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Aerial photos capture all main isles


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POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii » So many people liked seeing freelance photographer Brian Powers' aerial photos of the Big Island's coastline on the Web that he has shot and posted pictures of all the other major Hawaiian islands.

Powers shot the entire 300 miles of the Big Island's coastline from his single-engine Piper Cherokee plane in late 2004. He posted photos from the experimental project on his Web site for everyone to see, for free, about a year and a half later.

The images were a hit, prompting 30 to 40 people to call and e-mail Powers to say they wanted to see similar pictures of the other islands.

“;As far as I know, this is the first time this has been done in Hawaii,”; Powers said.

Powers spent 24 hours shooting the main Hawaiian island chain in 2007. His images span 2,000 miles of coastline and include 11 small uninhabited islets like Molokini and Lehua.

Some 10,000 photos from the project are posted on the Web site for Powers' company, Hawaiian Images Photography and Video. Powers hopes one day to shoot the shorelines of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands stretching up to Kure Atoll.

The Kailua-Kona-based photographer first got the idea for the project after hearing that someone took photos of the entire California coastline, and thought he would like to try that here. He underestimated the impact the site would have.

Hawaii expatriates on the mainland have told Powers how excited they were to see pictures of their old haunts on the Web.

One person related “;how excited they were to see the house on a cliff in Ninole where their tutu lived,”; Powers said. “;Others told of how much they enjoyed showing to friends the beaches they played at as kids.”;

Powers connected a GPS unit to his Nikon D200 camera that embedded each photo with the latitude and longitude location.

With the help of Web designer David Cook, Powers created a program to read the data and automatically place photos in the proper location on an online map. While it started out as a fun exercise, Powers said his work is being used by marine researchers, wedding planners, divers and fisherman.

“;Now anyone anywhere in the world can sit at a computer and look down at every inch of Hawaii's coastline as if they were flying above and beside it at 500 feet,”; Powers said.

Powers, a commercial photographer who shoots weddings, corporate events and aerial photos for clients, said the project is good publicity for his business.

But it is also something he enjoyed doing. And he is proud that he has created a permanent, detailed visual record of the coastline as it now exists.

“;I love doing aerial photography, and this is something that's never been done before,”; Powers said.