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08-30-2014, 07:30 PM   #1
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Any tips for Hawaii?

My wife, Lisa, and I are leaving for Kauai in a few days. This will be our first vacation where we've had a DSLR with us. Everything before this has been with a point-and-shoot, but Lisa now has a K10D and we're both getting interested in trying to get some great pictures with it. I've been reading what I can find about it, but am getting more confused.

For instance, I read that you want to shoot early or late in the day, then I read that's not true in Hawaii for some reason and the midday sun gives the water a better turquoise color. I've read you need to use a UV filter and that you don't need one with digital sensors. I've read that a CPL and/or ND filter are a must because of the bright sun and I've read that they aren't needed.

Any tips for us newbies? This is probably the only chance we'll have to go to Hawaii, so we want some good photos to remember it by.

Thanks in advance!

Dave

08-30-2014, 08:35 PM   #2
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Cpl is a must, uv less so (useful for lens protection), nd maybe. There is a bit of mixed opinion regarding filters, but my experience tends to make me think it very much depends on the lens. The limited lenses are pretty resistant to most things. Lower quality lenses less so.

If I was heading to Hawaii (not that I've been before), I'd probably take a da 21mm ltd + CPL as my general walk around lens; and something like the da50 f1.8 or cheap manual 50mm lens for evenings.
08-30-2014, 08:40 PM   #3
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I'm no pro, but I would tend to stick with early and late i the day for your best shots, meaning try to plan trips to the most scenic areas to fit in those times. You can of course always take pictures any time for memories, but you'll get the best results early and late.

If I were to buy one accessory for Hawaii, it would be a polarizing filter. If you take pictures at right angle to the sun you'll be amazed at what the effect is. And this is an effect you can't really recreate in processing. You'll only need a ND filter if you're planning on taking long exposure shots, which during in the day in Hawaii might be hard to do unless you get a pretty heavyweight ND. I don't think you want to overwhelm yourselves with too much new equipment, better to learn slowly, one thing at a time, if you're just starting out. Get the polarizer, and then get a UV filter and just leave it on all the time.

Keep in mind that the light is intense there and that a lot of your scenes will tend to be backlit, so I'd recommend reading the manual on the way over and learn how to use the spot meter and bracketing, and how to focus and expose for your subject, lock in the settings, and then recompose. You do this with the AE/L button, but just read up on these few things. The one problem most newbies usually find when coming back home is that they have a large number of photos where the subjects (people or nearby features) are greatly underexposed.

I don't know what lens you have but make sure you have a reasonably wide angle, say something less than 35 mm. This way you can get the sweeping scenes in one picture. Hopefully you have something in the 15 mm to 25 mm range for landscapes. A longer lens like the 55-300 mm would be good for birds, waves, and whales.

A final tip: use your flash for people shots with background sunsets. Use fill flash often, with slow flash sync (read in manual). You'll get enough light on your subjects, and it will leave the lens open long enough to capture good color in the sunset as well.

For great scenery go to....
Lumahai Beach
Polihale Beach
Waimea Canyon
Wailua Falls
Have fun, I'm jealous!
08-30-2014, 10:22 PM   #4
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Coming from NC, you will have no trouble at all getting up well before sunrise, at least for the first few days.

I never heard that theory about the turquoise water but looking at my photos, I think it is probably true. The water is really deep (like thousands of feet) except for some beaches, like Anini Beach on the north side, so bright sun is needed to penetrate the depths. The weather is really different in various places but usually sunnier in the morning. One example I can think of is the drive up to the Kalalau Valley lookout. Clouds start to build up there in the late morning and obscure the view. If you're staying on the north side, it may take a couple of hours to drive all the way around and up there.

You'll probably get rained on at some point, so have a plastic bag for the camera. If you had more time, I'd suggest the cheap 18-55 WR lens, but I never had one when I was there and just used common sense. Wind can carry salt spray so use some care close to the ocean.

The island gets a lot of rain on the northeast corner, really dumped on in the middle and is very dry on the southwest corner. Watch for rainbows in the afternoon if you're on the west side driving east. The center of the island is rarely clear of clouds. Hikes and tours that go close to the center are interesting but often get wetter and rainier as they go.

Because of the rain, salt spray and humidity, long lenses usually aren't that useful. My best long lens shots were at the Kilauea lighthouse bird sanctuary. The birds are migratory so I'm not sure what you'll see, but check it out. I think it's early for whales, maybe by a month or so, but the lighthouse is a good spot for them. All my whale photos are terrible. Chicken photos are easy.

If you get tired of tourism, go to a football game, probably at the stadium in Lihu'e near the airport.

