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Photographing Pipeline Beach From Ehukai Pillbox At Sunset

Photographing Pipeline Beach From Ehukai Pillbox At Sunset

Have you ever seen one of the worlds most famous surf breaks from this high?


On the North Shore of Oahu one of the most famous surf breaks in the world, Pipeline Beach unleashes waves of fury each winter. The winter of 2015/2016 delivered multiple swells, some so big that the “Eddie” big wave surf competition had multiple opportunities to go down.

The reef below the pipeline makes it extremely dangerous for surfers and water photographers. I like to shoot from land but on this day the sun and glare were all too much for me, so I decided to head up a trail in the mountains one road back from the shore.

The hike is known as the Ehukai Pillbox Hike or “Peace Hike” due to the peace sign painted on one of the pillboxes. I prefer a place halfway along the hike that has a bench with a perfect vantage spot looking down towards the surf break.

Unlike the sands of the pipeline, where there are hundreds of people, this is a much more peaceful spot to relax and revel in each shot that you capture of the beauty unfolding in the ocean below you. I spent just over an hour up in the mountain shooting and was lucky enough to time my hike for sunset.

On this particular night, the swell was relentless and surfers were taking one wave after another. This is a photographer’s dream as you could afford to relax and know there was always going to be another wave.

As the sun came down over Kaena Point, a red glow began to add a new dimension to the ocean. I shot at a number of different focal lengths but I loved capturing ten waves in one photo. I never thought I would get the opportunity to take photos of Pipeline beach in all of its glory but this was a magical night I will always remember.

Check out the gallery above for some of my favorite shots from the night. These were taken with my old Canon 7D + 100-400mm L series.

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