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jimhelmick December 09, 2017
Amazing shot.
 
alicecranekovler December 09, 2017
Join the conversation. Add a comment or even better, a critique. Let's get better together!
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PhotosbyJLR December 09, 2017
This is a bucket list shot for me. WOW.
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truetolifephotography December 27, 2017
It certainly was for me too!
 
rutvkpaikin December 27, 2017
Great shot.
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Amazing!!
 
Kskeeters11 Feb 18
Beautiful

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A new beginning



At the Kamokuna ocean entry, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Check it out on Nat Geo Your shot too. Shot from a moving boat near sunrise.
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Awards

Won Contest Finalist in Capture The Four Elements Photo ContestFebruary, 2018
Won Runner Up in Orange Is The Color Photo ContestDecember, 2017
Won Contest Finalist in Orange Is The Color Photo ContestDecember, 2017
Won Contest Finalist in Monthly Pro Vol 36 Photo ContestDecember, 2017

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Behind The Lens

Location
From a boat at the Kamokuna ocean entry at the base of Mount Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Time
This image was captured during the pre dawn blue light about half an hour before sunrise. I only had 40 minutes of shooting time available on the boat, starting in the dark and ending at sunrise.
Lighting
I specifically chose to take the pre dawn boat departure as I knew the shooting window, while short in time, would occur during the blue light before sunrise which is ideal for lava photography because the colours are at their most intense. However, shooting at that time of day is also the most challenging as the light is still low and images have to be created hand held.
Equipment
I had three camera bodies and a variety of lenses ranging from 400mm f/2.8 prime to 70-200mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4 prime. Due to the low light I needed the widest aperture available most of the time so this determined my lens choices for this particular shoot. As I was on a boat without any gyro stabilisation equipment the entire shoot had to be hand held which made this an ultimate technical and physical challenge even with the fastest lenses available.
Inspiration
I had a desire to photograph the eruption of Mount Kilauea for many years. I had been keeping an eye on the latest activity reports on the Volcanoes National Park website and noted increased activity reports at the ocean entry and other sections of the volcano so I made a last minute decision to fly there from Hong Kong in the hope of witnessing some epic activity. I got more than I bargained for as this shoot not only provided me with stunning photographic opportunities around the base of the ocean entry but there was also a unique "firehose' event occurring from the cliff face higher up. A tube breakout created a lava fall into a huge cone with a fiery tributary flowing out of it into the ocean! Witnessing this was beyond my wildest dreams and it more than lived up to any expectations I had about what it would be like witnessing the raw power of nature up close. A truly visceral experience to feel the intense heat and witness the creation of earth in front of your eyes.
Editing
I always shoot in RAW and so my editing was limited to optimising the RAW file. Mainly restricted to optimising the white balance to create the right mood and colour contrast.
In my camera bag
I have a varied kit bag depending on the nature of my assignment or shoot. For this project, I took a wide range of lenses and a few bodies (mainly for redundancy due to the risks inherent with photographing near lava), a couple of tripods and a range of ND filters as there is a huge dynamic range to handle when photographing molten lava. I also took a drone with me on this trip. Additional essential equipment included shoe glue and duct tape as well as additional first aid equipment in case of issues with injury and melting gear due to the extreme heat when near active flowing lava and surface breakouts and when hiking over the old lava fields which are razor sharp and easy to injure yourself on.
Feedback
Trying to capture this kind of scene from a moving boat in low light using telephoto lenses hand held is bordering on the crazy. This was one of the most challenging and intense shoots of my career. It was a highly physical experience and I was totally exhausted by the end of it. Shooting scenes such as this and trying maintain output quality needs a lot of concentration and good shooting skills. You generally need f/2.8 or faster lenses and relatively high ISOs. Then you need to try to get your shutter speed as high as possible to give you a fighting chance with sharp images while on a rocking boat where it is not possible to use a gimbal or tripod. You also need to have good balance as well because you are standing up for the most part trying to find the best compositions possible as the boat moves around with the action constantly changing. Despite trying to stack the odds in your favour with the right gear, the shutter speed possible is still not very high so this means your shooting technique has to be spot on and you need a bit of luck with regards to ocean conditions. If too rough your chance of getting exhibition quality photographs during the optimal blue hour light becomes almost impossible. Even with all the factors stacked in your favour, you really have to bring your 'A' game if you hope to get any photographs worth keeping! You can go for faster shutter speeds and higher ISOs but you will sacrifice both colour and quality if you do. So there is a fair amount of risk with the settings required to get the right looking images. This makes photographing lava one of the most exciting and unpredictable things you can try to shoot in nature photography and shooting it from a boat increases the difficulty of the challenge. However, even if I had not managed to capture any decent photographs, I would still highly recommend the experience. It left a lasting impression on me long after I came back home.

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