The funny thing about the coastal point of Laupahoehoe, Hawaii is that it’s a really busy place. Not busy in terms of it being sprawling with other tourists, especially during those pre-sunrise hours, but busy in the way that the shore is littered with so many boulders and sea stacks. Initially, I had set up my tripod about 15 feet away from the shore line to try and find a composition that worked. The sun hadn’t started to rise yet so it was very much dark on dark in terms of framing things up. However, once some of the sun’s first light started to shine, I immediately realized that my composition was garbage, which is a bit humorous to say when you’re standing on this little slice of paradise. But, it was garbage. There simply was too much in front of me and I knew that if I felt lost in the photo, my viewers would too.

That’s when I started scanning for my foreground element… that one object that I can really grapple my composition around. The anchor came in the form of a round, shiny boulder that seemed to loom over the other rocks in its immediate vicinity. It’s very important that I provide my viewers with a launch point to begin exploring and a resting place to land at when they’re done. This boulder would serve that purpose nicely. I edged closer to shoreline and splayed my tripod out so that it was low enough to fill the bottom third of the frame with my anchor and the line of rocks surrounding it. With that established, everything else fell into place quite nicely. I just waited for the light to continue spilling out until it started bouncing off the bottom of the clouds in the sky. I love it when a plan comes together.

Camera: Sony a7R with the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4
Filter: Formatt Hitech Firecrest 3-stop Soft Grad ND filter
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-34L/BH-55
Stylization: Adobe Lightroom 5.7