• Alyce Bender

Aloha Oahu


This was, by far, the shortest international trip I have taken in a very long time. In total, I only had six days on island. Of those, the first day I was laid up with very swollen ankles (a first for me) and no transportation. My last day on island, also happened to correspond with a big submittal day for school work, so I had to stay in and adult. Sigh. So, with that being said, I essentially only had four and a half days to explore, shoot the island of Oahu, and spend time with my husband since, for once, I was not solo on this trip.

Because I had such an abbreviated visit, I started off my trip with Oahu Photography Tours and my guide De Jay. An pre-dawn pickup from my hotel and we were off. Sunrise at Sandy Beach was on point with great clouds in the sky, fun wave action, and an abundance of foreground elements to work with throughout the shoot. It was here, I was able to create my favorite image from the trip:

"Sandy Point Sunrise"

The above shot was taken just moments before a combination of unanticipated wave strength and the drive to get the perfect shot came together just so, providing an early morning splash to the face and camera. Wet feet and legs still did not dampen my spirits or enjoyment of being there, in Hawaii, following my passion for photography.

Taking a quick break to clean up my gear first, myself second, I got to enjoy just being there in the moment and watch as the others on the tour also indulged their creative sides through the lens.

Photo tip: Always carry multiple microfiber cloths when shooting around water or in tropical/wet climates. Also, always anticipate wet feet when working around the ocean or waterfalls and wear appropriate footwear.

Continuing on through the day, we were lead all over the Eastern and Northern sections of Oahu. Stopping at various scenic outlooks and parks, the day progressed filled with landscapes, birds, and even sea turtles.

One of my biggest hopes was to get an image of sea turtles basking in the sun on the beach, it wasnt to be. Every day I went looking for them and still came up empty on that account for this trip. Just means I need to go back, right?

If you want to try seeing these endangered/ threatened sea creatures on the beach, make sure to do your research and obey all laws. Based on the crowding I saw on the beaches turtles are known to frequent, I think a safe assumption is that there may have been too much human pressure to actually allow the turtles onto the beach, so they stayed out in the shallows.

Travel tip: When in Oahu, visit the North Shore area and grab lunch at on of the food trucks. My personal favorite was Fumi's Shrimp truck.

The evenings were spent, for the most part, in Waikiki, taking in the city, the food, and the nightlife with my husband. Friday nights, one of the resorts puts on a fireworks display that can best be seen from Ala Moana Beach Park between

Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. This is also an excellent area for cityscapes and skyline images or even a relaxing dip in the ocean after work, should you be visiting for business. The park is located directly across from a shopping center. Go there before the park and grab a to-go box from Poke & Box, that way you can have delicious local cuisine while shooting.

My second full day of exploring took me to along the southwest coastal highway. Following the road, past Pearl Harbor, through ever-increasingly smaller towns, I finally reached the end. Yes, that's right, the highway just ends. Personally, I really thought it would connect and loop around the island, but, none the less, it does not. This being the case, towards the end, you are surrounded with the natural beauty of Oahu, beaches with bright blue ocean on one side and steep, ancient volcanic ridges draped in green on the other. It was along this coast I spent much of my time searching for various vistas to capture.

Makua Beach offered amazing views of the classic Oahu geo-features. A beautiful white sand beach with some small areas of rounded volcanic boulders sloping down to rich coral filled seas so clear you can see the fish swimming by from the beach. This is then surrounded by one of the three volcano shields left over from when the island was created. When you visit the island make sure you do not miss this location. Perfect for photography, a lazy day at the beach, or even a nice place to find a secluded place to watch the stars at night.

Photo tip: Use a polarizing filter to help saturate colors and minimize glare. A neutral density filter set (4- , 6-, and 10-stop recommended) will also help darken bright scenes, allowing for longer shutter speed to smooth the wave action.

Sharing this trip with my husband had some interesting hurdles to overcome. We shared a car and, since he had to be to work by 0700, I could not just abscond with the car for sunrise. Morning traffic being what it is, I would never have made it back in time for us to leave for his location. With this, I had to get creative in shooting. It came down to details of various types, all which spoke to the tropical nature of the island.

Here are a few examples: the famous Hanauma Bay and a wild yellow crested cockatoo I encountered hiking to Manoa Falls.

One of the coolest encounters I had was coming upon the sweet, smooth sounds of a brass jazz while scouting for surfers late in the day. Elliot Maker, it turns out, teaches Japanese at the local high school after living in Japan for many years, but spends his free time playing the trumpet. It was such a pleasure to talk with him for a bit about Japan, Hawaii, and his music. I ended up creating this image of him before we went our separate ways.

"Under the Branches of a Mango Tree: Elliot Maker on Trumpet"

And, of course, what type of tropical vacation would it be without the sunsets? Each night my husband and I would try to find a new location to watch the sun set from around the island. Each one unique, serene, and colorful.

Overall, the trip was a success and I was so happy to be able to share it with my husband. However, it was entirely too short and I often felt rushed. I would like to go back for a few days and then hop to some of the surrounding islands to photography more of these unique, culturally and bio-rich areas collectively known as Hawaii!

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(PS - I found Windows97 again.)

#landscapes #details #explore #photographytips #naturephotography #sunrise #travel #alycebender #photography #photographytours #exploring #Hawaii #Oahu #wildlife #islands #birds #seaturtles #foodtrucks #skylines #cityscapes #seascapes #waterfalls #trumpeter #sunsets #palmtrees #mountains

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