Photo of the lava churning and spattering in the Halemaumau crater
Having heard the lava was very active due to a piece of the crater wall collapsing into the lava lake, I was extremely excited to visit the Jaggar museum that night. I headed out after work with my family and arrived at the Volcano hours later with the unfortunate drizzle of rain. I wasn’t expecting much, in fact I wasn’t expecting I was going to see anything due to heavy fog or rain clouds. On a previous trip I knew we were getting close because the sky had an amazing bright orange glow, however, this trip wasn’t as apparent. My hopes were fading.
We arrived at the Jaggar museum lookout along with many others. Gathering up our gear took a while, but eventually we set out to the view point. With the glow of the lava and the orange night step lights leading our way to the lookout, we were all amazed at the amazing sight of the active lava lake. Never before have I been able to see the lava lake from the Jaggar museum. Usually just a glow of light as smoke billowed away. There were cracks of bright yellow and orange moving around. Forming new connections with other cracks while closing others. The most mystical sight was the sputtering lava against the crater wall.
Photographing the lava was difficult. I needed a higher iso in order to stop the motion of the lava, but not too high as to pixelate the image beyond usability. In order to capture the lava up close I needed the full range of my telephoto lens at 300mm. This all doesn’t seem difficult, but adding wind and rain to the equation made this difficult. Any small movement of the lens would move the image drastically, which generated a blurry image. I had to wait for relief in the wind, but then the rain would speckle the lens. It was a little bit of a dance to get the shots.
For the image above I shot two focal ranges. The trees were several feet in front of me, while the lava was hundreds of feet away. Maybe thousands. It took a lot of blending and luminosity masks in Photoshop to merge the images to one.
© Christopher Johnson
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