Tips for Photos from a Helicopter

Kauai is beautiful, and a helicopter tour of Kauai was short and expensive, so I wanted to prepare for my first helicopter ride — selecting the helicopter tour, choosing the camera equipment and settings, and dressing for the ride. My post Kauai by Helicopter described what I saw on my helicopter tour; this post covers how I prepared and lessons learned.

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Kauai by Helicopter

On our first day on Kauai, I took a helicopter tour of the island. Seeing the Napali Coast from the air was the highlight, and there was more: a waterfall from the movie Jurassic Park, Waimea Canyon, and sheer cliffs with waterfalls. Kauai is a volcanic island with one of the rainiest spots in the world, where the rain erodes the hard rock, forming cliffs and feeding waterfalls.

To get photos without reflections from doors or windows, I rode a helicopter with the doors off. This post focuses on what I saw, and a second post will cover tips for taking photos on a Kauai helicopter ride.

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Robie House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago’s Robie House “is renowned as the greatest example of the Prairie School style, the first architectural style considered uniquely American”. Inspired by the Great Plains, the Prairie style is “usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. Horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the native prairie landscape.” Seen above, the Robie House has all this.

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A More Rico, Vegetable Soup

Inspired by borscht we had last year in Russia, my wife added a spoonful of crème fraîche to her vegetable soup that made the soup so much more rich and tasty. People in Argentina seem to use rico to enthusiastically describe food that’s delicious or rich, and that’s what this combination brought to mind.

This vegetable soup combines stock, seasonal vegetables (celery, carrots, butternut squash), and brown rice and beans (for complete protein). It’s very healthy, but I find the taste to be on the lean side. We had tried the crème fraîche from a north-bay-area Costco, so she had it on-hand to substitute for the sour cream used in borscht. We both thought that the crème fraîche really improved the vegetable soup.

Kauai

This summer we visited the island of Kauai in Hawaii, where we enjoyed Kauai‘s high cliffs, deep valleys, and water. For six million years, “high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls.”

Above is a sunrise from our condo, where the rising sun paints the beach and trees with a red glow.

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Stalking a Dragonfly

Seeing a dragonfly on a tree, I wondered if it would stay long enough to photograph it. I ran inside for a camera and telephoto lens. The dragonfly was still there. I approached slowly, taking photos along the way, in case the dragonfly flew away.

Above is my first good photo, the dragonfly seen through a wing as a veil.  The dragonfly did fly away several times, and it returned to different spots on the same branch. I thought I saw it moving its mouth after it landed, so perhaps the dragonfly was catching flying bugs. Continue reading Stalking a Dragonfly

Zion’s Riverside Walk

At Zion National Park, we followed the Riverside Walk where the Zion Canyon narrows and the trail stops as the Virgin River flows between rock walls.

Seen in early June, the Virgin River stays within its channel. The steep canyon walls indicate that the rock is hard, but this river doesn’t look like it would cut through hard rock. But appearances can be deceiving. The Park Service warns “During a flash flood, the water level rises quickly, within minutes or even seconds. A flash flood can rush down a canyon in a wall of water 12 feet high or more.”

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