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Fine Art Images of Hawaii by Thomas Upton

Big Island Landscape Photography
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Select photos you would like to see by choosing an area and a subject. If you leave the selectors both on "All", you will see all images in the portfolio (about 160 right now)

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Galleries on this page focus on specific topics or locations in greater depth than on the Hawaii Image Portfolio page. Subjects include places where I have spent a lot of time and photographed in detail, other Hawaii islands, or unique island subjects. I will change these galleries from time to time, so check back. Let me know what you think!

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Special Subject Galleries

  • Although my part-time home and major photography emphasis is the Big Island, the other Hawaiian islands are magnificent, diverse, and exciting to visit. It is a great luxury to be able to hop on a plane for the short trip to Kauai, at the other end of the Hawaiian island chain. Kauai is the oldest major island and could hardly look more different from the Big Island. It is very green (!), has jagged peaks, many beaches, active sugar cane farms, and so on.  Here are some of the things I have seen on my short trips there.

  • Several locations on the Big Island offer night snorkeling trips to observe Manta Rays. Snorkelers float on the surface face down, while the guide shines a bright light down into the water. The light attracts plankton and Manta Rays feed almost exclusively on plankton. The Mantas swim under the lights and perform continuous barrel rolls or loops in about 15-20 feet of water. The 6-8' wide rays approach the surface upside down and their massive white undersides pass within inches of the snorkelers, but rarely touch anyone. It's a challenge to photograph: the light is dim, the water filled with plankton and sand scattering the lamplight, and the Mantas are huge. When close, they were too big for my little underwater camera and when near the bottom, they were barely visible. It is daunting to aim the camera as these giants come straight at you on each loop! Low light image noise and blurry photos are almost guaranteed. It takes a lot of digital editing afterwards to extract decent images. Since there is little color (water is blue green and the rays are black and white) I converted most of these photos to black and white. Here are my best results. 

  • From a photography perspective, and even just as a Big Island resident, there is probably no place on the island that I enjoy visiting more than Laupahoehoe Beach Park on the Hamakua Coast. I'm pretty sure I have taken more photos there than any other place on the island, and perhaps the world! To me, it is a mesmerizing place with the most continuously violent surf of any place I have been. Once you've seen one giant wave crash on the rocks there, you will be hooked. You will have to wait for the next, and then the next...and ultimately have to tear yourself away. The wall of my own home has a large triptych of crashing waves at this beach (see Example Installations). We take all our guests there and go there on our own whenever a big swell is hitting the east side. In this little gallery, you can expect to see plenty of such scenes, but there is more to Laupahoehoe than surf as you will see. Its a popular place for picnics, fishing, and parties. It has a sad history, having been home to a community that was destroyed in the tsunami of 1946. Have a look here and then visit it yourself. You might see me there, camera in hand.