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!
It’s a short downhill hike to reach the black sand beach which occupies Pololu Valley on the Big Island. Of course that means it’s uphill on the way back to your car! But I’d say it’s achievable for pretty much any able-bodied person, so long as it’s not wet and slippery out there.
Once we reached the bottom of the valley I spent some time walking up and down the beach, listening to and watching the waves. The ocean was so powerful here, with a really strong undertow pulling the water back out. It’s probably not a great place to go swimming! Especially since there is no lifeguard at all.
What it lacks in swim-ability it makes up for in isolation. We were sharing the beach with about 10 other people, so between the what must be about three or four hundred metres of sand it wasn’t too difficult to feel alone with nature. An incredible spot, and definitely worth the hike!
One early morning we took a beautiful walk along the Big Island coast near Waikoloa, admiring the palm trees as we went. Wandering south from the Fairmont Orchid hotel there were so many small bays, some sandy and some full of lava rocks. It was the perfect place for a relaxing stroll in the relative cool at the beginning of the day.
I’m not sure why, but these trees are just so pleasing in photographs! Perhaps it’s because they just look so clean, with the slim narrow trunk leading up to such well defined leaves at the top. I don’t know! It’s not often you find trees that look so great as the single focus point of a photo, but I think the palm tree really pulls it off.
I used my Lightroom preset ‘Summer Sky’ on this shot, which I’ve been using a lot recently in photos where the sun is shining and the sky is just a plain blue. It just looks really boring without any clouds! Playing with the colour a little seems to make a big difference.
I’m thinking of putting some of my presets into a bundle and selling them online for a small fee. Would you be interested in that? I think I’ll try to sort something out over the next few weeks but I have no idea where to start!
Before I visit somewhere new I always try to spend some time researching shooting locations, so I knew I wanted to get something a little different to the common shots I’d seen of Waipiʻo Valley on the Big Island. Since we’d decided not to hike down to the black sand beach I had to get creative with some foliage around the lookout point.
Fortunately I found these trees which provided a fantastic frame for the beautiful coastline. It might not be the grand vista you can see with no obstruction just out of shot, but I always think putting something in the foreground that’s almost close enough to touch helps draw you into an image.
Whilst I enjoy scouting a place before I’ve been there, I love to see other photographers’ work of somewhere I’ve visited myself even more! It’s so interesting to compare and contrast the composition, the light and the weather when you’ve been standing in the very spot that a photo was taken from.
Short of taking a full on tour with a professional, I actually think it’s one of the best ways to learn and improve your photography. I’ve been on the lookout for photos of Hawaii ever since we got back, so if you have any of your own or have some favourites bookmarked please get in touch!
There’s no question that Hawaii’s Big Island is an amazing location for a road trip, and one of its most famous drives is Chain of Craters Road. Winding through the black lava fields created by many volcanic eruptions over the years was a humbling experience.
As we descended 3700 feet from the smoking Kilauea Caldera to sea level I was on the lookout for good spots to capture this barren, surreal landscape. The road has been covered several times by lava flow, so for me this shot represents the enduring battle that is so present here between humanity and nature.
The roads throughout the Big Island were fantastic for the most part, as smooth as they were scenic and fairly clear of any traffic. At times the low speed limits were a little frustrating, but for the most part I was just happy to be forced to slow down and enjoy the view. After all that’s what Hawaii is all about!