A Pearl Harbor Photo Pilgrimage.

A low-light sensitive imaging sensor and a perspective control lens were used for capturing this dramatic predawn view of the Pearl Harbor National Monument's new visitor center for - Seattle Architect The Portico Group. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

A low-light sensitive imaging sensor and a perspective control lens were used for capturing this dramatic predawn view of the Pearl Harbor National Monument’s new visitor center for – Seattle Architect The Portico Group. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Whether you’re a filmmaker, fine-artist or commercial photographer, you need to be resourceful in a full-spectrum of talents to have viewers take a serious interest in your work.

For the past 12 years I’ve made traveling to the Hawaiian Islands a priority.  In this tropic paradise, my experience is one of creative renewal, brought on by inspiration from the Island’s “Aloha spirit” and dramatic volcanic landscapes.

Iconic view of Diamond Head, from Waikiki. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Iconic view of Diamond Head, from Waikiki. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

On the Island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor, has been a great interest for me. Some years back, The Portico Group — a Seattle architectural firm began exploratory work for designing a component of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_e76

In 2008, I contacted a principal architect, Mike Ham at Portico with news of my planned travel to Oahu.  At that time, preliminary stages of design were just taking place and there wasn’t much opportunity in photographing the site. Undeterred, I made arrangements for a window seat on a Hawaiian Airlines, Boeing 767, which would allowed access for aerial photographs of the Pearl Harbor site. Fortunately, clear weather did allow me to photograph the Monument on approach to Honolulu Airport.

There are beautiful architectural design elements within the visitor center. This one captures a Zen like composition. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez

There are beautiful architectural design elements within the visitor center. This one captures a Zen like composition. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez

Upon returning from the trip to Oahu, my aerial photos were emailed to the architect.  I followed up with a phone call … although the feedback was polite it was revealed the timing was still too early in the project for the firm to consider using photography.

If you’re a dedicated photographer, you realize the value of patience and learning from both success and failure while reaching for your objective. This applies to resourceful technical and creative approaches, which are used to achieve your vision and the equally challenging strategic applications used for marketing that unique vision.

Looking back from the Arizona Memorial  towards the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center.  Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Looking back from the Arizona Memorial towards the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

By emailing new photographic work over several months, I kept in contact with Portico and learned in 2010 that the project was nearing completion.  Unfortunately for me, I would not be able to attend the December 7th dedication and would be arriving in Hawaii two months later. It was decided by the architectural firm, that a local architectural photographer would be hired to shoot the new center.

The new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument's Visitor Center is a popular destination for national & international visitors.

The new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument’s Visitor Center is a popular destination for national & international visitors.

Undaunted, I asked for the opportunity to photograph the visitor center in February, with no financial obligation to the firm.  The architect agreed to this offer by providing me with a National Park Service administration contact in Honolulu.

Youth and elders view a globe showing where the conflict in the Pacific  was fought during World War II. Photo: David Johanson Vaquez ©

Youth and elders view a globe showing where the conflict in the Pacific was fought during World War II. Photo: David Johanson Vaquez ©

A couple of weeks before flying to Hawaii, my contact allowed me to view images the Honolulu photographer took back in December. The photo coverage was good, with many angles of the new center shot, using various times of day for best light.  This review confirmed my approach would have to be a new approach from what was previously used. With the help of some intense research methods using Internet images and information gathered, I became familiar with the site’s geographical attributes before arriving.

At 30-thousand feet in a Hawaiin Airliner Boeing 767, we begin our decent as we approach the Island of Oahu. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez ©

At 30-thousand feet in a Hawaiin Airliner Boeing 767, we begin our decent as we approach the Island of Oahu. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez ©

The February, 2011 flight to Hawaii was pleasant and as the plane was approaching Oahu I could clearly see Honolulu. However, after de-boarding the plane, blue sky had given way to a partial mixture of dark clouds.  Phoning the national park services, contacts, the staff informed me the forecast was not promising for my intended early morning photo shoot. So I decided to be flexible for the next week, while watching local weather forecasts for an early morning photo opportunity. After a few relaxing days under a blend of tropical sun mixed with passing clouds, a favorable forecast came in for the assignment.

