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A couple admiring the Waikiki cityscape in Hawaii

Hawaii

Capture the Perfect Shot on Hawaii’s Oahu

By: Leslie Lang and Derrick Aspera

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    Hawaii

Capture the Perfect Shot on Hawaii’s Oahu

Whether you use a professional camera or take snapshots with your smartphone, you will want to capture your memories of beautiful Hawaii in photographs. Here are 10 of the most photo-worthy locations in Oahu, site of Hawaii's capital city, Honolulu, and a series of spectacular beaches that are renowned for their surfing. Plus, you will find tips from professional photographer Derrick Aspera on how to get just the right shot.

1. Puu Ualakaa State Park

Located on Mount Tantalus, Puu Ualakaa State Park offers an amazing scenic view of Honolulu and Diamond Head, the site of a dormant volcanic crater and one of Oahu's most scenic spots. For best results, use a wide-angle lens or shoot with your smartphone's panorama setting.

Pro Tip: Photograph the sun setting behind the ocean before the park closes at 6:45 p.m. in the winter and 7:45 p.m. in the summer.

A view of Honolulu and Oahu's Diamond Head

A view of Honolulu and Oahu's Diamond Head
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2. Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay's turquoise-colored water is best captured from its overlook using a wide-angle lens or the panorama setting. From the parking lot, go back toward the gate and bus stop and walk about 20 minutes up the paved trail.

Pro Tip: Time your visit for sunrise; after 9 a.m., the parking lot fills up, and the sun gets very hot, as there's little or no shade.

Hanauma Bay on Oahu

Hanauma Bay on Oahu
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3. Oahu's North Shore

Oahu's North Shore, legendary for its big winter waves and professional surf competitions, also features some of Oahu's best beaches and bays. Parking is difficult; it's best to arrive before 7 a.m.

Pro Tip: Use a selfie stick to photograph yourself in front of the big waves.

Powerful wave near North Shore on Oahu

Powerful wave near North Shore on Oahu
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4. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach in the town of Kailua, which is considered one of the best beaches in the world, also makes for a great sunrise location. Park on a side street, and use any beach access route to snap a gorgeous sunrise selfie.

Pro Tip: If you miss sunrise, come at 7 or 8 a.m. and photograph the early morning neighborhood, beaches and Lanikai Bay from the fairly easy Pillbox Trail above Lanikai.

Sunny and serene surroundings on a beautiful beach

Sunny and serene surroundings on a beautiful beach
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5. Free Friday Night Fireworks

The free Friday Night Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel is a tradition in the city of Waikiki held every week at 7:45 p.m. Photograph the show with a one-second shutter speed to capture the firework's burst and tail. If you walk along the “Walls" in Waikiki, a jetty extending into the ocean, you can see the fireworks over Waikiki's nighttime cityscape.

Pro Tip: No tripod? Hold a point-and-shoot or smartphone steady with both hands close to your body.

Friday Night Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach

Friday Night Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach
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6. Magic Island

Magic Island, a peninsula at Ala Moana Beach Park across from the Ala Moana Shopping Center, offers a stunning nighttime view of the Waikiki skyline. Use a tripod and set your camera at ISO 100 and a 30-second shutter speed.

Pro Tip: To prevent camera shake and blurred shots, use a shutter release cord or the camera's timer.

The Waikiki skyline on Oahu

The Waikiki skyline on Oahu
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7. A bamboo forest

A bamboo forest is one of the natural highlights of Hawaii's landscape. This example is located off Pali Highway at the Nuuanu Pali Drive exit. Park near the water facility on the left. Walk 30 yards farther along the road for the trail entrance; from there, it's a five-minute walk.

Pro Tip: Shoot upward along the lines of the bamboo for an interesting composition.

A bamboo forest off Pali Highway on Oahu

A bamboo forest off Pali Highway on Oahu
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8. Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach, or Turtle Beach, is a habitat for Hawaii's endangered sea turtles that's located off Kamehameha Highway as you drive toward the North Shore. It's best to arrive by 8 or 9 a.m. before it gets crowded.

Pro Tip: It's against the law to get too close or touch the turtles. Use a telephoto lens to capture images of them sleeping on the sand.

A sea turtle at Laniakea Beach on Oahu

A sea turtle at Laniakea Beach on Oahu
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9. Poke

Poke (prounced “po-kay") is a local delicacy consisting of cubes of fresh raw fish, often tuna, and usually seasoned with soy sauce, salt, sesame and onions.

Pro Tip: Turn off your flash and use natural lighting when photographing your bowl (or plate) of food.

A poke bowl on an Oahu beach

A poke bowl on an Oahu beach
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10. Hula

Hula is a traditional Hawaii style of dance that can be experienced at a weekly free performance Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at Waikiki's Kuhio Beach, weather permitting. When photographing hula dancers, use a fast shutter speed between 1/500 to 1/1000 second.

Pro Tip: Did you know you can increase the ISO setting on a smartphone and eliminate some of the blur?

These are just 10 places on Oahu. Be sure to check out the other islands that make up the state for more beautiful, breathtaking photo opportunities.

Hula dancers and musicians performing in Waikiki

Hula dancers and musicians performing in Waikiki
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