Saturday, September 20, 2008


Baloonapalooza 2008, originally uploaded by Chrisrossphotography.

Another image I took at Balloonapalooza.


Every year Las Vegas has a mini-balloon festival called Baloonapalooza. I like to get there 1 hour before sunrise (5AM) and capture light trails from the carnival rides. Right after sunset, trucks file into the Craig Ranch Golf Course and start setting up their Balloons. I have yet to see them leave the ground... it seems that the conditions are too windy each year. But, its still cool to look at and offers interesting photo subjects.

Hawaii Day 1 - Monday: 9/8/08

To celebrate our 10 year anniversary, Naquel and I took a week long trip to Hawaii and stayed at the Hilton, Wiakoloa on the Big Island. Our flight left early Monday morning and we arrived at the Hilo airport around 7 AM. We initially reserved a compact car, but seeing as they were unavailable, we ended up getting a free upgrade into a convertible mustang. So we started making our way to the Hilton, a 2 hour drive, and took the old scenic Highways. Coming from Las Vegas, I was pleasantly surprised by how green and lush this side of the island is. My mind was racing with ideas for sunset photos...too many places to see and photograph, and not enough time. When we got to the Hilton, we were very impressed with how big and beautiful the hotel was. It has a monorail and boat transportation systems because the property is so enormous. After checking into our hotel we checked out the hotel grounds. I found the one and only sea turtle there, and although I took pictures, I was careful not to disturb it. It was amazing how close I was able to get... literally 3 inches from its face. After 10 minutes it got bored of me and went into the water. We also found a really neat little peninsula jutting out into the ocean, called Buddha Point. For our first day in Hawaii we were very impressed.

Hawaii Day 2 - Tuesday: 9/9/08

HEY LOOK! THAT'S ME JUMPING OFF THE BOAT INTO THE WATER.... BEFORE I GOT A TAN! Just kidding! Today we woke up bright and early because we scheduled a snorkel trip on the Fair Wind III catamaran. The water was so blue and clear. This is the best snorkeling I have ever done, and supposedly the best in the state of Hawaii. We had breakfast and lunch on the boat, and then took a nice drive south of Kailua-Kona to check things out. We stumbled across an ancient Hikiau Heiau (temple for the water according to the local resident guarding it). We had a nice sunset dinner in Kailua-Kona at the Aloha Cafe. Afterwards I was able to get some nice pictures at a beach right off of Ali's drive while Naquel did some shopping.

Hawaii Day 3 - Wednesday: 9/10/08

Today we took the scenic Hwy 19 north out of Wiakoloa Village to the Kohala Coast line. There are some stunning overlooks. We drove thru the quaint town of Hawi (Havi) where we partook of some of the best ice cream I have tasted, from Tropical Dreams Cafe. We stopped by an old church that was damaged in the 2006 earthquake. We Took hwy 250 over Kohala mountain where I took some pretty cool panorama shots of the green hills. One of the rather annoying factors about being on the Big Island, is that the roads are all single lane, and the locals drive 20 miles slower than the posted speed limit... and you usually can't pass for miles at a time. I took us 1.5 hours to drive 40 miles from Waimea Township to Honoka'a, and then another 30 minutes to travel 12 miles to the Waip'io overlook. Such a beautiful view- I wish I could have taken pictures there at sunrise.

Hawaii Day 4 - Thursday: 9/11/08

Today was a day for R&R. The Hilton Wiakoloa has an amazing pool, and we spent most of the day there so Naquel could work on her tan. Around dinner time, we took a stroll around the hotel grounds to check things out. The Hilton has a "swim with the doliphins" experience that is very pricey, but that didn't stop me from getting a few photos. There were also places to rent Kayaks and other fun toys.

After dinner we went and watched the Sunset on A-bay. The view was spectacular- one to remember!

