In January 2017, My friend Michael Shainblum and I visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. By chance, we ended up timing our trip to the Big Island perfectly as the lava tube began flowing when we arrived right after a several month long hiatus.
When we arrived, we visited Lava Light Galleries in Kona where we met up with our friend CJ Kale, an accomplished Volcano Photographer. CJ was kind enough to host us and help share the experience of Kilauea Volcano. There's no way we would have had as fantastic of a trip without him.
This film was shot over the course of three days. Each night we would wake up at 3:00AM, drive out to Kilauea Volcano and hike to a viewpoint that put us just over a quarter mile away from the spout.
One of my favorite moments was when two rainbows formed right over the lava spout. They ended up lasting for nearly ten minutes! I really appreciated the juxtaposition of the dramatic explosions and peaceful rainbows. It was such an incredible moment to witness!
I especially loved watching the newly formed lava rock shoot through the sky and collide with the water. Some of my favorite shots from the film were of this.
Because we were so far away, we relied on telephoto lenses when photographing the lava. I used my Sony 70-200mm f/4 lens on my Sony A7S for this film as well as a Sigma 150-600mm lens that CJ was kind enough to loan me.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about photographing the lava. Personally, I wish I focused on shooting more video because I felt that when it came to the images, there was a lack of much needed scale and context.
At one point, someone flew their drone towards the lava providing an opportunity to show scale. Because of the compression of a telephoto lens, the drone in this photo is actually a lot further away from the action than it appears to be but I like it because it comes close to showing how massive the explosions are.
(Please keep in mind that in most situations, its illegal to fly a drone in a National Park)
I think that visiting Kilauea Volcano should be on everyone's bucket list. When you visit, please be sure to do so safely. There are so many ways to hurt yourself or die when out near the lava spout so educate yourself before you go!
Thanks so much for watching the film and for taking a minute to read through this short photo essay. I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience and capture the lava tube. I hope to visit again, soon!