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Thursday, 01 March 2018

Flying with the Doors Off: Capturing the Beauty of Kauai - Page 3

Written by Jim Chamberlain
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A few short minutes and we pop out of the dark canyons to see the sunlit east coast come into view. We circle the double waterfall at Wailua Falls and land shortly back at Lihue. The hour literally flew past. I only hoped my 500 images would yield the dramatic photographs that would do justice to this amazing place.


Here are some tips I learned that may help you have a great experience. The flight can be cool so you want to dress accordingly. A light jacket and long pants will keep from shivering. If you’re prone to motion sickness take the appropriate medication.


A good high resolution camera (Nikon 810) with a wide angle zoom (16-35 mm) was my preferred choice. You want to shoot your images at a high shutter speed to offset the motion of the helicopter. You cannot use a tripod or monopod. You will be hand holding your shots. Also no lens hoods or long telephotos as anything that you stick outside the body of the helicopter can be blown off and into the rear rotor. A very bad thing!


Late morning or mid-afternoon flights give you the best chance of good light for photography. This is contrary to most rules on when to take great pictures but you want the sunlight to penetrate the deep canyons as well as bring out the deep blue of the Pacific and that happens when the sun is higher in the sky. I travelled in summer when the rains are less so you will see less small waterfalls but have a better chance of good weather. Kauai is called the Garden Isle for a reason. It gets a lot of rain and cloudy conditions in the mountains are normal.


Finally, don’t get so busy trying to photograph the sites that you don’t take regular pauses to soak in the amazing beauty and unique landscapes that you will see. Absorb it with a deep breath of the clean ocean air and it will be imprinted in your memory for a lifetime. It may be the most fun you've have had with clothes on.


©Jim Chamberlain

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Writer's Biography:

Jim Chamberlain is a 64 year old, award winning photographer and travel writer from Lacey, Washington. He has been an amateur photographer most of his life since he first borrowed his father's 35 mm camera at age 15. He still has that camera. Jim decided to pursue a second career as a professional photographer upon his retirement from law enforcement in 2011. He specializes in travel, landscapes and nature photography with a love of black and white images. Jim loves to travel with his wife, and his camera accompanies them on their adventures around the world and in their home state of Washington.

Jim has been a member and past president of The Artists' Gallery in Olympia, Washington and has been selling his photography as fine art for over 5 years in Washington and Arizona. His website contains over 500 images at


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Last modified on Thursday, 01 March 2018

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