Tag Archives: Oahu

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!


Happy New Year everyone! I hope the holidays have treated you well… they sure did for me! Ben and I spent a week and a half in New Jersey and then brought in the new year in beautiful Hawaii! (If the saying is true that the way you bring in the new year is what sets the pace for the 12 months to come, then we’re doing pretty good!) But let’s back up a little, shall we?


Since the motorcoach we call home was parked in Oregon, Ben and I flew from Portland to Philly to spend the holidays with my family in New Jersey. Christmas is the best time of year at the Nace house, and I think the whole family agrees on that. Everyone is home, the atmosphere is warm, and we have a lot of fun holiday traditions. Even though it’s cold, I would never miss a Christmas with my family.

Christmas2012-10Ready for Christmas!

This year it was a little bitter sweet, since my grandmother just passed away in August. She was always a major part of the holidays, so things really didn’t feel the same without her. For decades, she would always prepare Christmas Eve dinner, which was a feast consisting of at least seven different kinds of fish and an irresistible array of side dishes. This year, the whole family chipped in to continue that tradition, and I think we would have made her proud.

Christmas2012-2My parents taking a first stab at seared tuna. 

Christmas2012-14-EditReady to eat the Christmas Eve feast

Christmas morning is always a crazy gift-giving marathon. It takes hours to open gifts as everyone takes turns, going one at a time. We usually have a break for breakfast, and another for happy hour! What I love about Christmas morning is that everyone puts so much time and thought into their gifts. There aren’t really any “average” gifts. Lots of love goes into each one. My favorite gift of the day was what I got my dad. For decades, he’s had these 8mm film reels hidden up in a closet somewhere, containing memories of my parents’ wedding, me and my sister as babies, family that is no longer with us, etc. I had all that film sent away and converted to DVD format and made customs cases for each one. It was a great surprise for him, and we watched the videos that very night.

Christmas2012-55My sweet Nyah on Christmas morning.

Shooting time!

While we were in NJ, we paid a visit to our good friend Carl, whom I met years ago at Heritage Vineyards, where he serves as assistant winemaker. Carl has an amazing wine cellar in his home and since he will be moving back to Texas this year, we wanted to do a photo shoot in his cellar so he’ll have some nice memories to take with him to his next house. Ben specializes in a unique form of photography called lightpainting, and that’s what he did for this shoot. Lightpainting is where you take a completely dark scene and light it with flashlights and other light sources while the camera shutter stays open. I took some non-lightpainted shots to complement Ben’s image.

CellarLightpaintBen’s lightpainting of Carl’s cellar. If you want to learn more about lightpainting, check out Ben’s e-book on the technique at www.DigitalMastery.com. © Ben Willmore 2012

CarlsCellar-49One of my shots from the day

One more pre-Hawaii shot:

Christmas2012-79Before we left for Hawaii, and not one week before our wedding day, the guys took Ben out for a boys-only Philly craft beer crawl. They all piled into a stretch limo and had a field day! The “Groom” shirt was a gift from my sister, Laura.


I know you were probably wondering when I was going to get around to the Hawaii part of this post. On New Year’s Eve, at 4 in the morning, we all headed to the airport, bound for Honolulu. (When I say “all,” I mean my parents, my sister and her fiancee Rich, Rich’s parents Bill and Penni, my brother David and his girlfriend Cindy and of course me and Ben.) It was hard to believe this trip had actually arrived! Not only were we ready to be in paradise, but that meant our wedding was only days away!

We brought in the new year in Waikiki on Oahu. Stepping off the plane, I felt like Dorothy having just stepped into the land of Oz. NJ was so overcast, cold and colorless and Hawaii is, well… Hawaii. It’s beautiful, lush and colorful. We had dinner that night at the Hula Grill, which was open on one side to the beach and the ocean. At midnight, all we had to do was walk out onto the restaurant’s balcony and watch the fireworks show over the Pacific Ocean.

BenKar-NewYears-loresBen and I bring in the new year in Waikiki. Just before midnight, Ben ordered a bottle of champagne for the table.

Oahu-NewYears-51-EditIn downtown Waikiki stands the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaiian surfing legend.

