Sailing Past Na Pali

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

After an hour-long drive to the port we arrived to find that our first attempt at seeing the Na Pali coast by boat was cancelled! The sea can get very choppy around the island of Kauai, and due to poor weather conditions we just couldn’t go out.

Fortunately we managed to re-book at the last minute through a different tour company for our last day on the island. To say I had my fingers crossed for good weather would be a huge understatement!

After our misfortune earlier in the week, we were lucky enough to experience incredible conditions when we finally made it out onto the water. I was able to keep my camera out for the majority of the trip without worrying about any spray at all!

Waiting For Martians At Haleakala

Haleakala, Maui

If I were ever to see martians land on earth, this is the spot in which I would be least surprised. The Haleakala volcano dominates the eastern side of Maui, and really looks like another planet entirely. Given its size, Hawaii sure has more than its fair share of incredible landscapes!

This shot was taken as I explored the Sliding Sands trail that passes through the main summit crater, which actually isn’t volcanic in nature but the result of erosion over many years. As the name suggests it was pretty sandy, so I had to be quick when switching to my zoom lens for this image.

I took so many photos at the summit, but this was one of my favourite compositions. The colours and flow of the landscape would be perfect for a painting, and I tried to maintain a softer feel while processing in Lightroom. At the top of the frame you can see the clouds and beyond that the Pacific ocean. An unforgettable view!

Upstream Of The Cascade d’Ardent

Upstream, French Alps

My first visit to the Cascade d’Ardent in France was too short, and I came away knowing that I’d left some great shots on the table. That’s never a satisfying feeling! So on my second trip I arrived with plenty of time to explore the smaller falls upstream.

It’s interesting to see how the water flow changes throughout the year, and I’m always surprised by how much it’s affected by the weather. On this occasion the river was pretty shallow, allowing me to get to spots like this that I didn’t dare to venture into before.

I’ve been caught out a few times in places I didn’t expect to be slippery and it’s always a quick wake up call! When the torrent is weaker it’s easier to get closer to the water, and it also reveals some nice details in the falls you might not see when they’re at at full strength.

Stockholm’s Gamla Stan During Blue Hour

Blue Hour, Stockholm

At this time of year sunset colours and blue hour in Stockholm last for a long time, which is a blessing as the sun sets around 3pm. I was really excited to try and get some shots like this after dark, but most of the buildings along the waterfront are not lit up at all at night.

Fortunately I managed to get this shot during blue hour as we walked back to our hotel. The old town of Stockholm, Gamla Stan is apparently one of the best preserved medieval centres in Europe. It’s a great area to explore on foot, and during December there’s a Christmas market in the square.

We were expecting cloud cover for the weekend but actually had some nice blue skies on Saturday. The seasons can transform a place, and I’d love to go back in the summer when I can get about without all of my winter gear. The cold weather is not a great motivator for taking long exposures by the water!

Hanging Lanterns In Hong Kong’s Man Mo Temple

Lanterns, Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

After a while the burning incense in Hong Kong’s Man Mo Temple was quite suffocating, but the atmosphere it created was probably the most mesmerising of any temple I’ve visited. Despite the difficulty breathing after half an hour I was still reluctant to leave.

I spent a lot of time around these lanterns. There were plenty hanging inside, and I guess you can pay to have your prayer attached to one. I have absolutely no idea what the Chinese writing says. If anybody out there has a clue I’d love to know!

It’s in situations like this I wish I had a nice prime lens with a really low f stop and nice bokeh. Then I could get some really tight focus and that nice creamy effect in the out of focus areas. But for now my kit lens will have to do!

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!