15 tips and locations for taking your best photos on Hamilton Island Posted by Taylor Smith - 17 March 2017 Hamilton Island is the sort of destination you’d honestly consider moving to. The gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, this idyllic paradise is home to some incredible wildlife, spectacular reefs, breathtaking panoramas and world-class accommodation. Soaring into land over the turquoise waters speckled with tropical islands evokes excitement within even the most seasoned of travellers. Once you’ve arrived, the choice of what to see and do can be a tad overwhelming – so here’s my top 10 postcard photo opportunities for your next stay on Hamilton Island. 1. Whitehaven by Seaplane Seaplane on Whitehaven Beach. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). Consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach is a must-do throughout your stay in the Whitsundays. There’s no better way to see this renowned stretch of beach than from the air, but to really experience it, you need to feel that famous sand between your toes. Taking a seaplane is the only way to combine the best of both worlds. With a buttery smooth landing above the fringing reefs and complimentary champagne, what else could you ask for? TIP: Take an underwater camera with you to capture some of the abundant tropical fish and turtles, but more importantly, make sure you have your camera at the ready as the pilot passes over Hill Inlet – use a fast shutter speed and low ISO. Whitehaven Beach stretching out as far as the eye can see. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 2. Catseye Beach Swimming with turtles at Catseye Beach. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). On the days where you don’t fancy going far, Catseye Beach is the perfect option. There are kayaks, catamarans and stand-up paddle boards available, but the real highlights are just beneath the surface. Catseye is famous for the friendly resident turtle population. TIP: If you’re on the search for a new shelled-friend, head out towards the buoys at the back of the beach and keep your eyes peeled – the turtles love to eat the seagrass. Yet another underwater photo opportunity; try to use an underwater camera with a large front element to be able to split the water above and below. Underwater fun. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 3. Resort Lookout Hike Shooting the island from up above. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). For the more adventurous, Resort Lookout is one of the highest peaks on the island and gives you a 360o perspective of the surrounding Whitsunday Islands. You’ll have amazing views of the entire island below you, from the Yacht Club right across to Passage Peak. You’ll very likely spot a few koalas, wallabies and dozens of cockatoos on your hike to the top, so make sure you pack a camera. TIP: Use a wide-angle lens once you reach the summit to capture that panoramic view of the entire island. 4. Bommie Deck Sunset Sunset splendour at Bommie Deck. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). Climbing mountains and snapping photos is hard work and deserves a drink or two. The Bommie Deck is an architectural masterpiece that coincidentally serves some rather amazing cocktails. Sit back, order a drink and watch the sun dissolve into the horizon behind Dent Island. TIP: The western-facing deck provides the perfect place for a photo of your friends and family, as it suspends above the Coral Sea below. Make sure you head to the Yacht Club around sunset to watch the sky ignite into an array of pastels. Take a tripod for some long-exposures to blur the clouds as they roll over you. Watching on as the sun sets behind Dent Island. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 5. Resort Pools The pool at the Yacht Club Villas is a fantastic location to have some fun with your camera. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). Selecting from one of the three main resort pools to cool off can be a pretty hard choice, especially when you throw a swim-up bar into the mix. If you choose to stay at one of the Yacht Club Villas, you’ll be treated to a private pool overlooking a similar view to Bommie Deck, perfect for watching the sun drift away. TIP: Whichever pool you decide to go for a swim in, take your underwater camera and hold it at the level of the water to grab a unique image of both above and below the water line. Having someone model is always a great way of attracting more interest in your images. Bring the right equipment and have fun capturing underwater photos. Photo by: Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 6. Heart Reef Flyover The heart of the Reef. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). Your holiday to Hamilton Island wouldn’t be complete without a flight over the iconic Heart Reef. With options including a quick helicopter or plane trip out to the reef, these scenic flights will give you unparalleled views of this infamous natural wonder. TIP: Use a fast shutter speed when taking a photo to grab all those gorgeous details and colours of the reef below. Keep your eyes peeled for reef sharks and turtles, as they’re frequently spotted in the area. If you want the best view in the house, try to grab the seat next to the pilot. Brining a camera if you fly over the Reef is a must. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 7. Reef View Hotel Catseye Beach sparkles in the afternoon light. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals) One of the highlights with any trip to Hamilton Island doesn’t even require getting out of bed. The aptly-named Reef View Hotel has one of the most breathtaking views I’ve experienced from any hotel in my life. The unbelievable aesthetic transition from palm trees to fringing reefs amongst the coral blues looks stunning at any time of the day. TIP: For an image to really make your friends jealous, try to wake up for sunrise to catch that amazing early morning light, as the sun rises directly across from the hotel. Alternatively, the constellation of catamarans and stand-up paddle boards frolicking around Catseye Beach makes for a great image or time-lapse from the higher balconies. Pastel light at sunset. