Cornforth Images

Outdoor Photographer September 2014 Drone Article

Outdoor Photographer September 2014 Drone Article

Posted by Jon Cornforth on August 22, 2014

My regular readers are probably aware that over the past year I have been building and flying remote controlled hexacopters in order to create dramatic aerial photos. In this month’s issue of Outdoor Photographer, I share some of my advice from the lessons I have learned from flying a drone capable of lifting a larger camera. The opening images showcase one of my aerial images of Lumahai Beach on Kauai, as well as my previous Canon EOS M camera mounted on my gimbal beneath my Tarot 690S hexacopter. After my crash in early May, I rebuilt using a Tarot 680Pro frame and am now flying a Sony NEX 5 camera body. I hope that readers will enjoy my latest article and find inspiration from what I have have been doing.

Waipio Valley Rainbow

Waipio Valley Rainbow

Posted by Jon Cornforth on July 28, 2014

The Waipio Valley is one of my favorite places on the Big Island, plus it is also where my wife and I got married. I photographed a sunrise here when we planned out wedding 13 years ago using a 35mm film camera and my very first attempt at using graduated neutral density filters. It is a nice enough image, but I have always wanted to return to try shooting this scene again during the summer months when the sun comes up as far to the north as it will, but it took me until this summer to finally have the opportunity. I drove from Kona over to the valley four mornings in a row well before sunrise. My friend Chris Hirata met me for three of those mornings and was kind enough to drive me down into the valley in his four wheel drive truck, but we got skunked due to a lot of rain. On my fourth and final morning, CJ Kale and Don Hurzeler picked me up and the three of us drove over together. We almost did not drive down because the weather looked grim, but at the last second I talked them into turning around. I got down to the beach just in time to set up as the light illuminated the cliff and suddenly this rainbow magically appeared. Incredible! After a few minutes of shooting, CJ walked over to where I was standing and I asked him if he got a nice shot of the rainbow? He said, “What rainbow?” Apparently he could not see it where he was standing back near the river behind me. I don’t think that he is ever going to let me live it down, but of course all in good fun. I am quite pleased with this image, especially since it was many years in the making. I created this image using my 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Kalalau Valley Stream 1

Kalalau Valley Stream 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on July 25, 2014

It is difficult to adequately describe what it is like to visit the Kalalau Valley on Kauai. Most tourists only see this spectacular location from a boat or a helicopter, but they miss out on the authentic Kalalau experience by not camping on the beach or in the valley. I have been fortunate to be able to visit the Kalalau five times over the last 14 years, including four nights a little over a week ago. I tried to photograph this composition during my previous visit in May, but was thwarted by the afternoon clouds which obscured the ridges and blocked the sunlight. By returning again so soon, I was rewarded with the necessary conditions to create this dramatic image. I hope that viewers of this photo will take a few moments to appreciate the serene energy that is the Kalalau. I created this image using my new 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Kalepa Ridge Sunset 4

Kalepa Ridge Sunset 4

Posted by Jon Cornforth on July 24, 2014

I am often asked what is my favorite location that I have photographed. This is a difficult question to answer, but one of the places that I would consider to be towards the top of my list would be the Na Pali Coast of Kauai. This otherworldly landscape with its 4000′ jagged ridges emerging from the tropical Pacific is simply breathtaking to behold. During my recent visit, I returned to the top of the island for the first time in almost a decade with my friends Patrick and Marcus. We set out to hike Kalepa Ridge before sunset. I would like to point out that this is not a trail for anyone who is afraid of heights, since much of the trail hugs the knife edged ridge which drops straight down into the Kalalau Valley. Towards the end of the trail, I discovered this ethereal composition and set up my camera to shoot sunset. For my effort, I was rewarded with golden light, dramatic clouds, and a deep sense of satisfaction to be able to spend time in such an amazing place. I created this image using my new 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Queen's Bath Waterfall Sunset 1

Queen’s Bath Waterfall Sunset 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on July 23, 2014

I have just returned from a five week journey to Hawaii and Kauai. My priority during this trip was to spend time with my family rather than a photography adventure, but of course I did get out to do some shooting whenever possible. There were a variety of locations that I had always wanted to photograph during the summer months, including this dramatic waterfall at sunset near Queen’s Bath in Princeville. The sun only sets far enough to the north to backlight this waterfall as it plunges into the ocean at sunset for a few weeks each year. Around the summer solstice, the sun also sets behind the lava shoreline on the right side, thus eliminating any overpowering lens flare. I visited this location several days in a row before my efforts were rewarded with this dramatic combination of dark clouds and golden light. I should also point out that the ocean was incredibly calm, so it was safe for me to climb down into this alcove. This is not a location to spend time during much of the year. I created this image using my new 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 3-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Polihale Beach Sunset 1

