By Sara Goodnick
Just because your goal is to photograph a particular subject, remember to stay on the alert for other possibilities and be willing to change your plans. It might result in an even better photographic reward.
It was our second to last day on the Big Island of Hawaii and I was not having much luck in my photographic efforts. The volcano Kilauea was erupting on the SE end sending clouds of “vog” and “laze” into the skies over much of the island. Of course it acted as a big softbox like I use in my studio for portraits, by softening the shadows and decreasing contrast, but because it was not good to breathe, I was trying to avoid it by staying away from some of my favorite photography locations.
Luckily, we come here often, so I wasn’t desperate, but I was longing to bring home some nice memories just the same. We were staying in Waikoloa this time, near Anaeho’omalu Bay, or “A-Bay” as most call it. Here one can enjoy some of the most iconic sunsets in the islands, and often find the endangered Green Sea Turtles coming to rest on its shores.
I decided to head over there that morning hoping to spy some of these beautiful creatures. The filtered light was coming from the east, which would be putting the beach in the shade until later in the morning, but I had several hours to wait and look for the turtles and the light.
As I was approaching the path to the beach from the parking lot I saw a cat sunning himself on the rocks. As a lover of all animals, and cats in particular, I stopped to admire him and pull out my camera. As I studied the cat, I noticed another, then another, then another. Oh my! Nestled there in the trees and on the ground was an entire colony of cats. It turned out to be an area where they are fed and cared for by a group who traps, spays/or neuters, then returns the feral cats to where they have been found. The returning cats have an ear clipped to indicate they are no longer breeding animals. Females are clipped on the left ear, males on the right.
The light was enchanting, and as I have been taught for wildlife, I just stayed around studying them quietly and letting them see I was not planning any harm to them before I began photographing them.
Later I was surprised to see them all go on the alert, then as a group go running up to and surrounding a man who had just arrived. It turned out that he and several others bring them food daily. I enjoyed some long chats with two of these people, learning a lot about this island I had not known.
Because of all the fun I had with the cats and their admirers, I never did go looking for those turtles. Maybe they will be the stars of another trip. This time felines won the day.
Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.