The Island of Maui – Road to Hana, a Road to Heaven

View over one of the many Waterfalls along the Road to Hana.

I am on my way to Berlin right now! Seatting in the Train and going through my photo archive, when my I caught this image, which I took on Maui back in 2013. Enroute to the city of Hana, I took the famous road which thousands of bends, offering great views down deep cliffs over the pacific on one side and on the other side to beautiful rain forests.

Towards the end of the road, you still can catch up with hippies from the 70th, who remained on the island and selling now Coconut bread and other Hawaiian food specialities in order to maintain their lifestyle!

They still keep their attitude and seemed to be very relaxed! Of course, in such an environment it is very easy to be it!

Have you already been on Hawaii? If yes, then I am looking forward seeing your images of the Road to Hana!

5 Tips for Taking Beautiful Photos of Nature

Whether plants, insects or animals, each of these subjects has its own beauty. Capturing and depicting this beauty in pictures is the high art of nature photography.

Follow Chris Renk, the Chapter Organiser of the Germany Chapter and Member of the Society’s Nature Special Interest Group, as he gives you five essential tips to help you achieve better images out in nature.

# 1 – be prepared, know your subject!

„Always be prepared!“ – I think all of you have heard this saying before. Be it as a scout, during military service, or in your professional life.

This also applies to us photographers because it is crucial to know our photo subjects‘ behavioural pattern and habitat! Where else would we find them and know where we can best photograph them.

Fortunately, there is the internet nowadays, where you can access a wide range of information sources. 

For example, when preparing a photo trip, I often go to the Nature Conservancy website, the Hunting Association or the Wildlife Trust. There I find detailed information on wildlife habitats and their occurrences, which helps me choose the right locations and the equipment I need. 

You can also get tips there on tracking and the distinct voices of wildlife. 

Here is a list of links to the most popular associations:

Next, I use Google Earth and Google Maps to get a first impression of the planned locations from where I want to take pictures. 

I work through the following points:

  • How long it will take to get to the location
  • Parking possibilities
  • Walking time from the car park to the photo location
  • Terrain conditions (wetlands, terrain cover, elevation profiles)
  • Opportunities for overnight stays in tents/permanent shelters
  • Water supply (springs, rivers, lakes)
  • Mobile phone coverage for emergency purposes

After that, I find out about the weather conditions during the planned photo trip period. 

Finally, I familiarise myself with the functions I need, such as autofocus settings, live view or white balance settings on my camera. 

Besides, I visit the video platform „YouTube“ to watch one or two tutorial videos. Especially here, there are many videos on various photo topics, which are also free of charge! 

#2 – get on eye-level!

One of the points, often forgotten in the rush of excitement of having your favourite photo subject in front of your lens!  

Besides, nothing is more boring than a shot of a frog from a bird’s eye view. 

So get down on your stomach and look the subject of your desire directly in the eyes. It creates extraordinary moments that the ordinary viewer would not usually see. 

Your photos will be all the more impressive because they show a unique perspective. It doesn’t matter whether you shoot freehand or use a tripod for stabilisation. 

You will also notice that you need to familiarise yourself with your photo subjects‘ behaviour to predict their behaviour. Only then will you be able to position yourself correctly to take the photo subject at the right moment.

To not come home too dirty, of course, I always carry a foldable mat with me. I can quickly spread it out on the floor and use it to create a comfortable lying position. For kneeling positions, I use knee pads. After all, one is not getting any younger!

#3 – pick the right lens!

One of the most discussed points within the photo community is which lens to use for which subject. 

Of course, a telephoto lens is advantageous when photographing birds or wild animals with pronounced escaping behaviour. 

Still, if the animals are so trusting, and humans‘ proximity does not disturb them, then a wide-angle lens can also be the means to an end.

Of course, it is an advantage to have a good selection of lenses. 

Whether to get a prime lens or to settle for a zoom lens, everyone has to make up for themselves. 

I too would like to call a 600mm f4 prime lens my own, but the price of 11,000 euros puts me off again. That’s why I bought a 200-500 F5.6 (1049,- Euro) and I still don’t regret it. The lower weight is also an influential factor!

Here is a list of subjects and the lenses I use for them:

  • Insects, plants: 24-70mm / 50mm Macro / 105mm Macro / 70-200mm VR / 200-500mm VR
  • Amphibians: 50mm Macro / 105mm Macro / 70-200mm VR /200-500mm VR 
  • Birds / Reptiles: 24-70mm / 70-200mm VR/ 200-500mm VR
  • Mammals: 70-200mm VR/ 200-500mm VR

The question about the right aperture depends, of course, on the purpose of the photo!

For documentation purposes, the entire subject should be in focus. To achieve this, you should ideally use an aperture of f8. The image stabilisation of the lens and availability of higher ISO Rates compensates the resulting longer exposure time.

If you want to photograph the subject with artistic intent, you can use the full range of apertures of your lens. In this case, the aperture f5.6 has turned out to be the optimal setting. It offers an excellent bokeh with sufficient depth of field!

#4 – shoot in RAW!

Without wishing to offend photographers who still shoot in JEPG format, shooting in RAW is simply the standard! Using JPEG leaves a lot of the advantages of today’s digital cameras completely unused. It is precisely the high sensitivity of modern camera sensors that allows photography in a wide range of lighting conditions without any loss of image quality. 

Arguments of high consumption of time for developing RAW photos and the reduced shooting speed due to large amounts of data when taking RAW images are made absurd by the setting up an almost entirely automated development workflow and the availability of ever-cheaper and faster SD/CF cards. 

