Last month I fled Oahu on a quick trip over to Kauai. The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Garden Isle is renowned for it’s spectacular North Shore, which is blessed with the most gorgeous bay in all of Hawaii, Hanalei Bay. To the west of Hanalei lies the Na Pali Coast, which is one of the most stunning natural environments that I have ever seen. With towering mountains, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of waterfalls, this is nature at its finest.
This trip was especially exciting since my work assignment was to shoot aerial photography of the Na Pali Coast. If you know me, you know that I love taking helicopter rides whenever I get the opportunity. What most people don’t realize is that I have a personal goal to start flight school on my 30th birthday to get my commercial helicopter pilot’s license. And since I am always getting requests from clients for aerial photography, I booked a flight with Mauna Loa Helicopters to try and get some work done.
Mauna Loa Helicopters took me out in a Robinson R-44 Raven II, a four-seat helicopter with no doors. I brought both my Linhof Technorama 617S III panoramic camera, as well as my Hasselblad H4D-60 to shoot with as we took off from the airport in Lihue. We flew North over the island to the Na Pali Coast where I took photographs for 20-minutes. I only had the opportunity to take 4 exposures with the Linhof since the pilot wouldn?t let me change film during the flight. The pilot was worried the film would fly out the door and into the propeller, which had me worried as well!
The film I was shooting with was Fuji Velvia 50, which is the de facto professional standard film for nature and landscape photography due to the quality of color and grain. However, the Velvia 50 is a really slow film. Coupled with the fact that I was shooting at a shutter speed of 1/60th (and from a moving aircraft), I?m not quite certain what the results will look like. But that’s kind of the fun of shooting film. Of course, I was also shooting with the Hasselblad. Coupled with 35-90mm lens and polarized filter, the Hasselblad easily captured the majestic nature of the Na Pali Coast on a perfect day with not a cloud in the sky.
Before the helicopter ride ended, the pilot flew us to Manawaiopuna Falls. Better known as Jurassic Falls from Steven Spielberg’s film, this 350 foot tall waterfall in Hanapepe Valley is quite spectacular, and was the perfect ending to an epic flight.
If you are interested in seeing the photographs from my helicopter shoot, I will be printing artist proofs in the beginning of April.