Mai Tai in Waikiki

The Mai Tai Bar in Waikiki is located on the top-level of the Ala Moana Mall. www.maitaibar.com  It is a popular bar in Honolulu.  The tourists, shoppers and the night-life crowd enjoy yummy appetizers and yummier drinks as they relax on a sofa, at a table or lounge at the bar.  Ahh, yes, easy and relaxing, with waitresses in short aloha-style dresses. ( Unlike most 50+ year-old women I don’t begrudge their beauty and youth.  Not me, I’m keep my wisdom, thank you, but in my next life I will appreciate and possibly flaunt it just a little bit more).

I once enjoyed a mai tai cocktail (rum and sweet juices and triple sec and ?), it’s a sweet concoction that knocked me over and left me with a big, enormous headache in the morning.  I shouldn’t have had more than one.  Although, I am glad the memories still exists (possibly embellished a bit), as it always make me feel much younger (and foolish) for a moment or two.   Mai-tai’s… that’s one big ocean, little girl.

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Her name was Mai Tai.  I looked at the model and my face immediately got the ‘cat ate the bird’ expression.  I hope she didn’t think it was because of her name.  Maybe my face stayed frozen for a moment too long because she began to explain that mai-tais may have played a part in her conception.  (I wanted to tell her I could empathize as I’m sure there was an alcohol-induced sperm in my creation too, but thought better of it.)  It’s not wise to get a model professionally made-up only to create an ocean of tears, destined to destroy the air-brushing professionally applied by Sephora Cosmetics on Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki (thanks, Danielle, you did a beautiful job).  www.sephora.com

 Mai-tai was a natural at posing, but it was her eyes that expressed her spirit to my camera.

I used my Canon 7D with a 70-200 lens for head shots shooting at 125 shutter and 18 aperture, 200 ISO for most of the shots.  Although there was plenty of natural light between 4:30 and 5:30, I decided to use my 400B Norman Strobe light.  It is a heavy, bulky, older version, but I’m always pleased with the results. The props were simple: a pink, silk scarf to begin our session…

Mai Tai said she favored her mother, obviously a Chinese beauty herself.  The story unfolded within my imagination as Mai Tai modeled before me; a young woman, delicate as a Chinese flower, (possibly a cherry blossom) walking along the beach wrapped in a pink, silk shawl carrying a parasol.  A definite heartache buried in her soul. Perhaps from the lover that promised to take her back to his home in Hawaii?  Is she torn between family and the man she loves?  Does she have a secret she can’t tell?  As my mind played out the scenes, Mai Tai recreated them beyond me.  We were on the same page, or literally, standing in the same ocean.

Next prop: The change into the silk, black wrap-around dress definitely modernized Mai Tai.  The contrast between the background and her body stretched upon on big, well-textured rock created images of a smooth, sexy, elegant woman, but more importantly, it was the variations in tones that intrigued me the most, (possibly great in black and white?). My imagination continued to play out the role; a young woman aware of her sensuality, intelligence, ambition… and big goals.  She aches from an unknown lonliness, but does not allow the pain to surface very often, determined it will never interfere with her dreams.

The next set of photos we took were head shots using a blue fan as a prop.  Her face is beautiful, her eyes cast the emotions wherever her imagination was traveling.  She is an exceptionally talented model.

Mai Tai will achieve her dreams; she will be an emergency room doctor in another 6 years? She had known since childhood she would become a doctor.  She can put away the toy stethescope her father bought her when she was a little girl. She is on her way and she hopes modeling may help pay for some of her expenses.

The time just flies by when I’m on a shoot. The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. We got ready for the wedding gown shots.  The dress was perfect for her, a feminine Cinderella gown.  The bride was glowing and her eyes twinkled as she tossed the pink rose blossoms into the air.  Mai Tai twirled on the beach and sat upon a rock in the water, oblivious her wedding gown was getting trashed. (Don’t worry, I directed her.)

The soft blue sky in one direction, the golden glow if I faced the west.  I love to shoot at this time, the possibilities with lighting are so much fun to play with.  Using filters at sunset can create beautiful photographs, as well, but this evening my lens was naked. I was using my 18-55 for the scenic approach. (When people come to Hawaii, they want to see ‘Hawaii’ in some of the background shots, damn it!)

