Today's Top Stories
Full Post

Andrew McHowell of Aina Imagery

ainaimagery-3#1

This is one of my favorite photos by fine art photographer Andrew McHowell. It’s a long exposure photo from Manoa Falls, Oahu.

ainaimagery-1#2

This is one from Waikiki.

ainaimagery-2#3

Andrew took this photo in Hana, Maui.

ainaimagery-4#4

He chartered a helicopter to capture this aerial of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai.

ainaimagery-5#5

This stunning landscape was from somewhere on Oahu.

ainaimagery-6#6

Here’s a look at Erma’s on Oahu.

Aina Imagery 16#7

And this is the iconic Akaka Falls on Big Island.

This is just a small selection of work from Andrew McHowell, an Oahu-based fine-art photographer.

Andrew is a professional photographer that travels around the Hawaiian Islands (and the world) shooting landscapes. His images are vivid and bold. Hi work is totally inspiring.

Aina Imagery is the name of Andrew’s company and gallery. Andrew owns a gallery in Hawaii Kai (next to Roy’s Restaurant) where he sells his work. You can also find his work displayed at various galleries and shops in Waikiki.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how he gets his images to look so clean and crisp. You might also be wondering how he gets such wide panoramas.

In this story you’ll get to meet Andrew and see the type of gear he shoots with. Being that his images are meant to be printed at large sizes were quality is key, Andrew’s camera gear is on a whole different level.

IMG_2155-4#8

I met up with Andrew one morning at Cockroach Cove (a.k.a. Eternity Beach).

IMG_2172-3#9

We met up just before 6am to grab some photos of the sunrise.

IMG_2174-3#10

On this day, the sun would rise and shine right into the cove.

IMG_2177-2#11

Andrew set down down his tripod and began to assemble his camera.

IMG_2180#12

This is what he shoots panoramas with. It’s called a Linhof Technorama 617 IIIs. A favorite among landscape photographers around the world.

IMG_2181#13

The camera is basically just a big rectangle. Here, he’s loading up a roll of film. It’s Fuji Velvia 50 in a 6 x 17 cm format. A roll of films gets you 4 photos.

IMG_2190#14

This is how he gets the panorama photos. The film size is something like 4 to 5 times the size of your standard 35mm film (or a full-frame DSLR sensor). The bigger the film, the better the image quality. You can capture more detail in the images (which helps when printing big prints) and you have much more dynamic range (meaning, photos with very bright and very dark areas, like a forest, will look much cleaner).

IMG_2192#15

The rectangle of course is just the holder of the film. You also need a gigantic lens.

IMG_2196#16

And, a viewfinder.

IMG_2194#17

This is the coolest viewfinder I’ve ever looked through. (Which would make sense because this viewfinder alone costs over $1,300.) You can’t tell from the photo but the view finder shows the scene in the panoramic 3:1 aspect ratio.

Andrew walks around and looks through the viewfinder to frame his compositions. Then when he figures out what he wants to shoot, he’ll attach it to the camera.

IMG_2198#18

Andrew walks to a spot in the cove that he likes.

IMG_2201#19

Then he gets everything level. From this angle you can see just how enormous this camera system is. If you want to print fine art photos big, you need a big camera.

IMG_2203#20

He’s got a polarizer and a neutral density filter on the lens.

IMG_2206#21

These Linhofs are German-made things of beauty. I think I had more fun shooting photos of this camera than the sunrise.

IMG_2207#22

By the way, you do not want to know how much these things cost. Try pricing it out on B&H and you can see that you have to be really committed to being a professional photographer if you want to buy one of these cameras.

IMG_2230#23

Being that Andrew is shooting film, he uses a light meter to get his aperture and shutter settings.

IMG_2228#24

He makes his adjustments on the lens.

IMG_2252#25

Then Andrew shoots away. He’s got to be really selective because, remember, he only get 4 shots per roll. He’ll typically shoot all four shots from the same spot, but he’ll adjust the exposure settings for each frame.

IMG_2260#26

It happens pretty fast. After just a few minutes, the roll of film is done.

ainaimagerylinhof -990#27

The film gets sent to a shop on the mainland for developing. When Andrew gets the frames he’ll scan them into his computer to get a high-resolution digital file. Here’s a scan of one of his images straight off the scanner.

From here, Andrew can make any adjustments he needs to. Sometimes he’ll crop the image and make a square composition. Because the film size is so big, he can do a lot of cropping without loosing quality. You’ll have to check out the Aina Imagery gallery to see the final image.

IMG_2268#28

Andrew doesn’t just shoot on film, he shoots digital as well. He showed me this camera next. I’ve heard of this camera but have never seen it in person.

IMG_2269#29

This monster is a Hasselblad H4D. You really really don’t want to know how much this one costs. He’s basically holding a BMW in his hands.

IMG_2271#30

This is what’s called a digital medium format camera. When you talk about image quality, these cameras are the next step up from a top of the line full-frame DSLR camera.

Andrew takes the Hasselblad and Linhof on hikes around Hawaii. (And I thought I was crazy hiking with my Canon 5D Mark II.) Like I said, this guy’s photo equipment is on a whole different level.

IMG_2273#31

Digital medium format cameras can shoot gigantic images with super high image quality.

IMG_2274#32

Dynamic range is also key here. The digital medium format cameras can handle these scenes like the one above very nicely.

IMG_2275#33

Andrew sets up his shot.

ainaimagery-9#34

Here’s one of the images he captured from the Hasselblad. Notice how clean the image looks and how you can see detail both the shadows of the rock in the foreground as well as the detail in the bright sky. The lighting in this scene is totally balanced and natural looking. It’s how you would see it with your eyes. This natural look is very difficult to capture with a regular DSLR camera (like most Canons or Nikons).

IMG_2302#35

When we were done shooting the sunrise, Andrew and I drove 5 minutes to the Aina Imagery gallery. It’s just around the corner from Roy’s Hawaii Kai.

IMG_2303#36

He’s normally not open in the morning but he opened it up so I could check it out.

IMG_2306#37

The gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30pm.

IMG_2315#38

Inside you’ll see Andrew’s photos printed on photographic paper (Fujiflex Crystal Archive Printing Material) and mounted under a type of acrylic. This give the photos a high gloss but offers better image quality than printing on aluminum.

IMG_2318#39

The images in the gallery are rotated out as they sell and as new work gets produced.

IMG_2322#40

Andrew took over this spot form a different gallery owner and redesigned it to match his clean and modern aesthetic. The gallery is immaculate. This guy seems to bring the same clean aesthetic you find in his photography to everything he does.

IMG_2332#41

When you come in to the gallery, you can see all of Andrew’s work by flipping through this portfolio.

IMG_2336#42

Here’s you can see all of Andrew’s work in Hawaii and from his travels.

IMG_2330#43

Don’t forget to sign the guestbook.

ainaimagery-8#44

I should also mention that Andrew has a coffee table book coming out later this year (2013). You can pre-order the book by contacting Andrew at info@ainaimagery.com. He’ll also have it available in his gallery.

Andrew is a really nice guy so if you happen to see him at the gallery, you should feel free to chat with him. I learned a lot about professional landscape photography from just that one time shooting with him. He’s a very interesting person.

Aina Imagery Gallery:

  • Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 5:00 – 9:30pm with private showings available 7 days a week 8:00am – 5:00pm
  • Address: 6600 Kalanianaole Hwy Ste 108B Honolulu, HI 96825 : map

Connect with Andrew:

See more stories about inspiring photographers in Hawaii.

This story was last modified on December 8, 2013. (Originally published in October 2013.)

What To Read Next