All posts tagged Nealstudios

Aloha, this will be an ongoing blog around the building of a new Koa Surfboard. (scroll to bottom to see the process:)

Here we are 3 month after the Koa was picked out to the finish Surfboard :)

Amazing wood, wow, I love Koa!!!

10’3″ Curly Maui Koa Hot Curl Surfboard

This pix shows both sides of the same board :)

This one sold recently at the Native Intelligence Gallery in Wailuku.


Update: June 22, 2011

The board has been blessed with salt water!

So much fun – we will do it again!!!


So much fun – we will do it again!!!


Update: June 15, 2011

This quote inspired me to make my 1st wood board.

I have an inner struggle with how “perfect” to make um, then I remember these words and stop when it feels good!


Update: June 13, 2011

Rough shaping done…


June 2011


<<<<  This one sold recently at the Native Intelligence Gallery in Wailuku.


This meant a new one was in order.

Finding Koa the size and quality for a 10 foot surfboard is not easy or inexpensive.

A couple years ago I helped cut some massive slabs at our local mill on Maui.

So, I went to see if they were ready for use. ( It takes year or two for the wood to air dry after milling.)

Sure enough it was ready to go and after searching through a  few slabs, I found the one that would produce the board I wanted.

Roughly 11 feet by 24 inches of shimmering curly Koa from high on the  side of  Haleakala, east of the park.

Back at home, I hand planed the rough cut sides to reveal the amazing grain and shimmering curl.

A  Hot Curl template was selected and rough fitted to the piece of wood.

It will yielded a 10’+, by 19″  wide, around 2″ thick!

More to come….



One of my friends sent me a link to a photo blog project , to post your best 10 picture from 2012.

OK, Yeah, sounded like fun, so I looked for my favorite 10.

This was more difficult than I thought, as 2012 was a very good year for photos on Maui.

With the help of my Facebook family, I was able to narrow it down to 25 or so.

In the end the final choices were for the impact and interactions these images represent.



We are blessed. This is the view from my deck in Pukalani Maui.

On any give day you will find my wife and I enjoying the sunset at the end of the day.

God has been good to us and we enjoy sharing it with others. #Offthedeck




This image was hands down the most popular photo this year.

Taken at the summit of Haleakala crater Maui.

Here is a blog post about it.



I spent some time this year documenting the sugar cane burns.

While this is a controversial subject, it is a fascinating study.

The cattle egrets flock by the hundreds to eat the bug and rodents as they flee the fire.

 Click here to see a time lapse of one of the burns.



This image is a collaboration with Maui artist and friend Tim Garcia.

Tim had the idea of shooting his hulas dancers with the Blue Moon this year.

3am in the morning and  it all came alive!

Thanks Tim for the inspiration!

Click here to see a FB gallery of the Hula Circle Blessing at the Maui Winery.



2012 was an amazing year for celestial activities, stars, planets, meteors and eclipses lighting up the skies.

The Transits of Venus  was the rarest of these celestial phenomena, the last one in our lifetime, as the next one is in 2117!



Maui is the home of one of the biggest waves on the planet. Peahi (Jaws) only breaks a few times a year.

This image is of  Dave Wassel on 1-4-12, this wave won him the Monster Paddle award for 2012.

This photo was the one chosen to represent his amazing ride, very honored.

Mahalo Billabong!



This photo of the Puunene Sugar Mill was inspired one of Maui’s finest photographers, Randy J Braun.

This year has been an amazing  journey of meeting and working with so many amazing photographers,

through social media meetups, online and in person.

Thanks to the Maui Camera Club for providing encouragement and opportunities.



This was the first year of travel for me after a couple of  major surgeries.

This service trip to Nicaragua was amazing (God is so gracious).

The Miskito people of the Rio Coco river are amazing, thank you!

The skies were alive with volcanoes, amazing sunsets and lightning storms!



The vistas on Maui are awesome, inspiring and dangerous.

I almost drove off the road looking at this one, finally had to pull over to shoot this panorama.


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This image is a 10 shot panorama taken from the top of Haleakala at sunset, on one our many photographer meetups.

I’m always amazed at how 20+ people can be taking pictures at the same time and yet get such an awesome variety of images!

Thank You for looking :)




OK, this one #11 and  is from 2011, but came back up again in 2012 for another popular round of exposure.

It is my most popular shot ever, with tens of thousands of  views,

and  thouthands of “likes” and comments and continues to be one of my best sellers.


OK, yeah… I gotta put this one too :)

crater 8-12-12cw

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.


Living out in the middle of the Pacific ocean has it’s advantages,

clean air, clear skies and on Maui a 10,000 foot volcano offer never-ending opportunities.

A photographer by the name of  Wally Pacholka inspired me to give it a go a couple years ago.

Click here to see those shots.  

I’ve been hooked ever sense. Moon shots, night sugar can burns, planetary events and of coarse starry nights.

