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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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

Eclipse through an Oak-Tree Camera

In northern California, where the August 2017 solar eclipse covered up to 75% of the sun, an oak tree served as a pinhole camera, a “natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening”.

Above, in the shadow of branches, the many crescents show the sun in eclipse. Tiny gaps between the oak leaves form pinhole cameras that project the sun’s image onto pavers.

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Upper Antelope Canyon

We saw Horseshoe Bend our first evening in Page, but we stopped in Page to see Upper Antelope Canyon. Flash floods, especially during the monsoon season, carve slot canyons in the pink Navajo sandstone, and the colors are exquisite.

Antelope Canyon is on Navajo land; people who want to see it must go on a tour authorized by the Navajo Nation. Above, people look up to see the sun-lit rock. The tour guides in orange shirts do a great job of managing the flow of many people through the slot canyon so we can all get our photos.

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Horseshoe Bend

We drove most of the day from Mesa Verde, Colorado, to Page, Arizona, where we visited nearby Horseshoe Bend at sunset. We’ll see how the light changed during the golden hour.

At Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River makes a 270° horseshoe-shaped bend in a 1000-foot-deep canyon carved from pink Navajo sandstone. From the park service, “Notice how the rock itself has diagonal striped layers. These are the remnants of the layers of the ancient massive sand dunes before they were petrified into stone.”

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