Hot Lava - Again
Kilauea Volcano, January 2011

Back at Kilauea again, where the lava continues to flow on county land near Kalapana.  Lava is among the most difficult subjects to photograph - it shows best in low light, which demands longer exposures, but it's constantly moving so it's tough to capture without blur.  And it's SO hot.  At close range, the heat is nearly intolerable.  I half expected my clothes to burst into flames a couple of times, and I nearly burned myself by touching the front of my lens after the camera had been in position for only a minute or two.  You constantly have to back away to cool off.  We were onsite well before sunrise in order to find a good location for shooting by dawn, when the sky is just bright enough to reveal the surrounding landscape, but still dark enough to show off the incandescence of the lava.  No ocean entry was accessible on this trip, but there were fine surface flows that we were able to approach.  Below are the highlights from two mornings of photography. 











Cooling (above) and fully cooled (below) - not the same flow, but from the same vicinity.  The cooled flow, with it's pristine, shiny surface, was probably less than a day old.






Above and below: the landscape that we traversed was littered with dead trees, most of which had been destroyed within the past couple of weeks, and sulfurous fumes emerged visibly from many locations.  Although we were able to walk across these fractured surfaces, most of them were still quite young, and the cracks often revealed the incandescence of a still hot interior just a couple feet below the crust.

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