June 09, 2016
remarkable work. weldone
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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was taken in Honolulu, Hawaii in Ala Moana Beach Park. This was at the annual Lantern Festival. I was standing in waist deep of water (and I'm 6'4") so several feet of water. This was the first time I ever shot standing in such deep of water. I was a bit apprehensive, but I saw a couple of other photographers doing it, just not nearly as deep as me. Even though I wasn't dressed for it (I was just wearing regular shorts) I figured it wasn't the end of the world. I used my hand under the camera to make sure I wasn't putting my camera in the ocean. Although you would be amazed how well my Nikon can handle getting a little wet.
Time
I knew that they launch the lanterns right at sunset, so I grabbed my tripod and did a few adjustments before I left my apartment. I got there about an hour before sunset, and what a beautiful sunset it was. By the time the lanterns were launched, the sun was setting behind the mountains creating its great orange glow around the mountain range. Since I ended up shooting in the water, the tripod was worthless.
Lighting
I only used what mother nature gave me to work with for natural lighting. For the hour and a half I was there it went from a bright sun getting ready to do it's disappearing act behind the mountain range on the west side of the island, to being completely dark. It was a bit challenging to always make sure I have the right settings on, and to make sure my images had as little noise as possible. The other issue was the storm building about 15 miles off shore. As you can see in the photo the left side is dark and the right side still has whats left of the sunlight. This was just another added challenge to having only natural light as my light source. At the end of the day it really makes you think, and a lot of trial and error. I used my hand as a gauge to make sure the camera wasn't going into the ocean, and to balance it a little.
Equipment
My original plan was to set up my tripod on the beach, right on the waters edge. However since I was in the water, that was out. I also planed on using two different lenses my regular workhorse and my Nikkor 55-300mm zoom. Once again, being I was going to shoot in the water, I decided to keep the zoom in the camera bag. In the end I used my Nikon D300 with my Nikkor 18-105mm lens. I also did not want to use a flash, multiple reasons why, mostly I was concern about reflections off the ocean.
Inspiration
When I took this photo I had only been living in Hawaii for about three weeks. I didn't really know of anything going on, but I was trying to find different things to shoot. My roommate told me about the Lantern Festival which is done every Memorial Day. People from all over the world come to write a message on a lantern, typically to a loved one who died, or for good luck. I thought it sounded cool and went with him and some of his friends. When we arrived there had to be over 20,000 people in the park. When we found a space to sit on the beach, I noticed a group of photographers standing on the shore. I decided to watch them and see where they went to shoot the lanterns. As the lanterns were set in the ocean by Hawaiian style canoes, a launch by the main stage, and by individual people releasing them into the ocean. At first I was in my typical state of mind while shooting, which is to capture the moment. After taking a few shots of people putting the lanterns in the ocean, I thought this was a bad idea. I didn't feel right photography someone as they cry and release the lantern into the ocean, it was a very personal thing for them. That is when I switched to just taking photos of the lanterns in the ocean. It was impossible not feel a little emotional seeing thousands of lanterns floating out to sea. Taking photos of the lanterns was my way of telling a story, without interfering with the people connected to them. This particular lantern was by it self floating by me. I wanted the photo to show the mass of lanterns in the background as well as the storm. However something about this lantern spoke to me, it was so peaceful standing in the water with this lantern floating by. I took lots of photos of lanterns, but this is the one that spoke to me.
Editing
Believe it or not (and a lot of people don't) I did not touch this image. This is how I took it, this is what I captured. Believe me it was luck considering all of the conditions I mentioned earlier. I am in the minority when it comes to post-processing, I hate to use it. I feel a photo should look how the photographer took it. I think some people are too reliant on using a computer to help them "make it look better." That is not to say I don't do it some times, because I do for certain things. However if one of my photos did not turn out (like the one before and after this shot) I will usually hit delete. Some of my favorite photos I have seen have been post-processed or altered, however I personally don't like to do it.
In my camera bag
Other than my D300, I always make sure to have a pen and small note pad. The reason is when I was getting back into photography again in college, I went to Washington DC to visit my sister. I got off the Metro at DuPont circle and decided to just walk with no idea of where to go to. I was just wandering the streets (which I recommend for every photographer to do). I found so many cool buildings I wanted to remember where they were so I could go back in the future. The problem was I had nothing to write that info down on, lesson learned. I also keep my Nikkor 18-105mm and 55-300mm lenses, cleaning clothes, extra battery, filters and snacks. If I shoot at night I will bring my tripod. Depending on what I am in the mood to shoot I will also bring my Nikon FM film camera circa late 1970's.
Feedback
Don't try and copy what you see others doing, use your own style and techniques. What could work for you, might not work for me. It is alright to get inspiration from a photo, but make it your own. I saw a few images from this festival, and used them as inspiration for some of the photos I took that night. This photo concept just came to me, and the storm helped me to tell a story. You will almost always have different set of circumstances when you go out to photograph something you saw. The most important thing is don't worry about what kind of gear you have. I took this photo with decent gear, but not outstanding gear. You can have a $10,000 setup, but with out the most important part of the camera package, your images won't turn out. You know what that is? You!

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