Hawaii Day 5 - Friday 9/12/08

I had made up my mind months ago, that if I was coming to Hawaii, I would be taking a helicopter ride to get some killer aerial images of the Volcano. So we booked a flight with Tropical Tours out of Hilo. We flew on a Hughes 500D helicopter and our pilot's name was George. They were nice enough to grant my wish: take the doors off. At first the idea seemed to make sense as I wouldn't have to worry about shooting my camera thru a Plexiglas window, but once we lifted off, I began to realize the problem with this idea. First of all, Naquel was cramped between myself and the Pilot. Secondly, I was forced halfway out the helicopter and I could feel the air from the rotors smashing against my body... good thing I was harnessed in securely. Because of my predicament, I didn't enjoy the first 20 minutes of the flight... but once I got my camera out with a feast of photos to be taken, I forgot about my discomfort and the joy set in. We flew over the active volcano as well as Rainbow Falls. 1 hour goes by pretty fast when you are doing something you really enjoy.

After the flight, we ate lunch at an Italian restaurant called Pescora's- a dingy little hole in the wall... but the food was aight. From there we drove around Hilo only to realize that it is quite the shanty town. At the end of the day we stopped by a Botanical garden, and then ended the day out at Onomea Bay where I got some killer images. see photos below this post.

Hawaii Day 6 - Saturday 9/13/08

Naquel has reprimanded me for not giving you more information about our Hawaiian vacation. So to please her, I am adding more information about our little trip, and will break it down by each days worthwhile activities as they occurred. On the 6th day of vacation my honey said to me, " I want to get dirty, then frolic on a beach with Palm Trees". So today we rented some ATV's and 4x4'ed all over the north side of the big island. At the top of the trail we found this sweet cold water springs, and it was COLD! Naquel jumped in, but I had my reservations. After getting all dirty, we stopped by one of the best beaches on the Big Island, Hapuna Beach. Naquel didn't think about putting sun tan lotion on, and got a bad burn. We just layed out in the sun until dinner time, then went back to take some more "formal" pictures at our Hotel. My favorite one is the one above with Naquel with all the green around her. After taking sunset photos we went and ate dinner at this wonderful Thai restaurant called Jin Tia's. knowing that we had heavy travel plans for the next day, I was a little restless to get back to the hotel and start packing. Ugggghhh!

Friday, September 19, 2008

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Well, we finally made it back from our Hawaii trip. Naquel and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary on the Big Island. We stayed at the Hilton Wiakoloa. For those of you that are not familiar with the Big Island, it is on the Northwest side of the island, the dry side. Our flight left Monday 8/8/08 @ 2:30 AM for a 5AM arrival in Honolulu, and then a 45 minute flight to Hilo. From there it was a 2 hour drive to our Hotel. It seems like a lot of traveling, but we were so excited that it didn't seem that bad at all.

As our luck would have it, there were shark sightings along the Kohala coast line, so the best beaches in the whole state were shut down (all of the other beaches were lava beaches and offered nothing but sharp rock and cuts and bruises for the brave). I know Naquel was really looking forward to basking in the sun, and we had to wait till the last day we were in Hawaii. To make up for her disappointment, I scheduled many excursions including snorkeling at the Captain Cook Memorial (another best in the state of Hawaii), a helicopter tour over the active volcano, and a really fun ATV tour thru the north side rain forests.

Naquel was nice enough to let me get away for my photography, and take photos I did... lots and lots of them... really good ones. Since we planned this trip 5 months ago, I have been chomping at the bit about getting out to take some awesome Hawaii photos. I bought a fantastic book by Andrew Dougherty called " Hawaii, the Big Island Revealed". 400 pages of a local insiders guide to the VERY best places to eat, sights to see, excursions to take, and places to stay at. Some might call me obsessive compulsive, bit I like to refer to it as just being prepared. And besides, Naquel was really happy that I was putting so much effort into making our trip a great one. So, when we got to Hawaii, we already had a really good idea of what we wanted to do and see.

Naquel was so patient with me at times. About 1 hour before sunset I get really serious about my photography because that is the VERY best time to start taking pictures, and you only have so much "good" light until its gone. So there were a few times I just pulled off the side of the road and hiked into the rain forest a few miles to find an extremely remote beach to take my photos, while she waited nicely in the car... for a few hours. Luckily her cell phone worked to keep her busy. She is such a sweetheart. that I have talked your ears are some of my favorite photos I captured with my D700. I have many more photos to post, but it will take a little more time and they will be on my photo site: when they are completed. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed capturing them.