Posted by: kerryl29 | October 21, 2019

Hawaii: The Photographic Experience

I’ll resume the chronological recitation of my time in Hawaii in a couple of weeks, but for now I want to hone in on what the overall experience was like and how it compared and contrasted with other photo trips I’ve taken over the past 17 years.


While there have been some exceptions (cough–Yosemite Valley–cough), when I’ve dealt with crowds on past photo trips, they’ve been in the form of other photographers, not tourists.  That was decidedly not the case in Hawaii.  On those occasions when I ran into crowds (and on those occasions when I didn’t), I saw almost no other people whose primary purpose for being there was photographing.  There were plenty of people who pulled out smartphones, and lots of people taking selfies, but you’ll run into that phenomenon almost anywhere.  When it comes to visitors, and Hawaii has many of them, all year long (there really is no apparent “slow season” in Hawaii), very few people seem to view Hawaii as a prime photo destination…this, despite an almost endless number of photogenic subjects.

Papawai Point at Sunrise, Maui, Hawaii

What’s the reason for this?  Perhaps it’s the cost of visiting Hawaii and how comparatively difficult it is to get there (it’s a very long plane flight, especially if you’re not starting from the West Coast of the United States).  Perhaps it’s because it’s such a well-known general tourist destination.

Whatever the reason(s), Hawaii is a great place to photograph, and the relative lack of photographers (and plethora of general tourists) means that, at prime times for photography (read: the edges of the day), you’re unlikely to have difficulty with others encroaching on your access.

Upper Tier of Waipo’o Falls, Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii


With a few notable exceptions that I will discuss in future posts, Hawaii photo locations are warm (if not outright hot) and humid all the time.  The humidity factor was, I think, more noteworthy than the heat.  The relative humidity almost never drops much below 65% in Hawaii, no matter how high the temperature rises.  (Temperatures, during my time in the islands, never dropped lower than the upper 70s and never got much above the low 90s Fahrenheit.)  Dealing with condensation on the outer element of my lenses was a constant battle, even though I routinely took precautions in an attempt to avoid it.  And, as I’ll describe in greater detail in future installments, the heat and humidity were particularly challenging when it came to hiking.

The only other photo trip I’ve taken that involved any consequential amount of heat and humidity was to south Florida a couple of years ago and that was in winter, so it wasn’t as warm most of the time (though it was every bit as humid).  I also did much less hiking in Florida than in Hawaii.

Sailboat Rainbow, Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

In many parts of both Kauai and Maui, rain was, if not a constant presence, a frequent threat, particularly on the eastern part of both islands.  While I was never directly caught in a major downpour, I very narrowly escaped several and had to deal with light rain on numerous occasions, including much of the back end of a 12-mile hike I took one day while on Kauai.

Spouting Horn Black & White, Spouting Horn Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Equipment Issues

This had nothing to do with Hawaii specifically, but for some reason, after experiencing no significant problems with equipment on photo trips dating back to 2002, the dam broke while I was in Hawaii.

The first problem took place when one of my hiking boots literally fell apart while I was hiking on the second full day of the trip.  (More on that when I relate the full experience of that day.)  Additionally, my manual cable release started acting flaky almost from the word go and plagued me off-and-on throughout the trip.  I thought I had a backup with me, but I didn’t.  If that wasn’t enough, the zoom ring on my 14-24 mm lens locked up on me–for no apparent reason; it functioned fine one day and when I pulled it out of the bag the next day it wasn’t working–about halfway into the trip and was out of commission for the duration.  And finally, the day after the mishap with the 14-24 revealed itself, I noticed that the rubber cover on my 24-70 mm lens–my workhorse–was loose and coming off.  The lens was still functional, thankfully, and I was able to nurse it through the remainder of the trip, but it will have to go in for repair when my fall photo season comes to an end (probably by mid-November).  (The 14-24, for those of you interested, has already gone in for repair and is now back in my bag.)

Lumaha’i Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

In the end, I managed to work through all the problems, as I’ll relate in detail later in this series.  The 14-24 is, fortunately, my least used lens and while there were a few shots I would have liked to have at least taken a look at with that lens on the camera, I don’t feel as though I missed any meaningful opportunities as a result of the malfunction.  But it should be noted that there are no full service camera stores on either Maui or Kauai, so getting replacements for any of my photo equipment, wasn’t a realistic option.

Palm Tree Sky, Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Salt Water Spray

It’s Hawaii, so I spent at least part of every day along the ocean, be it on beaches, at seaside overlooks or (as was the case most days) both.  Dealing with the potentially corrosive effects of salt water spray was a daily challenge.  Photographing at the seaside can be a wonderful experience, as I’ve noted in this space in the past, but it requires some careful planning.  At a minimum, if you’re photographing near the ocean you’re exposing your equipment to some harsh conditions.

Banyan Tree Black & White, Pipiwai Trail, Kipahulu District, Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

At the end of each day of photography in Hawaii, I wiped down all of my equipment with a damp (fresh water) soft cloth–the exterior of my cameras, lenses and tripod.  Sand was rinsed from the tripod as well.  Had anything gotten into the tripod bushings (it didn’t on this trip, but I’ve had this issue in the past), I would have taken the tripod legs apart, removed the bushings and rinsed them out, then let the entire contents air dry before reassembling the unit.  (I’ve done this numerous times in the past.)

Poipu Beach at Sunset, Kauai, Hawaii

For my lenses, and especially the filters I had on them while shooting alongside the ocean, I conducted a wet cleaning when necessary (which was just about every day) and, while in the field, regularly wiped the filters off with a microfiber cloth (I keep several in my camera backpack at all times).

Fern Wonderland, Awa’awapuhi Trail, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

I’ll flesh some of these themes out more thoroughly in future entries, and will mention a few more that were more place-specific as well.

Sunset Sail, Polo Beach, Maui, Hawaii



  1. The banyan was my favorite. Lovely images. Thanks.

    • Thanks very much!

  2. Interesting environmental issues to deal with and I sympathize with you over the camera difficulties but happy that you got these images. I look forward to the future write-ups and images on the Hawaii photo shoot.

    • Thanks, Jane!

  3. Equipment issues are always a pain. Glad you made it through the trip without them causing too much difficulty. I too like all the images, but the banyan tree is really special.

    • Thanks, Ellen!

  4. Love the sailboat rainbow!!

  5. Nice pics, I really like your banyan trees, and Lumahai Beach.

    • Thanks very much!

  6. Superb views! All are fabulous

  7. Beautiful images 🌹

    • Thanks very much!

  8. […] jammed or something. This was one of the “equipment problems” that I referred to in a previous blog post.   I couldn’t understand what was wrong as I had used the lens without incident a few days […]

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