Entrance to the Pearl Harbor National Monument's Visitor Center. The Battleship Missouri & USS Arizona Memorial are in the background.

Entrance to the Pearl Harbor National Monument’s Visitor Center. The Battleship Missouri & USS Arizona Memorial are in the background.

Traveling in darkness I arrived at the site, prepared to use the predawn light.  Scouting the visitor center a few days before, revealed a hill, which would be ideal as a shooting platform. Using some available artificial low light, I took a series of carefully composed photographs. Soon twilight gave way to sunrise, revealing a vibrant panorama backdrop of multicolored clouds in my viewfinder.  As morning light lit the visitor center, I joined the legions of visitors descending upon open gates.

The forward magazine of USS Airzona exploded after being hit by a Japanese bomb , December 7, 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture frame taken from on board USS Solace.Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection

The forward magazine of USS Airzona exploded after being hit by a Japanese bomb, December 7, 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture taken from on board USS Solace.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection

The "Tree of Life" sculpture,  is used as a universal symbol for renewal and rebirth of life.

The “Tree of Life” sculpture, is used as a universal symbol for renewal and rebirth of life.

The shores of Pearl Harbor, and the Arizona Memorial, have persistently drawn me to this honored site. Several members of my family have served in the military, and I have gratitude for the dedication and sacrifices during their time of service.  What began at this historic site, as a surprise Japanese attack, on an early December 7, 1941 morning, brought our country into WWII.  The individuals, who were under fire here, exemplify the strongest dedication to preserving and defending our nation, particularly those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. An unseen force pulls me to this place, and I offer homage to what happened at his historic site.

This photo which was taken September 1941, is part of another essay on Cuba and Panama, which was impacted by the Pearl Harbor attack.

This photo taken in September 1941, is part of another essay on Cuba and Panama, which was impacted by the Pearl Harbor attack.

The first photo essay I posted using WordPress was about my mother as a young girl traveling to Cuba and then Panama by a steam-liner in September of 1941. My grandmother was taking my mom and her baby brother to the Canal Zone to meet with my grandfather who was stationed there with the Navy. They had only been united for a couple of months before Pearl Harbor was attacked. My mom along with all Americans were forced to evacuate, for fear of a Japanese invasion. A German U-boat shadowed the ship my family was evacuated on in the Gulf of Mexico and I’ve included a link at the end of this essay for a related story on the Pearl Harbor attack.

USS Missouri "Mighty Mo" Iowa Class Battleship - The last battleship built by the U.S. and was the historic site on which the Japanese Emperor  signed the surrender agreement to end World War II.

USS Missouri “Mighty Mo” Iowa Class Battleship – The last battleship built by the U.S. and was the historic site on which the Japanese Emperor signed the surrender agreement to end World War II. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

My appreciation for 20th century history is another reason for my interest in this National Monument. Historically the Pearl Harbor attack represents a great milestone, a solid beginning as Pax Americana —[the U.S. ascending position as undisputed world leader for the second half of the 20th Century.]

Once inside the Monument’s entrance, helpful park service staff greeted me, as they were expecting my visit. The beautiful tropical morning light illuminated the site ideally as I photographed the visitor’s center from all the best angles.  Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_e815

Leaving Pearl Harbor after a successful shoot, I felt fortunate the weather had been so cooperative, as it produced a combination of soft, diffused light with interesting clouds to ad sky texture.

Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

For my remaining visit on Oahu, was an enjoyable and relaxing time with family and friends.

At Jackie & Mark's home we're etertaine with some live Hawaiian Music.

At Jackie & Mark’s home we’re etertained with some live Hawaiian Music.

We all came together for couple of nights to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday in Hawaiian style with great food, live music and Hula dancing.