Rainbow at the Kilauea lighthouse with a polarizer filter:


08-30-2014, 10:44 PM   #5
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Hi, Dave. On the PF ( this site) home page there is an Aug 25 interview with Sean Davey, one of the premier surf photographers. He shoots a lot in Hawaii and has some pertinent tips to answer many of your questions. A recommended read.

Jack
08-31-2014, 12:08 AM   #6
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If you don't have something already, don't sweat it. Make good exposures and I recommend you shoot in RAW. That way, when you're editing skills catch up, you still have everything to work with. Memory cards are cheap. It sort of depends on how much time you want to devote to photography. My wife expects it to be the three of us: her, me, and my camera bag.

The key thing is to look and see

08-31-2014, 06:26 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveNC Quote
Any tips for Hawaii?
Aye... look out for Danno, he's the one that "books 'em".
08-31-2014, 08:57 AM   #8
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Robthebloke, we have "lower quality" lenses, and CPL and UV to fit them all, so I guess we're set there.
---
GeoJerry, great advice about not wanting to be overwhelmed with new stuff, and about the exposure issues. I've got a copy of the manual on my iPad and quite a few hours on an airplane to kill, so I'll definatley read up on the things yo mentioned.

We've got a Pentax 18-55, Tamron 18-200, and Quantaray (Tamron) 70-300. I wish we had a 18-135 WR, but I don't think there's time to get one shipped before we leave. I'm thinking the 18-200 will be on the camera most of the time and take the 70-300 for if we need extra reach. The 18-55 will probably stay home. Ideally, I'd like to have a 18-135 WR and also take the 70-300, though.
---
Just1MoreDave, Yeah, I'm sure we'll be up before dawn early in the stay. I'll bet that first few days back to work are going to be rough, though.

I wish we had some kind of WR lens, but we don't. How water resistant are the Pentax WR lenses, anyway? Some people say "light rain" and some people say they shower the sand off of them. I'm wondering if it would it be worth it to have that 18-135 WR I want shipped out there?

Great shot of the rainbow at the Kilauea lighthouse, too
---
jbinpg, thanks, I'll go read the interview with Sean Davey
---
Brooke Meyer, I plan on shooting RAW+JPEG. Lisa likes to copy the JPEG files to her iPad and send some to family.

Nice shots, too!
---
Kerrowdown, we definitely want to stay away from Danno!
---

Thanks everyone for all the great advice!

Dave

08-31-2014, 09:10 AM   #9
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There are times and situation for everything. There are times where you don't want to shoot under mid-day sun and when you do. Times when a C-PL works beautifully and when it does absofreakinlutely nothing. So, what should you do in Hawaii?
1. Circular Polarizer (C-PL) - Works best when the light is a 90 degree angle to the lens. As the sun moves closer to being either directly in front of or behind you, the C-PL will have little to no effect on the image. So when determining when to use it, just hold it up to your eye and rotate the filter to see if the effect is what you like. Using a UV filter has no affect on the image, so it's mainly used as lens protection. I had fallen once and shattered a filter on a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. It's cheap insurance. ND filters will allow you to use longer shutter speeds to blur motion. This can provide amazing surreal images. Try using them if you can bring a tripod with you (Gorrilla pod is a small great pod to use) - If you've got clouds in the sky, they look soft and streak across the frame providing a very unique look. They'll also allow for you to soften waterfalls to give the water that cotton-candy look. Play with you shutter speeds to adjust the motion blur to your liking.
2. Shoot mid-day or not? Well, you shouldn't limit yourself to only shooting during the golden hour of sunrise or sunset. It's Hawaii for crying out loud - SHOOT! Sure, the light will be best in the golden hour, but there will be plenty of opportunities to get great shots even under mid-day sun. You just have to see the light.
3. Go to 500px.com and do a seach for the cities that you're visiting. A search for "Hawaii" will result in a lot of hit, but searching for a specific beach or city will narrow down your results. Review what has been done so you can get ideas of what you want to photograph.
08-31-2014, 10:12 AM   #10
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Don't forget a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you are going near water a lot a waterproof sports sunscreen like BullFrog is a must. UV filters can be useful in high blue light scatter situations - at high altitudes or scenes that are mostly ocean or lake.
08-31-2014, 01:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveNC Quote
Just1MoreDave, Yeah, I'm sure we'll be up before dawn early in the stay. I'll bet that first few days back to work are going to be rough, though.

I wish we had some kind of WR lens, but we don't. How water resistant are the Pentax WR lenses, anyway? Some people say "light rain" and some people say they shower the sand off of them. I'm wondering if it would it be worth it to have that 18-135 WR I want shipped out there?

Great shot of the rainbow at the Kilauea lighthouse, too
Thanks! The spot is easy to find, right next to the parking lot.