I love to create and when Mai Tai and I got together we created a spiritual dance with our energy; from her soul, to my camera, to my soul. (Thanks for sharing Mai Tai).

The following week I researched the meaning of her name on the internet; Mai in Chinese means ocean, elegance; in Japanese it is dance and in Vietnamese it is Cherry Blossoms. Tai means big ~ and big can be placed before any dream .

Mai Tai’s parents gave her a very, special name.  It is reasonable to conclude that a Mai Tai is not just a mai-tai.

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House guests in Hawaii ~ don’t stay in the house!

The housework was complete, the sheets on the beds were crisp and clean, the refrigerator is stocked with healthy food and the gas tank was filled before I headed to the airport to pick up guests from the mainland.  They are the family of a very dear friend of mine, which is why I went beyond the call of duty to help with all the preparations. I wanted to make sure their vacation in Hawaii is one they’ll always remember.

Coming to Hawaii for the first time is very impressive, especially if you’re coming from the cold state of Michigan.  Brr-r-r.  They were happy to feel warm sunshine on their skin and pull out the shorts and sundresses from their suitcases.

I played the tour guide all week and honestly it was a pleasure to revisit some of my favorite spots on Oahu. It seems as though I’m so busy working, I don’t get out to enjoy Hawaii as a tourist anymore!  To simply relax while breathing in the beauty rather than hurrying past on my way here or there while mentally writing my grocery list for this or that is the norm for me these days.  This week I was ‘on vacation’, well as much as possible, while being a hostess, tour guide, cook and servant, too.  Oh, don’t think I’m complaining.  I’m not.  I had a great week.  It was my intention to provide a wonderful vacation for them and I’m happy that I succeeded, while getting in some relaxing time (and a little photography time, too).

Of course, turning three adults into photographers for the week helped achieved my goal.  Putting a camera into someone’s hand with instructions on how to use it on the manual setting opens up many possibilities. They begin to look at the world a little closer with the zoom lens while holding the view in focus as they tried and tried again to keep the horizon straight. (A tough one for me, too!)

We stayed at one place three or four times longer than normal as they listened about camera techniques and basic skills, eager to learn, excited to have a photographer to coach them.

I relaxed as they snapped.

Learning anything new is exciting and motivating and photography is the ultimate subject… with subjects to capture in any style your imagination can conjure up.  Photography is limitless. Well, at least it is for me… a passionate photographer that prefers being with a camera more than anything else (well, almost anything). 

They were here for the Martin Luther King, Jr. festival, although we just caught the end of the performers on stage in Kapiolani Park at the clamshell there were still quite a few people enjoying the event. The vendors were wrapping up their wares, but we still had time to shop around.performer at Martin Luther King, Jr. festival in Honolulu at the Waikiki clamshell on January 16, 2012.

We took photographs and listened to the surf at Koa’lua Beach, Kailua and Lanikai Beach (no surf there), Waikiki Beach (it was in the evening) and Waimanalo Beach (playing on our boogie boards there).  The waves at Turtle Bay were great for our model shoots and we loved eating sushi and snacks by Sharks Cove at the North Shore.  Oh, playing on the rocks at Eternity Beach taught them a good lesson about ‘turning your back on the ocean’:  not a wise thing to do.  You might get soaked, or worst yet, get pulled into the raging sea below. Safety is a must if you want to live for another day of adventure. (She luckily just got soaked!)

             The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike was absolutely beautiful. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can was repeated several times as we neared the ¾ point.  There was no turning back.  We’re going all the way, baby.  One of the guests seemed to be a bit dare-devilish as she scaled a rock ledge-jetting out over the ocean.  It was great to see her confidence rise but it wouldn’t have been so great to see her plunging to the ocean far below.  In my younger days, I would have been right there, too, but I’ve become wiser in my ‘old age’.

Although, I am convinced that hand guiding looks absolutely thrilling to me… someday, I will try it.  How do you get it to land exactly where you want it?  Not against a rock cliff or in the ocean?? I’ll need to look into the requirements before I set off soaring through the sky with the birds.

