Today was the one day of the year when “Lahaina Noon” took place on Maui. Without plagiarizing the entire wikipedia entry, “Lahaina Noon” is the Hawaii born term that describes when the sun is exactly overhead, therefore things like flagpoles do not cast a shadow.
The Hawaiian word Lahaina (lah-high-nah) means cruel sun, which anyone who lives on the west side of Maui can attest to during the summer months. Since Hawaii is the only state in the United States that is in the Tropics (between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn), we are the only State that celebrates this phenomena with any regularity. The rest of the world simply goes with the old stand-by of the summer solstice to gage the sun’s closest, direct rays.
Not feeling well when I woke up, I was not too motivated to leave the house today. I eventually fought back the sniffles and geared up for a photographic adventure. Nothing lifts my spirits more than deciding which lens(es) to bring and loading up the pickup truck to head somewhere knowing I’m going to be taking pictures.
I decided I was going to shoot my favorite tree on the island, a huge monkeypod tree on the front lawn of the Hui No’eau visual art’s school and gallery. I was hoping to use the shadows of the branches and leaves to create something different than the many, many times I had shot this tree before (you may notice the same tree is my website header).
The best laid plans…
Mother Nature had other plans for the day. As I was driving up to Makawao the clouds were coming in, then the rain came…barely. Just a slight mist was coming down when I arrived at Hui No’eau just before noon. As different locations experience this phenomena at different times, I decided to play it safe and get there with plenty of time before the 12:32 PM HST deadline.
The sun played hide and seek with the clouds for the next hour, so I waited patiently for any shot, any angle, any inspiration.
My friend Jonny and his soon to be four-year old daughter Sophia showed up and kept me company. Sophia had just come from Princess Dance Camp and boy, did she ever look the part!
The three of us huddled behind the tree trunk when the wind picked up and stood under limbs and branches to stay dry from the rain. The rain came down the hardest whenever I left the safety of the canopy and walked to my truck. Fortunately, I only had to go to and from my truck three different times, otherwise I would have been unevenly soaked.
While Jonny and I were exploring every angle possible of the monkeypod tree, Sophia was looking elsewhere for inspiration and found it by our feet. Finding something new and exciting she shouted out, “Look daddy, a lizard!”
Sitting quietly on a fallen tree branch was a Jackson’s chameleon, slowly going about his day (I say “his”, due to the three horns on his face. Only the males have those.)
After a quick lens change, we focused both our attention and our lenses on our new model. The Jackson’s chameleons move slowly and it seems like every move is calculated and carried out with such skilled determination. I was fascinated watching him and wanted to shoot him for a lot longer, but I felt we had already disrupted his routine and clearly we were invading his space. His eye, sometimes eyes, would watch us with what I regarded as loathing, but could have been mere annoyance (I have not quite mastered the art of chameleon body expressions). We did not offer him any insects, so I can only assume that was a social faux-pas on our part.
After I got the shots I wanted, we left our new friend to enjoy the rest of his day, free from the prying eye of a pair of bumbling amateur photographers and an observant dancing princess. As much as I wanted to pick him up and put him on a different object to watch him change color, my moral code won the internal battle and I left him alone.
I love how my photo adventure turned out today. Just like in real life, you plan for something, it goes to hell, but you have to adapt and make the best of the given situation. Sure, I could have sat in the truck warm and dry for a few minutes and decided not to face some wind and rain, but where is the adventure in that?