Destination: Hawaii - The Big Island

Workshop with Don Messec and Jim Hamstra

Hawaii – The Big Island

April 13-17, 2020

Limited to 6 to maintain a sense of seriousness and personal connection to place.

The Hawaiian Islands, so many to choose from, but the Big Island is the youngest, biggest and most diverse. Yes, warm breezes, beautiful beaches, palm trees are all there, but that’s not why we come here. Sure, photographers like Bret Weston had 2 houses, one on the dry side, one on the wet, so he could extensively photograph here, but that’s not why either. The Big Island is simply visually aspirational, diverse and amazing. We may visit a tsunami-damaged and jungle overgrown resort, black and green sand beaches, lava fields and volcano craters, a mountain summit above the clouds, grasslands, jungle, cactus, inlets, vistas, trees, flowers, bamboo, birds, cliffs, ancient walls, old churches… The Big Island is a photo-rich environment. And shooting is the most important thing you will want to do while here.

Color welcome. iPhone welcome. Large format welcome. DSLR welcome. Hell, pinhole welcome – might even bring all of these myself. You are not limited with me. I’m not one to limit my photographic thinking, that’s what Jim is for. 😉

Every day starts with shooting, new location and some repeats for the best light. If walking a lot is a concern, let Brett Weston’s thought answer your concern, “if it’s more than 30 paces from the vehicle it’s no longer photogenic!” For those of us who need to wander, that works, too.

The Islands I have spent time shooting have all become intimate friends. Once home the process of image workflow and printing always teaches me something I wish I had learned while there, which is one reason I keep going back.

Destination workshops are a favorite of mine. I love sharing places I shoot and to be outdoors with other photographers. Love cooking, eating, walking, flee marketing, coffee, coffee, coffee and just hanging out watching the light change. The workshop will include heading out early to get into interesting shooting locations with good light. The first day we will go together and get the lay of the land. There will be enough room for every photographer and gear each day. If you brought a companion (a plus) or just prefer to travel alone you can use your own vehicle to follow us or explore at your own, or repeat a location you need to spend more time in. Some days we may take a reprieve from shooting to get lunch, discuss digital workflow, platinum-palladium negative making, Piezography Pro inks and other interesting conversations, returning to shoot during evening light.

There is a welcoming-orientation dinner Sunday night before we get started where we will meet and greet, and lay out the week. Spouses and partners are most welcome, the fee is small to tag along. My photo buddy Jim Hamstra will join us. He too has extensive field experience on the Big Island as well as places like Syria, Turkey, Australia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. We both live in the Southwestern and travel together to shoot in the great Southwest, too.

There will be a combination of group and personal instruction as seems appropriate. Some will desire being left on their own to shoot, others may want technical input, shot advice or digital workflow considerations. Time can be made for everyone to shoot on their own outside of group shoots. These moments are important interpersonal time to close off the sounds in our heads and connect with these special places. Group shoots will be a matter of selected sites that allow, even promote, wandering off for personal shot selection. At the end of the workshop, your biggest whine will be “why can’t we stay!?” Whose knows, maybe we can!

Gallery of Hawaii Big Island images.

What’s Included

Welcome and orientation dinner.

Transportation for photographers and gear.

Workshop guide by fall with tons of additional information.

Each student will receive enough paper, platinum-palladium mix, and sensitizer for approximately 10-15 5×7.5″ prints. Metals spreader, developer, distilled water, transparency material, specialized negative printing ink sets and other communal needs to make Pt-Pd prints are also included.

The experience is equipped with Epson printer, trays, contact frames, and other needs of a complete and effect field setup plus typically lots of sunshine.

What you provide

  • Lodging. there are several ways to stay in the Hilo area of Hawaii. Recommendations on sidebar.
  • Meals except for Welcome dinner. Plan on snacks, lunch and lots of water for long days of shooting and printing.
  • Digital files in the following formats – PSD, jpg, TIFF, RAW. Many images we print will come from shooting during the workshop, but good idea to bring several, too. For existing images you want to see in platinum bring original files at the original resolution in addition to processed and manipulated versions. It can be useful to go back to an unmodified file to re-interpret the image once you have a print in hand.
  • Digital camera if you have one. There are no processing labs close enough to shoot film for printing during the workshop. All forms of cameras welcome.
  • A thumb drive or other portable read/write media
  • Laptop if you have one. Especially if it has Photoshop and/or Lightroom or ON1 RAW. If you do not have any of this software consider downloading a trial version for the workshop.
  • Large enough luggage and/or  box or tube to pack prints. Can purchase in Santa Fe.
  • Workshop guide by fall with tons of additional information.

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Sunday night we will gather for dinner, drinks, orientation, introductions and socializing. Time and place TBA
  • Monday morning pick up Y’all up and hit the photons. This will be early, morning light is worth loss of sleep!
  • The remaining daily schedule will be set according to weather. Some evenings we will gather for discussions/demos
  • Bring a lunch every day. If it works out that we are in a town during lunch let’s haunt few cafes.
  • Evenings select 2-4 images to process to B&W for printing.
  • Two days will be mostly if not entirely dedicated to shooting.

Reserve your place! Make $600.00 deposit


More information and tips in our Hilo Workshop Guide

Flying? look at Hilo or Kona

Housing? We are recommending the Volcano Inn or look at HomeAway and VRBO near the small town of Volcano.