Our Hawaiian host coach the Johanson father & sons act to do "The 3-Step Male Hula Method"

Our Hawaiian host coach the Johanson father & sons act to do “The 3-Step Male Hula Method”

Celebrating the former Marine, Dave Johanson's 80th-birthday near Honolulu, Hawaii.

Celebrating the former Marine, Dave Johanson’s 80th-birthday near Honolulu, Hawaii.

Waikiki umbrella 2011

Of course I found some time for my personal photography work. Hawaii has some remarkable subject matter, which is always worth discovering. Pearl Harb essay 2011

Beside the gorgeous tropical landscapes there is a diversity of Ocean Culture to experience.

On the Island of Oahu there are urban scenes with blends of South Pacific, Asian and North American cultures creating a unique, Pan-Pacific experience.

One of my creative specialities is night or low-light photography. The moon over head gave a halo rim-light on the palm trees.

One of my creative specialities is night or low-light photography. The moon over head gave a halo rim-light on the palm trees.

Honolulu has some high-density urban environments with high-rise hotels and condominiums.

Honolulu has some high-density urban environments with high-rise hotels and condominiums.

Perhaps the sense of renewal I experience while working and playing in Hawaii is due to this unique fusion of culture created on the Islands.

A night view overlooking Waikiki Beach and the volcano crater Diamond Head. David Johanson Vasquez — ©

A night view overlooking Waikiki Beach and the volcano crater Diamond Head. David Johanson Vasquez — ©

Photo: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Photo: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_a1373

Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_2ec1432

A skyline view of Honolulu's Waikiki area. —David Johanson Vasquez ©

A skyline view of Honolulu’s Waikiki area. —David Johanson Vasquez ©

Another influence I draw from this land is the constant vibrant growth of plant life — along with continuous volcanic activity, which never slows down as it furiously creates new land on a daily bases.

Upon returning to a cold winter in Seattle, several days went by before a meeting could be scheduled with the Portico Group.  Once the meeting did take place, a couple of lead architects, along with marketing manager, Leigh Tucker, reviewed the photographs I brought in.  The response was enthusiastic and appreciative for the photographs presented, along with compliments for my approach of using subtle light to help illuminate compositions. Two dramatic photographs were purchased at the presentation in order to meet a deadline for an architectural awards competition-taking place that week. These initial purchases covered all my expense of travel and lodging  while on Oahu. Within days, more images were acquired from me, which featured views not included in the earlier photography completed at the December dedication event.

This rewarding photographic experience was a classic lesson in fortitude, patience passion and not giving up, no matter how challenging the odds are.

Nighttime on Waikiki Beach.— David Johanson Vasquez

Nighttime on Waikiki Beach.
— David Johanson Vasquez ©

Mahalo nui loa! ~

Resource Links for more information and learning:

World War II Valor in the Pacific – World War II Valor in the Pacific National

Monument

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument – Arizona Memorial

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument | National Park Foundation

The Portico Group | Architects | Landscape Architects | Interpretive Planners | Exhibit Designers

Flights to Hawaii, Hawaii Vacations & Travel – Hawaiian Airlines

Male hula dance: Learn the movements…

Pearl Harbor Images

A Glimpse Into Havana’s Legendary Watering Hole | bigpictureone

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The Latest Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta Helicopter – Part 2 of 2

Multimedia video essay by: David Johanson Vasquez – © All Rights

BigPictureOne & ScienceTechTablet are dedicated sites for including excitement, experience & education in E-learning. To see an alternative graphic style of this story click on:  Science Tech Tablet

Have you ever traveled by helicopter and encountered a full-throttle-ride at a tree top level? Part 2 of my Helicopter video series is now online for you to experience. There are valuable safety tips, aerial photo techniques, employment requirements for helicopter mechanics  as well as the ultimate joyriding aerial views of Boeing Field and Seattle!

Collaboration and Clear Communication

Clear communication and teamwork between helicopter pilots and flight mechanics is essential for aviation safety. Professional collaboration and working experience is also required between a pilot and photographer for ensuring successful photographic results. On the day of this aerial photo shoot the helicopter we were using had some technical issues, which needed repairs before continuing the project for the Port of Seattle. With solid communication between pilot and ground crews established, the repairs were completed as the fast and furious activity of aircraft went on all around us.

