Photo of the Week | Hawaiian Ocean Drone Shot

Every Friday (in this case, Sunday) I will be posting a Photo of the Week. Here I’ll be sharing the details on how I got the shot, where I was, and the backstory that went into it. I hope you find this enjoyable, and helpful in your own photography.


Camera: DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
Lens: DJI FC300s 3.61mm
ISO: 100 3.61mm f/2.8 1/150s

After hauling my drone across the Pacific Ocean on my trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, I was finally able to get some epic shots with it. On our 8th day of the trip, we were camping out in Kapa’a Beach Park for a few days. Waking up, footsteps from the ocean every morning was incredible. And watching the sun set over the horizon each day from our campsite was even more memorable. The bugs; however, we could have done without. Each evening, after the sun would go down, and the winds would subside, all of the bugs came out to play. Some nights it got so bad we were forced to retire to our tiny, two-person backpacking tent for the night at 8:30PM.

Our days were spent snorkeling in the pure blue ocean. One morning, I took the drone up for some shots of the coast line and the reef below the ocean surface. Right away, I took a few videos of classic drone shots. Pull away from the shoreline, panning across the shoreline, you name it. It wasn’t until I went for a reveal shot, did I “realize” the photo below the drone. It was stunning.

The shoreline framed the top of the shot, highlighted by by the waves crashing into the rocks. Due to the varying depths of the water, the blues changed from clear, to green, to deep shades of blue. You can see all of the boulders and stones in the water with coral growing all over them. The abundance of life, not picture here, below the water was incredible. My favorite part of this shot is the natural fading of clarity towards the bottom of the frame. The rocks are crystal clear in focus, but the ocean begins to fade and out of focus.

This was one of those shots that I knew I got right away when I clicked the shutter. Minimal editing needed to bring this photo back to how I remembered it. But getting the drone back to the beach turned out to be not such an easy task. The winds offshore were a constant 25mph. This proved to be quite difficult for my drone to counteract. I watched as the horizontal speed display on my phone read 1mph. Scared the drone would never return to the beach. My fears grew as I noticed the battery level drop at faster rate than what my drone could return at. It was becoming crunch time. Fortunately, the trusty drone closed the gap and returned safe and sound.

Always a good day when I don’t crash the drone into the ocean, let alone come out with a shot like this.

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