Spending an evening browsing around Waikiki’s International Marketplace for souvenirs was interesting.  So many people crowding the streets, watching the street performers (musicians, artists, mimes and vocalists) with caps or suitcases placed before them collecting dollar bills from the tourists.  Waikiki has it all, shopping galore with all the high-end stores tempting you with the latest fashion in clothing, bags, shoes and jewelry, as well as a lot of stuff you’ll donate to your local charity within a year.  How many bright, colorful aloha shirts do you wear in Pittsburg, PA?  And the cute, little hula doll playing a ukulele and swinging her hips is just another item to sit and collect dust along with your finer collection.

Of course, you’ll love the photographs you can frame and hang all around your home as souvenirs, especially if you have a photographer telling you how to set your shutter and aperture speeds. Believe me, this is the perfect souvenir of Hawaii!

If you’re looking for action; hot surf instructors, skimpy bikinis and lots of bodies sunbathing on the beach, you’ll love Waikiki during the day.  In the evenings, the restaurants, the nightclubs and just people watching on the streets will keep you from getting bored. There is a wide assortment of faces; a melting pot of tourists mingling together as they savor a vacation in Hawaii.

   

  Round Top Drive is a hairpin turning road leading to Puu Ualakaa State Park with breathtaking views of Honolulu from the Diamond Head Crater to Pearl Harbor.  The old-growth trees are fantastic (I’m a tree-hugger and lover). The cactus are the tallest I’ve ever seen, easily competing with the trees.   This is another perfect picnic spot or to enjoy a hike on a marked trail or simply to relax and enjoy the view.  Do take a few minutes to capture this scene for the record.

        

The Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe, just 35 minutes from Waikiki, is impressive with the Buddhist monastery set upon magnificent grounds at the base of Ko’olua Mountains.  We spent much longer than planned here; my guests just couldn’t stop taking photographs. (Yes, it is addictive.)  A local man took the time to give us some inside knowledge about the kukui nut tree.  Did you know before electricity, the kukui nut oil is used to light the evenings on the island?  The nuts are polished and used for leis and its oil is superb for your skin. No wonder its Hawaii’s state tree.  Did I mention the koi fish are as plentiful as they are colorful?  They originated from Japan (a mixture of carps created the koi) and the meaning of these fish is beauty and serenity.  That is exactly how I felt watching them with the black swans swimming above them.  Do swans eat koi?  That wouldn’t be so pretty, to watch, now would it?

     

Of course, the Dole Plantation was a quick stop with a couple of my guests enjoying a dish of pineapple ice while I took photos here and there, planning on my own dish before I left.  The plantation also offers the world’s largest maze, but I wasn’t about to get lost in there before I had my treat.  Be aware they close the market exactly at 5:00 pm, so don’t wait until the last minute.  The door was locked and my tongue was dragging for the famous pineapple ice cream.  Darn.   Do you know how many mainlanders do not know how pineapples grow?  From a tree?  Beneath the ground?  Nope. Not at all.  All 21 varieties grow top side up from the strong, narrow leaves surrounding its base. A week is not long enough to enjoy paradise, especially when you need time to have a birthday party, eating and doing laundry, too. There are so many places and activities we didn’t have time to enjoy, they’ll need to return.

Oh, I didn’t mention the waterfall stop off the Pali Hwy:  just breathtaking with sunlight shining through the banyan trees.   

Next year they’ll be coming again and I’ll plan a new set of adventures to fill them with the aloha spirit.

Oh, we certainly had time for a ‘modeling’ photo shoot at Turtle Bay.  It was the highlight of the trip, as it should be an activity for every tourist visiting Hawaii.  A photo shoot is empowering.  You have the opportunity to stand proud and confident (and sexy and seductive, too) with a backdrop of paradise behind you.

        

These are not just photographs… these are works of art that will inspire you… frame them and hang them.  You’ll smile and feel beautiful every time you pass ‘your masterpieces’.

The sunsets were gorgeous and they met a sea turtle, which seemed bigger than life itself!  I think they will remember their week in Hawaii.

  

Aloha from Hawaii.

Swimwear calendar gal and so much more

She has worked hard to get this body, but wow, what a body!

Karen said she was nervous about her first photo shoot, but she wanted to have photographs as a reward for all the time and effort she put into creating her shape.  It is not bodybuilding, but rather a form of fashion-body physique work-out.  All muscle, no fat… anyplace that I could see… and I pretty much saw all of it.