Video by: David Johanson –  © All Rights

Helicopter Rear Rotor Blades Can Be a Liability

A February 2007 Rotor & Wing Magazine article by Tim McAdams, used two tragic crash events involving helicopter aerial photography to illustrate potential hazards encountered from the helicopter’s rear rotor. In the article it reported, “the NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot-in-command’s improper in-flight decision to maneuver at a low airspeed with a left quartering tailwind, which resulted in a loss of tail-rotor effectiveness.”  The investigation of these and similar crashes helped to create the FAA Advisory Circular AC90-9, that warns pilots of conditions which can cause loss of flight stability due to stress on rear rotors.

Under no circumstances should anyone including ground crews be near the helicopter’s rear rotor while the engine is on. The video shows why helicopter rotor blades are painted with bright patterns to warn of their potential danger.

Fast and Furious

Helicopter operations are virtually never boring and are the centers of major activity. See how the latest video in the series explores Seattle’s dynamic landscape, Boeing Field operations and helicopter safety.

REFERENCES: (Click on these sites to learn more on the subject)

Helicopter Landing Area Safety

Safety Around Helicopters

Helicopter Hazards | Aeronautical Knowledge Handbook

Rotor Hazards

Tail rotor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rotor & Wing Magazine :: Safety Watch: Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness

RC Helicopter Auto Rotation

http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/av_safety/promotion/safety_alerts/IA%20SA%2011-03%20LTE%20Final.pdf

Port of Seattle

King County International Airport/Boeing Field

The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

If you would like to see an alternative format in the graphic design of some of the following multimedia presentations, please see our new site at— http://ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle. Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV, Ford Escape — a gasoline-electric hybrid, which holds the honor of being one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead, which required us to drive all night before reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon. It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up to Snoqualmie pass. After cresting the Cascade Mountains we descended into a dryer, warmer Eastern Washington. After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planned to coincide with a full moon for illuminating the surreal Painted Hills. Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized image sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing low light environments. Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines. These wind gathering  monoliths, heavily populate this section of Washington and Oregon. The site is ideal for wind farms, due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience. These massive wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land. And the eerie sounds caused from wind moving massive propeller blades takes some time getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and continuing into Oregon, you see legions of wind turbine sentinels as they constantly harvest the restless winds. It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we see fewer and then suddenly… no steel towers flanking our drive.

Now what I become aware of is not seeing any cars traveling in either direction of a deserted looking highway. Eastern Oregon’s vast size can’t be appreciated unless you spend some time touring its sprawling, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills. It’s totally dark now that the moon had set hours earlier, cloaking the desert from our view in all directions. Fatigued from hours of driving, we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition can begin.

The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay. Through the process of erosion, intense surreal hues and patterns of color explode in every direction.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland. The colors just popped out at you like viewing a TV monitor, with the hue saturation cranked up high.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage. Attempting to capture the details of the environment, an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to announce the beginning of a new day.

My first impression was of being overwhelmed by sensory overload — it was challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography. What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world — like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to the Southwest, was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona was — that location now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the geology of this site so vivid is the saturated colors, caused by a series of volcanic eruptions, taking place over millions of years. The accumulation of layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion to form the hills of strata of colors, like some massive layered cake.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule preserving the fossilized carcasses of mammals and plants, which lived in the region during the  Cenozoic Era —the Age of Mammals. This era began roughly 65 million years ago, so this National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from that era.

After I shot about an hour worth of video from the spot from the spot I started from, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelopes, casually grazing in a large field. Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is teeming with indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight — producing lighting effects which were irresistible. We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.

Shortly after we setup shop, a ranger pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I shrugged as we looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  We were invited to join his walking tour with a group of  photographers into a restricted area of the Painted Hills.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom, then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll be able to hear the main message clearly enough.

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm