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.
Iceland’s Fire and Ice
I’m busy today making prints for a July 6 exhibition: the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Gallery Crawl. It’s a fun evening, and you can find some cool photography by ASMP* photographers at 803 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.
I have decided to feature some of the amazing landscapes and birds I saw in Iceland last summer. Whoever said that Iceland is the land of “Fire and Ice” is right! Volcanoes have created some rugged landforms and interesting vistas. On Heimeay Island, one can just imagine how frightened the residents felt when a massive eruption woke them in the middle of the night in January 1973. (All residents fled via fishing boats in the harbor, and the eruption continued for two years.)
Then you can experience “Ice” even in mid-July, as you bundle up in a parka, hat and gloves and strap spikes to your boots for a hike on an icy, albeit melting, glacier. This glacier was atop an extinct volcano on the Snaefellsness Peninsula.
Please come to the Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl on Friday evening July 6. It’s free.
*American Society of Media Photographers: ASMP.org.
The “Strenuous Hike”
When someone says “hike,” I immediately think “photoshoot,” and wonder which camera and lens to bring along. So, when a guide says, “strenuous hike,” I immediately become nervous about how heavy my equipment is, and whether I will need two hands for climbing. I also wonder about the huffing and puffing index!
On this 1.5 km hike to Hengifoss in eastern Iceland (not far from Seydisfjordur), I limited my load to the Nikon D800 and my 14-24mm lens to capture wide vistas. As I hiked and panted, I resisted the temptation to ask the downhill hikers how much longer it was.
Do you see the pink lines in the cliff near the falls? They represent different volcanic eruptions over the years. This hike is a geologist’s dream.
Here an iPhone photo illustrates some detailed information on site:
While midday is not the optimal time for photography, I was grateful for clear skies. Last week when another group hiked Hengifoss, they endured rain and fog. We enjoyed sights of long and wide vistas and cool temperatures. No complaints!
“Thar She Blows”
“Thar She Blows” was the cry of a sailor spotting a whale, but the expression came to mind as we stood waiting for the Icelandic geyser to explode with a massive force of steaming water.
About every 10 minutes, Iceland’s Strokkur geyser puts on a show — shooting hot water about 30 meters into the air. It’s a dramatic natural phenomenon that you can watch only a few places in the world. Yellowstone National Park and the north island of New Zealand are two other sites that come to mind. Geysers are an indication that you are standing in a volcanic landscape.
You would be well advised to keep your children and yourself out of the line of fire, but not everyone follows the rules or exercises good judgement.
This waterfall from the Hawaiian Island of Maui is getting me excited about my trip to Iceland, which is just around the corner — next Wednesday. Waterfalls are plentiful in a volcanic landscape, so I expect Iceland to bear lots of resemblance to Maui, except colder.
I’m ready for rain, waterfalls everywhere, a black sand beach and a few extras like puffins, the midnight sun and some glaciers. I’m packing lots of lenses and guide books and layered hiking clothes, and I am hoping for lots of good photography to share with you.