Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dreaming with Dolphins and Whales

   I often dream at night that I am swimming with dolphins and whales. Last night I dreamt that I was on a small boat in the Pacific followed by a baby Humpback that was breaching in its wake. In my dream, it was so close that I could see the bumpy texture on it's shinny skin and beautiful dreamy eyes. My heart was so opened by this night time encounter, I told my dreamy self that I want to feel like this all of the time!
I awoke this morning with an urge to share how much I love being in the water, especially where the whales, dolphins, whale sharks and other deep sea creatures swim in many shades of blue. 

These are dolphin pictures from my last days of free diving in Kona. 

I have never been afraid of deep water. When I had my orca encounter, the water was roughly one mile deep. I often feel very safe and almost supported by the open ocean. Over the years it has given me great comfort to be in the vast and beautiful sapphire depths.
It is an elixir to my soul. 

  The photographs above and below are my very first photographs of the Pacific bottle nose dolphins. I have been with them from a distance and had the joy of swimming with them at night with the mantas  in Kona but I had never taken a picture of one so close. The sonar was very strong and it felt wonderful to meet these curious eyes, face to face. 

     Each time that I am able to make contact and document what I see underwater, a feeling of joy flows through my entire body. It is a somatic experience that feels blissful and exciting. I love making contact with new sea creatures and sharing my experiences with my friends and family. I also enjoy learning about new environments, the animals and my journeys.
       When I share with the little ones there is always an immediate sense of curiosity and wonder. They are always eager to know more, children really appreciate and pay special attention to each detail of my stories. Adults on the other hand, often look at me with a dubious glance followed by a tilted head and often have a confused look in their eyes. 

    When I am underwater,  I feel that I am in the flow of life, and that nature is much bigger than me. My soul sings. As I swim with my weight belt and my camera I am in my perfect element. This is a feeling that many people who spend a lot time in the ocean understand. We are like a secret society, participating in two worlds at once, it can feel sacred. 
There is something magical about being submerged in this beautiful aquatic world. It is mysterious, delicate, unknown and expansive. The ocean teaches me something new during each encounter and she also gives me  profound and beautiful healings.

     It is my hope that my pictures may open another world for people to experience or know the mysteries of the ocean.  
 If we love and appreciate something close to our heart then we will take good care of it, and protect it's future. 
 Jacques Yves Cousteau said: 

"People protect what they love". 

     I love the dolphins, the whales and other sea creatures so much so that  I am now sharing my pictures with more frequency. I am deeply concerned about the Pacific Ocean and the leak of the reactor in Fukishima, Japan. What has been my personal sanctuary and retreat is now being continuosly poisoned by pollution. I am feeling the push to go deeper inside myself to find what I can do to curb this immediate  crisis. In my heart, I feel that beauty is what moves people and so it is my hope that these pictures of amazing sea creatures will open others to a new level of curiosity, wonder, consciousness and respect for what lives beneath us in the watery realms.
The time is now.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mahalo to Pele

Upon returning to my life in the Springs, I have come appreciate the value of being on retreat and spending time away in a different environment and changing the geometry of our every day lives. I had the great fortune of staying in a very magical place while I was away, the former home of Herb Kane, one of Hawaii's most famous artists. His former residence is now a bed and breakfast that is run by two amazing people, David and Michael.

Herb Kawainui Kane was a well known historian of Hawaii and artist who painted detailed images of the life and culture of the islands. His paintings are colorful and powerful celebrations of the rich and layered history of these magical islands. 
In 1984 he was named a Living Treasure by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Honolulu and received an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts by the school of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Original works and prints hang on the walls of this beautiful retreat. 

Upon my arrival I was greeted by an orchestra of frogs, soft lights and a ti leaf that wrapped delicacies of macadamia nuts and chocolate. 
I slept in the magical energy of Herb Kane's original artwork, soft Pacific winds and the embrace of Pele's arms. Each morning I was welcomed with fresh fruits, lilikoi yogurt, wilelaiki blossom local honey, homemade banana bread, selected cheese and homemade treats. I can not thank my hosts enough for their generous hospitality. 

They have graciously opened their plantation to guests and I highly recommend this slice of heaven for a retreat. 

Each day fresh flowers filled the rooms with their perfume. 

There was so much attention to detail in this sacred place.
 Herb Kane created his artwork on the premesis for many years with his wife, a harp player. I could feel the creative energy still flowing through and around the gardens, the lanai and within the hearts of everyone who lives and works on this beautiful land.

Each night a small gift was left for me accompanied with a Hawaiian saying:

'A sweet treat for sweet dreams'

Mau moe'uhane'olu'olu
(pleasant dreams)

I walked the property and collected beautiful seeds and flowers to photograph in the afternoon Hawaiian light. I enjoyed finding new textures, beautiful shapes and colors to document. 

I hope to return again soon. 

Thank you Michael and David !

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dreaming in Orca

Since my encounter with a killer whale in Hawaii, I have become more curious about their history and lore. Yesterday I made this image of dolphins, osprey and the orca. There is a creation myth of the Pacific Northwest that tells the story of the blackfish falling in love with the osprey. In order to meet, the osprey would sweep down from the skies to the water and the blackfish would jump out of the water into the air. The offspring was believed to be the orca, this explains the white markings on its body. 

On Easter Sunday, I took pictures of osprey flying into the sun here at Accabonac harbor. I layered many images of the spinner dolphins, killer whale and the osprey over an old Japanese map of Hawaii. 
I am currently trying to create images that convey the dreamy energy of the orca and the gift that I experienced by being in it's presence. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Songs of the Ocean

I have just returned from the sapphire Hawaiian waters where I had gorgeous encounters with beautiful sea creatures. Mantas, Spinner dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Spotted dolphins, Turtles and an Orca! Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to meet an Orca in person, much less in the Hawaiian waters. This was a rare and special gift, perhaps a once in a lifetime experience. 

    Making contact with this beauty in the wild has had a profound effect on me. Of all of my underwater encounters in different parts of the world, this has been the most significant. I felt a power and grace emanate from this gorgeous animal that I have never felt until now.  Once I was in the water with this adult male killer whale, I heard and received the sonar that it emitted as it swam past me. It sounded like metal clinking on metal. I swam in with Deron Verbeck, a fellow underwater photographer and captain of a small boat. We were close to a research vessel that was tagging a pod of Orcas for the very first time in Hawaiian waters. These pictures were taken three miles from the Kona coast in water approximately one mile deep.  Since the encounter,  I have felt a very different energy in my body. I feel an opening inside of my heart and deeper connection to the songs of the ocean. I can see and feel that there are webs in nature that are interwoven, we are all connected, to the great mystery. 

     Orcas are considered the 'lords' and 'guardians' of the ocean. They invite us to explore the energy of alchemy and they are considered by many indigenous cultures to be portals to the stars and the cosmos. Dolphins are believed to be their warriors and sea lions their messengers. Since they travel in groups and mate for life, they are also symbolic of family ties, romance, harmony, longevity and power. 

 I also met the mantas and experienced their grace and beauty. 

The dolphins also moved me and I was thrilled to have this time underwater to discover their habitats and photograph them in the wild.  
All of these pictures were taken while free diving. 

Spinner dolphins. 

 Thank you Roberta, Carlos, Mike, Kavika, Daron, Brett, and Jeremy!