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Extreme photographers take 'calculated risk' for stunning shots

May 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM ET



Whether it's floating dangerously close to volcanic lava or risking a tumble in a big wave, a group of Hawaiian photographers take incredible chances to capture stunning images.

"We pride ourselves on our stupidity,'' joked C.J. Kale. "It's pretty dangerous. We take calculated risk."

Kale joined Nick Selway and Clark Little on TODAY on Monday in Honolulu to discuss their work.

Kale has been shooting professionally for more than 16 years, and Selway has been doing it for nine. Together they own Lava Light Galleries in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. It took more than five years to perfect shots of lava flowing into the breaking waves of the ocean, with a 1 a.m. wake-up for a three-hour drive to the volcano and an hour-long hike.

Photographers Nick Selway and C.J. Kale jumped into near-boiling water in swim trunks and fins to capture stunning images of lava colliding into a breaking wave at a volcano site on the island of Hawaii.
Nick Selway and C.J. Kale
Photographers Nick Selway and C.J. Kale captured stunning images of lava colliding into a breaking wave at a volcano site on the island of Hawaii.

In September 2012, Selway and Kale captured incredible, never-before-seen images of lava hitting the water through a breaking wave. They had to jump into water that was nearly boiling in order to get the shots near the edge of volcanoes located on the island of Hawaii.

Nick Selway and C.J. Kale each ventured into extremely hot water in swim trunks and fins near the volcano to capture some never-before-seen images.
Nick Selway and C.J. Kale
Nick Selway and C.J. Kale each ventured into extremely hot water in swim trunks and fins near the volcano to capture some never-before-seen images.


Selway and Kale often woke up at 1 a.m. for a three-hour drive and then an hour-long hike to reach the volcano in order to position themselves for amazing images.
Nick Selway and C.J. Kale
Selway and Kale often woke up at 1 a.m. for a three-hour drive and then an hour-long hike to reach the volcano in order to position themselves for amazing images.

"We put ourselves in those positions most people won't,'' Selway told Savannah Guthrie.

"I've dropped 20 feet into the lava tube, (and) shattered my ankle,'' Kale said. "It can happen to somebody who's been doing it for years, so it's pretty dangerous and pretty stupid.''

Little's expertise is in surfing shots often taken inside the barrel, giving viewers a perspective that's similar to the surfer's. He uses swim fins and a waterproof camera, hovering inside the wave for the perfect moment.

A giant wave
Clark Little Photography
A giant wave captured by Clark Little.

"As the wave's sucking up and barreling over I'm basically holding the trigger and trying to get as many shots as I can so it's facing in the tube,'' Little told Guthrie. "Sometimes I get sucked over the falls and get smashed, but it's worth it to get the epic shot.

Clark Little braves a big wave to get the perfect shot.
Clark Little Photography
Clark Little braves a big wave to get the perfect shot.
Little's risky vantage point results in gorgeous images like these.
Clark Little Photography
Little's risky vantage point results in gorgeous images like these.
Little got his start taking wave photographs as a gift for his wife.
Clark Little Photography
Little got his start taking wave photographs as a gift for his wife.
Little grabbed this shot in Tahiti.
Clark Little Photography
Little grabbed this shot in Tahiti.

"You get a feeling of it. You kind of know like, 'OK, that was magic,' until you go on the computer and you look and you zoom in 100 percent and then you know for sure it's a (great shot). It's a lot of work, but it's fun."




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