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. “
Why do I specify “afternoon lightning”? Because evening lightning is coming soon in a future blog post! You can see in this photograph that the canyon is well lit by afternoon light. I was standing on the porch of the North Rim Lodge, watching the darkening clouds for a stroke of lightning over the South Rim when this image was captured. A custom-made lightning trigger helped.
Enlarge this image on your screen to see the lightning best.
As freezing temperatures grip the Northeast United States this week, we are reminded that a frozen landscape offers a new kind of beauty. The colorful palette of autumn leaves are nearly gone, and winter’s snow introduces a new aesthetic.
This image is one of 12 featured in Cathy Kelly’s 2022 Wyoming Nature calendar. There is still time to order one for the holidays. Email Cathy for details.
This beautiful mammal is truly one of a kind, as the pronghorn’s 11 closest relatives are extinct. It is the last surviving member of the Antilocapridae family. The Pronghorn’s closest living relative is the giraffe!
You might have seen some pronghorns running at top speed around the national parks of Wyoming, because the species is repopulating, coming back strong from near extinction in the early 1900s, when it had been over-hunted by humans for food. It’s numbers dwindled to about 13,000. Private groups began buying up land to create a refuge for the pronghorn until the 1930s when Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt (FDR) created enough public land for them to live in a protected habitat. The presidents also put hunting restrictions in place. Now the pronghorn is estimated at 500,000 to a million in the American Rockies. (Read full details on Wikipedia.)
Now we could say of our fast-footed friend, that she is one in a million.
My friends who own horses have told me stories about how smart they are. So, perhaps this stately white horse really knows how lucky he is. He spends his days grazing in full view of the Grand Tetons. No human could enjoy real estate like this for under $15 million, in round numbers. A ranch within Grand Teton National Park? What a life.
After the sun set behind the Tetons, we turned our backs to a herd of bison, crossed the road and greeted this horse, backlit by the waning light.
I had never been to Yellowstone National Park before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were going to see the thermal zone — geysers including Old Faithful and some boiling mud. I had seen geysers and boiling mud before in New Zealand and Iceland, so I was prepared to be “underwhelmed.” I was wrong. We were in for feelings of excitement and lots of “wow” moments.
Our day began at “West Thumb,” a thermal zone and large lake with boiling mud and geysers. I was captivated. As the geysers steamed and bubbled, I composed my photos of the simple yet other-worldly beauty.
Jackson Lake water levels are at record lows this Fall (in 2021) after a very dry summer. From this location on the dry lake bed, we could see mist rising on a cold Fall morning and snow covered Mount Moran in the background.
Are you still waiting for the green foliage to change to its seasonal fall colors? The main factor that triggers the color change is the increasing length of the night, which causes chlorophyll production in the leaf to stop. We found some brilliant fall color in Grand Teton National Park in late September.
I was curious about what types of trees turn yellow and what types turn red, so I turned to the Forest Service of the USDA for some answers.
–Oaks: red, brown, or russet
– Hickories: golden bronze
– Aspen and yellow-poplar: golden yellow
– Dogwood: purplish red
– Beech: light tan
– Sourwood and black tupelo: crimson
The color of maples leaves differ species by species:
Returning to Grand Teton National Park for the second time in the Fall, I was hoping to return to several of my favorite locations, but NOT take the same photos all over again. What fun would that be?
Mother Nature helped me out. On the night before I went out to Mormon Row to photograph the one of the old barns in the foreground of the majestic Teton mountain range, it snowed on the peaks. Adding to the drama were the clouds.
Would you like to see how different this scene looked in 2018? Here is a link to my photo of a nearby barn on Mormon Row. Which image do you prefer?
I think the most exciting aspect of Wildlife Photography is the chance to observe wild animals in their habitat, doing what they like to do. You can learn a lot from watching their behavior, and in doing that, I feel like a privileged secret observer. While we always keep a respectful distance in order not to distract or interfere with the animal, we whisper to each other, and our excitement is palpable.
Early one morning in Grand Teton National Park, we spotted a bull elk in the field, and his silhouette in the bright morning sun was striking.
At one point, we observed the interaction of the bull, the cow and the calf elk, and then they ran out of our line of sight. While close-up photographs are satisfying and show us exactly what the animal looks like, these experiences are exciting, and the photographs share a story. Autumn is a busy time in Grand Teton National Park for the elk, as well as the moose and bears.