Oahu “The Gathering Place”

The most touristy of all the Hawaiian islands surprisingly offers photographers rewarding flora and fauna shots not too far away from the shopping, beaches and Mai Tais.

Here, when you  travel with a non-photographer you both get what you want – your traveler mate can be Wakiki beach side while you slip 20 minutes away up the mountain slopes to wet botanical gardens lush with tropical flowers, native trees and extroverted birds that sing to you. They come close so a 200-400mm lens gets you the sharp eye of the bird. At the Lyon Arboretum we walked the trail in complete solitude to Inspiration Point. We brought a long lens and a 100 mm macro-lens. While standing under a tree a Shama Thrush flew down to a branch at eye level literally five feet from us, giving us a private concert. He sang long enough for us to shoot 35 frames.

When you hit the North shore a great place to start is at Sunset Beach to see the most famous shore break in the world – the “Pipeline.”  A 400 mm lens or longer will really pay off in capturing brave surfers cutting across the face of 25’ monster waves in the winter.

For the shark cage dive take the 6:30am trip for calm waters and don’t forget to bring an underwater housing  for sub-surface stills and video of the sharks of the season. Sometimes you’ll see Sand Bar sharks, Galapagos, Tiger and if you’re lucky the rare Great White.  We’ve done this dive seven times over the past 10 years and we’re never disappointed although they recently passed a law that prevents the operators from chumming so unfortunately no more photos of the shark’s pearly whites.

The underwater housing is also a must for photographing Spinner dolphins out at Keana Point. As you float on top of the water hundreds of dolphins will swim under and around you. As the boat drops you near the pod be ready they come by quickly. Set the ISO to 400. During the winter months the Alaskan Hump Back Whale is seen in the distance, but they usually are out too far to photograph.