Return to the Skies

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trip 6 Journal

Kahakuloa FlybyTrip journal entry for Thursday, August 25th, 2011.

Thursday was the first full day of the photo festival, and my return to the skies with my second doors off helicopter tour. Prepare for take off.


As with years past, the full day sessions of the Maui Photo Festival all start with golden hour photo shoots at the early hour of 6:00am. Yup, 6:00am in the morning. Knowing that you’re getting up that early usually means you get your rest the night before, but not me. Since this was the day I was going back up for another helicopter shoot, I was up going through photos from the last flight and reviewing the settings and gear I would be bringing with.

Thursday’s golden hour shoot was natural light portraits on the beach with instructors Judy Host and Lou Freeman. There was a professional model posing for us, which made me realize that photographers don’t get to complain about waking up so early to shoot when there’s a model that has to get up earlier than us and has to look beautiful at the same time. Better suck it up.

Morning Photos

This was the first time I was able to shoot with a professional model before, since the last few months have been spent taking portraits of friends and my family. There were 20 other photographers out on the beach for the shoot, so it was more awkward for her having so many cameras pointed at her than it was for me shooting a model for the first time.

The shoot itself lasted the entire two hours – bless her heart – but these shots were mostly from the first half of that morning.

Behind the Scenes

Beach Portrait

The First Keynote Session

After the morning’s golden hour shoot, it was time to get the workshops started. First up, was the the well-known island photographer and artist, Randy Jay Braun. He was presenting on the Art of the Landscape, which gave some good insight into his thought process for capturing awe inspiring images that end up in his artwork and his gallery. And although I haven’t been to his gallery in Paia yet, just looking at photos of it on Facebook are pretty telling. This guy knows what he’s talking about.

It was a good session for me – and one I probably could have really used 4-5 years ago when we first started coming to Maui. It shed some good light on what some of my previous landscapes were fairly popular on Facebook and my Daily Maui Photo website, while others were only greeted with a luke warm reception. It has given me a few new things to consider when I go out and shoot landscapes in the future and when I go back and edit photos I’ve taken of Maui from previous trips. Good stuff, thanks Randy!

Doors Off, Buckle Up

After the session with Randy, it was time to focus in on the helicopter ride. It was even better this year now that I knew what to expect from the first flight, and that I had a newer camera that I bought in November before our son was born. And this time, the weather was looking absolutely perfect.

Enough talk, here are some of the shots I came away with.

Cartoon Whale

The flight plan was slightly different this year, which was great, too. Initially, we weren’t going to go back into the valley in the west mountain range, but the pilot talked us into it and it was well worth it. The shot below is from what the ancient Hawaiians call “The Wall of Tears”.

Wall of Tears

That made it worth it.

When we came out of the valley, we made the flight around west Maui and did a flyby passed Kahakoklua Bay like last time. We came from a different approach path this time, which made for some more dramatic shots than back in ’09. Total score.

Kahakuloa Point

The Money Shot

The one request I had this year was to fly over our favorite resort – the Sheraton and Black Rock. Of the two other helicopter flights I’ve taken in Maui, neither made it to the Ka’anapali resort area. This year, however, was the year.

And here’s the shot.

Sheraton Maui Resort

I must have fired off about 45 images in the 20 seconds we hovered over the area. There was one other angle I was hoping for, but I’m more than happy with this shot and the others. It’s great because those rooms right there overlooking the ocean were rooms we stayed in for our first four trips to the island. This one’s definitely going up on our wall at home. :)

Thursday Sunset Shoot

The sunset shoot for the festival on Thursday was a Maui Swimwear model shoot right there on the beach. Sounds fun, yah? Well, I took a pass on it.

Instead, I had my own models, and we went out for our own shoot. Instant memories.

Baby Sunset Silhoutte

My Models

Sunset Fans

Although our son won’t remember these sunsets from his first trip to Maui, his mother and I will cherish these photos forever. You can be sure of that.

Aloha Friday Already?

Looking ahead to the next day in our trip, it was hard to believe it was Friday already. And I was determined to make the most of it as myself and a handful of others were heading up to Haleakala for the sunrise. So if you want to make the most of your Friday on Maui, you better start early? Good luck with that. :P

– Kris

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About Kris

Kris and his wife Cindy are avid Maui fans, and have visited the island half a dozen times since '06. Over the years, they have made many friends living on Maui or through social media, which keeps them in touch with the island until they can return again.

View all posts by Kris


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