But none have generated the response this shot of the Milky Way over the top of  Haleakala.

I’ve been getting asked quite a bit about the recent Milky Way shot:

Is this for real? How did you do this? Is this Photoshopped? Is it HDR? Did you use fill lighting? And what were the settings?

Here are the stats… Canon 7D, 16mm fish-eye, 30s, 2.8, iso 1600 – a couple seconds of my headlamp for the foreground,

a couple second with a spot light on the building. Camera on the ground (on wadded up surf trunks to be exact – forgot my sandbag :)

2s timer – Processed in Camera Raw 7.0 CS6 – Here is a screen shot of bridge showing the default raw file and the finished jpg.

Screen shot in bridge. Here you can see the raw file and the edited jpg, also some of the other takes that evening.

Let me know if this is helpful…

Thanks for all the all  likes, shares, comments and interest in this picture on FB.

Subscribe to my Facebook page here :)

12×18 Aluminum Print with a Natural Edge Koa and Mango Frame

Custom prints and frames are available.



Comment to Facebook or Twitter :)

***If you’re looking for SURF PHOTOS CLICK  HERE ***

Aloha, here you will find some of what I see through the lens.  Scroll down see the pix for this month. Mahalo :)


February 25, 2011

Canon 7D in 1080p 30 fps, ,  Canon 100-300L 5.6L, Tripod, 2-27-11, 5:45-6:25 PM, Edit in Avs4You



February 25, 2011


Last nights Sunset. Watch the little black cloud :)

Frame Grab with Jing

Canon 7D in 720 p 60 fps, ,  Canon 100-300L 5.6L, Tripod, 2-24-11, 5:45-6:25 PM, Edit in Avs4You


February 24, 2011

Here’s my “Meet the Artist” interview at the Maui Open Studios event,

held in February 14th, 2011 at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao. Part 1 of 2.


February 21-23, 2011

Just for fun, here’s a screen grab of the RAW file  of the shot on MagicSeaweed.

As you can see all I did was crop and sharpen the image.

This debate has been kinda fun, and a little surprising with all the coverage and video on it :)

Video by Tony Adams. — Here’s a shot from Sean Hower, a different photographer.

40,000 views on this site alone… Thanks :)




February 20, 2011

Sweet Sunday Morning!   (Double Exposure – Video/Still)

Canon 7D in 720 p 60 fps, Canon 40d, 1/3200 s at f/4.5,  Canon 400L 5.6L, Tripod, 2-20-11, 6:54:11 AM, Edit, AVS4you


February 17-19, 2011

Native Maui ‘Amakihi on Mamane in Hosmers Grove Haleakala Park.

Canon EOS 7D, EF400mm f/5.6L USM, 1/160 s at f/5.6, 2/16/2011, 3:29:19 PM


February 16, 2011

Canon EOS 40D, EF28-80mm f/2.8-4L USM, 1/1000 s at f/5.6, ISO 200, 2/17/2011, 6:02:54 PM



February 15, 2011

Great clouds tonight :)

Canon 7D in 720 p 60 fps, Canon 100-300 5.6L, Tripod, 2-15-11


February 15, 2011

Memorial Box commission : Curly Koa and Mango – Carved Honu Soul-Mates

Canon EOS 40D, EF28-80mm f/2.8-4L USM, 1/800 s at f/4.0, 2/14/2011, 3:22:48 PM


February 10-14, 2011

Epic Day At Peahi! Monster paddle-in and tow surfing.

Time Laps – GoPro HD 5 second interval, Canon 7D in 720 p 60 fps, Canon 400 5.6L, Tripod, 2-8-11

February 8-9, 2011

(Click Photos for full gallery)

Danilo Couto taking paddle surfing Peahi (Jaws) to a new level!

Canon EOS 7D, EF400mm f/5.6L, 1/500 s at f/8.0, ISO 100, Tripod, 2/8/2011, 9:14:15 AM

Strong offshore winds, deny these surfers entry into this monster wave!

Canon EOS 7D, EF400mm f/5.6L, 1/500 s at f/7.1, ISO 100, Tripod, 2/8/2011, 9:29 AM


February 6,7, 2011

Canon 7D video, Edited in AVS4You software

One of the best sunsets in months! 4 shop panorama (PS CS5)

Canon 40D, Zenitar 16mm 2.8 fisheye , 1/400 s, f 2.8, ISO 200, 2-2-6-11, 6:11:00 PM


February 5, 2011

Maui Open Studio Opening Event. What a fun night! Artist studio showings 2/5-5, 2/12-13, 2/19-20 :)

GoPro HD, Time Laps 1 shot every 5 seconds for 35 minutes, Edited in AVS4YOU to 40 seconds.


February 4, 2011

Product photography is hard! As a woodworker and photographer I am seldom “happy” with my ability to do the piece  justice.

