Friday, December 30, 2016

Aulani Sunsets

Sunsets at Aulani are simply breathtaking.  From a photography standpoint, three things make them really interesting.  (1) The colors are vivid, (2) the clouds make for very interesting skies, and (3) there is always a nice foreground element like a palm tree or a beach which makes for a nice tropical sunset feel, plus it's always good to get a foreground element to give the shot some depth.

This first sunset above was taken from our room (1056).  I like this image because it's your typical sunset shot with a nice round sun touching the horizon.  The clouds add a bit of interest and I composed this image to get some of the coconut trees in the foreground for some of that depth I talked about above.  I also used the "rule of thirds" to set the horizon to the lower third of the frame.  To get the full dynamic range in a sunset, I shot this one using three bracketed images to make an HDR image which I later tone mapped in Lightroom.  The normal exposure was set to f/8.0 with ISO 100.  I let the camera set the shutter speed to give me the three brackets.  I also used a tripod for this show, but I probably could have done this handheld.

When I went to get this sunset, I was not expecting this at all.  I expected another typical sunset like the one above, except from the beach.  At first I was disappointed that there were so many clouds and I actually packed up my gear and started walking back to the room.  Then the sun started to light up the clouds from behind the other clouds.  So I quickly picked this spot and setup my gear to get this shot.  I like this shot for a few reasons.  One is just the way the sun lit up the clouds.  Next is the fact that in this shot, I have three points of interest, the leading line created by the curve of the beach, the midpoint of the peninsula with the silhouette of the coconut trees, and of course, the dramatic impact of the dark rain clouds with the sun lighting them up in the background and reflecting in the lagoon.  This was also another HDR image with the normal exposure set to f/8.0 at ISO100 and as above, I let the camera set the shutter speed.  I had my tripod, so I was not worried about the shutter speed.

This was also not a sunset I planned to get.  I was actually planning to watch storytelling with Uncle and Moana, but it also happened at the same time as this sunset.  Fortunately for me, just a few steps to the left of the fire pit I was able to frame up the above shot.  Before the sun hit the horizon I actually thought I'd get another typical sunset with a nice coconut tree in the foreground looking like a Jimmy Buffet Tee Shirt.  As it got closer to sunset, the cloud started to move across the horizon and moved right in front of the sun as it hit the horizon.  I loved how this caused the sunrays to come from behind the cloud.  Since I was also walking back and forth between the fire pit to get Moana and this sunset, I didn't use my tripod.  This was a handheld HDR shot with the normal image set to f/8.0 at ISO100 with the camera picking the shutter speeds.

Aulani has so many different vantage points to get sunsets, I bet you could shoot there for a year and get something different each time.

Have fun capturing the magic of Disney.