Category Archives: Hawaii

The Practice of Photoku.



Painted sky, salted air

The rhythm of the waves 

Senses sparked, soul nourished

At our “Mindful Photography” workshop, I introduced the concept of a PhotoKu.  This is the marriage of a photograph with a poem, loosely based on the Japanese from of poetry, Haiku.  The idea is to give words to what we are seeing and feeling. The hope is to help us see more deeply.

I believe the biggest shift in my photography happened when I started to focus on experiences rather than chasing “keepers”.  I find writing words with my images helps me connect to and remember the experience.  The end result has been what I believe is stronger photographs.

My teaching partner for this workshop, Flint Sparks,  recently added twist to this idea.  I shared a PhotoKu with Flint and this was his reply…

“I loved the Photoku and wanted to send one back, but I also wanted to engage in another practice for myself. The practice is not to go through all the images I’ve processed and pick the “best” one to send to John. Instead, I decided to pick the “next” one, let go of ego, and allow what comes to come. This is what was next in line this morning with my photoku for you”


Waiting in morning light
Silent, ordinary, still
Ready for a warm hand
I am grateful for my friend Flint who is always teaching. Let go of ego.  Let go of good versus bad.  Let go of judgement.  Let go, and, be open to seeing more deeply.  Thank you Flint!  Approaching photoku from this paradigm will indeed deepen my ability to see beyond what I have traditionally labeled as good.  I look forward to this practice in 2017.
Also posted in Molokai Tagged , , , |

An Evening at the Palm Grove

I’m back from my annual trip to Molokai where this year we introduced our “Mindful Photography” workshop. Working with the great Flint Sparks was a joy. Having Dewitt Jones, Rikki Cooke and Jack Davis as very special guests made for a week great fun, learning and inspiration.

When we arrived at the “Palm Grove”, one of my favorite locations, this is what greeted us. Calm water, and a tone, and mood in the sky, that I was in love with. It felt very peaceful to me.


And then, as we played with this light waiting for sunset, the sky went ablaze with color!


And then of course we waited for the sun to go down and this happened, beautiful pastel pink.


I remember hearing one participant in the workshop exclaim, “no one will believe me when I say this is exactly what it looked like tonight”.   Well, it really did look like this.  I adore this location!

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to you all!  Thank you for following my blog.

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Sea Cliffs

Wishing you a happy holiday and a wonderful 2016!

One of the magical places we photograph during our “Seeing The Light” Workshop in Hawaii, is the majestic sea cliffs.  My understanding is these are the tallest sea cliffs in the world. It is amazing to see the transformation of this scene as the sun rises. These two images were made just 15 minutes apart. The top image was made using a Singh-Ray Mor-Slo filter which allowed me to smooth out the rough surf.  For the image below, I removed the filter to include the waves as another element in the frame. Receive a 10% discount on Singh-Ray filters by using the code BARCLAY10 at checkout.

If you’d like to join us in Hawaii for the 2016 “Seeing The Light” workshop send me an email and I will add you to the list!  We are working to update the web page with the details about the 2016 event. That should be done before the end of the year. In the meantime, you can see the details for the same 2015 event by clicking here.    



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Waves work in B&W

I was challenged to post a wave in B&W. An easy challenge as I had already made a conversion and loved it. Here ya go!


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Yes, another WAVE!

I can’t help myself.  Clicking on the image will make it bigger. Enjoy


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Another Wave!




Not much to say other than, they are seriously addictive! I wrote about the technique in my recent newsletter, but thought it might be worth sharing here as well.

I shot this with my Fuji X-T1 which worked perfectly!  Understanding the proper technique is important.  Thank you Jonathan Kingston!  

Shoot in Manual Mode with your f/stop at f/8 and shutter speed at 1/2000. Now set your ISO to AUTO.  On my Fuji (and with Nikon) with the new version 4.0 firmware, auto ISO in this set up allows the ISO to float to make a correct exposure while locking in f/stop and aperture. Very cool! Next, go to your menu and choose AF-C and Wide Tracking. The last thing I did was shoot in continuous high.

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I just finished co-leading our annual “See The Light” workshop on the Island of Molokai in Hawaii with Jonathan Kingston. Molokai is a place where many go to recharge, to “right their canoe” and experience the spirit of Mother Molokai. Last year, we went to the Beach in hopes of photographing the giant waves where Dewitt Jones, Jonathan Kingston and Rikki Cooke have made many amazing images. It is not as easy as it looks. It takes some practice and I did not do so well. This year we took our group back to the beach and were treated to amazing conditions where everyone got a good wave shot. The energy in the crashing waves is amazing to witness, and to capture one is a thrill! Be prepared, I may show a few more in the coming weeks! 

