4 Tips: Kauai Photography from a Helicopter

Kauai Helicopter Tour Photography

4 Tips: Kauai Photography from a Helicopter

You’re visiting Kauai and want to take a helicopter tour. This famous experience is one for the books. And it makes for incredible photography opportunities too. You’re hundreds of feet in the sky, surrounded by wind, sun, and the beauty of Kauai below.

It’s fun to zoom around in a chopper, dip in altitude towards a spectacular waterfall and then rise skyward toward the top of cliffs. There are plenty of unique places to snap an image with your smartphone. But camera photography does pose some challenges when riding with the doors off.

So, make sure you are well-prepared before taking a Kauai photography helicopter tour. Here are four tips we think you should know.

1. Pre-Pick Your Photo Gear

The doors are off the chopper. That means loose items will naturally fly out when you’re flying at 100mph. For a photo session, you can only take one lens- not even a lens hood. You wouldn’t even be able to change the lens due to the risk of it flying out the helicopter.

So, we recommend taking the widest lens you own. Also, have your camera equipped with a safety strap and loaded with a high-capacity memory card. Once up in the air, you cannot make any gear swaps or changes.

2. Take a Polarizer

This tip is optional, but consider bringing a polarizer for richer shots. This is most important if you plan on shooting a lot of ocean, waterfall, or wet foliage shots. The purpose of the circular polarizer filter is to help reduce reflections and make the image more vibrant overall. It reduces the amount of light hitting the sensor, which means using a faster shutter speed and higher ISO settings.

Ultimately, if it will fit over your lens and you feel good about using it, then load it up.

3. Time It Right

A lot of people prefer to fly in a helicopter over Kauai either around sunrise or sunset for the most magnificent skies. However, mid-afternoon when the sun is high in the sky is actually a great time to shoot aerial photos.

Why? The sunlight drenches all the deep valleys, canyons, and gorges around the island. This really helps brighten them up. In return, you’ll be able to capture more dynamic scenery in your photos.

4. Burst Shots

Since you're moving fast, you don't have time to frame an image properly, let it focus, and capture a careful image. So, always shoot in continuous (burst) mode if your camera can do it. Most smartphones can even take burst shots.

In burst mode, you’ll take multiple images of the same subject. That means getting at least one image that is clear, in focus, and devoid of the helicopter rotor blades. And yes, the blades will inevitably get in the way.

Final Thoughts on Kauai Photography from a Helicopter

Taking a Kauai photography tour in a helicopter is worth the money, especially if you are a professional photographer. You get the opportunity to snap some awe-worthy shots that will serve as a physical memory of your trip forever.

Photography is about more than a pretty snapshot. Take a camera strap, choose a full-range lens, and shoot in burst mode with a high shutter speed.