Getting to know the culture in Hawaii is very interesting for someone not well versed in it. The Hawaiian culture leans very heavily on their understanding of their deities. The Hawaiian religious system has nearly 45 gods/goddesses ranging from the ‘god’ of thunder (Haikili) to the shark ‘god’ (Kāmohoaliʻi) to the goddess of love, hula, and fertility (Laka). Perhaps the most prominent in current culture, particularly when visiting the Big Island is Pele, the ‘god’ of fire and volcanos. ⠀⠀
Children in Hawaiian schools are taught that the islands are made by Pele, and that he dwells in Kīlauea, the main active volcano on the island, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. These children take field trips to ‘see Pele’. Tourists see signs posted around Volcanos National Park not to touch hot lava, not as a safety concern, but because of the cultural and religious significance, as molten lava is believed to be the physical embodiment of Pele. Pele is everywhere in Hawaiian culture. ⠀⠀
Yet despite the number of ‘gods’, and the seemingly ever present discussion and focus on the gods/goddesses, the Hawaiian system of beliefs misses the true origins of their beautiful islands, and also misses the true source of hope and meaning. ⠀⠀
As I stood at this sight nicknamed Pele’s Well, I couldn’t help but be overtaken at the beauty of God’s creation, and how much more rich the presence and promise of God is compared to the fickle and demanding nature of the hawaiian ‘gods’. I was also reminded of the need to remember that the one true God desires for us to worship him as the creator, rather than worshiping the creation. ⠀⠀
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”⠀⠀
1/6 | f/4.5 | ISO 1600 | 19mm |⠀⠀
Canon 5D Mark IV | 16-35mm f/4L IS | ⠀⠀
LEE 0.9 Hard Grad | Lee Big Stopper
Big Island of Hawaii ⠀⠀
You ever feel weary? Like what you are doing isn’t actually making any headway? Life can be difficult and get you to the point where you feel like what you are doing isn’t making a difference.
Hear what 1 Corinthians 15:58 says: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
If you put your life into the hands of Jesus, and serve and follow him, every effort of serving him we put forth will not be wasted, will not be in vain.
So no matter where you are at today, keep pressing forward. Stay steadfast in the good work that you are doing. No matter what pushes against you, be like the rocks in this photo, unwilling to back down and relent under the pressure. Keep serving God and loving people, because it is making a difference, and God will ensure that your efforts are not in vain.
1/200 | f/6.3 | ISO 100 | 90mm |
Canon 5D Mark IV | 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II |
LEE 0.9 Hard Grad
Manfrotto 055cxPro3 legs | 468mgrc2 Head
Big Island of Hawaii
Scenes like this cliff and arch called Holei Sea Arch in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park are a reminder of the power of water’s continued work.
These cliffs were formed an estimated 550 years ago with the flow of lava, and through the water’s continued work, this sea arch was formed out of the volcanic rock roughly 100 years ago. Even today you can see the effect that the water has had shaping and widening the arch compared to older photos.
In the same way that the waters around this cliff have steadily and consistently shaped and formed this arch, God is continually and steadily shaping and forming you towards the goal he has for your life.
Philippians 1:6 says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Let this encourage you that in the same way that this water did not leave the cliffs, God does not leave us in life. He does not abandon us mid-project, but instead continues to guide us, and shape us, and direct us into the people he created us to be. God has a plan for your life, a wonderful, magnificent, beautiful plan, because you were made in His image. And he will continue to be with you to accomplish that goal.
6sec | f/7.1 | ISO 100 | 30mm | Canon 5D Mark IV | 24-70mm f/2.8L II | LEE 0.9 Hard Grad | Lee Big Stopper
I have always loved the water. As a small boy I would play in water any chance I got. At the beach, in the pool, in the front yard with the hose, literally anywhere. Even as an adult I love water as a recreation location, and those of you who know me and my RTIC tumbler know that I love drinking water.