The possibility of changing the wrong settings of exposure values and white balance afterwards is worth its weight in gold. 

So get on your camera and take the step to switch to RAW!

#5 – don’t mind the weather!

I know it’s easy to talk about the weather when you come from a country where the climate is moderate. It’s not for nothing that the saying „It is raining cats and dogs“ comes from the English-speaking world! Nevertheless, you should not let bad weather stop you from taking pictures! 

Especially the moments before the actual rain and immediately afterwards offer a variety of different atmospheric images and colouring that you cannot otherwise experience and capture in pictures. 

The behaviour of wildlife during bad weather is often not covered enough and offers new and exciting insights into the animal world.

Other motifs include water drops on plant leaves or reflections on the water drops themselves. 

I always carry a rain cover in my photo backpack to be prepared for any weather.

It is not an expensive one, out of simple PVC material that protects lenses variant from wide-angle to medium-telephoto (up to 500mm) from heavy rain.

As I said, don’t mind the weather and I hope to see you out there during the next rain shower. 

The island of Oahu – A rainy day at Waikiki Beach

Today, I was reflecting on my last trip to Hawaii, which was an outstanding experience!

I took this image at Waikiki Beach shortly after a big rainstorm. You are still able to see the big rain clouds, moving fast in Sky. Luckily, I was able to keep my photo gear try and not drowning it on my first day on Oahu!

I hope you enjoy the fantastic view!

The Isle of Fehmarn – A Photographic Guide about the five most scenic locations.

The island of Fehmarn – also known as „The Golden Crown in the Baltic Sea“ is considered one of the sunniest regions in Germany. 

The 185 square kilometre island with its diverse coastline and wonderful landscapes in the north of Schleswig-Holstein invites you to various discovery tours. It is a paradise for wildlife and landscape photographers.

We have visited the 5 most important places for you and captured them in pictures.

#1 – Krummsteert-Sulsdorfer Wiek

The Krummsteert-Sulsdorfer Wiek/Fehmarn nature reserve is located at the south-western tip of Fehmarn. It has been in existence since 1980 and has been around 395 hectares in size since its redesignation in 2013. 

Together with the Sulsdorfer Wiek and the areas in between, the nature reserve forms a complex of four ecosystems: The spit peninsula of Crooked Tartar, the western part of the other bay, salt marshes with brackish water ponds and the Sulsdorfer Wiek.

As you can see from the description, it is a paradise for wildlife photographers and Landscape photographers. Long lonely beaches invite you to take coastal landscape photographs.

Furthermore, there is the lighthouse „Flügge“ in the immediate area of the nature reserve. The lighthouse is accessible for visits and offers with its 37.5 meters a far-reaching view.

If the weather is clear, you can not only overlook the beautiful island of Fehmarn from there but even look as far as Denmark.

#2 – Wallnau Waterfowl Reserve

Wallnau/Fehmarn Waterfowl Reserve is a nature reserve in the west of the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn. It was established in 1977 and is an important nature reserve for migratory birds. The nature reserve covers an area of around 297 hectares, consisting of ponds, reed beds and meadows as well as part of the Baltic Sea and the beach area. The reserve is maintained by the Naturschutzbund Germany (NABU).
 
More than 270 bird species use the areas of the nature reserve as a resting and quiet place on their migration. Around 100 species breed in Wallnau, including rare bird species such as the red-necked grebe and the little tern. 

On the territory of the reserve, there are several observation hides from which you can observe the wild birds in their natural habitat from a few meters distance.

#3 – Westmarkelsdorfer Huk Nature Reserve

The Markelsdorfer Huk at the north-western end of Fehmarn is a headland and part of the 750 ha nature reserve „Nördliche Seeniederung Fehmarn“, which stretches from Bojendorf via Westermarkelsdorf along the north coast to Puttgarden.

The landscape is characterised by wet meadows, reed belts, various lagoons and the Markelsdorfer Huk.

#4 – Gruener Brink Nature Reserve

The Gruener Brink is a 134-hectare nature reserve on the north coast of Fehmarn, which has been protected since 1938. The nature reserve is well developed by several pedestrian paths for walkers. Only a part of the beach is closed to public traffic from 1.4. to 30.9.

While the deeper beach lakes in the west are important as breeding grounds for the red-necked grebe, the large, shallow eastern beach lake is a resting place for numerous waders.

Due to the central location of the Grüner Brink on the waterbird migration route of the Fehmarn-North Sea waterway, almost all native wading bird species can be observed here regularly.
The Green Brink is a breeding ground for many rare water birds. In a year, up to 170 bird species are counted. The good development of the area offers numerous good observation possibilities.

#5 – Lighthouse Marienleuchte

One of the most famous sights of Fehmarn is the lighthouse „Marienleuchte“. It still serves as a cross and orientation light in the Fehmarnbelt.

The red-and-white striped building is 40 metres high and can be seen from afar. In 1964, the tower was built of reinforced concrete, replacing its predecessor, a square tower of yellow brick masonry. The old building was built by the Danes in 1831 and is now a listed building.

Franconian Forest – Enjoying a fantastic View over the River Saale Valley.

Day 146 of my 365 Photo Challenge

After returning from the far north, I headed straight back to the north of Bavaria, this time exploring the Franconian Forest.

After all, I was born there, so it’s like a visit home. But I am always amazed by the beauty of nature there.

I took this photo from a vantage point on the Petersgrat, from where you have a great view over the Saale river valley.

I hope you like it as much as I do!