volcano

  • 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

  • Kapoho Island

    Photograph of the island that formed off of Kapoho from the Puna lava flow of 2018

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    During one week in July of 2018 an island formed off of Kapoho from the Puna lava flow. Shortly after this photograph the island attached to the land from the continuous lava. An example for how quickly this lava flow is changing.

    We were excited to go back up into the helicopter to see what has changed from the previous flight a month ago. That morning I learned of an island that had formed just off of the coast. Reports of violent explosions in the water eventually led to the presence of land erupting from the ocean. These eruptions caused havoc to a water tour boat a few days later when an unexpected explosion sent molten rock hurtling toward the boat and injured many passengers. I could only imagine how scary and helpless that would be. There is no telling what could happen next with this volcano.

    A very exciting time on the Big Island.

    © Christopher Johnson

  • Colors Of Lava

    Colors of the lava flowing in the volcanic river to Kapoho from fissure 8 in Pahoa.

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    Insane to witness the amazing colors of lava from the sky. This massive lava flow is slowly making its way to Pahoa. Beautiful and destructive. I love the oranges, reds, purples, and blues seen in this image.

    © 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

  • Halemaumau Crater

    Photo of the lava churning and spattering in the Halemaumau crater

     

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    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.

    Aloha!

    © Christopher Johnson

     

    Purchase this piece by visiting my RedBubble page.

  • 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