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One of the blessings of being a photographer, is the opportunity to see and experience places I might not have otherwise experienced. Mo’omomi on the island of Molokai is one of those rare and special places. It is not easily accessible, as such not many have been able to photograph from this perspective. Mo’omomi is a place where I would have been content to just “be” and not even make a photograph. It was a spiritual place. The waves this day were enormous as evidenced by what appears to be a crooked horizon. I assure you the horizon is not crooked. What you are seeing is the swell of the large waves! This image was made well before the sun rose that morning. The sky was pink and the image appeared quite blue on my cameras LCD. I liked what I saw and have chosen to keep it so.

I look forward to returning to Mo’omomi in October. Jonathan and I will be doing this workshop annually. Normally our week will be the first week of December, however, in 2015 Jonathan was asked by National Geographic to work a tour in the Galapagos so we have moved the dates to October 24-31. Many who came this year have already signed up again as have some from this years wait list. At this time we only have 3 spots left. If you’d like to join us for this wonderful experience, take a look at Jonathan’s excellent web page that outlines exactly what to expect

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Welcome to 2015 – Happy New Year and Thank You!


On our last day of shooting on Molokai, we went to the wharf. It was interesting to watch the group respond to a new place and see what they chose to photograph. Some were immediately drawn to the boats on the dock. Others were shooting details and close ups. Others walked away from the main group as they preferred to be on their own. Some photographed the people fishing off of the dock. I was drawn to the light on the water in front of the island of Maui and the warm tonalities in the sky. At this point in the week, after the thoughtful daily discussions and personal introspection, I felt everyone was comfortable photographing what they were drawn to. They seemed to be more open to finding the gifts that were there. 

Thank you, to all who faithfully follow my blog and sometimes even post a comment. I appreciate your choosing to make my blog part of your day. I wish you the best in 2015 and look forward to sharing and learning with you this year. Happy New Year!

If you know of someone who you think might enjoy my work and or blog, please feel free to share with them.

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Mindful Photography


One of the participants at our recent “See the Light” workshop was Flint Sparks. For many years, Flint has been leading his own workshops at the Hui Ho’olana (on Molokai Hawaii), teaching mindful embodiment and meditation. This time he was a participant wanting to learn more about photography. On the first day as we got to know each other, Flint shared his lack of camera knowledge as well as his excitement about learning. He portrayed himself as a “new” or “beginner” photographer. Later that night when the participants shared their 10 favorite images, I was anxious to see Flint’s. His first image came up and I heard an audible gasp from the group. My reaction was the same, the image was magnificent. Then, 10 seconds later as the slideshow continued, his next image appeared. Another gasp, another stunning image. In the end, all 10 of Flint’s images were truly amazing. They were full of emotion and connection with his subject. They were not just snapshots from a “beginner,” but rather images that clearly expressed who he was, what he saw and how he felt. I sat there wondering how could this be? Flint had made it clear that he was a new or beginner photographer.

The next morning we had our first “porch sharing session.”  In this session we asked the participants to think about and then share why they photograph. It was a lively and interesting discussion during which Flint and others shared insightful, thoughtful and meaningful ideas. The next day we had another porch sharing session. This time with the focus on connection with subject. Again Flint shared marvelous pearls of wisdom. Really good pearls, pearls that got me thinking. Here, I was a “leader” clearly being taught by a master teacher! And then, in quiet reflection after the sharing session, it dawned on me why Flint’s images were so good. Flint had already done the work we were asking the group to consider. The work of becoming a mindful photographer. The work of learning to be still, quiet and open. Flint embodies these principals. He teaches them, he lives them, he is them. As such, Flint is already in that place where images just being to appear.

Flint shared his thoughts on the way we have evolved as humans. And to humanize what our brain is constantly doing said, “our brain is like wifi that is constantly scanning and asking the world these three questions. Are you there? Do you see me? Do you choose me?” Isn’t photography much the same regardless of the subject? I can imagine the person in the street that I’ll be photographing in Cuba next week essential asking these very questions. Hello, are you there? Do you see me and do you care about me? Do you choose to photograph me and will you be careful with me?  And while it might be more difficult for some to think of a a dune at Mesquite Flat in Death Valley this way, is it not the same? Isn’t the dune asking, are you there, do you see me, do you choose me?

It was said during the week that we don’t take a picture, rather the picture takes us. Freeman Patterson says, “when we take a picture, the camera points both ways.” During the week, we invited participants to pay attention to what turns their head. In other words, what grabs your attention so viscerally that you must make a photograph. So, I ask you, what are you being taken by?  And, are you being mindful enough to be open to what you are being taken by, so that you can make an image that makes your heart sing? Or that others will connect with and that will make their heart sing?

As a side note, Flint has done and excellent Tedx talk which you can view by clicking on this link.  You might also check out his excellent blog where you can read his comments about his week as a student in our workshop.

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