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Foreboding Morning

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 4 October 2010 in Lifestyle & Culture.

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Sometimes long edits can end with a bang. After sifting through four days of shoots on the Big Island of Hawaii, I came to the end of my edit to discover this nugget! I about fell off my chair (and no I hadn't been drinking).

This looks like something right out of a movie but was really a fortuitous combination of perfect light and optimum positioning of the tour boat relative to a plume of sulphuric-acid, the result of the Kilauea lava flow entering the Pacific Ocean on the eastern side of the island, and held against a dark stormy sky. This was for all intents and purposes a simple grab shot - I really don't even remember shooting this frame. This boat kept cutting in front of our boat as we were attempting to photograph the lava flows (kind of a mine is bigger than yours scenario - I'm talking boats of course) and as the sun started to rise these guys departed - show over, got your money, let's go get some more tourists!

At this point, with the brighter illumination on the plume as the sun crested the horizon to the east, the red lava glow disappeared but the dark stormy sky to the southwest created a marvelous theatrical lighting and the boat (though bigger than ours) looked tiny in relation the the steam plume. Add in the steam rising from the ocean water and it appears these people are about to meet their demise (all we needed was for a 30-foot great white to rear out of the ocean and gobble them alive - where's Stephen Spielberg when you need him)?

The metadata looks a bit weird (ISO 640 and 1/1600th) but remember, I was really shooting towards camera right in completely different light when this must have caught my eye. This was really more of a photojournalistic moment than landscape but without the incredible low-skimming light illuminating the plume, the dark sky and the tour boat, all in perfect position, there really would not have been a picture. Kind of a nice way to end a long edit!

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV 1/1600 second F/2.8 ISO 640 43 mm

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