The Eyes Have It

Why do I fall in love with the Icelandic horse?

I remember that I asked my parents for a horse when I was a young child, too young to understand that the answer would always be no. I remember how I loved to ride horses at summer camp. And I remember learning how smart horses are, and how some can unlock their own stable door. These reasons are part of the story.

Perhaps the most authentic reason is the way I feel when a horse looks at me, and I try to read their thoughts and feelings. Our true connection is found in our eye contact. I cannot explain it, but I can show it.

Icelandic horse
I love the texture of this furry winter coat on this Icelandic horse, and the head tilt, allowing him to look at me as I admire him. Seen near Vik, Iceland.

Flowing Hot Lava

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.

Lava flowing from Fissure 3 of Mauna Loa on Hawaii in December 2022, as seen from a helicopter.
Flowing lava finds the path of least resistance as it flows like rivers down Mauna Loa, the “long mountain,” in December 2022, as seen from a helicopter. Hawaii, Big Island.

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.

hawaii
Rain clouds and verdant green land are two clues that this hilly region of Hawaii receives frequent rain.

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 cathykellyphotography@gmail.com.

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.

Mauna Loa eruption on December 5, 2022 seen from Old Saddle Road. Copyright Cathy Kelly.
Mauna Loa
Tremendous gas cloud forms over the eruption of Mauna Loa on December 5, 2022.
Copyright Cathy Kelly

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. “

Thankful for my Teacher

This year I sense a chorus of thankful feelings that our lives have mostly returned to normal after a long period of staying at home and masking our faces to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus still circulates, most of us are traveling and working and getting our families together. Hooray!

I’d also like to take a moment to thank a photography teacher, who has inspired me and enhanced both my knowledge and enjoyment of photography: Gary Hart. Gary hosted a fascinating workshop at the Grand Canyon during summer monsoon season, teaching students about capturing lightning with a lightning trigger, and he will be co-hosting a January workshop in Iceland, where we hope to see and photograph the Northern Lights.

This morning I read Gary’s blog where he described what he is thankful for, especially post-pandemic. His blogs are very well written and always contain a few photography tips, including occasional confessions of his own mistakes, and always a touch of humor.

Thanks, Gary. Looking forward to Iceland!

Gary Hart (second from right) with his workshop assistant Curt Fargo (right) and three workshop students at the Grand Canyon.
Gary Hart’s Summer Monsoon workshop at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Lightning was firing across the canyon.
Gary Hart’s photo of the full workshop group at Desert View, South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

My Own Grand Central Terminal

Have you ever seen an iconic photo and wanted to execute your own? I felt that way about long exposures of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. I like the effect of a long exposure in the terminal center, where the people moving appear as a blur. A long exposure also allows you to take a high quality, low noise image in a low light space. I was really pleased with the results. You can even see the constellations painted on the ceiling.

If you love this image too, send me an email to order a print as large as 20 x 3o inches. At that size, the print is truly grand! Perfect for the New York fan on your holiday gift list. (For fast loading, a low resolution version of the image is uploaded here.)

grandcentral, newyorkcity
Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Print available from Cathy Kelly.

Feeling the Sunshine

When I wake up on a cloudy day, I feel like staying in my pajamas. As soon as the clouds clear and the blue sky allows the sunshine to light up the world, I feel a burst of energy. Do your moods swing the same way?

On a sunny afternoon in the Fall, you don’t have to convince me that it’s a good idea to go for a walk. This path into the landscape reminds me of a John Constable painting.

park, sunshine, walk
Sewickley Heights Park (Pennsylvania) on a sunny September afternoon.

Grand Canyon: Isolated Rain

Hey, it’s raining over there! One cool thing about photography in the Grand Canyon is that you can see so far, that you can see one type of weather in one direction, and different weather in another. Even better, you never have to worry if there might be a building or a parking lot in the shot. The vistas are amazing and varied as you look in many directions. (The only problem that you just can’t fix is the haze created by car exhaust in nearby cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.)

This Infrared Photograph, shot in the morning sun into the Grand Canyon from the North Rim shows a towering cloud and an isolated shower. The shape and texture of the cloud competes for visual attention with the amazing land formations beneath it.

I enjoy digital Infrared photography for the high contrast images that can be made in processing. The best condition to get great results with an Infrared-converted camera is a sunny day. I’m glad I packed my Infrared camera with a wide angle lens for this Grand Canyon adventure.

Grand Canyon, Infrared, cloud
Dramatic clouds form over the Grand Canyon, as seen from the North Rim, while a rain shower is visible on the left in this Infrared photograph.

Grand Canyon in Infrared

I enjoy shooting Infrared landscape photographs, and processing them to create some high contrast black and white images. Here is one infrared photograph taken from the North Rim of the Bright Angel fault.

Shooting Infrared, you will get the best results in bright sunlight, so conditions were perfect on this sunny morning. Puffy clouds always add interest to the sky.

I use a separate Sony mirrorless digital camera for Infrared photography: one that has been converted for the “SuperColor” light range by Lifepixel.com.

Grand Canyon, Bright Angel, Infrared
The Bright Angel Fault of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim.

Some Like It Hot

PITTSBURGH…Freeze warning tonight. Where did the summer go? Why can’t Indian summer last longer? Just last week, I was soaking up the warm sun at the New York Botanical Garden, admiring the cacti in the Conservatory.

Cactus, NYBG, New York Botanical Garden
The prickly texture and natural symmetry of this barrel cactus stands out in the sunlight at the New York Botanical Garden #NYBG.