When we arrived at the beach she pulled out a stretchy rope to warm up, (yes, you will note that I don’t know the correct terminology for exercise equipment ~ gives my gym experience away).  As she’s working on getting her muscles to ‘pop out’, I’m getting my camera equipment out, my Norman Strobe portable is connected and I have just enough time to catch a few of her warm-ups with my camera.

The morning air was still cloudy at 7:30, so I was dilly-dallying getting set-up hoping the clouds would disperse and we would get some blue sky.  Tourists don’t like photo shoots with a gray sky behind them, they want blue sky, the bluer the better, on their scenic photographs.  They are in Hawaii, after all, if they want rain or snow they can get that at home.  Karen and her boyfriend, Bill, are from Wisconsin, a cold-weathered state in January.  But, you wouldn’t know it by looking at her; she’s all bronzed and beautiful.

From wearing the exercise clothes and sneakers she changed into a black, thong bikini with black high heels.

Whoa.  This woman is hot with a body that is buffer than buff.

Karen had been obviously practicing her poses, too, right down to positioning her fingers and pointing her toes.  She knew how she wanted to accentuate her muscle tones by bending this way and that way… there were some poses that I swore she wouldn’t be able to ever straighten out again.  My back was killing me just watching her bend over backwards, literally.  Although she had a list of poses of she could perform, I had a list of poses that would accentuate her sexiness right down to buckling her shoe straps.

You must watch the slideshow at the bottom of this page!

I’ve heard the expression, buns of steel, well, now I’ve seen them, and I can guarantee you that I’ll never own a pair of cheeks like that.

Switching over from her black thong, her fuchsia pink bikini seemed so conservative, but, when she started getting creative with her poses on the driftwood, whoa, the surfer boys a mile away in the ocean were probably considering paddling in.

From the pink bikini to white bikini to solo shots to inviting her boyfriend to join in, we had so much fun and definitely got the poses she wanted, in addition to a lot more.  She went home with over 300 photos on her flash drive to share with family, friends and I am sure she’ll she showing them off at the gym.  These photos will give the ladies (and guys) the incentive to keep on pushing, pulling and pumping whatever exercise equipment they use in those gyms to get a body of steel.   Baby, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.  She earned the right.

Karen was flying as high as an angel (with Bill’s help), had fun splashing in the sea and created some very sexy, calendar swimsuit shots.

This was a great shoot with two fantastic people, that I can now call friends.

Thank you, Karen and Bill.

P.S.  Karen, you have nothing to be nervous about!

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Peace and Tranquility; Hawaiian style

PEACE AND TRANQUILITY: Ho’omaluhia means “to make a place of peace and tranquility.

Spending a few hours at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe, HI is one of the most relaxing hide-aways on the windward side of the island.  There are 400 acres of geographically laid out botanic garden, including endangered and rare plants, a network of hiking trails and a 32-acre lake (sorry, no swimming or skinny-dipping allowed).

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden was designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood protection for Kaneohe. The facilities include a day use area, campgrounds and a Visitor Center with lecture room, exhibition hall, workshop and botanical library.  The geographical regions which are predominately represented are the Philippines, Hawaii, Africa, Sri Lanka & India, Polynesia, Melanesia, Malaysia, and Tropical America. The environment is ever-changing as the plants are maturing.

Those are the facts.  This is my experience:

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From the moment you enter the garden you feel a delightful excitement rising within.  Short, stout palm trees are standing proud to be elected as the welcoming committee of Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.  The drive is magical.  The road curves and winds its way through a landscapes that is lush with greenery, exotic trees, flowers and berries.  This is nature in all its glory.  There is a field stone building as the visitor’s center and a few more stone building for restrooms along the way.  They are cozy and romantic-looking with green moss contrasting the grayish stones. At the end of a few miles you will crest the hilltop.  Turn your car around, step out and before you leave, when you can drag yourself away, burn this view into your memory.  Kaneohe town is far below, just a toy set.  The Ko’olau Mountains rise tall and jagged, seemingly within reach.  The beauty is breathtaking but it is the peacefulness which enters your body as you listen to the birds and feel as one with nature that you’ll remember for a long time.  Your spirit will rise high within you, possibly asking you for a dance upon the hilltop.

