Hawaii, on the big island you must stay

When I travel my primary focus is photography (no pun intended), but for many people photography is almost an after-thought when they travel. I don’t really understand the mindset of someone who takes random snapshots in the middle of the day while visiting some of the most amazing locations around the world. I have traveled many times to a location for the specific purpose of making photographs, and when I say “making photographs” I’m not talking about “taking pictures” or “grabbing a few snapshots” what I’m talking about is the very deliberate act of getting up before sunrise to make sure to be at a location for the sunrise light or arriving at your shooting location hours before sunset to allow yourself time to set up your tripod and plan out some images you are interested in capturing.

For me the joys of carefully crafting beautiful photographs is a challenge to my “creative self” and has a degree of therapy to it that helps feed the never-ending drive to exercise my “creative” muscles.

Hawaii seems like just the place to push my photographic skill set because I currently live in a desert environment and tropical beaches and rainforests are just about polar opposites from what I am familiar with.


There were certain iconic shots I was specifically looking for on this trip and much to my dismay mother nature would not always reward me with perfect blue skies and golden sunlight. I think one of the challenges of travel photography is being able to “find your shot” even when the skies are cloudy and grey, or when the “shot” you envisioned in your head just doesn’t present itself.

To see more beautiful images from the big island of Hawaii, click on the continue reading link below:


There are definite advantages to just grabbing random snapshots rather than working hard to scout out locations and constantly searching for that “perfect” shot only to be disappointed by the results given the amount of work and effort you put in, whereas you could have been just sitting on the beach an enjoying yourself during that time.


Being able to make interesting and compelling photographs when the lighting is flat and the skies are cloudy can be very difficult, many times you will find yourself “forcing it” to work or seeing shots in your head that just aren’t there, which can be very frustrating.


Sometimes altering your “style” or looking for details can produce the results you are looking for. The thing about some of these “details” type of image is you really can’t appreciate the beauty of them when viewed at web size, you really need to view them on a very large screen TV or printed as 12 x 18 prints. Seeing some of these images in a large size really gives them some “pop” and draws you into the texture of the image.


Viewed at this small size these images just don’t have the impact of the large size prints do.


Of course any good travel post must include the requisite food shot and everybody knows I loves me some pancakes!


Can you hear the theme from Hawaii Five-O playing in your head right about now?


Getting those iconic huge North-shore wave shots in the summer time just isn’t going to happen so I will just have to settle for the much smaller summer waves.


How about a shot like this, this just screams Hawaii Vacation Postcard, right?


Back to some detail shots, to truly appreciate these images you really must see a 12 x 18 print, it makes all the difference in the world.


Of course no trip would be complete without a trip to one of the black sand beaches to look for the amazing sea turtles.


A trip to Volcano National Park where the clouds were coming down the mountain quickly and really making me have to adjust my shooting “style” to find my shot. All the images I pictured in my head were impossible to get and the sunlight was quickly being overtaken by cloudy, hazy skies requiring me to do some “outside of the box” thinking with my photography.


The way the sunlight was being filtered through the fast approaching clouds made for a few interesting images, and in fact the above image turned out to be my favorite from the day.


As expected I often go for the details shots when the lighting conditions are less than ideal, it’s quickly becoming my “stand-by” shot to get when I don’t see what I want. Once again I think I need to use my brain and creative eye to “find my shot” so I stand there for a minute or two until I can get my creative juices flowing and start making photographs.


The beautiful detail texture of the lava rocks in the foreground and the background haze and cool blueish color scheme and I think I am starting to find some interesting photographs despite the haze and clouds.


The three distinct layers in this shot really interested me, I think this is almost better than some of those bright sunlight shots I would have gotten.


The moss growing on this tree with its very bright red flowers and the black lava background . . .    I’m really loving some of these shots.


Back up to the caldera to get some glow shots and I noticed all the amazing stars out in the night sky so I got both in one shot. Yes, you read that correctly, this is one single shot, not a composite.


Another day of exploring and we find this cool papaya grove that just begs to be captured. A bit of a snap shot in the mid-day light so look for some different types of shots to take advantage of the textures and shapes like the heart-shape patterns below.


All the exploring is making me hungry and so we begin our search for some good local cuisine, no chain restaurants here, real hand-crafted food.


We found this little Thai restaurant in old town Pahoa that made amazing food and I had to make a few nice travel related food images.


The Pad-Thai and pineapple curry were so fresh and tasted so good that I started eating before I realized I hadn’t captured an image yet, so I had to stop eating long enough to make a few frames. The woman running the restaurant must have thought I was a bit strange because I was playing with my camera right in the middle of our meal.


Heading around the island and I saw some very nice light on a cemetery so we stopped for some photography.


Something about the colors and the textures make this place very interesting to me.


As we headed up to Akaka falls I could see the clouds and flat light would not make for very good photographs but it would be a good scouting trip in case we wanted to try a O’ dark thirty try for sunrise photography there. One good thing happened while we were there and finally seeing an elusive Hawaiian Mongoose was really exciting


The clouds over the falls made for some really dull, flat lighting conditions which made photography at this amazing place seem boring.


I tried some high-contrast images without the sky to see what I could do with the lighting conditions, but ultimately the shot I liked the best from the day was the fern leaves shot below.


I wanted to do something with the fantastic sky but it just wasn’t working out because the great sky was out over the ocean and not anywhere near the falls.


I made some interesting silhouette shots but the light was disappearing fast and I didn’t feel like I was in the right place to set up my tripod and make amazing landscape images because the foreground elements seemed somewhat average considering we were walking out of Akaka Falls State Park.


The sky and the trees with the ocean off in the distance were nice but not as epic as I would have liked and this is basically looking East so the sun is setting behind me on the other side of the island.

There are so many more images to show and talk about so remember to come back for the next installment of the Hawaii adventures in an upcoming post.


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