For the first time in my long life, I had the chance to view hot flowing lava, when I flew over Mauna Loa during the 2022 eruption. Mauna Loa, on the big island of Hawaii, is the largest active volcano in the world, and it had not erupted for 38 years prior to December 2022. Upon hearing that this eruption and our vacation would overlap, I was first worried that our non-refundable trip was doomed. After checking with a friend who lives on Hawaii Island, we kept our original plans and arrived on December 3. Fortunately, we enjoyed clear skies over the west coast Kona region, and some unique sightings of the lava flow. I even got my friend Dennis, who lives on Hawaii, out on his first helicopter adventure.
Ecosystems in Hawaii
On a helicopter flight to fly over the flowing lava from Mauna Loa in early December (2022), we passed over vastly different ecosystems. This lush green area looks like a region that is continuously wet, and it also shows the fissures that belie the base layer of volcanic rock.
I moved quickly to capture this image, because I felt that the lumpy topography, the clouds, shadows, the crevice and the lack of human development gave this scene a mysterious atmosphere.
This image is included with 11 other diverse landscapes in my 2023 calendar, just published. If you haven’t ordered one and want one, email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newest Land on the Planet
Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on Earth, is erupting now on the Big Island of Hawaii. As molten lava spews into the air and flows down the long mountain slopes, the newest land on the planet is forming.
In the wee hours of Monday December 5, I made these photographs from the safe distance of 2 miles. You can appreciate the ferocity of the fire and hot lava.
Here is some background information on Mauna Loa and the meaning of its name from the U. S. Geological Survey. (This quote was written before the current eruption of 2022.)
“The Hawaiian name “Mauna Loa” means “Long Mountain.” This name is apt, for the subaerial part of Mauna Loa extends for about 120 km (74 mi) from the southern tip of the island to the summit caldera and then east-northeast to the coastline near Hilo.
Mauna Loa is among Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. It has produced large, voluminous flows of basalt that have reached the ocean eight times since 1868. It last erupted in 1984, when a lava flow came within 7.2 km (4.5 mi) of Hilo, the largest population center on the island. “
Mauna Loa Erupting
What incredible good luck to witness a volcano erupting! Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, just began to spew molten lava one week ago — for the first time in 38 years. When I first heard the news, I feared that our planned family vacation might be canceled for safety reasons. Fortunately, the lava flow and the harmful gases known as vog, have been limited to unpopulated regions of the island. Hundreds of curious onlookers can witness this extraordinary sight from two to three miles away from the viewpoint of Old Saddle Road.
The lava flow is best seen at night, when the molten lava creates a dramatic contrast with the dark sky and land. My good friend Dennis, who lives here on Hawaii, met me at 3am and drove me up to this viewing site. We photographed the changing scene and stayed until daybreak. This image shows the first light in the sky before dawn, around 6am.
The first time I visited Kauai, I flew in for a memorable photography workshop, and my daughter Erin met me there. The next time I visit Kauai, my daughter Erin will be leading me there to make some epic new memories — at her wedding.
As our family books flights and accommodations and looks forward to the big day, I took a look back at my 2014 photos of Kauai. Here is a waterfall image from the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii.
Surely, our second visit to Kauai in July will offer many new photo opportunities on this beautiful Hawaiian island.
Turtle Independence Day
July 4 is a date that holds special meaning for all Americans, and for Sea Turtles, too! The Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii has celebrated Turtle Independence Day on July 4 every year since 1989. They raise a group of baby Green Sea Turtles, known as “honu” in Hawaii, in salt water ponds acquired from Oahu Sea Life Park. On July 4 the Mauna Lani celebrates their release into the ocean.
This photo is a sea turtle I found taking a nap on the beach in Anaehoomalu Bay ( a.k.a. A Bay ) on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have also seen large sea turtles swimming around me while snorkeling in Hawaii. Pretty cool creatures!
Nature Photography Calendar
As 2016 rumbles to a close, I’m preparing for a busy 2017. I expect 2017 to be a year of practice, focus and growth. I look forward to a July expedition to Iceland to explore and photograph the marvelous scenery there.
But we would not wish to say good-bye to the sights and memories of 2016 without a chance to reflect on them. A September trip to Hawaii and Maui provided most of my year’s photography opportunities. I’ve assembled some of the best images of 2016 in a Nature Calendar, and I am making it available to you. Measuring 14″ wide by 22″ long, it is printed on premium card stock.
Taking a Walk in Hawaii
In taking stock of the photos I shot in 2016, I came across this photo I shot with my Nikon D800 while taking a morning walk in Hawaii: a bright orange crab perched on coastline lava. It’s definitely fun to take a vacation in a faraway land where the wildlife and the plant life offer a visual surprise. Take a look at those eyeballs!
It’s such a busy time of year. While the rest of my family members are on the highway or in the shops today, I am grateful to have a few quiet moments to work on some special photos from 2016.
This tropical bloom from the Big Island of Hawai’i says Merry Christmas to me today with its brilliant magenta and green colors. Can you identify it? Could it be ginger?
The Kohala Peninsula on the Big Island of Hawaii is drenched by four meters of rain a year, while the dry side of its mountain range looks parched. On the wet side, you can see some pretty spectacular waterfalls after a good rain, especially from a Blue Hawaiian helicopter.