Volcanic Eruption, Hawaii Big Island, 12/28/2021

It is not a common experience to witness the live volcanic eruption and lava flows. Fortunately, during our trip to Hawaii Big Island at the end of year 2021, we caught it on our camera. To be precise, the eruption has been a continuous event happening on the island for many years. Sometimes it carried out more lavas from underneath the Earth, sometimes it was just quiet for a few days. During day time, it could be difficult to see the lava flows because they were just thin red lines between the black volcanic rocks. So evening is generally the best time to observe this incredible phenomenon.

The volcano was in a quiet period till the fifth day we were on the island. So we headed out in the evening. To our surprise, there was a traffic jam in the Hawaii Volcano National Park! We waited patiently for a while till the park rangers allowed us to drive to the parking lot. There was a one mile hike from the parking lot to the observation point. A few hundred yards from it, we could already see the red light in the sky. What an exciting walk!

There was a quite large crowd at the observation point. Head after head, tripod after tripod, wow after wow. It was an exciting moment to appreciate the power of Mother Nature.

Aspen Trunk and Leaves, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

June Lake holds a special position in our memory. It is the first place in Eastern Sierra that we visited many years ago during autumn season. This year, we explored it again when the fall foliage just started here. While driving past this section of the road, our eyes were caught by the bright white trunk of several aspen trees — they stood out from the background of warmed colored leaves. We carefully composed this shot and singled out only one aspen tree, making its trunk the dominant subject in a relative uniform background.

Dual Milkweed Trees, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

Santa Cruz island features many milkweed trees, a specific plant that provide food source for larva of the famous migrating monarch butterfly. We didn’t find any monarch butterfly on those trees on the island. Nevertheless, the trees were a wonderful subject to photograph on black and white film, just like oak trees.

These two milkweed trees were at the edge of a campground on the island. When passing by them, we were attracted by the shape of the trees with their far-reaching branches and bare barks. We set up our Intrepid 4×5 large format camera, and captured this photo on a sheet of Fomapan 400 film. We positioned the tree in the front and let it play a dominant role in the frame. The tree in the back, while smaller, provides a sense of depth and balances the weight in the frame. At a small aperture of f/32, both trees retain the sharpness we wanted.

Fall colors of an aspen forest, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra

We love the fall season! Mother Nature brings us so many wonderful colors each year during this period. In California, Eastern Sierra is one of the most popular destinations to observe fall colors. Melting ice water from the top of Sierra mountains create many creeks here. These creeks provide valuable water source to many aspen forests, which changed color seasonly. We had been to this region many times in the past, and every time there were new surprises, even at the same locations.

In a late afternoon of early October, we arrived at Conway Summit, a popular scenic viewpoint alone high 395 in Eastern Sierra. Alone the hill, some aspen forest was near the peak of fall colors. Several years ago, we captured some memorable pictures here after the peak. This year, it was a mix of green, yellow, and orange. It was even more impressive than pure yellow.

Season’s finale, Inyo National Forest near Lake Sabrina, Eastern Sierra

On October 9th, after a crowded sunrise at North Lake, we headed to the nearby Lake Sabrina. Each autumn, this is one of the earliest places in Eastern Sierra to appreciate the brilliant fall colors due to its high elevation. This year, we were right on time to capture the moment.

Lake Sabrina is a small lake at the foot of several beautiful alpa peaks created by a dam. Walking on the top of the dam, the bright orange color of a few aspen trees on the east side of the lake caught our eyes. By the time, these trees were still in the shade of the mountains. The soft light brought out the best colors of the trees.