But the downside is that literally no matter how much I drink I will be thirsty again. That unfortunate reality is the basis of Jesus’ conversation with a woman at a well in Samaria 2000 years ago. If you don’t know the story go read it in John chapter 4
See in this story, Jesus offers her something we all want; water that satisfies our life-long thirst. But what drew this woman in is not actually what Jesus was offering. She wanted a literal beverage to take away thirst. Jesus tells her:
“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:4)
Jesus offers a solution to our life of thirsting and striving after things we cant get. Jesus offers us the one thing we cant get on our own: Eternal life and forgiveness of our sins. See, we all have a ‘thirst’ problem in life. Not for water or a Gatorade, but for that thing we want. Maybe we thirst for success, or popularity, or recognition, or love and affection. Maybe we thirst for possessions or achievements, or excellence.
Whatever it is, it it will leave us thirsty. Drink from the well of success? Cool now you will thirst for connection or relationships. Drink from the well of achievement, thirst for relaxation.
If this feels like a broken cycle, its because it is. We were not designed to chase our tail, but instead to have a thirst for one thing that satisfies all of life. We were created to thirst after and desire God in our life. When we drink from the well of Jesus, we will never thirst again.
So where are you looking for water today?
1/1250s | f/5.0 | ISO 200 | 39mm | Canon 5D Mark IV | 24-70mm f/2.8L II
Ever go about your day looking for things only to find them right in front of you? Ever stare at something for too long of a time and then realize you saw something you never saw before? Or maybe that drive you take every morning revealed something ‘new’. Many times there are things hiding in plain sight all around us. Often this is because we are in a hurry.
Time is a valuable and limited commodity in American culture. Because of this we are often rushed and hurried. We hurry to get ready in the morning; scarfing down some semblance of breakfast while getting our shoes on and searching for our things. We hurry to get to work, or school, or to our appointment. We hurry to the next thing and the next thing.
If we don’t pay attention, this hurry can seem like a good thing, feeling like we must rush because of the important things in our life. Yet if living a life of hurry was a good thing, scripture would encourage and condone it. Yet instead it tells us to do the opposite. We are told to be still and trust God (Psalm 46:10), we are told to not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6), we are told to remember that there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Why? Because hurry is the great enemy of our days. Hurry causes us to make mistakes. Hurry causes us to miss things. Hurry causes us to be distracted. Hurry causes stress. Hurry causes frustration. Hurry damages relationships and builds bitterness.
And hurry would not have allowed this photo to be taken. Driving down highway 19 on the Big Island of Hawaii I spotted this road out of the corner of my eye as I passed. Taking a few minutes to turn around and drive into the forest resulted in this wonderful experience. If hurry would have won that day, I wouldn’t have ever known this was here, and seen this different side of Hawaii
So take a moment and slow down today. Remember that hurry doesn’t actually bring about anything good in the long term.
1/20s | f/6.3 | ISO 640 | 16mm | Canon 5D Mark IV | 16-35mm f/4L IS
Approaching any landmark or tourism location has the difficulty of finding new and unique ways to photograph it. While it may be that even a ‘creative’ approach has been done by someone at some point, you don’t necessarily want to have your images look like every other photo you have seen of that landmark.
This is the situation I was in when I visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. To compound this issue, I visited the Arch while I was passing through, moving to Kentucky, which limited my choice of time-of-day, and I also had limited gear available at the time which further limited my options. This visit taught me a lot about approaching landmarks and tourism spots:
1. Isolate or Integrate the landmark.
Each landmark will be different, but in this case, I found that isolating the landmark from anything around it really created a unique photo. By shooting from directly underneath into the slightly cloudy sky created a wonderful contrast between nature and the Arch. In other settings, finding angles that bury the landmark in the midst of ‘everyday life’ can create a great photo.
2. Look for details and unique attributes.
Part of capturing a scene is finding the details and character that make it unique. I learned to get up close to the item, and really look for textures, shapes, colors, or any other thing that is unique. In this case, I found that the shape of the base as it moved upward provided a very unique shape,
3. Remember to take the typical shots.
In the process of capturing great images that spark your creative side, don’t forget to capture the stereotypical photos of that site. You will want these not only for the family and friends back home who want to be able to see that site, but also for yourself as you think back about the trip.
Approaching a well-shot scene doesn’t mean you have to take away a group of postcard shots, but it takes time, a little creativity, and sometimes a little finesse with composition. Don’t forget to get those postcard shots though!