Polihale Beach Sunset 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on May 23, 2014

I first visited Polihale Beach on the remote west side of Kauai in 2000 and last photographed it using my medium format Pentax 67 camera in 2003. It is a lovely beach on the dry side of the island, though, it is often overrun by 4wd vehicles. This makes it challenging to compose an image to say the least. During my recent visit, I was fortunate that it was the low season for tourism, so there were not that many people out there. Still, I had to get down very close to this sand berm in order to eliminate my fellow tourists and a few vehicles from my composition. I visited the beach two days in a row and on my second visit photographed this dramatic light against the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast with clouds billowing in the sky above. I created this image using my new 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Kee Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Kee Beach Sunset Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on May 22, 2014

I flew my hexacopter almost every day during my recent trip to Kauai, including at Kee Beach my last two sunsets. I have previously photographed the Na Pali Coast from the shoreline rocks on the far right of this image, but this time I flew my copter from the flat heiau hidden just above. Not only was this a perfect landing zone, but I had it all to myself. I find that it is much too distracting and dangerous to fly around people. I lucked out that there was almost no wind and the sun kept poking through the clouds to illuminate the scene. Dappled light underneath dark clouds is my favorite landscape photography situation. I digitally removed the tiny dots of people on the beach and snorkeling in the water, but also kept the original for my editorial clients. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Shipwreck Beach Sunset 3

Shipwreck Beach Sunset 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on May 21, 2014

During my most recent visit to Kauai, I was rewarded with this incredible sunset the very first night that I was on the island. I was especially lucky since this was the first time that I had ever tried to photograph Shipwreck Beach. Every once in a while I experience beginner’s luck, but more often I have to return to a location multiple times before I photograph a sky this colorful. During the summer months, the southern swell erodes the sand on the beach and reveals the lava rocks underneath, which I used as my foreground along with the wave action against the shore. As the sun sank beneath the western horizon, I anticipated that these clouds would not only light up, but also perfectly frame my overall composition. I was not disappointed. I created this image using my new 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapterCanon 17-40mm f4 lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 4-stop Soft Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

Makena Beach Aerial 1

Makena Beach Aerial 1

Posted by Jon Cornforth on April 10, 2014

Last year, I resolved to learn to build and fly remote controlled multirotor copters in order to create dramatic landscape images from a unique angle. It took me a little while longer than I had expected, but I am very happy with the types of photos that I am now creating. This aerial view of Makena Beach on Maui is a beautiful example of what is possible by merging this astonishing technology with my creative vision. Sure, I’ve seen aerial images of Makena over the years that were photographed from a small plane, but what is exciting to me is that I did both the flying and the photography myself. My hexacopter was hovering about 300m out and 100m up from where I took off when the setting sun briefly shined underneath the clouds to illuminate the entire scene. This is also my edited version of this photo, because I digitally removed the tiny dots of naked people on Little Beach. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.

La Perouse Bay Shoreline Aerial 3

La Perouse Bay Shoreline Aerial 3

Posted by Jon Cornforth on April 9, 2014

I’ve been back home for a few weeks now and barely flown my hexacopter. The one day that I did fly, I was amazed at how much the cooler weather shortened my battery life, and thus flight times. When I flew over La Perouse Bay on Maui a few weeks ago, I was conservatively reaching 10 minutes each flight. This beautiful lava shoreline and reef image was created by flying over 400m out and 50m up from the parking lot at the end of the road. It takes my hexacopter less than a minute to reach this distance and altitude. I then hover it in place and move it around to experiment with different compositions. I was especially drawn to the X shape of the shoreline surrounded by the turquoise water. I created this image by flying my Canon EOS M camera, Canon 11-22mm lens, and Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, on my Tarot 690S hexacopter using XAircraft’s SuperX flight controller. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CC, plus Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.


I've been photographing native North American wildlife and landscapes since 2001. All of my photos were taken on location and are available for purchase as stock photography for commercial and editorial use, or as fine art prints. My photographs span over 5 continents, 10 countries, and 7 US states including Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Bahamas, California, Canada, Hawaii, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Patagonia, Utah, and Washington.

I'm best known for my humpback whale photos, stellar sea lion photos, polar bear photos, sea otter photos, and bald eagle photos. National Parks are also a favorite subject of mine, and include Denali National Park photos, Glacier Bay National Park photos, and the US National Park of American Samoa. I'm an award winning nature photographer who has been featured in numerous online publications and magazines, with experience using medium format, 35mm film, and Canon digital SLR cameras including for my underwater marine photography of fish, whales, dolphins, and coral.

Please contact me by phone or email to find the perfect photo for your stock, commercial, editorial, or fine art purposes today!