I’m currently putting off packing my bags at the end of my six weeks in Hawaii, before I fly back to the UK where the weather folks are bracing us for the coldest weather in years, forecasting wind chills of -13C and snow. So I’m expecting the usual travel apocalypse when I get there.
Hawaii has been an excellent experience. Three weeks in Maui, three weeks on Big Island. Weather has not been exactly what you expect from a tropical paradise. Fortunately, at least for me, I wasn’t here to sit on the beach (12 years in the Caribbean has removed any wish for that!).
The original idea and reason for the Hawaii trip was to tick off a bucket list item. I’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands before, a few years back, but for pure sightseeing, not a photography trip. This time, I wanted to return to a couple of locations where I knew I could get some decent shots if I had the time to spend.
The summit of Haleakala was the key location that I wished to return to. Sitting at just over 10,000 feet, it offers some stunning views over the island of Maui and its sister islands. I was here principally for the opportunity of clear skies and so some astrophotography alongside some time lapse. Coming from the Caribbean, I was expecting every night to be clear but sadly that didn’t prove to the case. If you’re coming here for astrophotography, it may be that there is a better time of year. Success rates for me were about 60%, that is 6 nights out of 10 were clear. The other nights were fog, mist, rain, wind.
Still, this was definitely a bucket list location for me. Easy to access, you can drive straight to the top. There are various locations which are useful for astro photography – the summit itself looking out over the observatory, the sunrise parking lot, the Kalahaku Overlook, and the Haleamau’u trailhead. There are also various turn offs which provide alternate views. The vast majority overlook the main town in Maui, however the Kalahaku Overlook and the summit itself provide a view over the crater itself, which can be best utilized when the moon is nearer its fuller phase so that you can balance the stars and the landscape itself.
The other bucket list location for astro photography and time lapse was the Kilauea caldera overlook on Big Island. A small lake of lava exists in the bottom of the caldera. You can't see this, but you can see the smoke and steam rising during the day. At night, however, the view gets much better and you get to gaze out at the glowing reds and oranges against the passing clouds and if you’re lucky enough, you can balance the exposure so that you get the glowing crater and the moving stars. I was not quite so lucky with the weather but did manage some decent time lapse footage of my time there.
My time however is coming to an end, but it has definitely been a worthwhile trip and the experience of time lapsing the stars from the top of Haleakala has been memorable (particularly the random guy playing the flute during one of the spectacular sunsets). Sad to leave, but definitely planning on coming back.
The downturn in the weather towards the end of my trip has given me the time to sit and start putting together content for my new YouTube channel. My Hawaiian trip has given me some fantastic time lapse footage which has been added to the channel. It would be awesome if you could join me there and subscribe…