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Friday, January 27, 2012

Lava Field - Making of the image

I'm back to posting images after an extended break. During my time off I got married and enjoyed a honeymoon in Hawaii. It's a good thing I married a photographer as we both agreed that we "needed" to take our camera's on the honeymoon :) Experiencing the unique characteristics of the Hawaiian islands was very enjoyable. I will be posting several of my images from the trip in the coming weeks starting with one I made the second evening on the Big Island.

As you may know, Kilauea is an active volcano on the Big Island. On the western side of the island you can see almost nothing other than fields of dried lava. While driving around to find a good spot I realized making a wide angle photograph of this harsh landscape was going to be a challenge since I hadn't seen anything like this before. There was another challenge that I had not planned for - VOG. No, that is not misspelt. Vog is a form of air pollution that results from the mixing of sulfur dioxide and other gases emitted by a volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. What that meant was that not much sunlight was getting through to illuminate the landscape. In fact, we had to drive closer to the shore as there was barely any light inland.

The light was already fading even though it was 30 minutes before sunset. I finally decided to stop and venture out into the lava fields. Then there was the small matter of lava rock be treacherous to walk on. A fall on the rocks would definitely mean a visit to the hospital. Moving fast (and carefully) I looked for a interesting elements to include in the photograph. A glance behind me and I realized the sun was going to go behind a cloud bank. HURRY! While setting up I thought about how I was going to use the elements to balance the image. I fought my tripod as one of the legs would not move and I couldn't get low enough. A firm shove helped but didn't open the leg up as much as I would like. I continued regardless. Including the lone tree in my composition was essential to illustrate the starkness of the landscape. I lined the composition up so that some of the grasses would lead the eye towards the tree. The rock pile to the left of the tree helped with the balance of the image. And then the light started to fade. There was no more time to think about how to improve the composition. Click! Click! Click! And the light was gone.

As the sun went behind the cloud bank I decided to change lenses. Placing the tripod out of the way I started to move towards my backpack which was lying a few yards away. That's when it happened...a photographers worst fear...the falling tripod (with camera and lens attached). "Oh NO!" I screamed. SMASH! When I took my second step I moved the rocks around one of the tripod legs which caused the tripod to keel over. It didn't help that I never got all the tripod legs set at the same height. I looked at Angelique; clearly she shared my horror. We both stood there with our hands covering our mouths. It seemed like it was a few minutes before I decided to make the dreaded assessment of damages. The lens had gone front first into the lava rock. The polarizer was destroyed. Aeyayah! I feared the worst for the glass on the front of my lens while slowly taking the polarizer off. Hmmm! I wiped the "glass dust" off the front of the lens. Not a scratch. Examined the camera. Not a scratch. It was a honeymoon miracle! Only my polarizer was ruined. A couple of test shots and all looked fine.

We decided to call it a day and headed back to the car slowly and carefully. My camera and lens were fine and so was I.

2012 workshop schedule

April 14, 6:30 - 9:30am
Flowers & Close-ups Field Session
Brookside Gardens (Wheaton, MD)

April 21, 12pm - April 22, 7pm
Macro Boot Camp
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (Vienna, VA)

May 6, 6pm - May 11, 11am
Florida Avian Photography Workshop (Titusville & St. Augustine, FL)

July 21, 6:30 - 9:30am
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Field Session (Washington D.C.)

September 8, sunrise - sunset
Digital Nature Photography One-day Workshop (Chincoteague Island, VA)

October 20, sunrise - October 21, sunset
Great Falls Digital Worflow workshop (Great Falls, VA)

November 16, 1pm - November 18, 1pm
Chincoteague Island Workshop (VA)