Travel Blog #84 – Kauai Photo Tours, Drive & Light Hiking Tour

Apr 4, 2019 | Activity Information

I remember passing by the sign for Kauai Photo Tours in Kapaa when I first came over to Kauai in January and thinking to myself how much I was looking forward to going on that trip. I noticed on the sign it said they had a photo shop in addition to the tour. That was great information to know because the very next day I realized that I had left my lens cleaner on Maui. I went strait to their store to get more. Being an amateur photographer myself, I was impressed by there selection and ended up walking out with lens cleaner, as well as a UV Filter, and a Circular Polarizing Filter. After visiting the shop and meeting the staff I became even more interested in the photo tour. When I woke up this morning, I was very excited got to finally have the opportunity to go on this tour, hopefully learn some new techniques, and to get some good photography opportunities along the way as well.

When I got there the sky was kind of overcast, there was a slightly gray hue to the day but it looked as if the sun was going to stay out for us at least enough so we were not going to have to deal with any rain. One of my friends was visiting me from the mainland who is also a beginner photographer. My friend had ordered a DSLR for the trip, but because of a shipping delay his camera didn’t get to his house until after he had left, so he did not have it with him. It all worked out well because when we checked in at the Kauai Photo Tours gift shop we were pleased to find that they had a very nice selection of rental cameras. He got outfitted with a whole setup, including polarizing filter (which we’ll talk more about later) for a little more then $30. As soon as the rest of the group arrived at the gift shop we boarded the van and began our days journey.

The outline of the days activities was very simple: we were going to board the van and go to a variety of beautiful locations. At these various location we were going to be able to take some pictures (and get some photo tips from our guide if we requested them). On Kauai, there are so many world class locations to take pictures that the guides at Kauai Photo Tours usually do not have a hard time accomplishing this task. In addition to taking us to some amazing place our guides were also available to answer questions and offer advice. I really appreciated that the guides made it a point to only offer advice of narration when it was requested, it made for a very casual environment.

One of the first locations that we went to was a waterfall. The waterfall was located down a trail, behind a locked gate in the middle of the east Kauai jungle. When I asked our guide what he recommended as far as camera settings go, he suggested that I play with some slower shutter speeds to “Smooth out” the waterfall. Lowering the shutter speed does two things. The most noticeable effect is that the slower shutter makes for more of a motion blur from anything that is moving in the image. The second result which is less apparent, is that the slower shutter speed also requires using a higher aperture setting (in most conditions), which will result in a greater depth of field. This deeper depth of field will allow more to be in focus in the final image. I was able to get some nice shots here, where a good portion of the background was in focus and the waterfall had a nice motion blur to it. The motion blur on the water really smoothed out the appearance of the falls nicely. From here we moved onto another spot, where I got to learn how to use polarizing filters.

We pulled the van down a dirt road that dead ended right before it reached the coastline. We got off the van to find a beautiful view of the bay with some of the clearest water I have ever seen. I asked our guide what he recommended doing to get a good shot here. He suggested a couple different locations to get a good shot from before he mentioned that I should be using the polarizing filter. The polarizing filter of diveinn is a device that you attach to the end of the lens. It consists of two polarized pieces of glass that are attached to each other in a manner that you can swivel the outer piece of glass to adjust its position in relation to the inner piece. The result of using this filter is the user having complete control of the amount of polarization in the shot. The difference it can make on a shot is astounding.

After we finished at the bay we stopped at some beautiful beaches and lookouts before we stopped for lunch in the town of Hanalei. We ate at a local plate lunch place. There were many choices on the menu (mainly local Hawaiian food), I had a delicious Kalua Pig and Poi plate lunch that I enjoyed immensely. After eating I took some fast shutter speed shots of the chickens that were roaming in the yard of the restaurant before we all got back in the van to check out some more spots.

We went to many amazing locations throughout the afternoon. I think one of my favorite was the Kalo fields just outside of Hanalei, listed on booking it. Kalo was one of the staple foods that was brought over by early Polynesian settlers that originally inhabited Hawaii. Poi (a staple food in the early Polynesian diet) is made from a mixture of ground up Kalo root and water.