Which Lens For A Kauai Helicopter Tour?

Na Pali Coastline, Kauai, Hawaii

I debated which lens to take on our Kauai helicopter tour long and hard. You can’t change lenses during the flight, so it’s a make or break decision! After much deliberation I went with a mid-range lens which turned out to be just right.

At 24mm this shot of the Na Pali coast was about as wide as I could get without the helicopter creeping in at the edges of the frame. We were too far away from anything for a super wide angle lens to be useful, and I think it would have been very difficult to get a sharp shot with a powerful zoom lens. Something in the 18-70mm range would have been just right.

You can take private photography tours with some companies. I have no idea if you can switch lenses on those flights, but they change the route depending on what you want to take photos of which is pretty cool. Perhaps one day if I have more money than sense I’ll take one of those!

Blue Hour At The Andaz Maui

Andaz Maui Sunset, Hawaii

As I walked back to our room at the Andaz Maui resort I turned around to take one last look at the Hawaiian sunset. The blue hour was just beginning, and what a sight! I’d just spent an hour shooting at the beach, but I couldn’t resist setting up my tripod one more time to capture this scene across the pool.

I often find the best light comes after the sun has set, and this evening was no exception. As always I exposed this shot for the highlights, expecting to have more success recovering the dark areas of the sky in post-processing.

Unfortunately as I brought up those shadows in Lightroom a huge amount of ugly noise was revealed. Using a combination of Topaz DeNoise and Lightroom I had to do a fair bit of work to balance the noise reduction against loss of detail in the image. It’s a bit of a black art and I still feel like an apprentice!

A Summer Visit To The Cascade Du Rouget

Cascade du Rouget, French Alps

Last time I visited the Cascade du Rouget I had to hike for an hour through snow. It was a nervy journey with a few slips here and there. Not my most enjoyable hike in the French Alps! As I parked the car just metres from the waterfall this summer I felt conflicted about the road being so close by. Surely something of such natural beauty was worthy of more effort than that?!

Unfortunately I actually prefer the wider composition of my winter shot. The falls are much more powerful in the summer, and there was way too much spray to get into the same position. I set up my tripod further to one side and started shooting, but it quickly became clear the spray was still going to be an issue.

I had to cover my lens with a lens cloth, start the 10-second timer I use for tripod shots to avoid camera shake, count to 9 and then remove the lens cloth just before the shutter opened. Of course this was not an exact science, and I had plenty of attempts where the lens got wet before the shot was taken or I removed the lens cloth too late. I should really invest in a remote shutter release!

Walkways Over Hong Kong’s Central Business District

Central Business District, Hong Kong

After exploring the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators in Hong Kong I came across this fantastic overpass on the way back to my hotel. There are plenty of these throughout the network of raised walkways that connect many of the buildings in the central business district.

It’s a great place for night photography, and with the sun setting around 1740 in Hong Kong this time of year there’s no excuse not to give it a try! A scene that may look pretty dull during the day can be completely transformed with artificial lighting at night. From a photographer’s perspective it’s like exploring an entirely new location!

I was a little disappointed at first with the lack of symmetry here, but I think that it adds an element of intrigue to the image. At first glance you almost expect the walkway to be symmetrical, and the fact that it isn’t makes you look again. That’s how I see it anyway!

A Singapore Sunset At Marina Bay

Marina Bay Sands Sunset, Singapore

I just couldn’t resist this famous composition of the Helix Bridge and Marina Bay Sands while visiting Singapore at the weekend. Fortunately it was coupled with a fantastic sunset which lit up the clouds something special.

This viewing platform on the Helix Bridge is definitely one of the most well known spots for photography around Marina Bay. I had three other people setting up tripods around me when I took this shot! But it can be tricky to get a sharp image because the bridge bounces up and down as people walk across.

All of the architecture around the Marina Bay area of Singapore is a bit otherworldly. I often felt like I was walking through something from a sci-fi novel. This bridge looks like it could have been lifted straight from an alien spaceship!

Amongst The Lava Rocks Of Waikoloa

Tide Pools At Sunset, Hawaii

You’ll find lava rocks and tide pools like this all around the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. It must be one of the easiest places in the world to find good foreground interest for shots of the ocean!

Before we left for our vacation I did some research on Google Maps satellite view to see what I could find within walking distance of the hotels we were staying in. This shot was taken a two minute walk from the Fairmont Orchid hotel in Waikoloa as we experienced our first Hawaiian sunset.

I knew in advance there would be some nice lava rock around here, but I had no idea about the tide pools! The reflection captures some clouds that aren’t in the shot, and hopefully leads you to wonder what else might be out there if you could just look around outside the frame.

The View From Pololu Valley Lookout

Pololu Valley Lookout, Big Island

After a stunning drive around the northern edge of the Big Island this was our reward, the view from the Pololu Valley lookout. From here you can hike down to the black sand beach which occupies the middle of the valley, and I can tell you it’s certainly worth it!

There are only 5 or 6 parking spots by the lookout. If you miss out you’re left to decide where is a reasonable place to park alongside a road that’s already pretty narrow! But it’s doable nonetheless. Thanks to our early start we managed to get a spot before it got too busy up there.

This part of the island is often covered in cloud with intermittent rain. Although we had a brief shower during our visit we were pretty lucky to see the sun for the majority of the morning, even if it made the hike to the beach that little bit more tiring!