The Open Ceiling Na Pali Sea Cave

Open Ceiling Sea Cave, Kauai

The Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai is full of beautiful surprises like this that you can really only appreciate from the air. Known as the “open ceiling” sea cave it’s actually a hollowed out lava tube. You can take a boat tour and enter from the ocean where there is an opening big enough for the smaller boats.

I had no idea this place existed before we took our flight, so it’s more luck than judgement that I managed to capture it here. Shooting from a helicopter is the most challenging environment I’ve encountered yet for photography.

The best tip I can think of is to sacrifice depth of field and make sure you use Shutter Priority mode. Set that shutter speed really fast. I was hovering around the 1/1000th of a second mark which left me at f4.0 most of the time. You may not get the entire frame in focus, but at least you’ll get something!

Watching Kilauea Glow At Volcanoes National Park

The Lava Glow, Kilauea, Hawaii

During the day you can only see a plume of gas rising from the most active volcano in the world. But as the sun starts to set a faint glow begins to emerge from the Halema’uma’u crater of Mount Kilauea. The lava lake is bubbling away about 50m below the rim.

We arrived at the Jagger Museum viewing point in Volcanoes National Park to find many photographers already lined up ready for the sunset. I had to get pretty creative with my tripod to get this angle!

I overheard one person say how they’d been there all afternoon to get their spot. That’s not how I want to spend my vacation! Hopefully this proves you don’t need to get there so early to take a good photo, we arrived about 30 minutes before sunset.

My First Hawaiian Sunset On The Big Island

Gazebo Sunset, Big Island

Aloha! I’ve just returned from three weeks in incredible Hawaii, soaking up the sun and taking a ton of photos along the way. It might be a bit Hawaii heavy here on the blog over the next few weeks, so hopefully you’ll fall in love with the place as much as I have. And if you’ve visited the islands I hope to rekindle some fond memories for you!

Hawaii is famous for its beautiful displays of colour at sunset, with many people (both locals and tourists) taking the time to watch the spectacle pass each day. As soon as we arrived on the Big Island I was already looking forward to our first opportunity to take it all in.

The Fairmont Orchid was the perfect place to start our vacation, and this shot was taken just beside the hotel’s golf course. As we wandered towards the shoreline it was impossible to miss this great gazebo.

Fortunately the sun was setting just at its centre, so I lined everything up and hit the shutter. We then continued on to the shore and I got to work shooting amongst the lava rocks before dusk settled on the island.

Royal Seats Of Amsterdam

Royal Seats, Amsterdam

While touring the Royal Palace in Amsterdam you pass behind the famous balcony on which royals greet the public in Dam Square. These chairs sit in the hallway behind the balcony, and presumably are where said royals wait before heading outside for the special occasion.

After I took this shot I wondered what that must feel like, what they might be thinking as they sit on these chairs. Do they look upon each engagement as a burden, a chore or a privilege? Is living a life prescribed to you from birth easy? I imagine not.

I loved the amazing blue here, which I have since noticed is very similar to the colour used by the Dutch national airline KLM. I suspect it’s not a coincidence, but I have no idea. Maybe someone out there knows the answer?!

To give the colour a bit more emphasis I decided to make the rest of the image black and white. Fortunately it was pretty easy in Lightroom. I just had to decrease the saturation for every colour other than blue to zero.

Inside Geneva’s St. Pierre Cathedral

St Pierre Cathedral, Geneva

In modern times Geneva is probably best known for its association with the United Nations and the Swiss banking industry. But back in the 1500’s it was considered the “Protestant Rome”, the unofficial capital of the Reformation.

St. Pierre’s Cathedral was the adopted church of John Calvin, a leader of the movement away from the Catholic church. Protestant exiles from all over Europe came to Geneva to take refuge, so while it’s not the most interesting church to look at it’s certainly historically significant.

I always enjoy exploring the geometry inside cathedrals like this. There are so many different ways to frame a shot, with crazy lines all over the place. I’ve found one of the most effective techniques is to try and use features of the interior to frame other elements in the shot. This normally provides some nice depth to the image from front to back.

A Thai Elephant’s Backside

Elephant, Thailand

Just after washing the elephants in a nearby river, I snapped this one wandering away from us back to the fields. I was very wet at the time and the afternoon heat was slowly drying me off. Our experience at the Elephant Nature Park was full of magical moments like this.

I recently spent some time going through my back catalogue of photos to clear some hard drive space. I took far too many photos of elephants during our day here! I guess you don’t have much choice if you want to capture the moment with unpredictable animals.

That reminds me of a quick Lightroom tip that may be helpful – if you press the ‘x’ key on a photo Lightroom will mark it as Rejected. You can go through a bunch of photos marking the ones you don’t want. Then select “Delete Rejected Photos” from the Photo menu options, and voila! All the bad eggs will be gone. It’s a nice way to make your workflow that little bit more efficient.

The Buddhas Of Wat Chedi Luang

Buddhas, Wat Chedi Luang

There can be no doubt that the Buddhas of Wat Chedi Luang look their best in the dark. When dusk turns to night and the lights come on around the temple, there’s a quiet and relaxing ambiance that can’t be found during the heat of the day in Chiang Mai.

Perhaps it was because there were far fewer people, or because I wasn’t constantly on the look out for shade. Whatever the reason, this place was more magical once the sun had set, and so I spent an hour exploring the angles around the temple.

It took a while to get this shot all lined up. I was using a small mini-tripod which left me about 25cm from the ground setting up the camera. Unfortunately these things are never completely symmetrical, which I always find very disappointing!