Aerial

  • Pod of Dolphins


    A small pod of dolphins in the beautiful blue ocean of Hawaii

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    Around 1000 ft off of the Honokohau harbor coastline I saw 4 boats clustered together and the passengers quickly jumping into the water to swim around a very large pod of dolphins. I hadn’t flown the drone out that far and was extremely surprised when there were no problems with signal. I totally expected the drone controller to notify me that I had reached my distance limit and to fly closer, but instead I saw these beautiful dolphins swimming in the beautiful blue ocean on my iPad screen. There must have been 30-40 dolphins along with 20 snorkelers in black wet suits all scattered around in the water. I lowered the drone to around 30 ft above a small pod dolphins which were swimming around very quickly. I was only able to capture this one shot before they swam out of view.

    Super cool!

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Kiholo Bait Ball

    Large bait ball in the turquoise waters of Kiholo seen from the sky.

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    This was the most unusual sight that caught me off guard. I went down to Kiholo with some friends to photograph them with the drone for their Christmas card. After the shoot I wanted to fly around for some straight down aerial shots when I saw this dark ball in the middle of the turquoise water. Since this was the first time I shot any aerial photos of Kiholo I thought this was a rock formation, but I had never seen this shape before and couldn’t remember seeing this in any other images shot by other photographers. I proceeded to photograph several compositions of the large dot in the water and after reviewing the images I saw the dot changed shapes, which could only mean a large school of fish.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Photography From Above Looking Down

    DJI Spark drone photography

    I’ve been wanting a drone for quite some time and in 2018, for my birthday, I got the DJI Spark. The first time I flew it was in the house and of course I crashed against the wall and was devastated that I thought I broke it. Amazingly it survived and for the next week I found every opportunity to get out of the house to fly the drone. I re-visited some of the remote sites that I found that I thought couldn’t be photographed from the ground and captured some amazing photos.

    This is a collection of images from the Spark drone.

  • Honokohau Boats

    Aerial photograph of boats tied off to a floating dock at Honokohou Harbor.

    I still haven’t quite gotten used to flying the drone in public places. I’ve never been bold enough to photograph people because it feels like I’m being intrusive and I don’t want to draw attention to me. Instead I have turned my camera to the beautiful landscape and nature all around us. Now with the drone I can fly 400 feet into the air and capture sights and patterns of the earth that I haven’t seen before. Even people become part of the design and they are not recognized in the final image, but still the whining of the blades creates attention. This is the attention that I avoid.

    I wanted to fly the drone and capture some aerial photos of the harbor with all the boats lined up on the dock. I was hoping for a vibrant sunset to give some color the the dark green murky water, but the overcast day continued into the evening, blocking the sun. Even still the white boats in the dark water made for a good image. As I arrived I looked for a secluded place to take off. There were people everywhere.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Keahole Coastline Aerial

    A new perspective of a favorite location I love to shoot the sunset from.

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    This large hole in the coastline rocks makes for a very interesting landscape shot. The ocean water surges into the opening forcing the turquoise water to pillow up and spill over the seaweed and cracks in the lava. Then the water drains back into the hole and seemingly disappears. This is when I would typically take a 1 sec exposure in order to blur the water into a silky stream as it falls into the hole while the remaining curls of sea foam fizzle out where they wrapped themselves in the rocks. I have done this exercise for over five years at this and other locations along this coastline with many different compositions and views, but I have never captured what the landscape looks like from the air.

    I often wondered what it would look like from above and would envision building a scaffold over the large hole to shoot from that angle. Never once did I think of using a drone until I got the DJI Spark drone for a birthday gift. I flew it around a few other locations I had photographed before and was amazed at how much fun it was to create at this new angle. They it dawned on me to photograph these locations. This is the first of the 6 blowholes I want to capture from the air.

    Check out “Golden Hour” to see a sunset shot from the ground.


    © Christopher Johnson

  • Crossing The Old

    Aerial view of the upper Mamalahoa Hwy crossing over old lava tubes.

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    For years I have been driving this HWY without knowing what it might look like from the air. I only noticed the one lava tube just off of the road, but had no idea that it extended up and down the mountain.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Sea Arch Aerial

    Aerial photograph of a large sea arch along the Kailua Kona coastline

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    In 2016 I hiked out to this arch with a friend of mine that had scouted the location earlier. We explored the location and eventually shot from a back ledge through the opening as the sunlight beamed through to highlight the sea spray. You can see that photo ‘Noio Point Arch‘ I posted earlier. Since that day I had only been back 1 other time, but walked away without a shot. It’s not easy to photograph this arch in different ways. There aren’t many vantage points to shoot from that are safe to stand. At any moment a rogue wave could come and catch you be surprise if you are not careful.

    When I got a drone for my birthday this is the first location I though about shooting. I wanted to see if I could capture another view of this amazing land formation along with the beautiful blue sea foam colors next to the earthy browns. This was the shot I wanted, but now my creativity has been sparked. I have a few other ideas in mind for this location that I hope to soon catch.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Eight Feet Above The Water

    An aerial view of the ocean water just off of the Kailua Kona shoreline

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Pine Trees Beach

    Aerial photograph of Pine Trees beach during sunrise

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Pine Trees Morning Surf

    Aerial photograph of a popular surf spot during sunrise in Kailua Kona.

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    My daughter wanted to meet some friend to surf dawn patrol at Pine Trees beach. Usually this means I have to sluggishly get out of bed, drive her down half asleep, and hurry home to drink more coffee, but not this time. For my birthday I got a DJI Spark drone and look for any opportunity to fly it. This was my opportunity to get out at sunrise and practice getting beach pictures while my daughter happily surfed with friends. Best of both worlds.

    © Christopher Johnson