I just returned from a vacation and photography trip to Hawaii where I took over 2 thousand images. Most were on the Big Island and a fair number on Kauai. It will be weeks before I'm caught up and can edit the selections. With each trip to the Big Island I hope to be able to fill my camera frame with red lava from Kilauea. Either dripping into the ocean or bursting forth like a fountain. Kilauea has been somewhat active this year, but unfortunately not that much while I was there. There was a small spill out from the Pu'u'o'o vent, but the only way to see it was from a helicopter. It didn't seem spectacular enough to justify the added expense. Instead, we went to the Jagger Museum lookout at sunset and stayed for a couple of hours shooting the glowing crater.
The caldera floor was filling with lava giving off a bright orange glow. Since it was a moonless night, I was rewarded with a beautiful view of the southern Milky Way when the clouds parted for several minutes. I had already planned on shooting the Milky Way while in Hawaii since there is little light pollution and the skies there are nice and dark. I was able to balance the foreground light of the Kilauea caldera and still capture the Milky way in the sky. I had recently read about a recommended formula for determining how long I could leave the shutter open before star trails would become apparent: Start with the number 700 and divide it by the focal length of the lens. In my case, it was: 700/24mm=29.17 seconds. I went for an even 30 seconds with my lens wide open at f/2.8 and an ISO set to 1600 on my Nikon D700. After downloading the raw file to my computer, I adjusted the white balance a bit to take some of the magenta out of the sky, performed a slight amount of noise reduction, and then used a curve adjustment to strengthen the contrast a bit. If you plan a visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, be sure to set aside a day for a visit to Volcano National Park and stay after sunset for some of the best views. Don't forget to take some warm clothes as it can get chilly in the park which is some distance above the normally warm beaches. In addition to some charming bed and breakfast places in nearby Volcano Village, it is a special treat to stay at Volcano House, the lodge inside the park run by the National Park Service. We stayed there two years ago and can confidently recommend a stay there. It offers great views, good food and a cosy relaxing setting. This year it was closed due to the the proximity of high levels of poisonous gases escaping from around the caldera which could cause health problems for guests if the winds shift in the direction of the lodge especially during the night while everyone is asleep. Over the next few weeks I'll try to get some more of my Hawaii pictures into the Gallery section. Aloha!