M for Travel


In December 2017 I took a Norwegian Cruise that stopped at four of the Hawaiian islands. 7 days 6 nights. The best way to see the islands is a cruise. Why? No airports, hotels, packing, unpacking, security checkpoints, checking in to your flight, finding a rental car and hotel on each island, etc, nope, just get on the boat and go.

Cruise Tips:

  1. Plan out your excursions ahead of time. We had some average excursions and some ones that clearly weren’t worth the money
  2. For popular restaurants on the ship, make reservations.

Photo Tips:

  1. Reset the clock on your cameras and phone to match the local time
  2. Try to be awake and out on deck when the boat is pulling in or out since you get your first look at the island and can get some good shots.
  3. Keep track of sunrise and sunset times so you can be out on deck or on an excursion taking pix
  4. Expectations: Regarding lava, lower them to almost nothing. The pictures we see in the ads of lava spewing out of a volcano or flowing into the ocean is a very rare occasion.
  5. If you’re trying out a new camera, bring your old one too. I’ve actually gone back to using my Canon M3 after using an M6 for a few months since the controls feel more familiar and I can work the camera with one hand.
  6. Shooting into the ocean at turtles etc, you may want to get a polarizer since there can be a lot of glare
  7. Always bring your iPhone. There are shots you’ll want to take with it. I like to take a shot of my camera setup with the shot I’m taking on the LCD and in the background
  8. Bring an action camera like a Yi 4k or Go Pro with all the mounts you need. I wish I would have had mine for filming the bike ride down Haleakala

Day 1: Maui, Waterfalls, 

We left our port in Oahu and set sail for Maui. I had never been to this island so I was interested to see what it had to offer. Some good shots can be had as the boat is pulling in. Be sure to be awake and on deck as soon as the island is within sight since you can get some good shots.

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We didn’t plan any excursions the first day. In retrospect I guess we should have. We walked off the boat and on the way to the shopping center there were several street tour guides trying to get you to go with them on a tour. Risky I know, but we went along with a family from the midwest so it turned out okay, saw some waterfalls and a sea turtle down at the ocean. Our guides name was James Bond. Yep, no joke. These drivers and guides make up so many stories about themselves, just play along… We saw some decent waterfalls.

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Day 2: Maui, Haleakala, Bike Ride

Got up at 2:30am the next day to meet our tour at 3:30am to make the sunrise. It wasn’t a big deal, we went to sleep early. It’s about 30F and windy up at the top of Haleakala so be prepared. The tour company actually provided some wind pants, jackets and gloves, but several people froze up there. The main problem besides the cold? The viewing platform is not big enough and was 7-8 people deep. We couldn’t see anything!!!! 

Shot with an iPhone 6. Looking at the image quality, DSLRs and Mirrorless are safe for a few more years, but the 7, 8, and X have significantly better cameras and processing.

That’s the Visitors Center in the upper left corner. What a zoo. The National Parks need to redesign this area to accommodate the number of people there at sunrise. I had never been here nor did I have a map, but I decided to run up a hiking trail on the left of the pic above and got to a good spot in ten minutes. The tour guide said this trail was closed, but it clearly wasn’t. He just wanted us to get back to the bus but then we’d miss the sunrise!! Out of breath due to the high altitude I stopped 3-4 times on the way to catch my breath. Yes, you need a tripod, remote release, and some GND’s would be handy. The fog moves faster than expected. The difference between my first and second shots is a 1-2 minutes so be prepared. The temps and wind chill are 20-35F so bring hiking boots, gloves, hat, thermals, parka etc. since it was raining too.

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I know dynamic range of the latest D850 and 5D mark iv is lusted after by landscape photographers but I shot all these pix with a Canon M3 24mp APS-C sensor from 2015 and did post with Photoshop CS6 and ACR 9.1.1 and still get great results.

No pix of the bike ride down. I was too busy holding the handlebars and brakes. This is where a Go Pro or other action camera would come in handy.

Day 3: Hilo

Rainbow Waterfalls is worth a trip:


The main attraction on Hilo is Volcanos National Park. Regarding lava, lower your expectations to almost nothing. The pictures we see in the ads of lava spewing out of a volcano and flowing into the ocean or a river of lava slowly moving across a street is a very, very rare occasion. I met a guy who hiked an hour out and an hour back and only saw maybe 100 square feet of lava. Nothing spewing or flowing, and a pretty small quantity at that. This is the biggest misconception.

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At the end of the day we stopped at a nursery so I was glad I had my 28mm Macro.

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Day 4: Kona

We took a tour that took us to a chocolate factory and a coffee bean farm and factory.

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As a photographer we have to look for what might be interesting visually, so the 28mm Macro is a great way to see differently and get in close. This is a must buy EF-M lens.

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Day 5: Kauai

Shopping day, so not many pix… 

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Day 6: Kauai, Waimea Canyon Lookout, Na Pali Coast, Island Sunset

Waimea Canyon. It’s tough to get a good shot that doesn’t look generic so I put some people in the foreground. 11-22@18mm f/16 1/60 ISO 100
Lehua Island sunset from the boat on the way back to Oahu.  55-200@200mm f/22 1/125 ISO 100

Day 7-9: Oahu, north shore, sunrise kualoa state park, sunset North Shore and Magic Island

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