On New Years Day, we spent time wandering around downtown Waikiki, shopping and walking. My family had never been to the island of Oahu before, so they enjoyed exploring. While New Years Eve in Waikiki was great, Oahu is actually my least favorite of the Hawaiian islands. There’s just too much city for me, and while the North Shore is great to see for the waves and such, there are much more spectacular beaches elsewhere. This is certainly not a complaint though! Heck, it’s Hawaii… in January! Plus, we were definitely saving the best for last, as the Big Island was our next stop. While were in Oahu, we met up with our wonderful friends Eddie and Judy, who would be at our wedding and had also decided to visit Oahu first. I just love meeting up with our friends all over the globe, especially in a place as special as Hawaii!

On Jan 2., Ben and I made the short plane ride to the Big Island, where we would check in at the Hilton Waikaloa Village resort. This is where we would spend the larger part of our trip and we would be getting married (!!!) in the beautiful little chapel on the hotel grounds. But that, my friends, is a post on its own. More (lots, lots more) to come!

Oahu-NewYears-2Exploring Waikiki! From left, David, Cindy, Ben, Laura and Rich.

Oahu-NewYears-37I loved this photo I got of Laura and Rich enjoying the tropical weather!

BenKarEddieJudy-OahuBen and I met up with Eddie and Judy at the Yard House in Waikiki. Reunion! (This photo has the classic “shot by a bartender with an iPhone” quality, so sorry about that!)

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Greetings, from paradise!


Aloha everyone! This is the first of two posts about our recent journey to Hawaii… aka paradise! Ben taught two workshops on the islands – one on Oahu, and one on Maui. The only Hawaiian island I had been to in the past was Kauai so I was so psyched about the opportunity to see two new ones!

Our first stop was Oahu. Ben was teaching a two-day class at the University of Hawaii with Pacific New Media and we stayed on campus for the duration of our stay. Considering we were in a dorm-like room, we had to resist the temptation to switch to a nice hotel room! We DID come to our senses though… because staying in that kind of housing (which was somewhere between free and dirt cheap) enabled us to direct $$ to more fun things.

When we arrived in Honolulu, we immediately went to pick up the rental car. When Enterprise directed Ben to a lime green Volkswagen Beetle, I struggled to keep myself from laughing. It was like driving around in a giant bubble. (And we later learned that it was designed to be cute, not functional.) Ben was pretty hungry, so he did a Yelp search for some local food and found Helena’s Hawaiian Food. Man, what a perfect way to kick off our stay in Hawaii! We could tell it was good because there was a line out the door. It was a no-frills place where you order at the register and then try to snag a table if you could. We didn’t get a table, so we got our stuff to go and ate in the car after finding a parking spot that looked over the city of Honolulu. The food was amazing… and very authentic. They even gave you a little baggie of special salt if you happened to order a dish that it was suited for.

Ben and I had Mai Tais at the Hula Grill in Waikiki on our first night in Oahu.

On our first night on Oahu, we went to Waikiki beach to check out the nightlife, and it was barely a 10-minute drive from where we were staying. Our first stop was a bar that Ben found on Yelp. It was supposed to be a wine bar and it had amazing ratings. I started to notice some odd things though. First off, they hardly had any wine. Then I notice a very muscular, nice-looking guy holding a small and very well-dressed dog. Another guy, similar to the first, comes in and gives the male bartender a big ol’ kiss on the lips. Then, as I look around the room, I notice I’m the only gal in a place full of very affectionate dudes. When Ben returned to the table after getting our drinks, I have to lean in and politely tell him that he took me to a gay bar and I was the only female in the room! Now we have no qualms with gay bars at all. They’re great. What made it humorous was that it was completely unintentional on his part. Mix that with the fact that he was driving around a lime green Beetle and I had to tease him a little. After our happy hour there, we explored the shops in Waikiki a bit. It’s definitely the place to go shopping and dining if you’re staying near Honolulu. There are tons of stores, galleries and excellent restaurants. We ended up eating at the Hula Grill, and I’d definitely recommend it. There was live Hawaiian music and we got a seat on the patio that overlooked the beach and the ocean. It was beautiful and the food was great.

A random stop I made while driving around the perimeter of Oahu. Beautiful!

For our first full day on the island, we decided to explore and drive the perimeter of Oahu, stopping at any place we found interesting. Our first stop was Makapuu point, which is the easternmost point of the island. We took a short but steep hike that went up a big hill, overlooked the ocean and ended at a lighthouse. It was hard to get a good shot of the lighthouse because of the awkward vantage point, but it was still a really nice walk and part of it goes along a humpback whale sanctuary, so if you just stop and look out, you can see them swimming, diving and I’m sure you could catch an occasional breach of you got lucky.