It is difficult to leave after such a short tour.  But, when you do, I guarantee a smile of contentment will be upon your face. This last-minute trip was not long enough for me, I wanted to stay for hours upon hours, but the park closes its gate at 4:00.  (We were a few minutes late exiting and the security guard reprimanded us for being tardy ~ you can’t blame him, he just wanted to go home after a hard day’s work.)  For my next visit, (hopefully next week); I will plan a day’s excursion, with a picnic lunch, cold drinks and some mosquito repellant.  And I will have the time to take so many more photographs to share with you!  I do hope you enjoy the shots I got today.

Thank you, my dear friend, Terry, for accompanying me to this wonderful haven of tranquility.  I enjoyed our entire day together, from searching for the best cell phone prices in the area, although we could have done this research on-line, it was much more fun hanging out with you.  Our Chinese lunch plates from the Windward Mall food court  were yummy, but I wouldn’t get the sweet and sour chicken again, my tongue did not approve of its strange texture whatsoever.  Thank you for bringing me to your friend’s service station (garage) for an estimate on my car repair. I will let you know on Wednesday how it works out.  The beer and nachos were an excellent way to end our day.  The conversation went from heaven to hell and back again.  We laughed a lot, which is a highly recommended remedy for women over fifty suffering from any and all ailments:)

Enjoying friends, peacefulness, nature and the present moment is pure bliss to me.

I am connected.

Wednesday evening is my favorite time of the week.  You may or may not understand why, as I’ve heard both positive and negative responses.  I gain so much more than I give by joining them.

PS150 opened about two years ago on N. Pauahi Street in Chinatown, one of  Honolulu’s districts for its homeless residents.  Randall and Annie Kalama rented a room that could be opened up into a coffee house/’mini church’.  They open to the public, to all the public, from 7 pm to 9 pm. I try to go every Wednesday evening.  It is a full house tonight.  The chairs are rearranged to accommodate more guests. Ran is already strumming his guitar, as he does every week.  His voice clear, strong and filled with passion.  The song is about having faith, unwavering faith. I do… sometimes.

I try not judge people.  I understand how easily it could happen to almost anyone.  Without family that can help, with physical and emotionally handicaps, as well as drug and alcohol addiction to deal with… and no money.  How do get out of it? Especially when it’s been your life for the past 3, 5, 15 years.  How do you change a person from accepting their lifestyle into believing there is more.  There is so much more, if you believe. Is the answer within these songs?

“Last night I was down in Waikiki,” he said. He desperately needed a haircut and a bath.  I wondered how he would react if he could slip into a bathtub (the old-fashioned kind with claw-feet and deep enough to swim in) filled with sudsy warm, scented water… it was just a fleeting thought. “It was pretty darn cold out, too.  And windy. I didn’t have a blanket or nothing but my clothes on. So, my buddy here, came over and said to me. ‘You damn fool, we’re both gonna die out here it’s so cold, so come over here and sleep next to me. And don’t try nothing funny’  I owe him my life now, don’t you think?”  I agreed it was very nice of his friend to offer his warmth for an evening of sleeping on the beach.  But, I bet any homeless person in Boston, New York or Michigan would trade places in a minute to sleep under the stars on a balmy winter evening in Waikiki.

We all have a story to be told. Sometimes just listening is all that is needed.  A word of encouragement or support.  A sign that you care is enough to get a smile.  My blessing is through my camera lens.  My friends allow me to take their photographs.  A newcomer is always asked for their permission before I take random shots throughout the evening.  I noticed there are several new faces here this evening.  I must introduce myself later. Many of my photographs are hung on the walls (framed with Goodwill deals) which gives us all a belonging to a clubhouse feeling.

We sang (I lip sync), a variety of songs, said a prayer and I took my camera out.  A couple of people had come over to me regarding ‘orders’ they had requested. 1 8×10 print for a small, beautiful Filipino woman. And my buddy that once was a boxer wants to see the 3 photos I took of him last week.  Of course, the young lovers are eager to have their prints, too.  I see an elderly hand slowly turning the pages of the photo album I bring every week.  He compliments me on 2 or 3 of the photos among the hundred or more inside. He, personally, has allowed me the opportunity to photograph him one or twice, but unless he’s feeling up to it he doesn’t like me to take his picture. No problem.  I understand he wants to looks his best before the camera is clicked.  Tonight he wasn’t looking his best; he had a bruise on his cheek and his bright, blue eyes weren’t very bright tonight.  I listened to him tell me his story of frustration with the court system, his lawyer and the mayor of Honolulu. He obviously has fought the system before and knows his rights.

