Center map
Google MapsGet Directions

Manoa Falls on the island of Oahu Photo Walk.

From tropical rain forest type jungles with bamboo to raging rivers and waterfalls, Manoa Falls has an amazing arrangement of photo opportunities.


We had an amazing photo walk and hike at Manoa Falls! The walk started in the Manoa Falls parking lot where we greeted each other with brief introductions and stories about our photography experiences. I then went over a few basic settings that would work best in a jungle type environment such as Manoa Falls. With large amounts of shade but really bright tree openings, this place challenged each of us and made for difficult shooting situations.


After our quick class on the basic camera settings we headed out in full manual mode. Everyone was decked out in hiking attire knowing that it would be a little muddy due to the previous storms in the area. We had DSLR’s, iPhone’s, and even a 1974 Kodak film camera. Our friend Josh is kind of old-school. He screams vintage and when you see the pictures below you will know exactly what I am talking about. His 1962 wooden tripod is also part of his arsenal. Check it out!

First Stop

Our first stop along the Manoa Falls trail was a group shot. These are a lot of fun because everyone gets a copy upon request. The backdrop looked like something out of Jurassic Park. Super big trees, amazing looking ferns, and a jeep trail that looked like a movie set.

Second Stop

Our second quick lesson showed up on the fly. We set our cameras on a low F-stop (F-1.8 to F-4) which reduced the depth of field. All cameras were focused on a spiral looking fern plant called the Hapuu fiddleheads. Our intent was to focus on the plant while the background was blurred out. This is called a shallow depth of field. Super easy to do in manual mode. You can also set your camera to portrait/auto mode where it can also be accomplished. While in manual mode you should lower your F-stop to its lowest settings and zoom in slightly to maximize the effect. This will make your subject “pop” out from the background. Everyone had a good time shooting the Hapuu fiddleheads. We later used similar settings while capturing a crazy looking snail.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5495

Fourth Stop

Our next stop was under the bamboo section. This is where we captured our second group shot. Everyone was amazed at the height and thickness of these trees. If you can capture these bamboo trees with a wide angle lens there is a good chance your image will look amazing. TIP: Put someone or something in your frame to help give a sense of depth and size to the scene. Without a reference there is no telling how big or small the forest really is. I did this by capturing a few photographers at the base of my frame. The ground was a little boring and my highlight was on the bamboo so I rotated my camera to the sky and snapped a few images.  Capturing the base of the bamboo is also important!

Fifth Stop

The last demonstration was to capture the small waterfalls with a longer shutter speed. We sent Nick and Janice down river to acquire a few images and they came back with some really cool shots. They were awesome! I discussed the importance of a high F-stop and low ISO which forces a longer shutter speed. A neutral density filter can also help the settings because it appears darker within the camera. Try this while at the beach next time. TIP: High F-stop (F-22), low ISO (100), and slow shutter speed (1/15 or less) will give you the much desired foggy waterfall effect. Make sure you meter to |____ O ____| once the settings have been adjusted.

Last Stop

By the time we reached our finish point which was the actual waterfall it was 2 hours in duration. Perfect amount of time to snap a few more shots and head back down. The day was hot and everyone was getting hungry for lunch.

After Party

We ended the day at Varsity’s for pizza. Thanks for reading and please join us for the next Free Photo Walk!

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5381

The bamboo forest was amazing! The photographers tell you (the viewer) how big these trees are compared to a person.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5191

Photo opportunities found with the weeds.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-3

First group photo.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5169

Rule of thirds. Set trail on the left side moving right.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5212

After this bridge the landscape opens to an amazing view.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5278

Details within plants are always fun to explore.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5286

Details within plants are always fun to explore.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5300

Checking out the scenery. The photographer tells you how big the log really is.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5455

Josh asking why am I taking his picture.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5495

These guys love their shirts..

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5521

Cool shot of Josh and his vintage tripod.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5506

Walking shot captured this art style image.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-8

Group Photo taken at the bamboo forest.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5569

Janice showing how its done.

Hawaiian Snail

The little things are sometimes overlooked. Josh didn’t miss a single thing.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-4

Me teaching a little about shallow depth of field.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-5475

Camera phones are encouraged on our photo walk.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-7

Walking down the Manoa Falls trail.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-9

Bamboo forest was amazing!

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-6

Any trail is a great opportunity to help lead your viewer down the picture.

Pictures of Manoa Falls Oahu Hawaii-1

This was in the beginning of our photo walk where I was teaching about the basics.

Chris Rose
My name is Chris and this is my super cool job. We set-up & facilitate photography tours, workshops, and free photo walks for residents and visitors to Hawaii.
Please subscribe or check back often for new updates.