Sweet Home Waimanalo was a little cafe/store we stopped at on the northeast part of Oahu. They had wonderful healthy food, smoothies, and a fun atmosphere.

We made another stop at a cafe/market called Sweet Home Waimanalo. I was thirsty and it’s a place that we just happened to come across, and we were so glad that we did! Everything they offered looked so yummy and extremely healthy. We both got smoothies. Mine was acai and Ben’s was peanut butter/banana (it sounds odd but it was delicious.) We continued driving around the northern part of the island, stopping to shoot occasionally, but mainly taking in the scenery. We spent a good amount of time at the North Shore, which is pretty much a surfer’s dream come true. I caught some waves too… only with my camera!

I shot this at a beach on Oahu’s North Shore.

Some orchids I found at a botanical garden outside of Honolulu.

During the two days that Ben taught, I took the car and went exploring on my own, though I felt guilty that Ben was inside working while I was driving around. I visited Foster Botanical Garden, which was right outside of Honolulu and a nice place to photograph. The grounds were pretty large, and there was a nice greenhouse which casted some really nice light on the plants. I actually wished I had a macro lens at this place. I also made another trip to the North Shore, where my sole focus was to photograph surfers and waves some more. I found the Pipeline, which is probably one of the most famous surf breaks in the world, and just gaped at it for a while. I couldn’t believe how huge those waves were. You almost have to include a surfer in the shot for some perspective!

The two shots above are from the Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. Is helps to have a surfer in there for scale, doesn’t it?

Another stop I made was at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. They have a pretty big setup for tourists there, with a huge shop, a train tour, garden and kiosks outside. I went on the train tour and was a bit disappointed, as I felt it was somewhat geared toward kids. If you’re on Oahu and happen to be driving on 99, the plantation is worth the stop since you’ll already be driving by it. I enjoyed walking the grounds there and checking out the shop. But unless you’re really into touristy stuff, I wouldn’t make a special drive up there though.

An iPhone shot I got while visiting Chinatown in Honolulu. The fruit and vegetable stands were so colorful!

After Ben was done his 2-day class, he was free to explore some more and we headed to Chinatown in Honolulu. It was a nice walk, and I loved seeing all the fruit and vegetable stands outside. The indoor markets were pretty crazy to me because of the sheer array of foods I have never even seen before! We also made a trip to Pearl Harbor and explored the memorials and free museums there. We had recently watched the movie, so it was interesting to see it in person.

Some Hawaiian dancers at out Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

An iPhone shot of me at the Luau… I had just gotten this Hawaiian-style dress earlier in the day.

Ben got a crazy yummy pina colada smoothie at the Luau.

On our last night in Oahu, we went to a Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and spent some time at the center itself, which is really like a gigantic park. We were both really impressed with how big it was. Each Polynesian culture (Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, etc.) had its own little village where you could see demonstrations, explore buildings and get free canoe rides. The luau that night was huge, and a lot of fun. There are a lot of luaus on Oahu, but this one had the best ratings and people seemed to feel it was the most authentic. The food was all good and really Hawaiian, and the dancers were great… even the little hula kids they had perform! The luau package I bought came with an evening show, called “Ha! Breath of Life.” We were thinking it would be some hula dancers and fire spinners, but it turned out to be a HUGE production… like something you’d expect to see in Vegas. Ben counted at least 70 cast members. (And yes, there WERE hula dancers and fire spinning, but they were incorporated into a much bigger show.)

We wrapped up our week on Oahu in Waikiki, having an afternoon cocktail on the beach while waiting for our flight. Next stop: Maui! More to come!

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Free Desktop Calendar Wallpaper for March!


***Update: I’m sorry everyone! I had the wrong calendar on this wallpaper! They’ve all been updated and should be working fine now. ***

Aloha! Since I’m posting this month’s desktop calendar wallpaper from Hawaii, I figured the theme should be beachy! I shot this photo a few days ago on Oahu’s North Shore, which is just a spectacular place to visit, especially if you’re a photographer or a surfer. Enjoy!

To download, click on the thumbnail for the size of your computer screen. When the large image opens, right click (or Control + Click on Mac) and click save image.







Want this image on your wall? You can purchase a print HERE.

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