• Boulder Creek Falls

    Boulder Creek falls along the Alakahi stream that winds its way through the lush tropical landscape of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo.

    Buy a Print

    Way in the back up stream is the waterfall that the Botanical Garden named as Boulder Creek Falls. In order to get to it I would have to make my way through the dense tropical forest which would most likely be frowned upon by the garden staff. With the amount of people around I decided not to attempt it. Instead I setup on a small bridge that crosses the stream and waited for the right moment.

    Like the Onomea Falls image that I posted earlier, I had to wait a while for the sunlight to be hidden behind some clouds in order to have a nice evenly lit scene. However, the sunlight wasn’t my only obstacle. The small bridge that I set my tripod on was not sturdy. Any amount of movement would create a huge vibration, which doesn’t go very well when taking slow shutter exposures. The large crowds of people that found their way to the falls had the same idea to stop and take pictures before winding their way up to the end of the path. Funny thing is that the end of the path is about 50 yards away up to the left which is somewhat in the shot. I really had short windows where I could photograph the scene once the sun was blocked. The best part was that I setup really low to the ground in a crouched position, but because the bridge was not wide enough to allow me to be behind the camera and have people walk behind me that I had to crouch off to the side and crane my head around to see through the view finder. Super awkward position, but very enjoyable to be sitting in front of this beautiful scene.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Onomea Waterfall

    The beautiful cascading Onomea waterfall in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

    Buy A Print

    Two years ago I visited this waterfall and failed to focus properly on all parts of the scene and regretted not spending the time to make sure I had the shot before I left. The unfortunate thing is I though I had the shot when I left only to find slightly out of focus images when I went to process them. If the out of focus elements were in the background I may have dismissed the error, but they were foreground elements. It’s one thing on macro or artsy style images to have blurred parts, as long as it’s not the main focus of the image, but this wasn’t the case. Needless to say it bothered me for a while and when my daughter wanted to return last weekend I didn’t hesitate to go.

    We arrived around noon which isn’t ideal for photographing waterfalls or complex landscapes because the light from the sun spots the scene with unpleasant highlights. I was hoping for a cloud to hide the sun momentarily, but after waiting 20 minutes there was no relief from the sun.  I gave up to walk the gardens and to hopefully have better luck later, which when I returned my wish was granted.

    After a cautious and abundant photoshoot I knew I had the shots I needed to create the image I had been wanting for 2 years. I focus blended the foreground tree with the waterfall and distant trees in Photoshop to create a fully sharp image as well as adjusting the exposure with luminosity masks to create depth and interest.

    Hope you enjoy this image and the lesson for me was to take my time and make sure I have all elements of the scene captured before leaving. Returning may not be an option.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Akaka Falls

    Akaka Falls framed with the ferns in the foreground.

    Buy a Print

    This magnificent waterfall has been photographed a million times and mostly the same way. I wanted to photograph it with a different approach. Framing the waterfall with all of its surroundings in order to accent the subtleties of the area was my goal. The ferns in the foreground, small waterfalls along the left side of the falls, the moss along the walls, and the way the water catches smooth rocks along the cliff walls as it falls were all the details I set out to capture that are normally lost in a wide angle view.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Onomea Falls

    Photograph of the beautiful picturesque Onomea waterfall


    Buy a Print

    A beautiful waterfall within the Tropical Botanical Garden walk north of Hilo on the Scenic road. I definitely recommend taking the time to visit this botanical garden. It’s breathtaking!

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Tranquility

    Waken Falls Waterfall along the road to Hana.

    On a recent trip to Maui, we set out for Hana on a nice day trip. I really didn’t know what to expect since I had never been there, and I was pleasantly surprised. Every turn there was such amazing beauty. From the inland gulches to the wide open vistas, I was in awe.

    Just as we were driving over one of the many one lane bridges I noticed a brilliant waterfall tucked around the bend of a hillside. I had to photograph this waterfall. We had to park about 300 yards up the road and hike back down to the bridge and then scale a very slippery hillside under the bridge in order to get to the falls. Because of the recent rainfall everything was wet and had a nice sheen of moss covering. It took everything to not slip down the hillside. The risk was definitely it once we came around and faced the three waterfalls. Simply breathtaking.

    I shot the front of the falls first, but found that I really wasn’t capturing the location very well. I just loved how the moss and ferns were canvasing the rock face. The only way to capture that was along the side of the falls. Here in this shot I feel as if I’ve got the personality of the scene. The ferns and vines along the rocks with a backdrop of the falls in the background as they run into the dark green water.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Alakahi Falls From The Kohala Forest Reserve Lookout

    From the lack of rainfall Alakahi Falls wasn’t flowing, but the view at the end of White road was awesome. I can’t get over the way this view just opens up. At one moment you are traversing a narrow path through the tropical forest and with one step there is this amazing view as you stand on the edge of a very steep cliff.

    © Christopher Johnson


  • Hawi River

    Climbing around this river wasn’t as easy as it looks. Every stone was covered in moss and was slippery, so every step I took was extremely careful. I used my tripod in most cases as a cane to help me across the rocks.

    Perched on a rock on the edge of a large waterfall I carefully set up and exposed tree shots. I then left to eagerly view the Pololu valley.

  • Akaka Falls

    From the lookout along the Akaka Falls visitors trail. I wanted to capture the surrounding foliage of the foreground with the waterfall in the background in this photograph.