How do you capture the essence of saving a piece of spalting Mango from the dumps,

and seeing a petroglyph paddler come to life in it???

Canon 7D, EF28-80mm f/2.8 – 1/25 s at f/2.8, ISO 200, Studio lights, Tripod, 1/12/2011, 9:13:28 AM

Subject masked and background softened in PS CS5


February 3, 2011

“Self Portrait” Open Studio Maui is coming up 2/4 & 2/12-13 2011

They asked for a promo picture for the event. I set up a tripod in the shop, used a self timer and snapped this speed burr shot.

Canon 7D, EF28-80mm f/2.8-4L, 1/40 s at f/8.0, ISO 800, Cleaned up in PS CS5, Tripod, 6/21/2010, 1:33:46 PM



February 1 & 2, 2011

Canon 7D video, Edited in AVS4You software

And another month of Maui Sunsets begins :)

Canon 40D, EF400mm f/5.6L , 1/640 s at f/5.6, ISO 200,2-2-11, 6:02:22 PM


  • Koa is the most beautiful wood I have had the pleasure to work with. The color, texture and amazing three dimensional depth, put it in a class of it’s own. A variety of the Acacia tree family, unique to Hawaii. It grows to be eighty plus feet tall, from sea level to near the tops of the mountains. Unfortunately it is also rare, having been cleared for cattle and burned to process sugar in the late 1800’s. There is a movement to restore it, but that’s another story.

  • The wood that I use for my creations comes from “windfall” trees, downed by the forces of natural. None of the mills I work with cut live trees, so it is often difficult and expensive to come by.
  • This particular  piece of wood is from a tree from the upper slops of East Haleakala on Maui. It had been on the ground for a while, so it had begun to decay. This process called “spalting” can add dramatic color and depth to the wood.

  • When I’m looking for a piece for a rocker, there are two things I look for, structural integrity and dynamic patterns in the figure and curl. I look for natural curve in the grain for the runners and solid straight grains for the support components, as well as distinctive patterns and curl for the arms, seat and headrest. This can take some time, at $45-$65 a board foot (12″x12″x1″) you don’t want to make a mistake.
  • After selecting the raw slabs, I lay out the design (each chair is different, as I do not use stock templates) and rough cut the various components. These pieces are stacked in my drying shed to stabilize. After two months they were ready to be shaped and sanded to a near finished point before assembly.
  • Each component must be hand fitted to ensure tight joints. This process takes weeks, as each section is glued and cured. Each rocker’s wood has a different weight and balance point that must be careful worked out before the final glue up. I use a marine epoxy and waterproof glue,  so it needs to be right the first time. I let the glued up chair sit for a few weeks to cure and stabilize before finishing.
  • The next step is to sand the entire chair over and over, applying thin layers of lacquer sealer until all the grains and joints are baby bottom smooth. A final lacquer finish is sprayed and a hand rubbed wax and oil is applied.
  • My goal in a rocker is to create a piece of furniture that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, revealing the amazing beauty of the wood.


This chair was SOLD at Native Intelligence 

September is an awesome month for Maui Sunsets!

Hi, my name is Mike and I’m a woodaholic.

You can ask my wife, I cannot pass up a slab of Maui’s amazing hardwoods. It started at yard sales, a piece here, a piece there, till I had to build a shed to store them. Then I found the mill, oh my, the “candy store” for someone with woodlust. I began hanging around the millyard (100s of logs and piles of slabbed wood) looking through every pile looking for just the right piece. Whether it’s Koa, Mango, Monkey pod, Norfork Pine, or Opeuma, I love um all.

I also love driftwood. Whenever we have big storms with heavy rains, you will find me searching the river-mouths for chunks of battered and beaten pieces of wood. So anyway, now my backyard is piles of wood, every nook and cranny in the shop is piled high.

Woodlust, ya I’ve got it, because wood “speaks” to me. I mean, I see a piece a wood and it says “rocker” or “fish sculpture” or “treasure box”, it lets me know what it wants to be. Every piece of wood has a story, in this section of the blog, I will share the history of the wood and the process it took to become what it “told” me to make.



Looking down at the Ko’olau Gap from the N. East slopes of Haleakala.

Lobelia Grayana

Lobelia grayana

  • Rare and endangered plants are a new subject for me. My friend Pat Bily of the The Nature Conservancy (a self proclaimed “plant geek”) has been patiently pointing out the native plants in the Waikamoi Preserve. The Lobelias are one of the food sources for the native birds of Maui . In 3 years of hiking past this paticular plant, I had not seen it bloom. So when I heard it was flowering, I had to have a look. WOW – beautiful! It was lightly raining, but I had to shoot, as a family of I’iwi were working it.

Keiki I'iwi - Lobelia Grayana

I’m a Plant/Bird Geek in the making :)

Full List & Pictures of Hawaiian Plants by Forest and Kim Starr