If I had some money and time, I would probably buy the 18-135 because it works for a lot of Hawai'i shots. But on the other hand, that Kilauea shot was taken in a light shower with a *ist DS and the 16-45, which I also took on a boat tour around the west side in rough seas and on a van tour and hike towards the center of the island. Reasonable precautions and regular cameras are OK. Heck, people bring Canons to Hawai'i all the time.

My wife took three days or more to get over the Hawai'i-East Coast flight. The worst was coming home for Christmas. Go to the airport wearing a T-shirt and shorts at 9pm, get to Connecticut sixteen hours and two flights later, already dark again because it's the shortest day of the year, and of course winter.
08-31-2014, 01:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by FrankC Quote
There are times and situation for everything. There are times where you don't want to shoot under mid-day sun and when you do. Times when a C-PL works beautifully and when it does absofreakinlutely nothing. So, what should you do in Hawaii?
1. Circular Polarizer (C-PL) - Works best when the light is a 90 degree angle to the lens. As the sun moves closer to being either directly in front of or behind you, the C-PL will have little to no effect on the image. So when determining when to use it, just hold it up to your eye and rotate the filter to see if the effect is what you like. Using a UV filter has no affect on the image, so it's mainly used as lens protection. I had fallen once and shattered a filter on a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. It's cheap insurance. ND filters will allow you to use longer shutter speeds to blur motion. This can provide amazing surreal images. Try using them if you can bring a tripod with you (Gorrilla pod is a small great pod to use) - If you've got clouds in the sky, they look soft and streak across the frame providing a very unique look. They'll also allow for you to soften waterfalls to give the water that cotton-candy look. Play with you shutter speeds to adjust the motion blur to your liking.
2. Shoot mid-day or not? Well, you shouldn't limit yourself to only shooting during the golden hour of sunrise or sunset. It's Hawaii for crying out loud - SHOOT! Sure, the light will be best in the golden hour, but there will be plenty of opportunities to get great shots even under mid-day sun. You just have to see the light.
3. Go to 500px.com and do a seach for the cities that you're visiting. A search for "Hawaii" will result in a lot of hit, but searching for a specific beach or city will narrow down your results. Review what has been done so you can get ideas of what you want to photograph.
Thanks for the advice, Frank. We've got CPLs for both lenses. We've also got a couple ND filters and are planning to take a "compact" tripod to try to get some cool "cotton candy" waterfall shots and to get ourselves in a few photos. And we do plan on taking a lot of pictures, no matter what time of day it is. Being newbies, I'm sure we'll have a lot of bad shots, but as long as we can get a few great ones we'll be happy. And I need to remember, this is a vacation, not a photo shoot. But since we'll likely never get back to Hawaii, it would be nice to have some good pictures of when we were there.

I also looked at 500px and there's a lot of great photos there. I need to spend some more time there getting ideas. Thanks.

Dave

---------- Post added 08-31-14 at 04:48 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
Don't forget a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you are going near water a lot a waterproof sports sunscreen like BullFrog is a must. UV filters can be useful in high blue light scatter situations - at high altitudes or scenes that are mostly ocean or lake.
Hat & sunscreen are on the top of the list, along with bug spray from what I've read.

Dave

---------- Post added 08-31-14 at 04:58 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Thanks! The spot is easy to find, right next to the parking lot.

If I had some money and time, I would probably buy the 18-135 because it works for a lot of Hawai'i shots. But on the other hand, that Kilauea shot was taken in a light shower with a *ist DS and the 16-45, which I also took on a boat tour around the west side in rough seas and on a van tour and hike towards the center of the island. Reasonable precautions and regular cameras are OK. Heck, people bring Canons to Hawai'i all the time.

My wife took three days or more to get over the Hawai'i-East Coast flight. The worst was coming home for Christmas. Go to the airport wearing a T-shirt and shorts at 9pm, get to Connecticut sixteen hours and two flights later, already dark again because it's the shortest day of the year, and of course winter.
We don't really have the money or time to get the 18-135 WR, but I figure if we really need it we've already spent too many dollars on this trip so whats a few more? Sounds like we can get by without it, though. You got that great lighthouse rainbow shot without one, and I'm sure many others, and survived the boat tour, which was one of the things I'm a little concerned about - being on a boat with the spray all around. And that's a good point about people with other makes of cameras. I need to ponder this one a little more.

We are not looking forward to the trip back, and both of us returning to work the next morning. think we should have planned an extra "recovery" day.

Dave
08-31-2014, 09:41 PM   #13
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The seas should be calmer now then our tour in November. It was Blue Dolphin, I think the largest boats, and spray was coming all the way up to the top. Boat size varies a lot, though.
09-07-2014, 04:22 AM   #14
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If you're still there check these guys out. The photo tour was fun and reasonable. It was during the day though. Kauai Photo Tours - Kapaa - Reviews of Kauai Photo Tours - TripAdvisor
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