The town of Kalapana is located just east of Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Over the past 25 years it has seen three different major lava flows. The majority of the town has been destroyed by the lava, but some resident are still living in this amazing place. When we visited the island in 2012, the lava was flowing on private land and could only be accessed from the trail head located in the town of Kalapana – or by boat or helicopter. We hiked just over 2 miles over bizzare, rugged black lava rock. We stayed to photograph the lava after sunset, so the hike back was in the dark.
The lava flow is constantly changing and its flow into the ocean is also periodically interrupted. Find out whether the lava is flowing before you plan your trip, and be prepared for a long hike on difficult terrain. If lava is flowing on private land, please be sure to get permission from the land owners.
This is a manually blended image created with our iHDR manual blending workflow. The surface of the water and the steam are lit by the light from the lava itself, while the sky is showing off the last glow from the setting sun. One of the biggest challenges in this spot was dealing with the extreme heat. Thermals caused by the heat made it difficult to get an accurate focus. If you are shooting lava, consider using manual focus, and check your images carefully to make sure they are good and sharp.