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 8. One Tree Hill Cocktails One Tree Hill is a wonderful location for drinks and photographs. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). The combination of cocktails, astonishing views and tasty cheese platters is one certainly not to be missed. One Tree Hill is an extremely popular spot on the island for a sundowner or two, with stunning northern views across the surrounding waters. TIP: Get there early and set up a time-lapse to capture the transition between day to night while you sit back and enjoy a couple of cocktails as the camera does all the work. Alternatively, the lookout just around the corner from One Tree Hill is the perfect vantage point for a sunrise, if you can muster the strength to leave bed that early! Whitsunday wonderment. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 9. Great Barrier Reef A Go-pro or underwater camera will help you get the most out of your dive. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). Being one of the biggest drawcards of the region, the Great Barrier Reef is famous for a reason. Although Hamilton Island is surrounded by local fringing reefs and wildlife, a trip out to the outer reef ecosystem is obligatory for any trip to the Whitsundays. Words can’t begin to explain the enormity of this living structure – there are flamboyant fish larger than most children and as many species of incandescent reef fish as there are stars in the sky. TIP: Grab a snorkel and gaze beneath the surface to see clownfish, parrot fish, butterfly fish and the occasional turtle. Don’t forget a spare battery and memory card as you’ll be emptying both very quickly. You'll want to get pics of all the amazing fish and coral that you see. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 10. Sunset Sailing Having the right lens helps get all the action into frame. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). There’s nothing that can parallel the feeling of silently gliding through the water aboard a purpose-built catamaran. Lying on the trampoline netting on front of the yacht just a meter above the tranquil blue hues below is a truly unforgettable experience. Add in a glass of sparkling wine and nibbles to make for a truly exquisite photo opportunity. TIP: Use a fish-eye or wide-angle lens to capture the enormity of the catamaran against the warm pastel hues of the sun setting to the west. Watching the sunset onboard explore. Photo by Taylor Smith (TWS Visuals). 5 quick tips to take improve your Instagram: Although there are hundreds of other photo-opportunities around the island, these 10 should keep even the most prolific of social media addicts satisfied for a little while. The island will leave you longing for golf buggies and palm trees months after the newfound tan has faded away. Once you get home and the dreaded post-holiday blues set in, these extra tips will help to invigorate your Instagram and social feeds: 1. Avoid the iPhone Image quality is sacrificial in the pursuit of a phone’s portability, hence using a dedicated camera is always the first step towards snapping a better image, especially after sunset. Also, having a camera on you does act as a physical reminder to capture moments. You’ll be surprised to find that you naturally start making more of an effort to take pictures when you carry one with you. Another huge tip that you can do on most phones and almost all cameras is to shoot in ‘raw’ format. This essentially gives you a huge degree of latitude in editing to ensure you’re able to recreate what you envisioned when you took the photo. 2. Use a model Having a person in your frame allows the viewer to visualise themselves within the image, allowing for greater engagement and response to your photos. It allows you to anchor your photo and draw the viewer in – an easy way to do this is to just use the timer feature on your camera or phone. It shows your friends where you’ve been whilst adding another element to your photo. 3. Image editing - go beyond Instagram filters A great image only begins as you click the shutter, the real work comes with processing it. You don’t need a fancy computer with extravagant software to properly edit a photo. Mobile editing platforms such as VSCO are extremely popular in allowing a bit of creative freedom. The biggest hint with editing photos is to make sure it’s properly exposed (not too bright or dark) and that the horizon is level in the image. Never try to oversaturate or over-edit the image as it’ll end up looking unrealistic. 4. Posting your photo You want to make sure the maximum amount of people see your masterpiece after you’ve created it, so you need to be able to utilise the app you’re using. Hashtags and location-tags on social media are a phenomenal way to share your experience with other like-minded tourists. Post your images at the time of the day when people are relaxing and keep your hashtags relevant! Include a short caption with every photo and don’t forget to tag #hamiltonisland for a chance at having your photo featured on their account. 5. Instagram is your own personal gallery Although Instagram is centred around each individual photo you post, your entire gallery is a representation of your style and who you are. When people view your profile, they’re seeing a collaboration of all your work across nine small squares. Mix it up and keep your followers interested with different content instead of the same frame posted several different ways. About the Author Growing up on Australia's gorgeous Gold Coast, Taylor's been surrounded by panoramic beaches, luscious rainforests and picturesque waterfalls his entire life. He's a self-taught photographer with an immense passion for capturing everything outdoors and nature, from sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef to Alpine Parrots in the New Zealand Alps. View more of Taylor's work via his Instagram accounts at taylorws and twsvisuals. His portfolio at TWS Visuals.