Kilauea

  • Lava River Texture

    Aerial photograph of the lava river in Pahoa Hawaii.

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    A section of the lava river from a Paradise Helicopter tour over the fissure 8 eruption of 2018 in Pahoa. I wanted to focus on the patterns the lava was making as it flowed to Kapoho, so I used a 70-300 telephoto lens to tightly frame in the lava with the dark surrounding areas. What I wasn’t expecting was how amazing the patterns are within the lava itself.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Fissure 8 and the Lava River

    Lava fountains out of the crater that fissure 8 created from the Pahoa volcanic eruption on Hawaii.

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    An aerial view of Fissure 8 spewing magma violently into the air and into a massive lava river headed to the ocean in Kapoho. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we flew over this newly formed cinder cone in the middle of the Leilani Estates neighborhood. It was surreal and frightening. Almost overnight thousands of peoples lives were uprooted and their future made unknown. My heart goes out to all those effected by the lava flow.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Lava Flow Pattern

    Tight cropping of the amazing detail and pattern of the lava river flowing out of Fissure 8 in Pahoa.

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    It was an amazing experience to see the lava spewing and flowing out of fissure 8 that erupted out of the middle of Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii. It was somewhat surreal. My mind didn’t comprehend what I was looking at at first because I felt like I was watching a movie. In Kona I am just far enough away to not realize what really is happening on the other side of the island even though we have the extreme VOG and earthquakes. It just never really sunk in until I went to see the event in person.

    After the initial shock and excitement of the fissure I began photographing the detail and patterns of the lava flow from above. This shot was taken at full zoom, 300mm, to enhance the colors and beautiful qualities of the lava as it cracked and hardened. When viewed at 100% there are endless designs and details in the lava that are just amazing that I didn’t realize were there until I developed these shots. The helicopter trip goes so fast and my mind was racing to take it all in mentally and with my camera. So much that I didn’t have my setting right in the camera while I was taking these pictures.

    When I was preparing to go on the helicopter I had a system to set the camera on shutter priority fast enough to handle the 300mm lens as well and the movement of the helicopter. Then to quickly review the shots to make sure everything was crisp before continuing. I even had a gentleman ask me about shutter speed before getting on the helicopter as a subtle reminder to adjust my settings. Unfortunately I didn’t heed my own preparation and advice. The excitement got to me. Before I knew it I was rapidly taking pictures of everything I saw. The helicopter pilot was twisting and tilting in all directions so everyone had their time to experience the disaster which added to my excitement.

    It wasn’t until we were leaving the flow that I began to review my images and noticed a lot of the had significant motion blur. My heart sank. I totally screwed up. “It’s Ok. It was the experience that was amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.” I told myself in order to cheer myself up. I mostly believed it, but as with all artists all we want to do is create. The life experiences are amazing, but we want to bring home some amazing art to relive it and share the experience. Sharing blurry shots of the lava isn’t going to excite anyone.

    I spent the rest of the day with a small lump in the back of my throat. I wanted to go up to the desk at Paradise Helicopters and tell them I wanted a do-over because I didn’t get the shots. They would obviously let me go again because that would be their biggest concern. It was weird where my mind went. I wasn’t depressed or anything and it would have been fine if all my images were trash because in actuality it was the experience that mattered. My wife and I had a blast and got to spent the rest of the day exploring new areas of the island. It was just disappointing that I thought I didn’t have any usable images.

    When I finally sat down and loaded all my shots into Bridge I was elated to see 2/3 of all the shots were just fine and my worries were for nothing. It’s so weird how a small thing can effect you in such a large way and how all preparation can be lost in excitement. I just need to learn to slow down and be methodical during these moments. In all actuality I had a lot of time to photograph the lava. It only seemed like I didn’t at the time.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Mauna Kea Milky Way

    Photograph of the beautiful Milky Way over the Big Island of Hawaii.

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  • 61G Ocean Entry

    Using a 300mm lens I was able to zoom into the lava as it meets the ocean from the cliff above.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Violence

    Lava flows into the turbulent water at the Kamokuna lava flow ocean entry.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Volcanic Activity

    A photography trip to the Kamomuna lava flow and Halemaumau Crater

     

    A last minute decision to see the lava flow from the Kalapana side made a lot of amazing memories. My wife an I were amazed to see the island expanding right before our eyes and inches from our feet.

    A 4.5 mile trip, I would recommend riding a bike, will get you to the flow that covered the gravel emergency access road. Where you park there are a lot of people renting bikes, selling food, water, and artwork.  Bring as much water as you can pack. They park service recommends 1 gallon for each person.  This is not a leisure activity. The trek is long and hot.

    It took us about 45 minutes to make the bike ride to the lava flow at a mild pace. The sun was setting as we arrived and we decided to venture up the hills of lava to see the lava flowing over the earth. Immediately I was in total amazement as I witnessed the lava slowly pouring down the hillside amongst a crowd of people. It was amazing to feel how hot the lava was. Like opening an oven door. I stepped up close to get a few close shots, but had to step back quickly to cool down.

    After about 20min we retreated down to the ocean entry where the cliffside was outlined with spectators. Watching the waves battle against the hot molten lava. The energy explodes and lets off smoke and steam which is highlighted by a red glow as it blows over the landscape. We sat until we ached from sitting on the hard ground and then decided to venture back up to the lava flow again.

    The masses of people continued to populate the area, so we decided to leave and check out the Volcano National Park.

    It was an amazing adventure that hooked me on volcanic photography.

    © Christopher Johnson

     

    Check out my new image of the Halemaumau Crater – http://www.fromhereonin.com/halemaumau-crater