Lifestyle

Photography Project to Highlight Kohala’s Natural Features

June 5, 2015, 12:45 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 6:25 PM
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Funding was recently made available for a new three-year photography project, “Images of Kohala: Source of Water, Source of Life,” a program by the Kohala Watershed Partnership and sponsored by The Kohala Center.

According to the Kohala Center, the goal of the project is to inspire appreciation of native Hawaiian forests by documenting flora, fauna, water, and atmospheres of the Big Islands oldest and most ecologically diverse mountains.

Participating in the project are three professional photographers who will document their findings over the next three years. The first year will be spent accompanying the Partership’s experienced field crew on day and extended camping trips into some of Kohala’s most extreme and rugged forests, streams, and wetlands.

A rare kahuli tree snail (Partulina physa) crawls on an ʻōhiʻa leaf. Once found throughout Hawai'i Island, its numbers have fallen dramatically over the past 50 years. Today the snail is found only on Kohala Mountain. (Photo © Nate Yuen)

A rare kahuli tree snail (Partulina physa) crawls on an ʻōhiʻa leaf. Once found throughout Hawai’i Island, its numbers have fallen dramatically over the past 50 years. Today the snail is found only on Kohala Mountain. (Photo © Nate Yuen)

Year two will take the photographers on a separate kind of adventure as they work on a book through the University of Hawai’i Press, which will be composed of the photographer’s photos and documentation. The book will also feature a plant-based cultural narrative done by Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, president and CEO of The Kohala Center, and an ecological narrative by Melora Purell, coordinator of the Kohala Watershed Partnership. Part of the second year of the program and going into the third, the photographers will present public lectures and lead field trips for naturalists and other photographers in the community.

As the book prepares to be released the photographers will participate in a traveling photo exhibit throughout the state.

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“More than 90 percent of the plant and animal species found in Kohala are found nowhere else in the world, and the ever-increasing threats from invasive species, feral animals, and climate change have created a biodiversity crisis. We must protect these species and their intact habitats now before they are lost forever,” said Purell.  “Natural and human communities on and around Kohala depend on the mountain to capture and store rainfall—our source of water and life. Not many people have the opportunity to visit a native forest or to understand firsthand the role a forest plays as their source of water. Our goal is to connect the public with these ‘wild places’ and inspire people of all ages and walks of life to cherish our native forests and work together to protect them. Our survival and that of our uniquely Hawaiian plants, birds, and other animals depends on it.”

Photographers-in-residence Nate Yuen (left) and Jack Jeffrey examine a kahuli tree snail on an ʻōhiʻa tree during the project team's first shoot together on Kohala Mountain. (Photo © Andrew Richard Hara)

Photographers-in-residence Nate Yuen (left) and Jack Jeffrey examine a kahuli tree snail on an ʻōhiʻa tree during the project team’s first shoot together on Kohala Mountain. (Photo © Andrew Richard Hara)

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The photographers:

Jack Jeffery of Pepe’ekeo worked for over 20 years as a wildlife biologist at Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. He has been photographing Hawai’i’s native flora and fauna for over 40 years. Jeffery is known for his images of Hawai’i’s native birds.

“Kohala Mountain’s rainforests have held a special place in my memories for 35 years. This project will take us and our audience to one of the most amazing, remote, and breathtaking places in the Hawaiian Islands,” said Jeffrey, who worked with the Hawai‘i Forest Bird Survey on the mountain in the late 1970s. “It’s not often that you get to work with renowned photographers and ecologists on a worthwhile project like this, and to be able share these visual moments with people from Hawai‘i and around the world. This is going to be an unbelievably rewarding experience.”

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Nate Yuen of Ewa Beach is a hiking enthusiast who found a passion for photography as he documented the details of his expeditions. He is focused on photographing unique and rate plants and animals.

Andrew Richard Hara of Hilo specializes in capturing distinctive images of the Earth. He invites the viewers of his photographs to inhabit expansive, indescribable, and often ethereal landscapes. Hara has worked for NASA, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. Recently, Hara became the only FAA-approved commercial drone operator in Hawai’i.

“For me, this project is an extension of my lifelong dedication to supporting progressive sciences and environmental conservation through visual communications,” said Hara. “I believe photography can empower our planet by raising awareness of how beautiful and fragile Earth is. This project represents me and my colleagues as creators, explorers, and devoted stewards of our shared planet.”

The photographers’ pictures as part of the project will be shared on the Images of Kohala Facebook page.

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