The waterfall pictured here is one of the more famous and better known called "Twin Falls" located a few miles east of Paia alongside the road to Hana via a short hike of about 1.5 miles. The falls are on private property, but the owners run a fruit stand and permit people to access the falls if they stay on the trail and "behave" themselves.
When I woke up in Kihei, I went outside and saw that there were no clouds, but this is not a problem for a photographer on Maui because there are several micro-climates on the island. Kihei is on the Southwest corner of Maui and is easily of the driest places on the island with a climate similar to what I am used to here in my native San Diego. But the opposite side of the island, the Northeast, has rainforests and it actually rained on that part of the island every single day we were there.
So I decided to drive at sunbreak to Twin Falls and try my luck. And it worked, except I got a little more weather than I had bargained for. It started raining about 1/2 an hour into the drive just outside of Paia, which is about 10 miles from the falls. By the time I got to the trailhead, it was really raining. So I put on all my wet gear and headed off down the muddy trail to see what I could capture.
After a very easy gradual uphill hike of about 1.5 miles is where the trail ends into the stream that has the falls upstream. It had rained pretty hard for the past couple of days here, so the water level was pretty high and very cloudy. I used my tripod as a probe to check the depth of the water and thankfully it never got deeper than my shoulders. (But I imagine that many people would probably turn around and not got the rest of the hike to the falls because of this small pitfall).
I made my was across the stream to the opposite bank and then made my way through the forest to the falls. At first glance, they are quite breathtaking and eternal in their fall. I walked all the way around and under them to scout out the best angle for me to shoot. The spot I chose (the vantage in this image) was right underneath a Kukui tree--which gives the image its title. There were fallen nuts all around, so I guess I fit right in ;) Btw, I love kukui nut necklaces, and I own close to 20 different ones, many of which I brought back from Hawaii on this trip. Simply put, I believe that they bring me luck, so I frequently wear them.
Because of the rainfall over the past couple days here, there was much debris of broken tree limbs in the pool beneath the falls that I has to clean out before I could shoot. Some of the limbs were pretty damn big, so it took me about half an hour to "tidy" up my scene. I figured that all the tourists who would end up shoot here later in the day would never know how cluttered it was, so I guess i did a nameless and thankless job that other benefited from.
I really had to fight with the rain for every exposure i took, especially the longest ones with keeping my filters dry and unfogged. Man, was the rain coming down...but even though I was soaked to the bone, I was really never cold, which is a cool thing about being in the rain on a tropical island I guess.
With the downpour from the heavens and the earliness of the morning, I had the place to myself for almost two hours, which was very tranquil and special considering that this location gets pretty packed with tourists every day. I had plenty of time to capture the images I wanted. So when the first group arrived, a party of 4 who showed up to swim under the falls and film themselves with a GoPro, I was done and ready to head out.
Of course, right then as I was leaving, the skies opened up and the rain stopped. Go figure.
On the hike back, which always seems longer than the hike in, I walked by hundreds of people headed up to the falls. It was like a dam of people broke open and they were all flooding to Twin Falls. Crazy amounts of people, of whom half must have asked me "Is this the right way?" and "How much farther are the falls?" To which I gave the same response, "Yes, you are almost there" no matter how far away I was getting from the falls. In a world where everything is relative, they were all almost there, no matter how far down the trail they were in reality.
Camera Settings: ISO-50, 24mm at f/22 for 610 seconds using one Lee Proglass 3.0ND Filter (10 stops) and one inverted Lee.75ND Grad to stop down the brighter pool of water 2.5 stops. I chose a f-stop of f/22 and an ISO of 50 so that I could get a longer exposure without having to put another filter on the holder and have to fight with an additional filter getting wet. Btw, to qualm my obsession with numbers, this image was exposed for 10mins, 10 seconds and captured from 10am until 10:10am...
I hope this image and message find you well.
Mahalo and Maluhia,