We Are f-stop: First light hike with kawika lopez

We are often in awe at the amazing locations our customers take their f-stop packs to fulfill their creative visions, and this 'We Are f-stop' story is no exception! Born and raised in Waialua, Hawai‘i, Kawika Lopez starts his days well before the sun comes up. He hikes up O‘ahu’s highest ridges and deep into its lush valleys, striving to find the most unique perspectives through the lens. In his words:

“I do the things that most people aren’t willing to do in order to achieve something that most people will never achieve,"

As a full-time filmmaker and photographer, Kawika considers himself extremely blessed top have a career doing something he loves He found his passion for photography and video in high school, later pursuing a degree in creative media. Today, Kawika is a partner at 9th Avenue Studios and owns his own photography company called Kawika Lopez Photography.

Words and photos by Kawika Lopez:


Three and a half hours before sunrise, Lopez wakes up to his alarm. He lays down his F-Stop Gear backpack on the ground and start to load his gear. Trying to keep his pack light, he leaves most of his camera gear behind and packs just his Sony a7R III, two lenses, and a tripod. This leaves him plenty of room for other hiking essentials. When he is feeling extra ambitious heʻll even stuff a whole Phantom 4 Pro drone in there.


As Kawika hits the road, the eastern sky is still draped in darkness. Hopefully he can get to the trailhead before the horizon starts to glow. As he arrives at his destination, Lopez says a quick prayer for protection and safety before strapping on his gear and hitting the trail. 

I just want to get to the ridge before the clouds start to change color,” Kawika hopes as he charges up the steep paths. 

Once he hits the ridge the world becomes a visual playground. Not many people are willing to start a hike in complete darkness, but for Kawika, to see the first light of day from atop the mountains of Hawai‘i is a treasure in and of itself. 


It’s a significant amount of energy that Lopez puts into his craft, and he chooses his gear very carefully. Each piece of gear is hand-picked, from a lightweight camera system, to grippy hiking boots, and a rigged and secure backpack. Kawika knows that top-notch gear is not just about status or a brand. It’s about usability, build quality, and most important, safety. 

Three to four times a week, Lopez trains at a rock climbing and bouldering gym. He considers the technical aptitude of rock climbing to be an extremely valuable and almost essential asset while he scales the towering peaks of the islands. 


“Adventure photography is a very demanding genre. I always find myself in situations that most people would consider risky,” says the O‘ahu native. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of knowing your terrain, your gear, and most importantly, yourself."


You may find more of Kawika's work on his web site, and Instagram



"We Are f-stop" is a for all f-stop users to share their stories from the field, whether small daily adventure or epic travels. Get in touch with your story on Facebook or drop us an email to [email protected] and let us know on where your photography takes you and your pack! 


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