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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
Did you know that you could ski in Hawaii?! As we reached the summit of Mauna Kea I was certainly thankful for the extra layers I had packed especially for this trip. Although there’s no snow up here outside of winter, the temperature was enough to set my teeth chattering.
At a height of 13,803 feet it was a very different environment to the one we had left behind on the beach a few hours earlier. Given the elevation there was a chance of altitude sickness, so I didn’t want to exert myself any more than necessary. I left my tripod behind and set about shooting the sunset.
The white structures are two of the many telescopes at the summit, which is one of the best places in the world for looking out into the universe. Poking through the clouds on the horizon is the Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui, about 80 miles from this spot!
Have you seen a sunset from above the clouds? Maybe you’ve visited Mauna Kea? Let’s start a conversation!