My young friends wanted me to take photographs of them.  He loves to be in front of my camera, his girlfriend is a bit more camera-shy.  We have a good relationship and I can easily set the atmosphere into a playful and  relaxing mini-session.  She is pregnant, 18 years old, and they are homeless.  But, for a short time they were just a couple ‘in love’ having fun in front of my camera, no different than the couples that travel here for romantic vacation.

The faces at PS150 are always changing.  I worry about some that come for a while and then seem to disappear. They are survivors, as I have learned that living on the streets has its set of rules to follow.  I have learned that Chinatown has so many people sleeping on cardboards, grateful for a blanket. I have seen the elderly women and men on the streets and wonder why, why are they here?  Shouldn’t you have a cozy bed when in your in 60s and 70s? Whose grandmother is out there with her feet wrapped in bandages to cover the sores from her toes and throughout her swollen ankles. The family, children, mom and dad and auntie, too, sitting on a flattened cardboard gives us thanks for the bottles of water and snacks we pass out.  What we really are passing out, whether we’re walking down the sidewalks making ‘home deliveries,’ or within the coffee room is love.  We are all connected to each other in this world, we are all here to learn and to pass out love.

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…there are no coincidences?

“There are no coincidences,” I’ve been told by more than one person.

On Alaloa Street in Kaneohe, Hawaii there is a remarkable cemetery, but you would probably just drive by. You won’t notice the inconspicuous headstones upon a hilltop because you’ll be looking for the back entrance to the Windward Mall, which is the next right.

Parking spots are hard to come by, but behind the mall, there is additional second level  parking with plenty of spaces. That’s a secret I don’t share with just anyone:) Park on the cemetery side.  It’s so picturesque looking down at the old cemetery, with a tall, white fence border, (plenty of plots available).  There is a middle-aged man standing on the car ramp, tearing off small pieces of bread,  tossing into the cemetery. This is a no-no in Hawaii. There are signs all over; Don’t feed the birds, any bird.  A rooster and a few chickens with 4 or 5 little chicks appear from a few broken boards in the fence.

Hawaii has many wild chickens roaming the streets, the parks, free rein over the neighborhoods, it’s just amazing where you may find some of our tastier fine, feathered friends. And I’m not talking KFC stuff, either.  Road kill is either a feral cat or the chicken that didn’t make it across the road.  I wonder…with so many stray chickens, what happens to all the eggs?  Is that a city girl question? Remember what roosters do?  They crow.  It has already begun tonight at 1:51 am, guess this is a new day.  Maybe if I closed the curtains, the roosters wouldn’t think my office light is the sunrise.  These roosters love to crow, but no worries, after a few weeks they won’t wake you up every five minutes.

If there are no coincidences, why did I hear the cemetery call to me. “Oh, Donna, oh, Donna, I had a girl, Donna was her name….”  That was bad, but I just couldn’t help myself.  

You do have to walk the entire length of the cemetery, as the only entrance is from Alaloa St., so if you plan on doing this you could save yourself a few steps by parking closer to the road; its hidden entrance, instead of going to the balcony.

These sacred grounds hold the ancestors of Hawaiians. The rectangle plot of land doesn’t have much road frontage, but it’s long and lean, snuggling fairly close to the Windward Mall’s back door, with parking areas running the length of each side of the cemetery.  It’s placement is unusual, certainly most malls can’t boast about a cemetery in the middle of their parking lot, but its the contours of the land, the rolling greenery in contrast to the flat, black abutting parking lots that makes this so special:)

Taking photographs here is easy with so many angles and backdrops and options available, I love options.  What are my options?  I study each ‘forthcoming’ photograph from all different perspectives before I decide which angle, which lens, the lighting, the composition, the shutter speed, the aperture.  It is created before it is taken, well, at least that’s my intent.  I have no objection to a little computer aid, especially since no one is perfect every single time.

As the sun sets behind the Ko’olau Mountains a soft, golden glow warms the sky.

