The story of Heimaey Island in the south of Iceland makes geology class feel like a modern day adventure movie. As our ship sailed toward the narrow opening to its fishing boat harbor, a first look at the land bore witness to the 1973 volcanic eruption that nearly closed the harbor entrance. I’ve never before seen hardened lava looking like wet mud that just dripped and dried quite recently. Later, we learned that men battled the lava flow threatening the harbor with fire hoses in a successful and historically unique effort to cool the lava and shorten the length of its flow, preserving the harbor entrance and the way of life for the fishermen.
The fog that would settle in for the day and cancel our flight-seeing tour was descending on us as well. Nevertheless, this view from our cabin this morning was quite beautiful. As a backup plan, I walked on my own into the village.
The volcano that forced the 2am evacuation of all the island residents in January of 1973 erupted for six months. All residents were safely evacuated to the mainland on fishing boats that happened to be in the harbor due to a recent storm. The people had wait all that time before they could return and find out the status of their homes.
A paragon of resilience, the residents returned to Heimaey to rebuild and resume their quiet, communal lives. I strolled up the street past new homes to see the volcano, and to visit the Museum of Remembrance, where recorded voices of residents describe personal stories of what happened as they realized the volcano was erupting and gathered their families to flee toward the harbor.
Rainy and humid Maui cut us a break this morning. While two other photo shoots have been rained out yesterday and today, the location we woke up at 3 am for, worked out — mercifully.
You have to set the alarm for 3 to drive the windy roads from sea level up at Napili Shores to 10,023 feet above sea level to the summit of Maui’s volcano in time for sunrise. I was pretty surprised to see a nearly full parking lot and about 100 other people crazy enough to be doing the same thing! The park rangers were helping us park, as if we were crowding into a lot for major league baseball or football back at home. After parking, we hiked up a pretty steep trail to this location, breathing pretty hard in the thin air.
Here is one of my favorite images from today’s early photo shoot. I used by Nikon D800 camera mounted on a Really Right Stuff tripod with the wide angle 14-24 mm Nikon lens and a Singh Ray graduated neutral density filter. I shot at ISO 100 to give me maximum ability to make a large highly detailed print later if I wish.
Look how the curves in the composition take your eye into the crater and back up the ridge into the clouds to the sun. Haleakala means, “house of the sun.”
I like a photo that tells a story. This image of Kilauea’s lava flow to the ocean shows the vast expanse of land that her lava coated, wiping out the forest that grew here 20 years ago. If you look carefully through the mist for some green patches, you can see the remnants that by chance were spared from destruction.
The steam on the coast blocks our view of the orange molten lava pouring into the ocean, but it tells us what is happening there – new land is forming. Do you see the road that was built over the dark lava? You can see it abruptly stops, where Pele again had the upper hand.
Take a peak with me inside the world’s currently most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea. The steam is the biggest clue that it is currently erupting — pushing molten lava underground in a tube that leads to the ocean. Along the coastline more steam reveals that new land is being made there. You can also see a spot of molten lava just below the large crater in the photo.
I will do more processing on this image after I return home, but I thought my readers would like to see some early results. I like the three colors of the land in this image. It was exciting to see this unique view of the Earth evolving, and to ponder the power of Nature.