Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hula Girls

[Second edition: Thanks to my wife for editing my writing - I should have her do that in the first place.]

I am sure that the title of today's post will drive my web traffic through the roof. Instead  of my typical single picture, I have fourteen. The month is just too short to show all of what Hawaii has to offer.

I honestly didn't know much about the Hula before arriving, Pretty much a Hollywood education on the topic. There are certainly pretty girls, grass skirts and lots of flowers - all of which make for beautiful images. It is a dance, of course, with flowing motions and music. Some Hula are slow and meditative, others are quite frenetic. Hulas originate from many different parts of the Pacific, each with their own particular style. Regardless of where they come from they all tell a story using the whole body as a visual language. A technical purist might claim that Hulas only come from Hawaii and other similar dances are something else. It does seem common practice to call them all Hulas regardless of origin.

Let me first introduce you to Joy. She was the recreation coordinator at the Wyndam Kona Hawaiian resort where we spent a lovely week. She always wore a smile as big as the island and she made us feel very much at home. She also is a talented Hula dancer. At this resort they put on a welcome reception for the guests with live local music and Hulas. In this picture, Joy is doing a welcome dance and is about to give all of the guests a Lei made of Orchids.



1/200 f/5.6 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 110 mm Canon EOS 40D



1/160 f/5.6 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 70 mm Canon EOS 40D

Another dancer was Heidi, Joy's friend. They entertained us for an hour with many different dances and costume changes.Here is the photo tip for today. You may have heard that you should try to take pictures in both portrait (tall) and landscape (wide) orientations. In both cases one usually keeps the horizon  flat across the image. This picture of Hedi shows another option; it actually has a name - dutch or 'dutch tilt'. Like most techniques it should not be overused, but it does add a dynamic feel to an image. [After viewing this post my wife claims she took this picture. She is probably right. I think I had the other camera.]



1/100 f/5.6 ISO 500 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 100 mm Canon EOS 40D

As I said at the top, Hula is a language danced with the whole body. As I recall, Joy is inviting people to come to something.


1/200 f/5.6 ISO 500 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 190 mm Canon EOS 40D

Although many of Joy and Heidi's costumes where traditional, some of them where not without modern influences. This blue tinsel skirt was a good choice for 'Blue Hawaii'.  Thank you, thank you very much.


1/160 f/5.6 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 70 mm Canon EOS 40D

Heidi picks up the pace with a hip shaking Hula that would rival any belly dance. In case you are wondering, yes, those are coconut shells.


1/200 f/4.5 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 73 mm Canon EOS 40D

Here, Joy is telling us something about the mountain. High places are very important, sacred spots for the ancient Hawaiians.


1/500 f/5 ISO 400 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 70 mm Canon EOS 40D

The images of Joy and Heidi were challenging because their dances were done in a visually busy space under a tent. It was during the mid day so outside the tent was very bright. But several days latter we went to a luau production at the King Kamehameha Hotel. The food buffet was great and so was the entertainment. This particular show was supposed to be one of the more authentic commercial luaus. It featured Hulas from not only Hawaii, but Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. The costume were all very vibrant and the dances each had a definite distinct style.

This environment was a completely different photographic challenge. Most of the dancing was during or after sunset. So light was very precious. Slow shutter speeds, wide open apertures and fast moving dancers made for a lot of out-of-focus and blurry images. I had a lot of memory so I could snap often. The production company did use some theater lights to illuminate the scene. They liked red lights a lot which tended to produce a very saturated red image. Fortunately I shot in RAW which gave me lots of control in Lightroom to bring the reds back to more normal and realistic levels.


1/30 f/3.3 ISO 640 @ 4.9 mm DMC-TS1
 
Many of the Hula feature percussion instruments that are used by the dances as well. Here the dancer has a decorated shaker. I believe it to be a gourd with feathers.


1/100 f/2.8 ISO 3200 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 73 mm Canon EOS 40D

Unfortunately for many of these, I can't tell you the origin of each dance and the costume. Except for this one. A Hawaiian cowboy Hula.


1/100 f/4.5 ISO 3200 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 70 mm Canon EOS 40D

These girls were quite talented with these 'props'. Sorry, but I don't know what they are called.


1/60 f/2.8 ISO 3200 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 73 mm Canon EOS 40D



1/320 f/2.8 ISO 1000 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 73 mm Canon EOS 40D




1/60 f/2.8 ISO 1000 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 145 mm Canon EOS 40D



1/320 f/2.8 ISO 1000 EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM @ 70 mm Canon EOS 40D

If you got this far down. Thanks for reading. Or as they say on the island, "Mahalo".
Post a Comment