Asked to capture the best
of Hawaii, photographers
turn to our waterways

By Joleen Oshiro

Water, water everywhere ... It's in our psyche, an archetypal symbol of life itself. Each of us was cradled in liquid in the womb, and perhaps it is that fundamental connection to buoyancy that draws people far and wide to our tiny pieces of land, where they can experience again the elemental wonder of being enveloped in liquid life force.

And perhaps that connection is more pronounced for those of us living in Hawaii, where water surrounds our existence still. This year's Canon USA Hawaii photo contest, which bears the theme "My Favorite Thing About Hawaii," surely is food for that thought. Of the top five photos, four center on water.

What follows are profiles of several of the winning photographers, and a look at some unique "favorite" pictures that will grace Canon Photo Gallery's walls through April 29.


Nanakuli Beach Fun
Ulla Kreienbaum

Photography has been a lifelong hobby for Makaha resident Kreienbaum, but it was Canon's annual photo contest that motivated her to take pictures of her beloved Leeward coast. This image was captured at last year's Father's Day Canoe Regatta. Kreienbaum's previous entries in Canon's contests had earned her two honorable mentions.

ULLA KREIENBAUM'S "Nanakuli Beach Fun," which captures a group of children jumping off rocks into the ocean, was taken at last year's Father's Day Canoe Regatta. The shot, a display of energetic small-kid-time fun, earned Kreienbaum the annual contest's top spot.

"The water is shallow, so the kids have to wait for the wave to come in before they jump. That's why they're all jumping in at the same time," she says. "I got a lucky shot to catch them all at once."

Kreienbaum has lived in Makaha for six years. In that time, the Leeward coast has become a place she loves and feels fiercely protective of. "From Makakilo to Makaha, I feel we have the most beautiful beaches," Kreienbaum says. "I run a travel agency from my home, and I read so many things warning tourists about this side of the island. 'It's dangerous,' they say. We have such a bad reputation. The people here aren't any better or worse than anyplace else."

To remedy this misconception of her home, Kreienbaum is using her hobby to display the beauty of the coast. She exhibits her photographs of the area in her own gallery and is creating greeting cards out of her photos.

"This west coast of the island is my favorite thing about Hawaii," she says.


Paddling the Canal
Aimee Holcomb

Holcomb thought she might get lucky with this shot of a lone paddler in Kailua. When she put her camera bag down on the sidewalk, she found a dime lying nearby. Holcomb has never taken photography classes, and says she "doesn't know how to use most of the functions" on her camera, but she takes her camera everywhere. "I always notice what's around me. I walk around quietly."

Captured on the other side of the island, Aimee Holcomb's second-place shot, "Paddling the Canal," was an opportunity that presented itself quite on the spur of the moment.

"I was driving home on the H-3 and got off the Kailua exit to take a picture of the mist on Kawainui Marsh," Holcomb says. "I took a right onto Oneawa Street, and from the bridge, I saw a woman paddling toward the mountains.

"The lighting was perfect, so in the middle of rush hour, with the kids walking to school all around me, I stopped and took the shots as fast as I could. I was able to get the mist of the marsh in the background, as well as the light on the mountains. It was a lucky shot because conditions were perfect."

For Holcomb the magic of the moment was in the serenity of the woman paddler in the midst of rush hour. "I really enjoy the fact that in Hawaii I see women of all ages in outriggers," she says.

"I appreciated this woman's solitude in the morning."


Under the Sea
Danny Kim

Kim, a professional bodyboarder who grew up near Makaha, has a deep affinity for the ocean. He created this moody, black-and-white underwater shot of his girlfriend, Leimomi, off Keaau Beach Park.

"I like doing things with an artsy look, so I used the fish eye, and my girlfriend dove under the little waves. The waves created a sandstorm under the water, which gave an interesting look.

"I asked my girlfriend to keep diving under over and over so I could get the perfect shot. She actually ended up sick for two weeks because the water kept going up her nose. So when I took third place, I gave her the camera (I won)," Kim says.

"It took lots of effort, but I think the picture gives a tranquil feeling, like being suspended in time."

It would not take a great leap of imagination to guess that flora has a strong presence in the exhibit, but what might be less apparent as a popular "favorite" is the chameleon, which appears in several entries.

The 30 pictures on view at Canon Gallery (five winners and 25 honorable mentions) are but a fraction of the entries. Among the 400 submissions that didn't make the cut were shots of sporting events -- University of Hawaii football and volleyball and tailgating. Entrants ranged in age from 8 to 80.

There are occasional surprises, such as an artsy black-and-white shot of the Aloha Tower by Tim Ryan -- not the Star-Bulletin's Tim Ryan -- and a glowing photograph of lit paper lanterns afloat in the water, probably from a Buddhist religious event, by George W. Scott.


Mail Carrier's Nightmare
Louise Taylor

Taylor calls herself a "retired hippie." Her shot of a hodgepodge of mailboxes at the La Mariana Sailing Club boat dock symbolizes what she likes best about Hawaii: "No rules."

Yet the most intriguing and unusual shot for this "favorites" contest is, hands down, Louise Taylor's "Mail Carrier's Nightmare." Taylor's piece, which came in fourth, is a wonderfully composed photograph of a hodgepodge of colorful, mismatched mailboxes sitting in a row at the La Mariana Sailing Club boat dock, where her husband is a welder.

"My sister's a rural mail carrier in Georgia," Taylor explains. "Out there, all the mailboxes must be a certain height so the carriers don't need to get out of their trucks. If (the mailbox) doesn't conform to the right specs, they leave a note in your box telling you they won't deliver your mail."

Taylor and her husband are newcomers to Hawaii, having just moved here in July from a mission boat in California. The retirees had joined a medical mission team in Savannah, Ga., that traveled by boat to the Marshall Islands. The Taylors were to be part of the crew as a mechanic (him) and cook (her).

"We liked the boat and we liked the mission," says Taylor. "The boat was an old Coast Guard cutter. But it got too expensive to maintain the mission, and when the boat was sold in California, we decided to continue on to Hawaii on our own.


Waimea Bay Surf
Louis Tascott

Patience and perseverance mark Tascott's dramatic photograph. "I knew I could get that shot. It took a couple of years, but it was just a matter of getting it," he says.

The photo had to be taken between 8 and 8:30 a.m. to take advantage of the natural light. "I'd set up my camera and focus on the house, then stand there and wait for the waves to break. ... When the light hits the face of the wave, it's just beautiful -- the colors stand out. The face of the wave is white, there's the blues and greens of the water, the house and tree in the background. ... The great part is the light on the Waianae range. When you got that light, there's a tremendous amount of depth to the picture.

"To me the North Shore is Hawaii."

"Maybe we'll stay here for a year. We're just bumming around," Taylor says with a laugh. "We're retired hippies. Since we weren't able to be hippies when we were young, we'll be hippies now."

And as for the million-dollar question -- what's a mailbox doing in this contest? -- Taylor answers in true hippie fashion. "It isn't the most beautiful thing I've taken in Hawaii, but I love it. It's so Hawaii -- no rules."

'My Favorite Thing in Hawaii'

Canon Amateur Photo Contest winners:

On view: Through April 29

Place: Canon Photo Gallery, Canon U.S.A., 210 Ward Ave., Suite 200

Call: 522-5930

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