If you allow yourself to sit down, relax for just a couple of minutes, appreciate this small plot of  paradise and say thank you.   Say thank you to the heavens.  Thank you to the mothers and fathers, so many children and babies that are buried beneath this soil.  Appreciate this moment; the calmness and peacefulness. Accept your blessings with gratitude and if you’re so inclined, pick up your camera.

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You will feel like a little kid in a candy store.  So many options (did I mention I love options?), where to start, decisions to make… the passion is full steam ahead.  I don’t hear the cars in the parking lot or driving on streets anymore.  There is no noise here. My thoughts are connected to my camera.  Inside my body there is some magical force going on sending electrical currents buzzing up and down in every cell from toe to tip.  There becomes a tipping point from when I am in control of my camera to when something (or someone) is telling me exactly what to do.  You will feel, too.  Charged and powered by an energy that doesn’t want to ever stop creating.  This is when you can become the most creative, trust your instincts.  Your gut feelings.  Listen to your inner self.  Let your spirit free to create. Feel the current in the air.  And count your blessings.  I am thankful to be blessed as a photographer! Amen:)

Considering we’ve just had an amazing photo session we deserve to pull over to the corner of the mall parking lot at the intersection of Haiku Road and Kamehameha Hwy.  Leonard’s Jr.’s red and white striped van is tempting us with the best malasadas on the island.  If you’re a mainlander, you may need explanation about malasadas.  It is a round, soft doughnut stuffed to bursting point with the most sinfully delicious fillings (most popular are the original or custard, my favorite).  If that isn’t good enough by itself,  it is served warm and lightly sprinkled with sugar.  I bought one to refresh my memory of its satisfying ways.  Delicious, you have to lick your fingers and thumbs a few times while you’re eating and you’ll likely get that ungodly glob of custard oozing out between your lips.  It’s impossible to eat this daintily.  

So no could see eat so piggishly, I sat in my dark car devouring it happily until my last thought… as a photographer I should have thought to take a picture of this delightful pastry to share with you before it vanished.  Ahh, well.  I knew it was in your best interest to buy another so I did.  As the sweet girl handed me the bag, it felt plumper in the palm of my hand, than the last one. I did the little bouncy thing you do with objects when you trying to gauge the weight.  I looked at the girl.  Two?  Yes, apparently you get two. Last time I made the mistake of asking for just one, but they come in a pair, accept the malasada love, share or double your pleasure.  Triple is off-limits.

http://www.yumsugar.com/Leonards-Bakery-Malasadas-16479181

I didn’t realize that the energy I felt at the cemetery was captured in some of my images until I downloaded them.

When will I ever stop doubting there are no coincidences?

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Thank you for spending some time here.

…I was just going to the mall to buy some light bulbs.

…(and) NEVER GIVES UP.

Yesterday I thought I wouldn’t be able to do today’s blog. Remember, I was already whining about how tired I would be; Wednesday evening I’ll be in Chinatown…  counting my blessings, including my  group of friends gathered together for coffee and cookies.  There everyone is equal.  There are no expectations, requirements or cash needed.  Anyone is welcome to stop by.  When I first went I immediately became friends with some and quite a few preferred to keep their distance. That was okay. This place is safe… safe to be yourself.  That is why I ask before I take any photographs of a new visitor. Not everyone wants to be on center stage, for whatever reason.  I respect that.

Tonight it was all about love, romance, and pregnancy at 18.  No, I’m not at a PTA meeting at the local high school.  I’m at a ‘mini-church/coffee room”, but it’s like a clubhouse. This is my favorite evening of the week.  I love Wednesdays.

Tonight the teasing, laughing and twinkling eyes belong to two young lovers that come by regularly.  They’re expecting a baby.  This evening she told me  she is scared.  I don’t blame her one bit, I would be worried sick.  Oh, I forgot to mention, they’re homeless.

But for a short time, they joked around and had fun in front of my camera.  I am so pleased with these photos that I immediately wanted to share them with you.
I will share the stories about Chinatown’s street people on a regular basis, considering it one of my favorite places in town.

Ron and Annie Kalama opened a ‘mini church/coffee room but it has a ‘clubhouse’ feeling to it.   Take a couple of minutes to hear their message.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH5-PjJHpdA

Goodnight.  And  Mahalo. (This means thank-you in Hawaiian ~ I have to be sure to include a lesson of some sort).   ~ Donna