Hawaii is filled with so much beauty that some may consider it impossible to take a bad photo. However, photographing Hawaii proved to be challenging because of many factors. The ocean, for example, is beautiful to photograph but if you get too close, it can be hazardous to your camera equipment. There are also dramatic changes in weather, such as tropical rainstorms which can derail your photoshoot. Here are my tips on getting the best photos in Hawaii:
1. Buy a waterproof cover for your phone:
Waterproof phone cases can be found at the ever-present ABC stores and will help you get some of the best photos in Hawaii. I use the Lifeproof case, which seals your phone from water and allows you to have piece of mind when going to the ocean. Many of my most photo-worthy moments in Hawaii happened when I was in a boat, canoe, or swimming. With a waterproof camera, you will be able to get photos of all the sea life as well as a new perspective on Hawaii. You might even catch a photo of the Honu!
2. Find the sunny side of the island:
Although most photos of Hawaii show the sun shining, the weather can truly be unpredictable even in summer. It may be sunny one moment, and then rain the next. Rain and DSLRs do not mix. On the bright side, usually if it is raining on one side of the island, it most likely will be dry on the other. I suggest renting a car and driving to a sunnier side of the island to photograph. Also, always have a plan, A, B and C when it comes to places to choosing a photoshoot location. For example, I planned on photographing Kualoa Ranch, when a sudden downpour occurred. I headed the opposite direction to Pearl Harbor, and it was completely sunny.
3. Venture to off the beaten path locations:
For the screen-saver-like photos, I recommend venturing to the unpopulated beaches. Try renting a car and branch out of the tourist-run areas like Waikiki and explore the North Shore (below) and some of the less populated areas of the island. This will make your photos look more timeless.
4. Do not bring your DSLR on long hiking trips:
...Or at least bring a camera backpack. When I hiked Na Pali trail, I brought my DSLR hoping to capture every moment of the dramatic cliff-side scenery. However, I quickly started to regret bringing anything more than the essentials as every mile passed and the trail became increasingly slippery and steep. Luckily, I made it out unscathed, but I won't forget almost dropping my camera a few times. For long hikes, I suggest securing your DSLR in a camera backpack, or better yet, bring a smaller, and more durable camera such as a GoPro or iPhone camera with a case.
5. Try unique forms of transportation:
Sometimes shooting Hawaii from the ground does not do it justice. Hawaii is filled with picturesque topography that can require a unique form of transportation to view. To get a new perspective of Hawaii, try boarding a boat, kayak, helicopter, or plane. There are numerous boat cruises and catamarans for panoramic landscape photos, as well as helicopter tours around the island for aerial shots. The photo below was taken via airplane, and it captures the expansiveness of the island all in one shot.
Check out our Hawaii photo gallery.
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