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!
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.
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!
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!
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!