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Alakai Swamp
Most of the areas where I photograph are rainforest. Places like the Alakai Swamp receive over 600 inches of rain a year.  That’s 50 feet of rain!!  I can usually count on it being overcast with mist or light rain, and protecting my gear from moisture is my highest priority.  I always carry several trash bags, one to cover my camera and lens, and another to cover my pack. I pack my extra lenses, and any other gear in zip lock bags, and all of this within another trash bag inside my pack. No matter how nice the weather looks in the morning, chances are it’s going to rain sometime during the day.  Don’t take any chances. Be prepared for wet.

With all this rainy weather, camera and lens protection is a must while photographing. I have not been able to find a commercially available camera rain cover that fits my equipment, so, I’ve sewn my own from a Kauai Apapanecamouflage poncho and treated it with water-proofing for extra protection.  This cover allows me to photograph with my covered 500mm lens and tele-flash, in all but the heaviest down pours.  I love images of honeycreepers withrain droplets on their backs, as they are, after all, creatures of the rainforest.  And, without some sort of camera protection there is no way I could get these shots.

Misty and rainy days create lots of mood and ambiance. These are some of my favorite days in the forest. The light, what little there is, is not contrasty and the green vegetation is vibrant. This subdued light is great for forest scenics.  Also, on days like this, the birds increase their foraging rates, and are more approachable than Maui Forestwhenit’s sunny.  Most of the Hawaiian honeycreepers are small,weighing only 10-15 grams.  The cooler temperatures necessitate increased food intake in order to maintain high body temperatures, even with their down-feathered body suits.

By the way, don’t forget about your own comfort. Although Hawaii’s low elevation areas are warm, once you get above 4,500 feet where the birds are, rain gear and warm clothing are a necessity.  During the winter months, temperatures can be in the 40’s, and very wet at honeycreeper elevation. Hypothermia can be a real problem for the unprepared person.

 

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